photo of Alum Liaison Committee members at Manly Hall
Members of the inaugural Alum Liaison Committee, at REL’s 2018 Homecoming reception.

In the summer of 2018, REL formed its first Alumni Liaison Committee, in an effort to begin to develop more routine and closer relationships with all of its BA and MA graduates.

We’ve long sent out annual newsletters and, since the Fall of 2013, we’ve hosted a variety of Grad Tales events (in which alums who have gone on to a wide variety of careers return to talk to students in lower-level core courses about the relevance of their liberal arts training), and we even have a grad annually host a career workshop for majors. But we’ve never pulled all of these initiatives together and drawn on the enthusiasm and expertise of grads to help plan and host them.

So, we invited a group of interested alums to help us not only be in touch with other alums but also to bring them back to town periodically and to meet virtually. They even established an annual Alum Liaison Committee Award.

The committee’s members serve a three year term.

Members of REL’s Alum Liaison Committee

Andie AlexanderAndie Alexander

Andie earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and History at UA in 2012.

After graduating from UA, Andie worked full-time in the REL Main Office as an Office Aide & Student Liaison for a year and a half before heading to grad school, earning her M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2017. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in American religions at Emory University. Continuing to apply the digital humanities skills she learned in REL, Andie is Managing Co-Editor of The Religious Studies Project, serves on the Executive Council of the North American Association for the Study of Religion, and is a member of the international scholarly collaborative Culture on the Edge. She is also co-editor (with Jason W. M. Ellsworth) of Fabricating Authenticity (Equinox, contracted).

Anna DavisAnna Davis

Anna earned her B.A. in Geography and Religious Studies at UA in 2016.

Anna has worked in environmental and wildlife education programs at the Camp McDowell Environmental Center and Alabama Wildlife Foundation’s Expedition Lan-ark Summer Camp. In 2018, she began at ACRT, a vegetation management consultant firm, as a Consulting Utility Forester and was promoted in 2020 to Operations Manager, overseeing contracts in Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia, managing contract employees for those locations as well as their roving team which operates nation-wide. Anna lives in Knoxville, TN, with her husband (and fellow REL-alum) Ashton and their pets, Thecla and Pip. As a former Million Dollar Band member, Anna can often be found live-tweeting Alabama football games and other Crimson Tide sporting events.

Sarah GriswoldSarah Griswold

Sarah earned a B.S. in Mathematics-Statistics and Religious Studies from UA in 2016 and an M.A. in Religion in Culture from UA in 2018.

After graduating from UA, Sarah began work at Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, GA. At AHC she was responsible for the front desk/admissions and the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama exhibition until the COVID-19 pandemic caused organization-wide layoffs. She is now planning on returning to further her education, to earn an M. A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Sarah was REL’s first MA graduate.

Chris HurtChristopher Hurt

Christopher earned a B.A. in Religious Studies at UA in 2008.

After graduation, Christopher briefly worked in banking before touring full time as musician with the group, Come On Go With Us. He moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and began working in the pet industry, eventually landing at Wag!, where he built out the Trust & Safety team. He currently works on the Trust & Safety team at Wheels. Christopher has continued releasing music with the groups Jamestown Pagans and Empty Palace.

Jared PowellJared Powell

Jared earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and English from UA in 2016.

After graduating, Jared continued his education at UA, earning an M.A. in English in 2018. His thesis–about William Blake’s epic poem “Milton”–won departmental and college-level awards, and REL’s own Dr. Ted Trost sat on his thesis committee. He currently lives in Durham, NC with his wife, dog, and cat, and he is working towards a Ph.D. in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He continues to study William Blake and British Romantic literature, but also has an interest in Digital Humanities (he is a Project Assistant for the William Blake Archive and an instructor in his department’s Gaming Initiative).

Jennifer Alfonso NelsonJennifer Alfano Nelson

Jennifer earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and English at UA in 2007.

She went on to earn a M.A. in Education at UAB and taught middle school English from 2010-2017. During this time, she developed an interest in educational technology and software development and decided to learn to code, receiving a scholarship to Flatiron School’s Web Developer program from Women Who Code. She is now a software developer at Quantalytix, Inc. in Birmingham, AL. She also gets to combine her passion for education and technology as a Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) volunteer, co-teaching an introduction to computer science course at Tarrant High School.

Meet Jennifer here.

Khara ColeKhara Cole

Khara earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and Public Relations at UA in 2013.

After graduating, she began her career in health care product development and marketing at BlueCross and BlueShield of Tennessee. She started an MBA program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (graduating in 2016) and now, back in Birmingham, AL, she works as a product specialist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama while also being on the prowl for historic artifacts in and around Birmingham.

Learn more about a careers workshop Khara recently ran for REL.

Kim DavisKim Davis

Kim graduated with a B.A. in Religious Studies and French from UA in May of 2003.

She then went on to earn an M.A. in French (in 2007) and then also a Class A Certification in Second Language Pedagogy from UA (in 2010). She currently teaches French as well as a very popular class on mythology at Tuscaloosa County High School. Kim lives in Northport, AL with her two cats, a dog, and several fish, and sometimes takes students on study abroad trips to France.

Meet Kim here.

Justin Nelson

Justin Nelson

Justin graduate in 2007 with a B.A. major in Religious Studies and a minor in REL General Business.

After graduation, he pursued roles in information technology, working for a software-as-a-service startup in 2007. He has worked in operations, marketing, and sales, and now information technology infrastructure sales with a Birmingham-based company. In 2015 Justin moved to Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where he focuses on information technology asset recovery and disposition strategies for major corporate brands.

Meet Justin here.

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