Beverly Ceasars is an engineer at Alabama Power but outside of work she may simply be known as singer-songwriter, The Bev.
Beverly discovered her love and talent for singing at the tender age of 8. Her roots and vocal training started at church. She joined musical ensembles in high school and went on to sing with the Auburn University Gospel Choir. During her time at Auburn, she joined the international music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota, which promotes interactions among those who share a commitment to music.
Whether it’s singing lead or background, Beverly’s singing has taken her all sorts of places. She has performed everywhere from Atlanta to Birmingham to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her talent has also resulted in her singing alongside some popular artists. Among them, Beverly has performed on the same stage as popular R&B artist Chrisette Michele. She has also teamed up with local talent like Kibibi Jones and Lillian Aleece, who both sing jazz, blues, gospel and R&B
When asked about her other love, songwriting, Beverly said she uses life as a source of her inspiration for her songs. “There is plenty of material provided when simply living and processing all the things that life brings and takes away,” she said.
““Do it scared! Nerves will always come about when you’re performing or executing something you’re passionate about,”
For those who would like to sing in front of groups big or small but struggle with stage fright, Beverly has a great piece of advice: “Do it scared!” Beverly believes the more someone puts themselves out there, the easier time they will have when it comes to addressing their fear.
“Nerves will always come about when you’re performing or executing something you’re passionate about,” Beverly said. “But don’t let nerves or fear stop you. Implement healthy vocal practices and take deep breaths. You got this.”
Beverly has worked for Southern Company Services for almost two years. Her stage name, “The Bev,” was inspired by her best friend from college who thought adding “The” before “Bev” would make it stand out more. Her favorite songs to sing are “Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears (Lalah Hathaway’s cover).
Pierre Canidate is a multimedia specialist at Southern Company Gas and a competitive bodybuilder though he wasn’t always into fitness.
During a visit to his home state of Florida in 2019, Pierre was confronted with the fact he needed to reconsider his lifestyle and eating habits.
“My cousin in his mid-40s is 10 years older than me but was in better shape and looked younger than I did,” Pierre said. “That was a defining moment because on the drive home from Florida back to Atlanta I made the decision to get in shape.”
Pierre began a weight loss journey and over the course of a year lost 30 pounds. Once he saw what his body was capable of, he knew he wanted to kick it up a notch. He gave himself a goal of six months to be prepared for a bodybuilding competition.
The first thing Pierre did was hire a bodybuilding coach to help navigate the uncharted territory. His coach taught him the dos and don’ts of eating and exercising. His diet was mostly composed of grilled chicken, rice, veggies and water only.
“I can’t emphasize this enough; it is a strict diet that does most of the work. You’ll find yourself eating the same things over and over,”
When asked how he keeps Safety First while training, Pierre said he does not “ego lift” or over lift heavy weights.
“I really listen to my body. There are some days I’m not feeling it, and that’s not an excuse to be lazy or slack off, but you’ll know when your body may need an extra day or two to recover.”
Pierre encourages anyone who has fitness goals to put consistency in and out of the kitchen first before expecting perfection in the mirror.
“The discipline, the confidence and overall winner attitude has spilled over into all aspects of my life. I’d love to see that for everyone who chooses to get out of their comfort zone and try something different,” Pierre said.
Pierre has been with the company for five years. He’s a graduate of Florida A&M University and Georgetown University. His family is also active as his wife of 13 years pursues becoming a spin coach and his daughter, Taylor, 10 intends to run track this spring. Safe to say his youngest child Aubrey, 2, will be following in his family’s footsteps soon.
Jeff Baker is a staff environmental affairs specialist for Alabama Power. His primary duties include performing threatened and endangered species surveys, as well as various aquatic surveys. His team also conducts wetland delineations, supports environmental compliance for various company departments concerning environmental issues and works cooperatively with conservation partners throughout the state.
However, his love for animals and conservation extends well beyond work hours. Jeff’s interest in conservation started when he was young.
“I remember watching ‘Nature’ on PBS with my dad as a kid and being amazed by how every animal had a unique job or role that they had adapted to perform,” Jeff said. “The part that captivated me was how each species seemed to develop the most incredible and unique skillsets to survive in their particular habitat or surrounding.”
Jeff’s work with the Alabama Bat Working Group is beneficial to bats, which help the state’s ecosystem, agriculture and economy. The group coordinates an annual Bat Blitz, which is a time when experts and trained bat lovers converge to capture, count and study the bat population in a particular region.
