HISTORY

For 35 years, the Alabama Policy Institute has fought for good public policy solutions in the state of Alabama. API is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational and research organization committed to free markets, limited government, and strong families. API reaches its goal of sound public policy through research, advocacy, and public education efforts.

MISSION

API’s mission is to improve the lives of Alabamians
through public policy that honors the principles of
free markets, limited government, and strong families.

VISION 

API’s sets the standard for how to govern conservatively in the state of Alabama. API generates and communicates conservative principles and policy positions while building broad coalitions among likeminded organizations and individuals in the state and nation.

CORE VALUES

Free Markets

API believes free markets, expressed as positive commercial and economic outcomes that lead to human flourishing. Fairness can only be achieved in a free market with limited government intrusion. API stands against efforts to demonize the benefits of freedom and capitalism and resists the increased control of and interference in commerce by government.

Limited Government

API believes limited governments govern best. Freedom declines when governmental power increases. Government does not exist to extend rights to the people, but instead must recognize and protect those rights which are universally given to all people by their Creator.

Strong Families

API believes that the family unit is the cornerstone of human society and is the foundation upon which other institutions and expressions of human freedom are built. One’s right to have a family, establish positive, nurturing values, and to take those values into society and the marketplace of ideas must be protected from government overreach, and liberalizing social conventions.

Team

Stephanie Smith

Position: President and CEO
Email: [email protected]

Stephanie Smith, wife of Dalton Smith and the mother of seven children, is a political advocate with twenty five years of professional experience herding both children and politicians. Stephanie is a cum laude graduate of Auburn University and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Stephanie’s professional experience includes being the Director of Governmental Affairs for Regions Financial Corporation, President of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, Assistant Finance Director for the State of Alabama, Deputy Finance Director for the State of Alabama, and as principal of the Thatcher Coalition.

In addition to her work in governmental affairs and policy, Stephanie has helped manage countless political and advocacy campaigns in Alabama. She serves as the volunteer director of the Alabama Civic Alliance and has volunteered for and served on boards for Mission Increase, Eagle Forum of Alabama, Mighty Alabama Strikeforce, Concerned Women for America, Susan B Anthony List, and AFRW. Stephanie has been a consistent conservative political voice in Alabama politics since 1998.

Stephanie Smith

President and CEO

Justin Bogie

Position: Sr. Director of Fiscal Policy
Email: [email protected]

Justin Bogie joined the API team in March of 2020. A native of Wetumpka, Alabama, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from Auburn University Montgomery.

Justin has more than a decade of federal and state policy experience. He joins API from The Heritage Foundation where he spent over four years as Senior Policy Analyst in Fiscal Affairs. In that capacity, he helped to develop and implement federal spending and budget reforms.

In 2016, Justin served as budget policy advisor to the Trump presidential campaign and was also appointed as a member of the Presidential Transition Team for the Office of Management and Budget. Prior to his work at Heritage, he spent four years working as a policy advisor for the majority staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget under Chairmen Paul Ryan (WI) and Tom Price (GA).

Justin also has state fiscal policy experience, working for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office (now part of the Legislative Services Agency) from 2008-2011.

Justin Bogie

Sr. Director of Fiscal Policy

Kelley Jo Brand

Position: Director of Operations
Email: [email protected]
Kelley Jo Brand graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the field of Health Education, but has spent most of her career working in sales and marketing. She has been married to Chuck Brand for 20 years and their daughter attends the University of Alabama. Kelley Jo is a gifted fundraiser, event planner, and organizer. She is active in her community and is a constant and competent volunteer. Kelley Jo is a founder and serves as Secretary of the Board of LOCAL Alabama as well as serving on the Shelby County Republican Executive Committee; her personality, gift for connecting people, and creative approach to problem solving will serve the Alabama Policy Institute well.

Kelley Jo Brand

Director of Operations

Phil Williams, J.D.

