Help Us Heal Alabama



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Christy Carlson Swaid

Founder and CEO

Christy Swaid is the founder and CEO of HEAL, Inc. She is an accomplished, world-class athlete, recognized in the fitness industry not only for her athletic accomplishments but also for her expertise in science-based heart rate conditioning. She is a six-time world champion Jet Ski racer and the “winningest female in the history of the sport.” Christy holds the Pro Women’s Slalom world record and is a member of the International Personal Watercraft Hall of Fame. In addition to winning extreme sports competitions all over the world, including in Japan, Europe, and South Africa, Christy has had a number of fitness endorsements. She was recognized as “One of the Fittest Women in America” by Competitor Magazine (2000) and Muscle and Fitness (2001). Advocacy was always a part of her life. She volunteered hundreds of hours to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and was appointed to the national staff as the “Good Will Ambassador for Boating Safety.”

    Christy’s focus shifted from marine rescue to rescuing children from poor health. Her work in child wellness has been recognized through multiple awards and nominations, including:
  • 2012 Childcare Resources Children’s Advocate Award
  • Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Angie
  • 2014 Nazaretian Lay Leader Award
  • 2015 SHAPE America Southern District Clyde Partin Service Award
  • 2017 UAB Outstanding Woman in the Community: UAB School of Public Health
  • 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact Award

Most recently, Christy was also recognized as a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact and was appointed this year by Governor Ivey to serve on the executive team of Alabama’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Christy is a health and wellness committee member, charged with helping establish best practices for improving student health and wellness in Alabama.

Christy is the wife of Dr. Swaid N. Swaid, a prominent neurosurgeon based in Alabama. They have five children and two grandchildren. They attend Homewood Church of Christ.

Donna J. Hester, Ph. D.

Curriculum Architect and Coordinator

Donna Hester, Ph. D. is an Associate Professor of Physical Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to publications and presentations at the state, district, national and international levels, Dr. Hester has provided continuous community and professional service since 1983.

    Some activities of note include the following:
  • Executive Director of the Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (ASAHPERD)
  • Member of Alabama State Department of Education Committee on Fitness Testing and Assessment, 2006
  • Co-Author “Wheel of Champions” integrated curriculum for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, 2006
  • Chair of Physical Activity Subcommittee of Alabama State Department of Education Committee to Address Student Health Issues, 2005
  • External reviewer for revision of Alabama Course of Study, Physical Education, 2003
  • Chair of Committee to write Alabama Course of Study, Physical Education, 1996 – 97
  • 50+ in-service presentations throughout Alabama as well as neighboring states
  • Donna L. Dunaway, Ed. D.

    Curriculum Architect and Coordinator

    Donna Dunaway, Ed. D. is a Professor of Physical Education at Samford University. In addition to the many publications and presentations at the state, district, national and international levels, Dr. Dunaway has provided continuous community and professional service since 1980.

      Some activites of note include the following:
  • Chair of Alabama State Department of Education Committee on Fitness Testing and Assessment, 2006
  • Co-Author “Wheel of Champions” integrated curriculum for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, 2006
  • Member of Governor’s Commission for Physical Fitness and Sport (Governor appointment)
  • Member of Governor’s Commission for Physical Fitness and Sport Task Force to Develop Implementation Plan for Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity
  • Member of Alabama Comprehensive Health Education Advisory Council
  • 50+ in-service presentations throughout Alabama as well as neighboring states
  • Cristina Saunders

    Program Director

    A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, Cristina Saunders has over 25 years of teaching and mentoring experience in a variety of educational settings. While at SCSU, Cristina also completed the Educator Program, a two and one-half year intensive training program to assist individuals with special needs learn beyond the classroom. After her collegiate swimming career on the SCSU Women’s swimming and diving Team, Cristina coached numerous swim teams and designed instructional and therapeutic swim programs for inner city youths.

    In addition to teaching, Cristina has been a remarkable presenter at state and national conferences for HEAL, Alabama Reading Initiative, Alabama Reading First and the International Association of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention. She worked as an Alabama Reading First Regional Coordinator for the State Department of Education, she successfully assisted several school systems and non-profit organizations in securing profitable grants to further their missions. Cristina served as a Physical Educator at Southminster Day School and implemented the HEAL curriculum with exceptional talent in her classroom. She officially joined the HEAL, Inc. team in spring 2011 as a Regional Coordinator.

    In 2013, she was promoted to State-wide Director assisting HEAL to strategically expand its footprint throughout Alabama. Cristina is committed to giving back to the community and helping others in times of need. She enjoys spending her spare time with her family and volunteering with numerous non-profits such as the YMCA, St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church and serves in various leadership positions for the Boy Scouts of America.

    Peggy A Keebler

    Assistant Coordinator

    Peggy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from the University of Montevallo. She also received her M.Ed. (Master of Education) from Alabama State University. As a former collegiate coach and currently a Physical Education teacher and a Certified Personal Trainer, she is an advocate of living healthy and being physically fit.

    Peggy has seen the consequences of people living sedentary lifestyles. She knows that living a healthier lifestyle should be developed at an early age but it doesn’t always continue. Therefore, her goal as a Physical Educator is to educate students, teachers and the community on the importance of the HEAL curriculum and the true definition of what HEAL (HEALTHY EATING ACTIVE LIVING) really means.

