The 2022 Vestavia Hills Parks and Recreation Photography Competition judge’s panel includes highly accomplished photographers George Ritchey, Dr. Steven M. Grunfeld and Lindsay N. Donald, along with Mayor Ashley Curry, City Manager Jeff Downes, Public Works Director Brian Davis and Vestavia Hills Beautification Board member Linda Wood.
Ashley Curry is a 30 year resident of Vestavia Hills and the current Mayor of the City of Vestavia Hills. After obtaining an MBA degree from the University of South Carolina, he joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1978 and was assigned to the Tampa field office. In 1980 he was transferred to Birmingham where he remained until his retirement in 2003. After the Bureau, he became the Assistant Federal Security Director for Law Enforcement with the newly-created U.S. Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Transportation Security Administration and was assigned to the Birmingham International Airport. In 2005, he left law enforcement and moved back into the corporate arena as the corporate recruiter for EBSCO Industries. In this capacity, he handled the recruitment of executive level positions within the company’s 30 different business units. He retired from EBSCO in 2014.
Lindsay Donald is an award-winning wildlife photographer. Originally from Scotland, he has a degree in zoology and animal behavior from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. Lindsay started taking photographs to illustrate animal behavior for a research project in the late 1970s. He worked in the 1980s as a photojournalist in England for provincial newspapers and for an upscale wedding portrait studio. Since then, he has traveled all over the United States and the world in search of amazing wildlife images, making frequent visits to Africa, including Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Lindsay has also taught wildlife photography techniques at the Birmingham Zoo.
Jeff Downes became the city manager for Vestavia Hills in July 2013 after retiring from the City of Montgomery, Alabama, where he spent the last decade of his 26-year career there as an executive level leader and carried the title of deputy mayor. He possesses a wealth of experience and understanding of municipal government and is especially adept at connecting people to promote community and economic growth. He espouses New Urbanist philosophy for creating quality living spaces in urban development, and economic development is a primary focus of his efforts in Vestavia Hills. Upon engagement as Vestavia Hills’ city manager in 2013, Mr. Downes quickly established a dynamic of cooperation that lead to movement on a number of projects that had been slow to progress. His leadership and facilitation have overcome challenging obstacles and have gained critical support for many efforts including the Community Spaces Plan and preceding recreational facilities improvements, development projects in areas throughout the city’s geography, and investments in infrastructure improvements. Within the City of Vestavia Hills organization, he has overseen the restructuring of several departments and strengthened the value of its vendor relationships through increased partnership and innovative programs. He has embraced technology and social media as tools to build consensus in the community and enhance City services to the public.
Dr. Steven M. Grunfield is a retired podiatrist living in Birmingham, AL. Steve has been interested in photography for over 60 years. A native of Rochester, New York, Steve grew up with photography as a major force in his early life. “I feel photography allows me to express my perceptions of the world around me. I enjoy going to interesting places and bringing home mementos of the experience with photography.” Through his interest in photography, Steve has traveled to Africa, Europe, Cuba, Central and South America and across the United States. Photography has further led Steve to delve in depth and to apply computer technology to perfect his photos.
George Ritchey has been serious about his photography for more than 35 years. This interest dates from his days studying visual production during the completion of his masters degree at LSU. His early passion was with wildlife and nature coupled with his need to promote his employment supporting the educational community. Ritchey’s work in photography has taken him to 30 different foreign venues both as an instructor and for image capture to add to his stock inventory. Images from his collection have won numerous juried competitions. Over 300 publications have used his work. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Birmingham News have both done feature articles on his photo activity.