Position: Distinguished Fellow
Email: [email protected]

Phil is the President and on-air talent for the syndicated radio show known to the world as Rightside Radio. With a mission to enlighten, empower, educate and entertain its audience on conservative principles every day, Rightside has taken the conservative news/talk audience by storm in Alabama. Phil was formerly the Chief Policy Officer & General Counsel for the Alabama Policy Institute (API), from which Rightside sprang as a voice for the principles of law and public policy that affect all Alabamians, such as conservative principles of limited government, free markets, and strong families. Rightside Radio airs daily from 2-5pm across multiple markets and has become known for its ability to engage the audience on things that matter. So much so that the audience members have taken on the mantle of “Rightside Ruffians”!

Phil Williams is also the managing member of Williams, Driskill, Huffstutler & King, LLC, a law firm based in Gadsden, AL. His legal experience covers all levels including appellate, and he is admitted to practice in the State and Federal Courts in Alabama. His primary focus in the practice of law is largely in the areas of civil litigation, corporate/municipal/governmental general counsel, as well as a thriving real estate practice. He has been ranked as “AV-Preeminent” as a peer-evaluated Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell.

Prior to practicing law, Phil was in full time ministry for seven years with the international youth outreach organization YoungLife. With YoungLife, Phil served as an Area Director which involved direct ministry and counseling with teens, recruiting and training volunteers, public speaking, public relations, fundraising and close work with the members of the YoungLife Committee.

In addition to his day-to-day employment, Phil served two terms as the State Senator for the Tenth District of Alabama. During his tenure in the Senate, Phil served as the Chairman for the Alabama Senate Committee on Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Development, and the Vice Chair for the Committee on Judiciary.

Aside from his civilian experience, Phil also comes from a family with a long military tradition. He is an Airborne Ranger and retired in July 2017 after 30 years of service with the rank of Colonel (USAR). Phil served two combat tours in the Global War on Terror, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as one tour in the Pentagon on the Army Staff’s Special Operations Division. He served at all levels in both conventional and special operations forces. His last troop leading position was as the Battalion Commander for the 1-167th Infantry. His final duty assignment was as a reserve instructor for the Joint Special Operations University, US Special Operations Command.

Phil’s education includes a B.S. from the University of South Alabama and a Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Combined Arms and Services Staff School and the US.. Army Command and General Staff College. He is also a certified higher education instructor as a result of coursework through the Joint Special Operations University.

Among his associations and awards are the following: Phil is a Distinguished Fellow with the Alabama Policy Institute; a member in good standing of the Alabama Bar Association; he has been ranked as “AV-Preeminent” as a peer-evaluated Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell; a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA); The National Infantry Association; The Order of St. Maurice; Club For Growth Foundation Fellow; Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International; and the Etowah County Patriots Hall of Honor. In addition, he was licensed and ordained to ministry by the Southern Baptist Association.
His military awards include the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, the Humanitarian Service Medal, both the Afghan and Iraq Campaign Medals with 3 campaign stars, the Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Wings, the Pathfinder Badge, German Parachutist Wings and the Combat Action Badge.

Phil has been married for 35 years to his wife Charlene. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.

Phil Williams, J.D.

Distinguished Fellow

Scott Stantis

Position: Distinguished Fellow
Email: [email protected]

Scott Stantis joined the Alabama Policy Institute in October 2020 and has a long and successful career in journalism and media.

Scott joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune in 2009 following a 13-year stint as the editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News where he lampooned the likes of Fob James, Don Seigelman and Roy Moore.

Scott has appeared on every television news program in the Birmingham market. He was a regular on Alabama Public Television’s political round table talk show ‘For The Record’. He has also been a regular on local political talk radio stations WERC and Talk 99.5. Scott had his own afternoon drive time show on WYDE.

While working in Chicago Scott did a regular segment for WGN America, which reached over 74 million homes. (The segment was nominated for an Emmy Award). Scott was a frequent guest on many other Chicago radio and television news programs.

Scott was one of the early adopters of podcasting, producing his first in 2006. He is currently in development of a new podcast slated to be launched in late 2020.

Scott attended college in Southern California where, as a pre-law major, he fell in love with cartooning and his wife.

Scott’s editorial cartoons are syndicated to over 400 newspapers around the world. They have appeared in such varied places as The Week Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nightline and Guns & Ammo.

