March 1, 2021, Birmingham, AL: The Board of Directors of United Ability, the nationally respected provider of life-changing services for children and adults with disabilities, is pleased to announce the election of Susan Sellers as Chief Executive Officer, effective April 26, 2021. Sellers succeeds the late Dr. Gary Edwards, who led United Ability and its predecessor organizations with distinction for 38 years until his unexpected death in June 2020.
Sellers is currently President of the St. Vincent’s Foundation of Alabama. She joined St. Vincent’s as Vice President in 2014 and was promoted to President soon thereafter.
Brian Bateh, Business Development Partner at Warren Averett, chair of United Ability’s 10-person CEO search committee and a past Chair of the Board, noted, “from our very first encounter, Susan Sellers impressed the entire search committee with her strategic mindset and positivity. Her leadership has had a lasting impact on constituents and communities that are highly relevant to United Ability’s work. Her affinity for creating innovative programs and partnerships, both within her own organizations and across the larger community, held a special appeal to us.”
Sellers said she is honored to follow her friend and colleague Dr. Edwards in leading United Ability. “Dr. Edwards was uniquely effective in creating an organization widely recognized for the respect and dignity shown its clientele. His passing was a huge loss to United Ability and to the larger community.” Continued Sellers, “The resilience of United Ability’s executive team and staff following his death in the midst of the pandemic is a superb testament to his leadership. I am honored and humbled to have the privilege of building on such a strong legacy as we continue to find ways to be of greater service to people in need.”
Born in Waco, Texas, Sellers has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English Composition, summa cum laude, from Texas Christian University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor University. After law school, she began her career in the public policy division of the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, DC. Returning to Waco, she served two nonprofits before becoming Executive Director of Communities in Schools Central Texas.
Following her husband’s transfer to New Orleans in 2000, Sellers spent the next 14 years focused on nonprofit infrastructure and effectiveness as a consultant, coach and volunteer resource. Of special note, after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, she managed a multimillion-dollar federal initiative to place 8,000 families back in their homes. She was then hired by New Orleans’ Metropolitan Human Services District to restructure mental health, addictive disorder, and developmental disability services in New Orleans and other Louisiana parishes.
With a final relocation, to Birmingham in 2014, Sellers joined St. Vincent’s Foundation of Alabama, where she has established a reputation for creating innovative programs—and attracting the support they deserve—with particular emphasis on the poor and vulnerable. Along the way, she was singularly instrumental in the formation and success of Forge Cancer Survivorship Center, on whose board she still serves.
Allen Bolton, Senior Vice President of Finance & Administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and chair of United Ability’s board, cited Sellers’ gift for collaboration and partnership. “While Susan is dogged in her advocacy for St. Vincent’s, she does so in a way that demonstrates a commitment to the larger community. We believe her compassion for those with special challenges and her holistic view of community engagements will help United Ability expand our reach and our impact even further than before.”
According to search committee chair Bateh, “Susan’s experience in managing the transition from a long-serving leader at St. Vincent’s Foundation simply added to her appeal as the unanimous choice of the search committee and her subsequent appointment by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors.”
In addition to Bateh, United Ability’s CEO search committee consisted of
• Bob Chapman, retired CEO, Eastern Health System
• Mark Cohen, MD
• Jay Ezelle, Partner, Starnes Davis Florie
• Ronne Hess, civic leader
• Alyssa McQuilling, Project Leader at Southern Energy and President of United
Ability’s Junior Board
• Tina Shaddix, United Ability Chief Operating Officer
• Lisa Warren, CEO, Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center
• Tricia Wells, VP of HR Operations, Encompass Health
• Thomas Wilder, Pastor, Bethel Baptist Church
The committee was advised throughout the search process by Sam Pettway and Paula Nicholas of BoardWalk Consulting, a national executive search firm.
Bolton and Bateh also noted the exceptional contribution by Lee Yount, UA’s interim CEO since July 2020. “Lee took office at an exceptionally challenging time for the organization, and her contribution cannot be overstated. Her stabilizing influence contributed materially to the momentum that Susan Sellers will inherit. The people of Alabama are indebted to Lee and her team for their unwavering commitment to
the spirit of service for which United Ability is so well regarded.”
Sellers will assume her role as CEO of United Ability on April 26, 2021. Supporting her in the transition will be her husband, Scott Sellers, Chief Division Counsel for the FBI, and their two sons, Eli, 20, and Ethan, 17.
About United Ability:
Unique in the state of Alabama, United Ability provides life-spectrum programming designed to promote self-reliance and improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities. United Ability serves more than 5,400 children and adults with disabilities, including but not limited to: cerebral palsy; spina bifida, Autism; Down Syndrome, hydrocephalus, genetic disorders, limb loss/deficiency, closed head injuries, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other special needs. For more information, visit United Ability online at www.unitedability.org.
For additional information, contact:
David Barry, Director of Communications and External Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205.944.3916.