The Alabama Family Trust cares about those with special needs. Our Executive Staff is comprised of dedicated professionals who have committed their time and energy to helping support the mission of AFT and the families we serve.
Learn more about the professionals who support our cause and provide support through special needs disability trusts for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
Attorney Melanie Bradford is our Executive Director. Ms. Bradford was appointed to serve as the Executive Director in 2014. Previously, she served as an advisory board member form 2011-2013. She also served as a board member for a short time in 2014. For the past 11 years, Bradford has practiced law exclusively as an elder law and estate planning attorney in Northeast and Central Alabama.
She frequently gives presentations to groups regarding long term care planning and Alabama Family Trust. She also speaks to families with disabled family members on estate planning and the use of special needs trusts. In addition to talking to the public, she speaks to members of the legal and healthcare professions on identifying and assisting clients with disabilities through the use of special needs trusts. Continuing legal education credits are available for professional talks.
She is a member of the Huntsville Financial and Estate Planning Council (past board member). She is a member of the Caregiver Task Force appointed by the Alabama Senate; a member of the Elder Law Section of the Alabama State Bar (past president); a member of the planning committee for the annual Alabama Elder Law Conference; a member of the planning committee for the Annual National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys conference (2015), the Alabama State Bar, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; American Bar Association; and the Tennessee Bar Association.
Ms. Bradford provides care for her aging mother and enjoys working to socialize rescue dogs.
CFO and Director of Community Relations
Doug Marshall is our CFO and Director of Community Relations. Mr. Marshall is a Certified Public Accountant and joined AFT in 2014. Marshall is responsible for the financial and accounting functions and banking relationships for the Alabama Family Trust in addition to having oversight for HR. He is also responsible for community relations with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, non-profit organizations, agencies, and professionals directly serving individuals with disabilities. He previously served as Chief Taxation Officer for AFT.
Mr. Marshall served previously as CFO of United Ability (formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham) and United Ability Foundation where he brought his financial leadership and overall heart, beginning his journey of serving children and adults with disabilities after a successful career in the corporate world. He served as Executive for the United Way of Central Alabama Pacesetter Campaigns in 2013 and 2014 and previously served on the Boards of Workshops, Inc. and The Hope Foundation. Marshall enjoyed 25 years with Energen Corporation, where he played a key role in its overall success as VP/Controller of Alagasco with direct responsibility over a substantial part of Operations and Director of Tax for Energen. While at Energen, he was long-time Chair of both the Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee for the Business Council of Alabama and the Advisory Council for the School of Business and Accounting for Miles College in Birmingham. He also worked in the Tax Department for Ernst & Young, LLP.
In his after-hours, Mr. Marshall is a career coach, a passion and purpose he has working with people and watching their lives change positively through setting and achieving goals and objectives. Mr. Marshall and his wife live in Alabaster and care for his mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s / dementia.
CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
Shannon Brubaker is our Chief Administrative Officer. Mrs. Brubaker has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science. She joined AFT in 2014. Mrs. Brubaker worked for nearly ten years with the Jackson County (Alabama) Department of Human Resources as a Child Welfare Worker and, was later promoted to a Child Welfare Supervisor. Mrs. Brubaker worked with many families whose lives were positively transformed as a result of her experience and management services through DHR. Through her diligence and resolve, she also helped foster children find their forever home through adoption. Additionally, Mrs. Brubaker became very familiar and experienced with Medicaid and SSI, a benefit some foster children receive. Mrs. Brubaker also served as a Care Transitions Coach with TARCOG in Huntsville, Alabama, providing services to Medicare recipients. She is a lifelong resident of Jackson County where she lives with her husband and two children.
Laura Cross Jenkins
Staff Attorney and Trust Specialist
Laura Cross Jenkins is our Staff Attorney and Trust Specialist. Mrs. Jenkins is responsible for providing support to the Executive Director in representing AFT on legal issues and marketing to legal communities, representing AFT before various state Medicaid agencies, and providing general education to the legal community and public about AFT.
Mrs. Jenkins has extensive governmental and regulatory legal experience having previously served as a Regulatory Manager and Corporate Counsel for EarthLink, Inc. (formerly DeltaCom, Inc.) and as a law clerk for Alabama Supreme Court Justices Thomas A. Woodall and Patricia M. Smith. She also has impressive public relations experience having served as the Campaign Coordinator for three successful Alabama Supreme Court candidates. She received her BA in English from the University of Montevallo and her JD from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.
Mrs. Jenkins and her husband have two daughters and reside in Scottsboro, Alabama. They are passionate adoption advocates.
Chief Taxation Officer
Lesley Byars is our Chief Taxation Officer. Ms. Byars, a Certified Public Accountant, recently joined AFT and is responsible for the preparation and filing of trust returns. She is the primary contact for questions related to tax reporting, software, IRS and ADOR correspondence and research of complex tax issues.
Ms. Byars has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Alabama. She worked as an auditor for PriceWaterhouse Coopers in New York City. After returning to Alabama she was a vice president and trust tax manager first for the trust tax department of BBVA Compass in Birmingham (formerly Central Bank of the South) and later for Wells Fargo (formerly SouthTrust Bank). In recent years she has contracted with several public accounting firms in Alabama and in other states to review complex corporate, partnership, trust and individual returns. She also has expertise in the area of multistate taxation for all types of returns.
She is a resident of Florence, Alabama where she enjoys living on the farm, gardening and caring for her horses and dogs. Horseback riding is her lifelong passion and she spends many of her after hours trail-riding and camping. Ms. Byars is also a pianist who plays for social and church events on occasion.