Scott has created a trio of internationally syndicated comic strips. (The middle one, The Buckets, had a gag chosen as one of the funniest cartoons of the 20th century). His current comic strip, Prickly City, was launched in 2004 and appears in over 120 newspapers.

He lives in Hoover, Alabama. Scott is still married to his college sweetheart and they have two grown boys.

Scott Stantis

Distinguished Fellow

Sen. Bill Hightower

Position: Distinguished Fellow

Senator Bill Hightower was consistently ranked among the most conservative members during his tenure as a State Senator. He quickly gained a reputation in Montgomery as a conservative reformer who relentlessly pushed for lower taxes and smaller government – even sponsoring legislation to change Alabama to a Flat Tax and enact Term Limits.  In addition to being a champion of rightsizing state government, Bill was a fierce defender of religious liberty and the family. He proudly sponsored and passed legislation to protect faith-based adoption agencies in Alabama. Senator Hightower was and is an advocate for conservative and innovative reforms which will enhance the lives of all Alabamians. 

Bill graduated from the University of South Alabama with his B.S. in Commercial Banking/Finance. He later went on to receive his M.B.A. at Vanderbilt University, and completed special studies in Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  During his studies he authored publications regarding European economic development and the European Union, and presently works in multiple countries  philanthropically.  In 2018 he was given special recognition for his work by His Royal Highness, Karl von Habsburg, receiving the honorary title of Knight of the Order of St George, a Christian Order upholding our Judeo-Christian heritage.  He is also a member of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF).

In business, Bill has worked globally with Fortune 500 corporations including Emerson Electric, AlliedSignal, Eaton, and Balfour-Beatty. In 2002, shortly after the terror attacks of September 11, Bill returned home to Mobile to be closer to family. He continues his work with global corporations to assist them in strategic development, and corporate acquisitions. 

Bill is married to Susan Binegar Hightower, and they have three children; Will, Haven, and Ben.  His daughter, Haven, interned at API years ago and after a career at the European Parliament, is now working in European Public Relations.  His son Will is married to Jeanette Brabston from Fairhope and they reside in Birmingham, along with three important grandchildren.  Senator Hightower’s youngest son Ben, is a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force, and will be a professor at the US Air Force Academy.

During his political career Bill has had the honor of being endorsed by such conservative greats as Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rick Santorum, Economist Stephen Moore, activist Gary Bauer as well as the National Right to Life Committee for his strong conservative stance and accomplishments.  He was also endorsed by leading conservative groups in DC such as GOPAC and Club For Growth.

He is (or has been) a board member or active with JH/Outback, NEST (juvenile delinquent rescue), Bethany Christian Adoption, the National Prayer Breakfast & European Prayer Breakfast, Governor appointed Alabama Statewide Health Coordinating Council, Middle East Project Advisor (Oslo),  Covenant School Board, the Society of International Business Fellows, and a member of Toastmaster’s International.

Sen. Bill Hightower

Distinguished Fellow

Prof. John Hill, Ph.D.

Position: Fellow and Resident Scholar

Dr. John Hill is a Fellow and Resident Scholar at the Alabama Policy Institute

Over API’s thirty-plus-year history, he has authored more than thirty publications on education, energy, the state of the environment, the health of families, gambling, and government growth. He is the primary author of three of API’s signature serial publications: Cultural Indicators for Alabama and the United States, Environmental Indicators, and How Business Friendly are Alabama’s 50 Largest Cities?

Dr. Hill is a professor at Amridge University, where he teaches statistics, research methods, and a variety of communication courses. He is also an adjunct professor at Faulkner University, where he teaches business statistics. As president of American Indicators, a statistical consulting service, Dr. Hill partners with think tanks in other states to produce custom reports on policy issues and cultural trends.

Dr. Hill holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Alabama and an M.A. in Speech from the University of Memphis.

Prof. John Hill, Ph.D.

Fellow and Resident Scholar

Bishop Jim Lowe

Position: Distinguished Fellow

Bishop Jim Lowe is the Senior Pastor of The Guiding Light Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He has frequently stated his intention is not to have people merely attend church but to become disciples in the church. He desires to empower them to think, speak, and to act to transform society. After every service, the congregation chants their word of faith in God as, “We have been created to excel, not fail, that is our divine potential.”

