Wardine Alexander

Wardine T. Alexander

City Councilor, Council President Pro Tempore, Birmingham, AL

Wardine Alexander serves as President Pro-Tempore of the Birmingham City Council. On the Council, Ms. Alexander serves as the Chair of the Utilities/Technology Committee and is a member of the Administration/Education and Budget/Finance committees. Previously, Ms. Alexander served two terms as Board President for the Board of Education for Birmingham City School. During her tenure on the Board, Birmingham City Schools received AdvancED full accreditation for all district schools, increased the number of Pre-K classrooms, and offered Dual Enrollment for all eligible students. Ms. Alexander is also a board-certified Medical Technologist and previously served as president of the Alabama State Association of Blood Banks. Ms. Alexander holds a B.S. degree in Medical Technology from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Building Careers and Bridging Economic Divides in Birmingham, Alabama

Wardine Alexander, councilor of District 7 in Birmingham, grows a workforce pipeline 

Birmingham, Alabama City Councilor Wardine Alexander was troubled by seeing young people out of work in her hometown. She knew they could have bright futures. She also knew both racial and economic inequities were holding them back. Those inequities were striking; in some parts of the city, the highest 20% of earners earn roughly thirty times that of the lowest 20% of earners. Black residents were over four times more likely than white residents to be unemployed. Alexander knew her city’s young people deserved a clear, supported path to success. As an E Pluribus Unum Fellow, she committed to creating it. 

“My vision is that they have a livable-wage job that makes them able to go into home ownership, provide for their families, and have an overall improvement of their quality of life,” she explains. 

For her equity project, Alexander created a workforce development pipeline between local Lawson State Community College and Birmingham bottling manufacturer Buffalo Rock Company. Residents would get a stipend to participate in the essential  four-week on-site training necessary to be hired or advance at Buffalo Rock, as well as be prepared for a host of other manufacturing jobs.

“What’s important to me is that it just isn’t a low paying job. It’s a career path,” says Alexander.

E Pluribus Unum provided critical funding and technical support for Alexander’s work. She used that to enlist her partners at Lawson State to develop the curriculum and training for the program. She was also able to offer a stipend for the program and advertise it broadly among underrepresented communities. 

In the summer of 2022, Alexander launched the program with a cohort of nine students. The training was a success. All nine have been hired at Buffalo Rock and are already making plans to advance in the company or further their education. A second group of students began in fall 2022. Alexander is now building connections between local government, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to continue this work as a partnership.  

Through this process, Alexander says she’s grateful for what she calls the “Unum family.”

“We really created relationships with other Southern elected officials, and found out that a lot of municipalities have the same concerns that we have right here in Birmingham,” Alexander says. 

Those relationships extend past E Pluribus Unum’s programming—a number of the Fellows connected at a recent Congressional Black Caucus meeting. Alexander says she’s been inspired by other Fellows’ work and hopes to model new local projects after theirs. 

“Even though we may feel unique,” she says, “our goals and our objectives are very much aligned.” 

Sources: 24/7 Wall Street: The Zip Code With the Widest Income Gap In Every State Data USA: Birmingham, Alabama