City Council


The City of Helena operates under a Mayor-Council form of government. This form of government most closely resembles the private sector with the Mayor serving as the Chief Executive Officer and the Council as the Board of Directors.

The Mayor and City Council Members are elected at-large for four-year terms.

The City Council meets on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m.

City Council Member - Place 1


Chris Willis

Chris was raised in Hueytown, where he graduated from Hueytown High School and continued his education at the University of Montevallo majoring in Political Science with minors in Pre Law and Business.  He then went on to obtain his Juris Doctorate from Birmingham School of Law.

Mr. Willis began his professional career at Hueytown Police Department, but shortly thereafter, he took a job as a Law Clerk and Bailiff with a Jefferson County Circuit Judge in the Bessemer Division where he handled a civil docket, a large concentration of workman’s compensation cases as well as the domestic relations docket.  In this time, he gained valuable experience and knowledge, but learned that the courtroom was not where he wanted to be.

Upon graduation from Law School, Chris accepted a job as Chief of Staff to Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens.  In this role he focuses a lot of his attention on public safety within the county and has served as the liaison to all county fire departments as well as the central point of contact for law enforcement agencies within the county, namely the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.  He also works hand in hand with municipalities throughout the county to ensure they have what they need to succeed and coordinate with other government agencies to secure funding and matches for various types of projects.  Chris also works with issues involving roads, zoning, revenue, as well as issues involving contractors who do business with the county.

Chris has completed the Local Government Professional Management Certification through Auburn University.  He received the Leadership Institute Certification from the Economic Development Association of Alabama and has completed the Intensive Economic Development Training program put on by the Government and Economic Development Institute at Auburn University. He has served on several volunteer boards including the Jefferson County DHR Board, Legacy YMCA Board of Directors, Jefferson Credit Union board of Directors (Supervisory Committee) and the University of Montevallo National Alumni Board of Directors.

In his personal life, Chris has been married to his wife Jill for 10 years, and they have two kids (Riley and Reagan). Jill has been a master cosmetologist for 12 years and works at Creekside Salon in Old Town.  His son attends Helena Elementary School and his daughter attends Helena United Methodist Pre-K.  Both of his children are active in sports through Helena Parks and Recreations.  Chris and his family are active members of The Station Church.

City Council Member - Place 2, Council President Pro Tempore 


Christopher R. VanCleave

Email: [email protected]

Professional experience:

Mr. VanCleave is a Senior Vice President at a Fortune 500 bank based in Birmingham and has enjoyed a career spanning over 28 years specializing on process improvement and operational excellence.  He also serves as the Operations/Technology Division Associate Engagement Champion, leading the organization in training and developing managers, team leaders and influencers to maximize their team’s potential through strengths-based training efforts.

Civic and other experience:

  • Chairman, Helena Beautification Board
  • Chairman, City of Helena’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting
  • Volunteer, Helena Christmas Parade Committee
  • Volunteer, Helena Library
  • Member: Alabama League of Municipalities
  • Trustee, Educational Endowment Trust – American Rose Society
  • Board of Directors,  AGRS (American Garden Rose Selections)
  • TV presenter & Public Speaker,  Gardening & Beautification Related Topics
  • Associate Section Editor, Southern Living Gardening Book
  • Who’s Who Among American Bankers

Having lived in Helena for over 15 years, Chris  says “I am passionate about our community and want to do my part to keep Helena a great place to live, work and shop. We’ll do that by running a transparent, efficient government and by promoting balanced growth, public safety, vibrant athletic programs and schools we can all be proud of.”

Mr VanCleave has two children: Christina 29 and Tyler 27. He attends Church of the Highlands.

City Council Member - Place 3, City Council President

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Alice Lobell

Email: [email protected]

Alice Lobell, better known as Ms. Alice to many Helena residents, is a life long educator and artist. She is proud and honored to serve in Place 3 on the Helena City Council.

Alice has a B.A. In Art Education from Harding University; graduated Magna Cum Laude from George Washington University in Washington, DC, with a master’s degree in Higher Education and Human Development; and has a master’s degree in Art Education from the University of Montevallo, where she received the Outstanding Graduate Award.

Alice is a graduate of Leadership Shelby County, class of 2019. This 9-month long intensive program invites community leaders to learn more about Shelby County and to become familiar with the County’s operations and various departments. Members are challenged to serve in a leadership role, using their efforts to support and enhance the growth and development of Shelby County. In July, 2019, Alice was honored to be asked to serve on the Leadership Shelby County alumni board.

