Published on March 4, 2011 by Mary Wimberley  

Seven young professionals with Samford University ties are included in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2011 Top 40 Under 40 list.

Samford vice president for operations and planning Sarah C. Latham, along with Alabama Association of Nonprofits (AAN) president and CEO John Stone and alumni Lauren Skinner Beitelspacher 02, Michael E. Mullis 96, Holly Davis Tanner 97, Mike Thompson 94 and Latanishia Watters ’01  are recognized as among the best and brightest young leaders in the Birmingham business community.

The publication announced the winners Friday, March 4. The honorees will be saluted at a special luncheon on March 24 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.

Latham, 35, is Samford’s first female vice president in its 169-year history. As part of accepting the responsibility of overseeing operations and planning in 2008, she also helped organize a new business division.  In addition, she helped save $1.5 million annually in streamlined operation costs, improved department performance and implemented a Go Green Initiative. Latham joined the Samford administration in 2002 as director of institutional research.

Stone, 35, represents a $35 billion industry in Alabama and more than 20,000 nonprofit organizations.  AAN, Alabama’s only state-wide membership organization for nonprofits, is housed at Samford’s Brock School of Business, where it is integrated into the school’s program in social entrepreneurship. Stone’s focus for 2011 is on ethics and accountability for nonprofits, advocacy for the sector and professional development.

Beitelspacher, 33, who holds a master’s in business administration from Samford’s Brock School of Business, is an assistant professor of marketing in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Business. She helped grow the UAB chapter of the American Marketing Association to 100 members and into one of the top 20 chapters in the world.

Mullis, 37, a CPA who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Samford, is managing partner and wealth manager of the independently-owned Kelley & Mullis Wealth Management. He was recently honored for being in the Top 65 advisers out of 16,000 at LPL Financial, the company’s broker dealer.

Tanner, 35, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Samford, is executive vice president at PangeaTwo executive recruiting firm. She made her mark with the company by leading it into new markets, expanding the depth and quality of client services, and developing strong relationships.

Thompson, 38, who holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Samford, is a managing shareholder with Lehr Middlebrooks & Vreeland PC law firm. An attorney, he quickly earned a reputation for his solid business acumen and initiative when he joined the firm 10 years ago.

Watters, 34, who holds master of business administration and juris doctor degrees from Samford’s Brock School of Business and Cumberland School of Law, is a partner in Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker LLC. She has been with the law firm since completing an internship there, when she was immediately offered an associate position.


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.