People you should know: Aubrey Miller

By KATHRYN ACREE

Aubrey Miller
Executive Director, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Alabama
Board Member, Shelby County Board of Education

Perhaps the term “renaissance man” best describes Greystone’s Aubrey Miller. His passions are evident in his service to our community through his role with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. We sat down with Miller to discuss his position as a Shelby County School Board member and a minister, along with his interests, background in communications and love for the Birmingham area.

Is Birmingham your home?
Yes, I was born and raised in eastern Birmingham in an area that is now part of the Birmingham airport. I went to Woodlawn High School, to Samford for my undergraduate work and then on to Alabama for a masters degree in communications. My wife, Beverly, is the principal of Vincent Elementary, and our daughters, Amy and Alison, both attended Shelby County Schools. Amy is a lawyer out in Houston, and Alison is here in Birmingham working for Southern Progress.

Were we right when we heard you once worked as a weatherman and a disc jockey?
Yes, my days in TV and radio are behind me, but in the early 70s I worked as the weekend weather and sports guy at WBRC television. I also worked at a country radio station in Northport. Let’s just say it gave me an appreciation for all types of music! I later worked for the Alabama Radio News Network in Montgomery and covered state political news. The radio news network had affiliate stations around the state that would pick up our coverage.

What was the most interesting aspect of covering state politics?
I had the opportunity to sit down with former governor George Wallace and interview him several times later in his life. Our conversations were candid, and as he looked back upon his career, he acknowledged his regrets but said his actions were always based on the fight for anti-federal government control. Probably the coolest event I was ever able to cover was the 20th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott that included dignitaries such as Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King.

After leaving media work, how did you get back to Birmingham?
In the 80s I was part of the fledgling Birmingham Cable Company that was laying the first cable lines in the area. My role with them expanded and our family made a couple of moves in the Southeast. We came back to the area in the mid 80s, and I served as an adjunct professor at Samford and served on the Economic Development Board. Later I ran the state tourism office under Governor Fob James before moving on to Southern Progress Corporation, where I served as the Director of Tourism and Travel for Southern Living until 2005. After that I served as the president of the Baptist Heath Foundation for three years before coming to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in October 2009.

Does your work with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation have a personal connection?
Yes, my daughter, Amy, was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes as a child. That experience gives me the insight and empathy to work with other families who fight daily to manage this disease. The goal of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation is funding research for a cure, improved treatment and prevention of Type I Diabetes.

Tell us about serving as the pastor of Faith Church.
I serve as our pastor, and we currently share space with Aldersgate United Methodist. We are a Bible-based, missions-driven fellowship with a current active fellowship of about 120 members. We’re seeking to move to the 280 area and continue growing.

Since your election to the school board a year ago, what do you feel are the most pressing issues for education in Shelby County?
We need to address the issue of economic disparity between the schools. We should give the same care and attention to all schools, regardless if they are in rural parts of the county or affluent areas. We need to look at the impact of the recent immigration law because there is a lot of misunderstanding out there. The school system is not a political football; it’s our role to educate. Finally, funding is always an issue. It’s our hope that the Education Foundation will fulfill its role in creating a collaboration between schools and businesses. We have excellent leadership in Randy Fuller as our superintendent, and he will continue to make this system even better.

Although spare time seems like a rarity for you, what do you consider an interest or hobby?
I still love to travel when Beverly and I can carve out time to do so. On our 25th anniversary we took a trip to the Greek Isles, which were absolutely gorgeous. Closer to home, I can’t recommend enough a day trip to Little River Canyon in north Alabama. That area is a true gem in our state.

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