Vulcan Staff Members
Darlene Negrotto – President & CEOx103dnegrotto@visitvulcan.com
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A native of New Orleans, Negrotto’s choice of a career in the hospitality and tourism industry was inspired by that city’s abundance of great restaurants and wealth of interesting places. Following graduate studies in Organizational Psychology at Louisiana State University, she held management positions at prominent institutions in the southeast, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Pontchartrain Hotel and NorthRiver Yacht Club.
She later served as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Business Center of Alabama, Inc., a subsidiary of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, and came to Birmingham to operate The Harbert Center, the landmark downtown event facility.
Negrotto has served as President and CEO of Vulcan Park and Museum since March 2004. Through her position, she enjoys having the opportunity to instill in our youth an understanding and sense of pride in their hometown, create excitement about the many positive aspects of our region in both visitors and residents and create mutually beneficial partnerships with other cultural institutions and service agencies. She was named the BBJ’s 2010 Non Profit CEO of the Year and 2011 Best in Minority Business Award for Non Profit Leadership.
Among her civic and professional activities, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce and The Women’s Network, is an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, the Women’s Forum and CAHABA. Other activities have included leadership roles with Executive Women International, International Facility Management Association and Kentuck Festival of the Arts. She is married to Birmingham native E. Foster Smith and loves to travel and cook.
Joe Saling – Director of Visitor Experiencex104jsaling@visitvulcan.com
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Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Joe Saling brings to Vulcan Park and Museum an extensive background in hospitality and tourism at some of the most well-known destinations in the southeast. He learned the industry’s best practices for guest service and facility management from his early professional years at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee and Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. He has a passion for creating a beautiful environment for the visitor’s arrival experience, setting a tone of anticipation and excitement. Joe also spent a number of years in sales and marketing for the Sheraton Birmingham and Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa. Most recently, he led the initial marketing and community relations for the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook, Birmingham, Alabama.
He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Murray State University.
Joe is active at Prince of Peace Catholic Church having served on the Parish Council and Service Pillar Board. He has also been a volunteer with Big Brother and Big Sister program and with the Nashville and Birmingham Red Cross.
In his spare time, Joe enjoys anything outdoors, trail running, cycling, gardening and day trips with his family.
Ashley Thompson – Director of Developmentx106athompson@visitvulcan.com
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Originally from Hendersonville, North Carolina, Ashley comes to us from the Vestavia Hills City Schools Foundation where she served as a member of the board of directors and as Executive Director for the past seven years. In that role, she strategically employed a variety of initiatives to significantly increase income from fundraising events, successfully solicited new grant funding, and cultivated relationships leading to increased contributions. Ashley previously worked with HealthSouth in marketing and in training, at First American Home Care in business development, and at Parisian as a merchandise coordinator.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Speech Communication from Clemson University.
Ashley has been very active in service organizations including Leadership Vestavia Hills, the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, Vestavia Hills schools PTOs, Friends of Byrd Park, and is an active member of Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church.
In her spare time, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, entertaining, traveling, gardening and watching Vestavia Hills Lacrosse and Clemson Tiger football.
LaShana Sorrell – Director of Marketing & Public Relationsx107lsorrell@visitvulcan.com
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Originally from Mississippi, LaShana comes to us from Aramark where she served as the District Marketing Manager for The University of Alabama and Alabama A&M University. In her six years with Aramark she has executed marketing initiatives at seven colleges and universities across the south. LaShana has also served as adjunct professor at the University of Alabama in the Department of Advertisement and Public Relations, specializing in Public Relations Writing. She brings knowledge and experiences in creating and directing community events, developing strategic marketing programs and supporting sales growth initiatives.
Previously, LaShana has served as spokesperson for the Hattiesburg Police Department and as the Social Marketing/ Cultural & Linguistic Competence Coordinator for Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Master of Science degree in Mass Communication from The University of Southern Mississippi and an MBA in marketing from American InterContinental University.
LaShana has been active in the community serving as Vice President of Enrichment for the Tuscaloosa Magnet School PTA, Girl Scouts Troop Leader and a member in Public Relations Council of Alabama and Southern Public Relations Federation. In her spare time, LaShana enjoys shopping, traveling, musicals, spending time with family and discovering local, good eats.
Jennifer Watts – Director of Museum Programsx108jwatts@visitvulcan.com
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Jennifer grew up in Hoover, Alabama and comes to Vulcan from Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park where she served as Museum and Education Director from 2011 until January 2018. At Tannehill she professionalized collections care and management at the Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama, expanded educational programming for k-12 students, and worked with government agencies and local foundations to fund education and other initiatives at the park. Jennifer earned her Masters of Heritage Preservation degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta and has worked extensively with museum administration, collections, exhibits, and educational programming over the course of her career in various museums in Alabama and Georgia.