“I’ve said it before, but the award really should go the entire biology team, Chad Fitch and Dylan Shaw included, here at Alabama Power,”
“Bats that eat insects help control pests that can destroy crops. This saves farmers money on pesticides,” Jeff said. “Some bats are also important pollinators, pollinating many of the plants that humans and animals use for food. They also help fruit trees spread around the landscape. Without bat conservation, insect pest populations would increase; damaging our forests and timber and making it tougher for plants to do their job.“
One of Jeff’s proudest moments was being named Biologist of the Year by the Alabama Chapter of the Wildlife Society earlier this year. The Wildlife Society is composed of experts in wildlife and conservation, including many colleagues, which made the award all the more meaningful to Jeff. But he attributes much of his success to the team he works alongside.
“We also have a lot of internal partners and it’s their professional attitude and commitment, the support of our management team, and working collaboratively with many of the external conservation partners in the state that help continue Alabama Power’s long history of environmental stewardship.”
Jeff has been a biologist at Alabama Power for 17 years. He received his bachelor's degree in environmental science with an emphasis on biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a master's degree in fisheries at from Auburn University. He lives in Pell City with his wife, two children, and pets. He has always been partial to chimpanzees, but his favorite animal among those with which he works is the endangered Black Warrior Waterdog or the similarly threatened flattened musk turtle.
Allison Gregoire is a media relations and social media coordinator at Nicor Gas and an aerial fitness instructor in training.
Allison, once an avid kick boxer in Atlanta, moved to Naperville, Illinois, for work and she set her sights on a new outlet for physical fitness.
“I turned 30 last year and was looking to challenge myself while also making friends in a new town where I truly knew no one,” said Allison. In her pursuit she came across AIR Fitness.
Aerial fitness uses a soft, usually silk, hammock to support and suspend the body and uses supported body weight and gravity to strengthen muscles, improve posture, and align joints.
Allison said the class came with a learning curve, but she didn’t shy away from the challenge.
“The first few classes were extremely challenging for me – there are so many small muscles that you are using during aerial that you aren’t traditionally working out,” Allison said. “I struggled to invert and do different moves in the air. It took me six months to get down one of the most common moves in aerial – funny enough, it’s called “the Georgia Twist.”
Not only did Allison master the Georgia Twist with time, now she’s ready to teach others. After 15 months of classes, she’s in the final stages of becoming an instructor. That is a testament of her dedication but also just how much anyone can join and learn. “I’ve had scoliosis since I was 12 years old and have never been able to do a split in my life! I was literally held back in ballet in second grade due to lack of grace and coordination. My advice to new students is to not be scared to try something new. Always challenge yourself but only go as far as you are comfortable that day.”
Jacob McDonald is a senior engineering analyst at Southern Power. He manages the operation and maintenance of solar facilities for the company including budget creation and management, contract negotiations and performance monitoring.
During his free time, Jacob has served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Sumiton Fire and Rescue Service in Sumiton, Alabama for four years. It is an advanced life support (ALS) department which means there are paramedics on duty who can provide the highest level of emergency medical services possible outside of a hospital.
“My involvement with the department consists of responding to fires, wrecks and medical emergencies around the clock outside of my work hours with Southern Power,” he said.
“The opportunity to serve and help in the community where I live is incredibly rewarding. As a volunteer firefighter, you get to help people on some of the worst days of their lives. You really can make a difference in their life or potentially save their life, which is an awesome feeling.”
Jacob’s interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter stemmed from his relatives and neighbors being members of these volunteer organizations.
“There was never a lightbulb moment that made me want to be a firefighter, but it was really something I always thought would be neat since I was a kid,” he said. “As I got older, I was exposed to the fire/EMS service through relatives and neighbors and thought I would give it a shot and I got hooked very shortly after doing so.”
Jacob also enjoys spending time with his wife, Lacey, and two children, Jaxon and Josie golfing, hunting and bass fishing.
Yvonne Murray is a part of the Southern Power team as a state and local affairs policy manager. Outside of work you will probably find her … outside. She enjoys hiking, camping and fishing.
“As a kid I always loved outdoor sports and the beach, but I think I really found my love for it as an adult,” Yvonne said. “I have made so many memories around a campfire in the middle of the woods.”
When she’s not hiking or camping, she’s enjoying more daring hobbies like tinkering with Jeeps to go off-roading and rock climbing. Yvonne’s interest in cars can be traced back to her childhood.
“I was fortunate to grow up with a dad who loved cars. I can remember just hanging out in the garage with him as a kid and enjoying watching him work,” Yvonne said. “When I was in college, I worked selling parts – wheels, tires, motor builds, turbos, exhausts. It was through those hobbies that I met my husband. He used to build motors for one of our competitor shops. Over the years, Jeeps were always something we went back to.”
When asked about advice she would impart to newbies and those interested off-roading, she said to start slow, have the right equipment and keep safety first.
“I would recommend a vehicle that comes equipped with 4WD and push-button lockers. There are plenty of off-road parks that you can get a feel for beginner and intermediate level rides,” Yvonne said. “Some of the off-road clubs offer beginner rides and classes.”
