Published on May 6, 2019 by Morgan Black  

Fifteen years ago, Randall Woodfin, J.D. ’07, was ready for a new challenge, one that would help him evolve into a better leader, and a better person. In a personal statement included in his application to Cumberland School of Law, he wrote: 

“Cumberland School of Law asserts that a portion of its mission is to develop in its students a sensitivity to the needs and concerns of people, an understanding of a lawyer’s duty to serve, and the will to be responsible leaders in the community. I view law as the prime vehicle for change in my community, and my desire is to adequately represent my community with the same conviction and justice I have asserted in my own personal experiences. I believe Cumberland School of Law will shape my vision and commitment to the city of Birmingham.” 

This statement, which he appropriately titled “Servant Leadership,” now serves as the core of his mission and vision as the 30th mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. 

Woodfin’s experience during and after law school helped form the backbone of his administration and its strategy. Following the motto “Putting People First,” Woodfin and his team work to ensure that the people of Birmingham are their number one priority. This tagline is the core strategy behind their plan, and passion, for moving Birmingham forward. 

“From the day I stepped foot inside Cumberland’s hallways, I viewed law as the prime vehicle for social change in our community,” he said. “It still rings true today as part of my mission of ‘Putting People First’ in Birmingham.”

Since he accepted the charge to lead Birmingham in November 2017, Woodfin and his team have used that passion to target blight in the community and level long-vacant buildings that have been a source of shame for many. He worked alongside members of the Birmingham City Council to come to a consensus on a deal that will support expansion of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, including a downtown stadium and renovation of Legacy Arena, which is now underway. He created a new office—the Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity—to protect citizens of all walks of life, in the spirit of the civil rights movement that was birthed here on Birmingham's very streets. 

“It’s all part of the foundation that was first laid at Cumberland,” Woodfin added. 

Additionally, the mayor is working to make Birmingham “a laboratory for progress,” all while using his passion to back his plans. Efforts are being made to improve economic development, neighborhood revitalization, education and career opportunities for students, and crime issues in the city’s 99 neighborhoods. He recently announced a crime-fighting plan to put more police officers on the streets, implemented a customer service program to improve relations with the public and boost employee morale, increased the city’s messages through traditional media and social media platforms, and hired a team of people to focus on workforce development and small business growth and civic innovation. One part of his vision is, by 2020, to have Birmingham be seen as the destination for women and minorities to launch their business because they know their business will thrive. 

Using his Cumberland School of Law education as a basis for his success, Randall Woodfin strives every day to put people first. That mantra will not only support his efforts as mayor, but will follow him every day of his life, in Birmingham and beyond. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.

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