Bishop Jim Lowe is also a founding member of the Gatekeepers Association of Alabama. A diverse association of pastors and church leaders organized to extend the influence of God’s Kingdom into the governmental realm. 

Bishop Lowe was called into the ministry at the age of six and grew up as a young man in Birmingham, Alabama, in an era of segregation and great civil rights distress and struggles. At the age of 11, he experienced a life-changing event when he nearly lost his life in the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing in 1963, causing the death of four young girls in Sunday School. He recognized that type of hate could only be conquered when God’s love changes the haters’ heart.

The Bible is the compass Bishop Lowe uses to direct his life. He believes there are only two types of people; those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and those who do not. He also believes every human being was created by God and must be treated with respect, dignity, and honor.  

Bishop has been married to Patricia Bruce of Holly Springs, Mississippi for 42 years. He has three children, Bobby, James Louis, and Adrienne. He is the grandfather to three grandchildren; Kaydence, Samuel, and Jonathan. 

He is the Chairman of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and an honors graduate of A.H. Parker High School and Birmingham Southern College, receiving a B.A. in Business Administration.

Bishop Jim Lowe

Distinguished Fellow

Dr. Michael Brown

Position: Senior Fellow

A Huntsville native, Dr. Michael Brown began solo private practice of gastroenterology in July 1984 and eventually joined with other gastroenterologists in 1986 to form a group practice from which he retired in January of 2021. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Society in 1979. Brown is a member of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, and he is a fellow of the American College of Physicians as well as the American College of Gastroenterology. He has continued his work in clinical research and also works as a GI hospitalist.

As a Senior Fellow for the Alabama Policy Institute, Brown focuses on healthcare and public health policy. Brown is on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Policy Institute and has served API in this way for most of its 30 plus year history. He is also a board member of His Way, a drug and alcohol recovery program – an organization that has drawn his long-term dedication and support as his son struggled with addiction and passed away in the fall of 2020. Brown lives in Huntsville with his wife, Kay, of 45 years.

Dr. Michael Brown

Senior Fellow

Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, J.D.

Position: Distinguished Fellow

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Drayton Nabers was named an Alabama Policy Institute Distinguished Fellow in September 2019 by API President Caleb Crosby. As an API Distinguished Fellow, Chief Justice Nabers will lend his voice to advocating for conservative policies which lead to better government and more freedom for all Alabamians.

Nabers was appointed Alabama State Finance Director in 2003 and served in that capacity until becoming Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004 serving until 2006. In December 2018 Chief Justice Nabers retired as the director of the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University after leading the Center for four years. He has practiced law with the Birmingham firms of Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas & O’Neal and Maynard, Cooper & Gale. He served as the general counsel and chief executive officer of Protective Life Corporation, retiring in 2002 after serving the company in various roles since 1979.

Nabers has served as board chair for Cornerstone School of Alabama, president of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and board chair for United Way of Central Alabama and Leadership Birmingham. He has been inducted into both the Alabama and Birmingham Business Halls of Fame. In 2011, he received the Birmingham Bar Association’s L. Burton Barnes Public Service Award.

A 1962 graduate of Princeton University, Nabers earned his law degree from Yale University in 1965. Before returning to Birmingham to practice law, he was a law clerk to Justice Hugo Black on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nabers is an active member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham. He and his wife, Fairfax, have three children and seven grandchildren.

Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, J.D.

Distinguished Fellow

Senator Bryan Taylor, J.D.

Position: Distinguished Fellow

Bryan Taylor is a former Alabama state senator and has held senior positions in three governors’ administrations, most recently as general counsel to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.  He is also an Iraq War veteran and Army JAG lawyer in the Alabama National Guard.

Bryan is licensed to practice law in both Alabama and Texas.  He earned his B.A. in Communication from the University of Alabama in 1998. He went on to receive his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin in 2001. During his first year of law school, Bryan served as a legal intern under Texas’s then‐Governor George W. Bush. While in law school, he also worked as a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives.