    Christopher Reeves

    Assistant Coordinator

    Christopher Reeves received his Bachelor of Science P-12 PE Teacher Certification and Bachelor of Arts Theater Arts and Humanities from University of Alabama at Birmingham. While at UAB, Chris was a member of the UAB Department of Human Studies Physical Education Major’s Club (PHLAME), and received the Outstanding Physical Education Teacher Certification Undergraduate Student Award. He has also served as a Future Professionals Council officer in Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (ASAHPERD). He attended the Southern District AAHPERD Future Professional Leadership Development Conference and has had the opportunity to preside and present at the ASAHPERD spring and fall conferences.

    Chris has presented at the State Department of Education Summer Physical Education and Health Conference and ASAHPERD District 3 Workshop at Jacksonville State University. He was selected to serve as a member of the Educator Effectiveness Design Team Awareness for Jefferson County Schools. He serves on the UAB Physical Education Advisory Committee and recently selected to serve as ASAHPERD’s Vice President-Elect Physical Education Division. Chris is currently a physical education teacher at Warrior Elementary School. Warrior Elementary is one of 90 schools in the State of Alabama to be selected to participate in the HEAL program. He credits the HEAL program in helping him become Teacher of the year at Warrior Elementary. Students, Parents, and Teachers see the importance of HEAL and embraced the HEAL mission. HEAL has helped tremendously on him growing as a teacher. Chris has been married to his beautiful and supportive wife for 15 years. He is also the father of two amazing children.

    Linda Hatchett

    Assistant Coordinator

    Linda received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education at Mississippi College, in Clinton, MS. She also received her M. Ed. (Master of Education) in Health and Physical Education from University of South Alabama. She has over 30+ years teaching Elementary Physical Education in the Mobile County Public School System.

    Linda started her HEAL career as a HEAL Instructor at O’Rourke Elementary School, a Mobile County School. She was then promoted to a HEAL Coordinator covering the South Alabama territory for HEAL. Linda is an incredible speaker that has presented at numerous conferences and teacher in-service trainings throughout Southern District SHAPE.

    In addition, Linda gives of her time graciously and helps organizations focused on health education for our youth. She serves as an AHSAA Softball Official and is an Instructor for new officials. She also assists as a USAV, AHSAA, ECBO and Right Call Volleyball Official and an AHSAA and ACUA Fast Pitch Softball Official. She served as a member of the AAHPERD Physical Best Steering National Committee for 6 years. Linda has served on the Board of Directors for the ASAHPERD and SDAAHPERD organizations. She also directs the Summer Day Camp Program at Dayspring Baptist Church in Mobile which serves over 650 children.

    Lisa Williams

    Lisa Williams is a recent resident of Montgomery, AL. She lived with her husband, Dr. Michael Williams, in Searcy, AR for 29 years. Having graduated from Harding University with a Masters of Education she began her career as an elementary school teacher having taught third, fifth, and sixth grades in a traditional, brick and mortar setting for 5 years. She and her husband then began their family and were blessed with two boys who are now young men, Quen and Cade Williams. Later, Lisa went on to serve as a teacher for a distance learning, home-based, public school, pilot program of the state of Arkansas as a K-8 teacher. After five years, this became the first distance-learning, chartered school in the state. After 6 years she then became the Academic Administrator for the Arkansas Virtual Academy where enrollment grew from 500 to 1,200 students leading to a great expansion of faculty during her 7 years in this role. She served for 6 years on the Arkansas Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology. With her husband’s appointment to the presidency Faulkner University came the move to Montgomery, AL where she is currently serving on the Alabama Commission for Public Charter Schools and was recently appointed to the Montgomery Education Foundation board.

    Quen Williams

    Quen Williams is a resident of Montgomery, AL. He has lived his first 22 years in Searcy, AR where attended Kid’s First, Southwest Elementary School, Searcy Middle School, and beginning with the 7th grade he became a Wildcat at Harding Academy. While there, Quen initially signed himself up to play football and basketball during this first year. He stated, “I’m retiring from football. The gear is too heavy.” and with that came his desire to be a manager for the football, the basketball, and the baseball team where he earned a letter for his jacket due to his years of service. During Quen’s senior year, all three teams won the state championships giving Quen the honor of a championship ring in each of the three sports. His passion for performing arts led to multiple years of participation in the school choir with a capstone trip his senior year to Chicago where the chorus contributed several stellar performances. He was given a stage role in the HMS Pinafore as one of the sailors who sang select pieces. During his senior year, Quen recruited four of his friends, Hunter, Locke, Shelby, and Will, to audition with him for school’s talent show. This group of five’s reenactment of the “I Can Go The Distance” scene from Disney’s Hercules gave a performance under the direction of Quen that yielded a standing ovation and applause that radiated beyond the walls of the school. Quen’s experience at Harding Academy ended with an assembly bestowing the honor of him being chosen by his classmates as Mr. Harding Academy. Harding Academy and the annuals hold many of his most cherished memories. Quen currently lives in Montgomery, AL with his mother and father, Lisa and Mike. He volunteers for Faulkner University 3 days each week assembling and disassembling the sound and chairs for the chapel services. He and his family look forward to a day where answers and treatments for Autism abound.

    Lisa and Quen Williams represent a voice for children and adults with special needs. HEAL effectively engages this “differently-abled” demographic and helps to improve quality of life for them. HEAL seeks to further develop modifications and methods to help teachers integrate children with all forms of special needs into HEAL programming and to educate the community to create further unity, understanding and appreciation. Lisa and Quen will occupy one position together on the advisory board. This is an innovative development symbolizing the mutual benefit they both receive from the HEAL program