News Davis Retires As Publications Director, Neighbors Editor

Davis Retires As Publications Director, Neighbors Editor

Davis Retires As Publications Director, Neighbors Editor
January 25, 2022 |

Longtime Neighbors Editor Debra Davis retired Dec. 31 following 23 1/2 years of loyal service to Alabama Farmers Federation members. Davis, who served as publications director, was recently named deputy commissioner for the Alabama Department of Senior Services. 

Federation Communications Department Director Jeff Helms thanked Davis for her passion, talent and work ethic in telling farmers’ stories.

“As the longest-serving editor in the history of Neighbors, Debra has improved the quality of the magazine while increasing income and reducing expense,” Helms said. “A farmer herself, Debra connected with Federation members and provided the communications staff greater insight into farmers’ challenges and opportunities. Known for her generosity, humor and candor, Debra made lifelong relationships throughout the Federation.”

Davis joined the Federation in 1998 as county communications director and editor of the Cultivator newsletter. She brought keen news judgment and prolific writing skills honed as a newspaper reporter and editor. Davis was named editor of the former Friends & Family magazine in 2005 and was promoted to publications director in 2011. 

“I appreciate the kindness and generosity of farm families throughout the state who trusted me to tell their stories,” Davis said. “Many of those farm visits transcended to personal friendships that will extend beyond my career at Alfa.”

Since taking the reins as publications director, Davis merged the Federation’s two magazines into the single flagship title; eliminated the mailing of duplicate magazines to the same household; developed advertising plans for commodity checkoff programs; implemented cost-saving inserts for newsletters and other targeted communications; secured sponsorships for magazine sections; streamlined billing; and improved printing and paper negotiations. 

During her tenure, Davis covered every major Federation event and was often the first to respond to breaking news.

“Debra was always on call,” Helms said. “She was among the first on the scene following natural disasters such as Hurricanes Georges, Ivan, Katrina and Sally or deadly tornadoes like the historic outbreak of April 27, 2011. Debra not only captured photos and stories of those impacted by the storms, but she also brought comfort in the form of water, generators, fuel and a listening ear.”

 In 2021, Davis developed an editorial plan and content to spotlight all areas of the Federation during the organization’s centennial year. Those features were compiled into a commemorative edition of Neighbors — a keepsake and historical archive for future generations. 

 In addition to more than a decade of magazines, Helms said Davis leaves a legacy of programs, projects and activities she initiated or helped develop. These accomplishments include creating the Alabama Ag Communicators group, which includes at least a half-dozen former interns who went on to successful careers after serving under Davis. 

As part of her work to promote Alabama commodity divisions, Davis spearheaded the Catfish Restaurant Contest, Catfish Culinary Campaign, Farm-To-Fabric Tour for teachers and Alabama Ag Expedition for college students. She secured sponsorships for the Farm of Distinction contest and provided leadership for Alabama spotlight state activities during two Sunbelt Ag Expos. 

 “Debra’s conviction and drive have made the organization better and our communications stronger,” Helms added.

 Davis and husband Lamar live on a beef cattle and timber farm in Pike County’s Shellhorn community. They have two children — daughter Kellie Henderson and her husband, Richard, and son Jim and his wife, Kaylee. They also are proud grandparents of Carly and Jae. 

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