Jennifer currently chairs the Birmingham Industrial Heritage Trail’s steering committee and has previously served as Treasurer on the executive council of the Alabama Museums Association. She is a member of the Alabama Museums Association, the Southeastern Museums Conference, and the American Association for State and Local History.
In her spare time she likes getting outdoors, enjoying the arts, and spending time with her family.
Layla Patterson – Office Managerx109lpatterson@visitvulcan.com
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Born and raised in the Birmingham area, Layla attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business and Healthcare Management. At the beginning of her career she worked in Huntsville, AL where she spent three years working as a NASA Contractor at the Marshall Space Flight Center as an administrative and managerial assistant. From there, her family and closest friends are what brought her back to the Birmingham area where she worked as a practice manager for a medical clinic in the downtown area.
With over eight years of experience in office management and administrative support, Layla offers a wealth of knowledge and leadership to her position at Vulcan. As the Office Manager she provides the support necessary to keep the facility running smoothly from an operational and financial standpoint. As Office Manager she is responsible for providing support to the CEO and key management positions as well as administrative, bookkeeping, and human resource services.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, anything active or outdoors, reading, watching movies with her two kids, and especially family vacations!
Lindsay Elliott – Collections Managerx112lelliott@visitvulcan.com
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Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Lindsay attended the University of Montevallo and received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in History. She then completed a Mastor of Arts in American History and a Certification in Museum Studies at the University of West Georgia. She worked as a Museum Technician at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta for over two and a half years, working to complete a 100% inventory of the museum collection.
Since April 2011, she has served as Educational Program Coordinator scheduling tours and outreach programs, coordinating and recruiting volunteers, training docents, assisting with the creation of exhibits as well as organizing and preserving our collection. She enjoys the opportunity to teach kids about history in a way that they can relate to and hopes to influence them to develop a fascination for the subject. After four years of Latin in high school, she is excited to be hanging out with one of her old mythological friends again.
Lindsay is a member of the Alabama Museum Association, the Southeastern Museum Conference and the Southeastern Registrars Association. She enjoys reading history (especially when it concerns pirates), playing sports, taking her dachshund, Abby, for walks and being around her friends and her husband Scott.
Lisa Hudson – Event Venue Assistant Managerx110lhudson@visitvulcan.com
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Originally from Tuscaloosa, AL, Lisa Hudson has lived in Birmingham for more than 20 years. Since March 2015, she has served Vulcan Park and Museum as Events Venue Assistant Manager. Her primary responsibilities include event venue tours, sales and managing private events. She enjoys interacting with visitors and guests who come to tour the event facilities at Vulcan Park and Museum while considering them for their special occasion. Lisa enjoys ensuring guests have a warm welcome and a great experience when hosting an event at Vulcan Park and Museum.
Outside of work at Vulcan, she enjoys time with family and friends, traveling and having a quiet day to relax at home. She has lived in several states along her life’s journey including Florida, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Georgia, and her native home of Alabama.
Blake Guinn – Visitor Services Managerbguinn@visitvulcan.com
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A Birmingham area native, Blake has lived in the area his entire life. Since childhood, he has been passionate about history, politics, and public service. In 2012, the same year he graduated high school, Blake was elected to a four year term on the Gardendale City Council. At 19, he became the youngest elected in the city’s history, and one of the youngest in Alabama. While serving, Blake chaired the city’s library and economic development committees. He was active in the Chamber of Commerce and served as the liaison to the Beautification Commission. He received the Gardendale’s “Own” Award twice in recognition of his service to the people.
In 2016, Blake chose not to seek re-election in favor of spending more time with family, friends, and his dog. He rescued Gracie from the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in 2013, and has loved being a dog dad ever since!
Prior to coming to Vulcan in 2018, Blake worked at Renaissance Ross Bridge Resort and for a gubernatorial campaign in the Birmingham region.
At VPM, Blake is the Visitor Services Manager. He is responsible for the Visitor Services Representatives, and ensuring that all of our guest love and enjoy their time at our beautiful park. He hopes y’all will come visit, and get a taste of Southern hospitality!
Emily Meyer – Visitor Services Supervisorx115emeyer@visitvulcan.com
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Emily Meyer manages and supervises The Anvil gift shop at Vulcan Park and Museum. She and her husband, Jeff, joined the team in the summer of 2017 and are very excited to be a part of Birmingham’s premier historic attraction and cultural institution.