Shortly after 9/11, Bryan entered the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and served four years on active duty, including a combat tour in Iraq and a tour in Honduras. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Iraq and received the American Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Military Lawyer Award in 2004. As a JAG officer, Bryan has been both a prosecutor and a defense counsel, as well as a legal advisor to military commanders in combat and humanitarian operations.

Following active duty and a brief period of private practice, Taylor served as Personal Aide for Governor Bob Riley in 2006 and was then promoted to policy director and counsel to the governor through 2010. In 2010, Taylor returned to private practice and was elected to the Alabama State Senate, becoming the first Republican ever to represent the 30th District.

He is known as the architect of ethics reform in Alabama. As a freshman, Taylor sponsored and helped steer through the Legislature a historic package of bills strengthening Alabama’s governmental ethics laws.

In January 2016, he returned to state government as general counsel for the Alabama Department of Finance, where he served until his appointment with the Ivey Administration in April of 2017.  In January 2020, Bryan returned to private practice with the law firm he co-founded, Bachus Brom & Taylor.

Senator Bryan Taylor, J.D.

Distinguished Fellow

Board of Directors

Gary & Katherine Ard

Marc Bendickson

Gene & Trinka Brabston

Tom & Mary Anne Bradford

Austin & Lindsay Brooks

Greg & Dee Brown

Michael & Kay Brown

John & Julie Collier

Bob & Mary Ann Couch

Bruce & Ida Dunbar

Brad & Ellen Herold

Don & Janice Hendry

Josh & Jennifer Jones

Neil & Helen Kennedy

Brant & Sally McDuffie

 

 

Danny & Amy McKinney

Alastair & Lisa Ann Muir-Taylor

Kevin & Angela O’Neill

John & MayMoss Parker

Jerod & Jordan Pilot

Randy & Daina Pittman

Tony & Shelley Pugh

Dalton & Stephanie Smith

Rod & Linda Steakley

Scott & Kellie Stewart

Richard & Leah Stimpson

Jim & Darcy Terry

Mary Williamson

Bryan & Holly Word

Al & Nancy Worthington

Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Alabama Policy Institute founded?

The Alabama Policy Institute was founded in 1989 as the Alabama Family Alliance. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker was the founding executive director. Congressman Gary Palmer, a co-founder of the Alabama Family Alliance, became its president. In 2000, the Alabama Family Alliance was renamed the Alabama Policy Institute (API).

What type of organization is API?

API is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational and research organization committed to free markets, limited government, and strong families.

Who leads API?

There have been three President/CEOs of the Alabama Policy Institute since 1989: Gary Palmer (1989-2014), Caleb Crosby (2014-2023), and Stephanie Smith (2023-present).

What organizations is API formally affiliated with?

API is an ally of the Family Policy Alliance and is the State Policy Network Affiliate for the State of Alabama. The Alabama Policy Institute also serves on the Advisory Board for Project 2025. 

Is the Alabama Policy Institute affiliated with 1819 News, RightSide Radio, or ACLL?

The Board of Directors of API voted to separate from 1819 News, RightSide Radio, and the Alabama Center for Law & Liberty (ACLL) in November of 2022. Formal separation from 1819 News and RightSide radio occurred on December 31, 2022 and formal separation from ACLL occurred on June 30, 2022. There are no current legal, financial, or editorial ties between the entities.

What does API do? 

API educates the public and policymakers to influence the state’s public debate with academically robust research and outreach. API generates and communicates conservative principles and policy positions and seeks to be a resource and source of research materials, analysis, and information for elected officials as they make decisions, engage in the political process, and govern.

API educates the public about state public policy debates so that members of the general public understand the issues and are well equipped to engage their representatives in influence and debate. 

API is a consensus builder and builds broad coalitions among likeminded organizations and individuals in Alabama and across the nation. 

Where is API located?

API’s offices are in the Birmingham metro area, but the Alabama Policy Institute serves the entire state of Alabama.

API believes we can change people’s lives through public policy. We believe that advancing the principles of free markets, limited government, and strong families will make Alabama an even better place to live.