As the first art teacher at Helena Elementary School, Alice developed the art program into a creative and educational environment that impacted the lives of Helena students for 2 generations. The annual HES art show and sale, created by Alice, boasted as being the town’s largest art show where all her students were contributing artists.

Alice’s community involvement includes working with various Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups in the area, conducting classes and workshops, and helping them complete requirements for any and all art related badges. Alice has been a member of the Helena Christmas parade committee for more than 28 years. An avid supporter of Helena athletics, Alice attends as many sporting events as possible, cheering for all the young athletes that she considers to be “her kids”.

“My deep love for this community is why I decided to get into city government. It is a privilege and honor to be a member of Helena City Council”.

Alice’s immediate family also call Helena home. Her son, Jonathan Hollabaugh, his wife, Brook, and their two children, Madison and Riley all love being part of the Helena community.

Alice is the council liaison for the Helena Teen Council, liaison for the Helena Arts Council, council liaison for the Helena Fire Department and will continue to work with the Christmas parade committee.

City Council Member - Place 4


Laura Joseph

Email: [email protected]

Laura Joseph was elected to the Helena City Council in 2016, and is currently serving her second term in office.

Business and Education

Mrs. Joseph earned her degree in Communications from the University of Alabama's College of Communication and Information Sciences in 2001, with a concentration in advertising and a minor in studio art. She is currently employed by Central State Bank as Director of Marketing. Mrs. Joseph has completed all of the basic requirements of the Alabama League of Municipalities Certified Municipal Official program, a voluntary certification program for elected officials who wish to receive training in municipal government. Mrs. Joseph is working to complete the required elective hours to achieve the program's CMO certification by the completion of the current term.

Mrs. Joseph is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Shelby County, a 9-month program which invites government, business, civic and community leaders to take a comprehensive look at Shelby County, and what it takes to make it operate, grow, and prosper. She currently serves on the Leadership Shelby County Board of Directors and the LSC Marketing Committee.

Mrs. Joseph is also a 2014 graduate of the YourTown Alabama program, a 2-day workshop which focuses on the role of design in community planning. The workshop's course material addresses a range of issues in rural community planning, with special emphasis on organizing, recruiting, and strategically developing community and economic development, while retaining the elements that make a small town special.

Boards & Memberships

  • City of Helena Planning & Zoning Commission, Member and City Council Liaison
  • Jane B. Holmes Public Library Board, City Council Liaison
  • Helena HOTboard, City Council Liaison
  • Helena’s Buck Creek Festival, Vice Chairman
  • Leadership Shelby County - Board of Directors, Marketing Committee
  • Shelby County Big Brothers/Big Sisters - Board Member
  • Shelby County Republican Party - Zone 6 (Helena/Maylene) Director
  • Alabama Republican Party - Executive Committee Member, 2013-current


Laura and her husband T.J. (Engineering Manager of Manufacturing at Fitz-Thors Engineering), have been married 10+ years, and have two children: Anna Kate and John Marshall. Both children attend Helena's public schools and are involved in Helena's rec league and school sports programs. The family lives in the Old Cahaba neighborhood and attends Riverchase United Methodist Church, where Laura teaches the 4 year old Sunday School class.

City Council Member - Place 5

hewy woodman

Hewy Woodman

Email: [email protected]

Harold Hewy Woodman lives in Old Cahaba with his wife and three children. His wife is science teacher at Evangel Classical School. His son is a Helena Eagle Scout who attends UAB in their engineering program. His oldest daughter attends Huntingdon College in the biology program and is a Silver award winner in the Helena Girl Scouts. His youngest daughter is a former Helena Belle who attends UAB, and was recently awarded the Girl Scouts Gold Star award.

Hewy has law degree and works in the Technology department at Blue Cross. He is a Certified Alabama Planning and Zoning Official. He was also award best blog in Shelby County for No Sleep in Helena.

Other Helena membership and Service :

  • Helena History Preservation
  • Board of Directors Old Cahaba HOA 2010-2012
  • Friends of the Helena Library
  • Helena Athletic Association
  • Helena Farmer Market Committee 2009-Current
  • Buck Creek Festival 2010-2013
  • Helena US Census Committee 2010
  • Helena Soccer Coach 2006-2008
  • Sunday School Teacher 2004-2009
  • Writer for a No Sleep in Helena community news blog