Board of Directors
Laura Harmon – Chairman and Chief Volunteer Officer
Laura lives in Montgomery and is married to Barrie Harmon. Laura serves as a member and past board chair of the Jackson Hospital Foundation, is a current board member of the Central Alabama Community Foundation, and co-founded Dogs on Call, a River Region Therapy Dog program. She has served as a Trustee on the Board of Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Laura and Barrie were recently awarded the 2016 Tocqueville Society Award for their philanthropic leadership. Laura graduated from Weslyan College.
Marianne McLeod - Vice Chairman and Immediate Past Chairman
Marianne founded Jubilee CityFest, a regional music and arts festival whose mission was to enhance quaity of life and community development in the River Region. Marianne served as the oranization's Executive Director for 20 years where she led a small staff, worked with a board comprised of top community leaders and hundreds of volunteers to fund, organize and stage the annual event. Prior to her tenure at Jubilee CityFest, she was Vice President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce for 10 years. She has served on various nonprofit boards and is a graduate of Auburn University.
Chris Dubberly - Vice Chairman. Chris is Senior Vice President – Wealth Management at UBS. He is a 28-year veteran of the securities industry who became a Senior Portfolio Manager in 2005. Outside of wealth management, Chris serves his community by working with The Salvation Army, Rotary International, Jackson Hospital, and is presently the Chairman of The Shepherd Staff Ministry, which trains foster parents of children in transition. He is also an active member of Christchurch, where he has served on the Vestry and the Building Committee. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is currently a candidate for the Certified Portfolio Manager designation from Columbia University.
Alan Hackel, PhD - Treasurer
Alan grew up in Delaware, Ohio and studied at Case Western Reserve University (BA and MA) and completed studies for the Ph.D. at Ohio State University. He served as Dean of Continuing Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and later at Auburn University Montgomery from which he retired. He has been actively involved with the River Region United Way and served as the chair of its Community Council. He is a member of the Montgomery Kiwanis Club and after retiring from AUM, started his own consulting firm. He is married to Joan and they have two daughters, Margo and Julie. Joan and Alan have trained therapy dogs and service dog recipients to work with their dogs.
Frances McGowin, MA - Board Secretary, Founder and Executive Director
Since1997 Frances has worked with the Alabama Department of Youth Services, Tutwiler and Kilby prisons, the Alabama Dept. of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education to develop therapeutic and educational programs for at-risk, disadvantaged and incarcerated youth, Foster Care children and incarcerated adults. She served as program director for Dogs on Call and K-9s 4 Kids Service Dogs for Easter Seals prior to spinning off the Service Dog program into the independent Service Dogs Alabama. She is an avid animal lover, trains dogs and horses and is an artist and writer. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling.
J. Tyler Fondren – Founding Chairman and Member-at-large
Ty is Regional Director of External & Legislative Affairs for AT&T Alabama where he has been for 28 years. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Auburn University-Montgomery where he was honored in 1997 as distinguished graduate and later as one of the university's top 40 graduates over its first 40 years. A senior strategic communications professional, he has served as chair or president of numerous Montgomery-based nonprofit boards. He currently chairs the Troy University Montgomery advisory board. Ty was the first chairman of the board and chief volunteer officer of Service Dogs Alabama. He is married to Tina and they have one son, Joshua. He also has three furry children, including Sport, a former service dog candidate.
James "Bubba" Armstrong, MD– Member-at-Large
A long time resident of Montgomery, Bubba grew up in Selma. He graduated from Davidson College in 1966. He attended medical school and completed a four-year Orthopaedic Surgeon residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He served as an Orthopaedic surgeon and Chief of the Division of Orthopaedics at Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM before returning to Alabama. For the next 40 years, he was a partner at Southern Orthopedic Surgeons. Bubba is active in community service and has served on the Board of Magic Moments and as River Region Council Chairman. Bubba has served as president of Alabama Orthopedic Society & Southern Orthopedic Society. He has always been passionate about dogs and hunting.
Rusty Stewart – Member-at-Large
A resident of Birmingham, Rusty and Thornton Hydinger formed what is now Hydinger, Stewart & Chew Commercial Properties where Rusty is managing member. Rusty previously served as president or partner at Southpace Properties, Capital Properties and Harbert Properties. He has served on numerous charitable boards in Birmingham including Parkinson's Association of Alabama and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabaa and a juris doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law.
Bill Watters – Member-at-Large
Originally from Montgomery and now residing in Wetumpka, Bill retired from the Montgomery Fire Department in 2003 where he served in both the Fire Suppression and Fire Prevention/Code Enforcement Divisions. Bill is the Technical Trainer for the Community Hazard Mitigation Division of Versik Analytics and a member of the National Fire Protection Association where he is a member of the Public Emergency Service Communication and the Wildland and Rural Fire Protection committees. Bill has served as a member of the Advocacy Leadership Board for the American Diabetes Association. He is married to Kelly and they have two sons, Will and Matt. Matt has type 1 diabetes and his Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) Piper was provided by SDA.
Guice Slawson, Sr. – Member-at-Large
Guice is President and CEO of Southeast Wood Treating, Inc. He has served on the Alabama Governor’s Task Force on Education Improvement (K-12) and the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and as Director in 2003. Slawson attended the University of Alabama 1955-1959. He is a member of the Trinity Presbyterian Church and is married with three children and ten grandchildren. In honor of his incredible generosity, dedication and spirited service to Service Dogs Alabama, the organization's headquarters and training facility in Hope Hull is named for Guice.
Angela James – Member at Large
Angela resides in Greenville, Alabama along with her husband, former gubernatorial candidate, Tim James. They have two daughters, Fleming and Sarah, and a son, Tim Jr., and a 13 year old lab, Silas. She serves on the Board of the Butler County Children's Advocacy Center, attends First Presbyterian Church, and serves on the Sasanqua Garden Club Board as project chair. Angela will help with outreach and fundraising for SDA in new areas of the state. Angela is a graduate of Auburn University.
Cade Armstrong, DVM – Member at Large
Cade Armstrong is a Veterinarian and Co-Owner of Montgomery Veterinary Associates. He attended the University of Georgia and graduated from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2003. He has been active in numerous Montgomery Community organizations including the Montgomery Humane Society, Tuskegee University Board of Trustees, and the YMCA soccer board. Dr. Armstrong is the exclusive veterinarian for Service Dogs Alabama, donating thousands of dollars in services each year. Cade is married to Aynsley and has four children, Mary Weldon, Greer, Martha, Harris, plus five dogs. He lives in Montgomery and is an active member of the First United Methodist Church.
Carol Lee – Member at Large
A graduate of the University of Alabama and a business owner for over 12 years, Carol is president of Allegiance Staffing which covers East Alabama and West Georgia areas. Carol is an active member of United Way Red Hat Society and all Chambers of Commerce where her seven offices are located. Currently, Carol is president of the Alabama Staffing Association, a board member of the Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance, past board member of the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce, and a lifetime alumnus of Pillar of Leadership Lake Martin. Carol and her family are members of Duncan Memorial Methodist Church of Alexander City.
Margaret Lowder – Member at Large
Graduate of Auburn University and an owner of Lowder Realty. Margaret Lowder is active in the community and has served on various boards and committees over the years and is now on the Endowment Committee of the Family Sunshine Center and is a Board Member & past president of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. She is a lifelong supporter of The Montgomery Humane Society. Margaret is also an author of children’s books about her dog’s (Amos) daily adventures. Margaret Lowder lives in Montgomery, Alabama, and is married to Jimmy Lowder; they have three children and six grandchildren.