Growing up in Dothan, AL, Emily has spent most of her adult life “out West,” living and working in Yellowstone National Park, as well as Moscow, ID and Missoula, MT. She also spent three years living in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan and four months in Iquique, Tarapaca, Chile teaching English to public school children. Emily acquired her extensive knowledge of guest service and retail management while working 12 years for the main concessionaire at Yellowstone National Park.
Emily has a BFA in Painting, as well as a BA in Secondary Art Education, from the University of Idaho in Moscow. She is a working artist and hopes to insert herself into Birmingham’s dynamic art scene. She loves nature and gets outside as much as possible to hike, camp, and kayak.
A recent transplant to Birmingham, Emily misses the Western mountains and snow (her skis wait patiently in her Birmingham closet). But she is excited to live in Birmingham and continue to explore the city’s lovely parks, great food, and dynamic cultural opportunities. The people are nice too! She looks forward to meeting them at Vulcan Park and Museum!
Jeremy Bagnall – Marketing Coordinatorx113jbagnall@visitvulcan.com
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Although Jeremy was born and raised in South Detroit, unfortunately he did not take the midnight train going anywhere. In fact, his journey brought him to Montevallo, AL, and he is no stranger to the Birmingham area. Since an early age, he has been passionate about sports specifically, baseball, football, and hockey. However, his love for the game of baseball allowed him to take advantage of an opportunity to play ball, and graduate from the University of Montevallo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing.
Before coming to Bham, Jeremy was able to contribute to the youth baseball programs in the Metro Detroit Area, where he hosted a youth pitching clinic for little league players. Additionally, Jeremy volunteered as an assistant coach for his former high school team, and in his spare time worked with kids to improve their pitching and hitting skills by providing further instruction at Downriver Baseball Center.
Prior to the joining Vulcan Park and Museum, Jeremy worked with the Downriver YMCA and 3DFit Arena (local gyms near his hometown) as a Personal Trainer and a Marketing Specialist. He was able to revitalize 3DFit’s marketing campaigns through website design and connecting with consumers through social media platforms.
At VPM, Jeremy is responsible for promoting the Vulcan Park and Museum’s superior experience and grounds to ensure that visitors have the chance to fully understand and experience our great park and museum. Also, he assists in coordinating our events and making sure that all departments are collaborating to promote consistent messages.
Outside of the office, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his family and friends, travel, fitness, golfing, frisbee, and attending sporting events.
Casey Gamble – Museum Program Coordinatorx114cgamble@visitvulcan.com
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A Birmingham area native, Casey Gamble attended the University of Montevallo where she earned a Bachelor of Science in History. She then completed a Master of Arts in Secondary Education at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She worked for Enterprise Holdings and Birmingham City Schools before beginning her career at Vulcan Park and Museum. As a speaker at area education conferences, Casey strives to promote a love of social studies among students and encourages teachers to use varying methods in the classroom, focusing on the use of primary sources and trade books.
Casey has been connected with Vulcan Park and Museum since 2014 when she worked as an intern in the education department. She eventually went on to run the summer camp program before transitioning to her current role.
As Museum Programs Coordinator, Casey works to promote VPM’s educational programs, primarily focusing on area school systems. In addition, she manages group tours, and supervises volunteers and interns.
In her spare time, Casey enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, as well as gardening, reading, photography, and playing with her pets.
Elizabeth Choy – Development Coordinatorx111echoy@visitvulcan.com
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Originally from Birmingham, Elizabeth—or Lizzie as many call her—graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee where she received her B.A. in Urban Studies. While at Rhodes, Lizzie was plugged into campus life as the Vice President of Senior Class Council, Vice President of Panhellenic Council, and Rhodes College Diplomats as a member of the steering committee.
During her junior and senior year, she worked at Rhodes as the Media Relations Student Associate, where she developed a passion for communications. Lizzie’s interest in nonprofits stems from her internships at the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which is the fundraising and awareness organization that supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. While at ALSAC, Lizzie worked in Public Relations, Event Marketing, and the Executive Office. After moving home following graduation, she interned at Children’s of Alabama Foundation with their Development Team prior to joining us at VPM.
As Development Coordinator, Lizzie supports all efforts of development including Junior Leadership Board and membership correspondence, grant writing, and collaborating with other departments.
In her spare time, Lizzie enjoys playing with her precious dog, Duke, trying new restaurants with friends, playing with other people’s dogs, reading, attending local festivals, and making people laugh.