Regarding rock climbing, Yvonne said keep Safety First in all you do. Listening to those more experienced than you is also important.
Emily Matthews is an energy efficiency education coordinator with Georgia Power and has worked for the company 11 years.
As part of her job, she goes into schools, grades pre-K through 12th, to teach students about energy efficiency and electrical safety. She has also worked with Drew Charter School.
A typical session with students might cover things like how a power bill is composed and how to save energy and what the future of the industry looks like.
Outside her day job, she has been volunteering at the PGA TOUR Championship for seven years, including this year, by helping with educational activities in the SO COOL Zone and on Saturday of the tournament. She said volunteering and giving back was instilled in her at an early age by her parents.
“Growing up that’s just what we did as a family, we volunteered together. I like to volunteer anyway I can whether it’s for a golf tournament or a food bank or just helping my neighborhood.”
She said she has a favorite memory of making sandwiches with her family for powerline and utility workers following Hurricane Hugo in 1989 so they would have lunch to eat, not knowing she would grow up volunteering after storms for Georgia Power.
“’Being a Citizen Wherever You Serve’” is one of my favorite parts of working for Georgia Power,” she said.
A native of South Carolina, Matthews is a graduate of the University of Georgia and has a background in education.
Mitchell Kilpatrick, senior communications specialist Alabama Power, supports internal clients such as Safety and Power Delivery and manages Current, Alabama Power’s internal communications app. He worked with Southern Power for two and a half years before joining Alabama Power in 2018.
Outside of work, Kilpatrick is a movie afficionado, to say the least. In his free time, he runs a personal blog, called, “Movies with Mitchell,” in which he has reviewed hundreds of films of every genre.
“For me, movies have always done three things: provide thrilling entertainment, offer an escape from reality, and give us the chance to empathize with lives and emotions that we may never know personally. Movies can bring comfort but also challenge us to understand the world in new ways. I unironically love the Nicole Kidman AMC Theaters ad that plays before movies at the theater. For all the cheesiness, there’s still a seed of truth – movies really do sometimes feel like magic,” Mitchell said.
Kilpatrick recalls enjoying films from early childhood. He grew up watching movies from The Harry Potter series, from the Marvel universe and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, in 2016, Kilpatrick found a greater appreciation for film as he began to watch Oscar nominated movies. Mitchell said his coworkers urged him to start a blog given his strong written skills and film opinions.
Kilpatrick began his blog in 2019 but further developed the blog in 2020 to bring movies back to life after theaters shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The blog’s mantra is “celebrating the magic of movies.” He hopes his blog will encourage people to find magic in film and support local theaters, as opposed to only watching movies on at-home streaming platforms.
"Theaters really struggled in the pandemic. There’s something special about seeing a movie in a theater that I will always support and encourage."
Kilpatrick suggests that those interested in learning more about film check out directors Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson and Studio Ghibli Movies by Hayao Miyazaki.
“All of those are just masterpieces, but I still feel like I’m a beginner in some ways,” Mitchell said.
He emphasizes that the world of film is broad, and there is always more to watch and learn.
Check out Mitchell’s blog here: https://movieswithmitchell.com/ to learn more and see his latest review of Top Gun: Maverick or his Top 10 movies of 2021
Khadijah Diggs is a senior project manager for the Southern Company Technology Organization Project Management Office. When she’s not in the office, she’s tackling a different kind of multi-segment project competing in triathlons.
Khadijah is a Team USA long course triathlete who competes in numerous national and international triathlons. A triathlon is an endurance, multisport race consisting of swimming, cycling and running in the fastest time possible with long course triathlons consisting of swim segments ranging from 1.2 miles to 2.4 miles, cycling segments from 56 miles to 112 miles and runs ranging from 13.1 to 26.2 miles, a full marathon. The races last between five to 12 hours.
She competed in her first triathlon in 2012 as part of her sorority’s health initiative and came in third to last place. Khadijah enjoyed the experience and continued training and competing in races. In 2016, Khadijah became the first Black woman to become a member of the USA Triathlon (USAT) Long Course Triathlon team, the first hijabi (a woman who wears a hijab) to represent Team USA in any multi-sport event and became a USAT certified coach in 2020.
"As I continued to compete in races, I realized I enjoyed training even more. It's my 'me' time and has helped me deal with the loss of loved ones, stress and the recent events surrounding the pandemic. Pushing my body beyond its preconceived limits has changed my entire perspective on life."
In a sport where Black athletes make up less than 1% and as a Muslim woman who competes wearing a hijab, Khadijah has encountered racial and religious discrimination but is able to endure it by relying on her strong support system and committed sponsors. She views hurdles as opportunities to show people the similarities she shares with other triathletes by giving her all like every other competitor.
