The Alabama Family Trust staff is comprised of dedicated professionals who commit their time and energy to supporting the mission of Alabama Family Trust and the families we serve.
Their goal is to provide you peace of mind when you need assistance with special needs trusts combined with the most accurate knowledge of the current law. When you refer trust matters to us, you can be confident that our staff has the knowledge and experience to handle your situation.
Learn more about the professionals who support our cause and provide support through special needs disability trusts for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
Melanie Bradford Holliman – Executive Director
Attorney Melanie B. Holliman was appointed to serve as the Executive Director in 2014. She served as an advisory board member from 2011-2013 and as a board member for a short time in 2014. For over a decade, Mrs. Holliman has practiced elder law and estate planning law 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.
Mrs. Holliman is a founding partner of Bradford & Holliman LLC and was recognized as a 2018 Top Elder Law Attorney in Birmingham Magazine by her peers. B METRO magazine named her as a 2018 Top Flight Attorneys, and Attorney At Law magazine, North Alabama edition, named her as one of the Attorneys to Watch in 2018.
Melanie B. Holliman is a member of these organizations:
- Huntsville Financial and Estate Planning Council (past board member)
- Caregiver Task Force appointed by the Alabama Senate
- Elder Law Section of the Alabama State Bar (past president)
- Planning committee for the annual Alabama Elder Law Conference
- Planning committee for the Annual National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys conference (2015)
- Alabama State Bar and the Tennessee Bar Association
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- American Bar Association
Mrs. Holliman provides care for her aging mother and enjoys working to socialize rescue dogs.
Lesley Byars – Chief Financial Officer
Lesley Byars is a Certified Public Accountant and is responsible for the financial and accounting functions and banking relationships for the Alabama Family Trust in addition to Human Resources oversight.
She joined Alabama Family Trust as Chief Taxation Officer, responsible for the preparation and filing of trust returns and 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 and worked as an auditor for PriceWaterhouse Coopers in New York City.
She returned to Alabama to serve as 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 other states to review complex corporate, partnership, trust, and individual returns. She also has expertise in the area of multi-state taxation for all types of returns.
She resides in Florence, Alabama where she enjoys horseback riding and gardening.
Shannon Brubaker – Chief Administrative Officer
Shannon Brubaker is our Chief Administrative Officer and joined Alabama Family Trust 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 homes through adoption. Additionally, Mrs. Brubaker became very familiar and experienced with Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, a benefit some foster children receive. Mrs. Brubaker served as a Care Transitions Coach with TARCOG in Huntsville, Alabama, providing services to Medicare recipients.
Mrs. Brubaker has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and 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 Alabama Family Trust on legal issues and marketing to legal communities, representing Alabama Family Trust before various state Medicaid agencies, and providing general education to the legal community and public about Alabama Family Trust.
Mrs. Jenkins has extensive governmental and regulatory legal experience from serving 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 Bachelor’s degree in the Arts 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.
Evan Lichter – Trust Operations Manager
As Trust Operations Manager, Evan Lichter supports Lesley Byars, the Chief Financial Officer, with the daily financial, accounting and tax functions of Alabama Family Trust.
Prior to joining Alabama Family Trust in 2017, Mr. Lichter worked for Regions Bank for a decade in debit card operations and trust accounting. He has a Bachelor’s degree of Business Administration with a concentration in Management from the University of Georgia, as well as accounting coursework at University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Mr. Lichter resides in Birmingham with his wife and son. On weekends, they enjoy relaxing with friends and family.
Samantha Bufalo – Administrative Assistant
Mrs. Bufalo earned her Applied Science Associates degree in Computer Programming at Jefferson State Community College while working in the financial industry. She served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego, CA. She supported launching and recovering aircraft as well as managing and training personnel for duties aboard the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). Mrs. Bufalo participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and humanitarian aid following the tsunami that struck Sri Lanka in 2005.
Samantha Bufalo resides in Helena, AL with her husband and three children. She enjoys cooking, travel, and spending time with her family.
Kalandria Morris, Administrative Assistant
Ms. Kalandria Morris is a graduate of Miles College where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting with a GPA of 3.89. While at Miles College, she made the President’s Honors list three times and Dean’s list once. She was also a member of the HonorCurriculum, Phi Beta Lamda, and the Accounting Club.
Ms. Morris has diverse experience from working in the Miles College Financial Aid office, tutoring, leading study sessions, being an Office Clerk at Piggly Wiggly, and serving as secretary of her class during her sophomore year. Ms. Morris is pursing a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics. She plans to pursue her Educator certification, start her own non-profit business, and open up a charter school.