These experiences led Khadijah to create a non-profit organization, Diversity Infusion Syndicate with Khadijah (D.I.S.K.), to support and mentor triathletes from underrepresented communities and provide them with the opportunity to meet corporate sponsors and have personalized training schedules and one-on-one coaching with her.
"I intend to help athletes with limited exposure and provide opportunities for them to excel," said Khadijah.
Her triathlon goals continue to advance with each race she finishes. She will compete in the Ironman Maryland and Ironman Florida races this year and qualified for the 2022 U.S. Aquathlon Team. Khadijah also wants to see D.I.S.K. continue to expand and encourage more women to enter triathlons.
"I want to continue to race and set new goals that seem ridiculous," she said. "When I said I wanted to make the U.S. Team, I remember a person I trained with laughed. I have my eyes set on a U.S. and World age group podium finish and plan to race until my body says no."
When she is not competing in triathlons, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, trail running and going on weekend road trips with her youngest daughter.
Visit Khadijah’s website to learn more about her triathlon competitions and D.I.S.K.
Rachel Petry’s volunteer efforts seek to eliminate hunger and food waste in Birmingham.
Rachel Petry is a renewable asset manager for Southern Power and has been with the company for 18 years. She works from Birmingham and in her free time volunteers at FeedBHM, a food rescue program that collects surplus food from grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants and distributes it to those experiencing food insecurity in the community.
FeedBHM is part of the Grace Klein Community, a non-profit organization that has been operating in Birmingham since 2010. Grace Klein Community distributes food from its six drive-thru locations across the city and to over 80 non-profit partners. This year FeedBHM rescued over 1 million pounds of food.
Rachel began volunteering at FeedBHM through her church three years ago and discovered how different circumstances can cause food insecurity and how food distribution can benefit the community and the environment.
It is amazing how many people live paycheck to paycheck. A major life event such as medical bills or vehicle expenses can force people to choose between buying food and paying their rent. There is so much food wasted. If we can get it onto plates and out of landfills, it benefits everyone.
During the pandemic, food insecurity increased the demand for food distribution in the community. In March, Rachel and her husband helped launch the FeedBHM Food Rescue app to enable volunteers to select food rescue locations, days and times that worked best for their schedules. The app allowed FeedBHM to quadruple the amount of food rescued compared to previous years.
In May, Rachel started the FeedBHM Junior Board to support its rescue initiative at The World Games in 2022. FeedBHM was listed as a sustainability partner for The World Game and will partner with vendors and food providers to minimize food waste.
"The amount of food that’s wasted in the United States is almost equal to the amount of food needed to feed the hungry," Rachel said. "By preventing unnecessary waste and distributing unused food, food insecurity can be a much easier problem to solve."
Rachel lives with her husband and two children along with their ducks, chickens and honeybees.
Visit FeedBHM for more information on how you can volunteer or support the organization’s mission to eradicate hunger.
Ruby Jackson knew from first grade she wanted to be a lawyer. Influenced by her father being a judge, she wanted to similarly help people.
"I am a problem solver and always enjoyed serving as a sounding board to my friends and family," she said. "The legal profession requires you to listen to an individual or organization and help find a solution to the problem."
Ruby has been part of Southern Power’s legal organization for five years. During her free time, she volunteers with multiple bar associations within Birmingham to give back to her community.
Ruby began helping with the Magic City Bar Association (MCBA) as a law student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. The MCBA was created to promote the professional advancement of African American attorneys in Birmingham and to uphold the honor and integrity of the legal profession. She was the 2019 president of the MCBA and sits on its board of directors, where she focuses on strategic initiatives.
Last November, Alabama Power announced a partnership with MCBA to provide opportunities for MCBA members, including job shadowing and internships for aspiring lawyers, and exposure to opportunities between the company and the association.
Her involvement with MCBA connected her with the Birmingham Bar Association (BBA). Through BBA, she became involved with Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham (VLB), a non-profit organization of attorney volunteers that provides immediate access to free legal services for low-income individuals and families in Birmingham. She has since joined VLB’s board of directors.
Ruby particularly remembers one of the pro bono cases that she worked on through VLB.
A client called me at five in the morning due to her landlord attempting to evict her and her children during the pandemic. We were able to extend her time in the home, which allowed her to find alternative housing.
Last year, VLB served more than 3,500 low-income clients, more than any other pro bono organization in Alabama. Over 650 attorneys volunteered, donating 4,500 hours of their time equating to $1 million of donated time and legal services.
As a member of the Alabama State Bar Association (ASB), she was appointed to serve on its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to increase educational and professional opportunities for women and minorities and advance the principles of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and its members.
Ruby’s commitment to seeing change within herself, her profession and community is what drives her involvement in these organizations.
"Service is the core of the organizations I participate in," she said. "I am able to grow both personally and professionally and help foster relationships and mentoring opportunities for the next generation of lawyers."