meet-five-members-of-the-birmingham-business-journal-leadership-trustbbj_groupL-R: Karim Budhwani; April Benetollo; Kerry Schrader; Brooke Battle; Kenneth DeWitt


It’s hard not to notice Birmingham’s growing culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Long known for steel production, Birmingham has quietly and steadily developed a reputation as a great place to grow a business.

The bustling city is home to some of the country’s most talented leaders who work in diverse industries, from medicine to business coaching.

The Birmingham Business Journal has invited some of these executives to join a group of leaders, the Trust, to share their experiences and insights with you.

Get to know them below and learn about what they are doing in your community. Then, if you’re a Birmingham business leader, apply to join the Trust or nominate an outstanding candidate.

Kerry Schrader, CEO and Cofounder, Mixtroz

Kerry Schrader cofounded Mixtroz with her daughter, Ashlee Ammons, in 2015. It all started when Ashlee mentioned an experience she’d had at a networking event that felt forced and awkward.

Without formal tech backgrounds, the mother and daughter pair teamed up to create an app that strategically matches attendees at networking events and captures data that event organizers can use for future event planning.

Kerry and her daughter left their previous home in Nashville to move to Birmingham and grow their business. Their choice proved successful: Last year, the company closed on $1 million in funding.

Prior to starting the company, Kerry was a senior human resources professional for over 25 years. She earned her MBA from Kent University.

April Benetollo, CEO, Momentum Leaders

April Benetollo is a powerful leader who has spent much of her career empowering teams.

Currently, she leads the way as CEO at Momentum Leaders, Alabama’s premier women’s leadership program. Since 2002, the nonprofit has helped female leaders impact the cultural, political and business environment in Alabama.

April completed the Momentum Leadership Program in 2013, and then officially joined the organization two years ago as director of marketing and development. Before that, she held a number of management roles in marketing at Daxko, a software company focused on health and wellness organizations.

Growing up, April was passionate about ballet. While attending Ramsay High School, she participated in an exchange program to study ballet in France. April earned a degree in international relations, political science and French from the University of Alabama.

Karim Budhwani, CEO, CerFlux Personalized Medicine

Karim Budhwani is an entrepreneur and scientist who has been working to improve quality of life for those living with cancer through his company, CerFlux Personalized Medicine.

Started in 2018, the company analyzes each patient’s specific tumor to rapidly identify and rank the best treatment options before treatment is administered. The goal is to reduce ineffective, costly and physically detrimental cancer protocols.

For the last 20 years, Karim has also run another company, Elixir International. It aims to create a greener, more efficient world through innovative software solutions.

Karim has won many awards for his leadership and innovation, including the Startup Executive of the Year Award last year from The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. Birmingham B-Metro also recognized him among those “who fascinate, inspire, and make this city a great place to live” in their annual “A-List.”

He came to the United States from India to pursue his education at Coe College in Iowa. Since then, Karim has earned multiple degrees and certifications, including a Master of Science in biomedical engineering and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering with a focus in nanomedicine, both from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Brooke Battle, Founder, Swell Fundraising

Brooke Battle loves creating good fundraising events that play a powerful role in a nonprofit’s branding and fund development strategy. With that in mind, she started a tech company to help nonprofits raise money.

Brooke has a background in finance and has served on various nonprofit boards for the past 20 years. Swell Fundraising is a union of her skills and passions.

Launched in 2012, the company provides a software platform that helps nonprofits organize successful events, engage attendees and tell the brand’s story.

Two years after launching, Swell Fundraising won Alabama’s statewide startup competition. Since then, it has supported hundreds of fundraising campaigns across the country.

Brooke is also a speaker and regularly serves on business panels. She is a 2014 winner of Alabama Launchpad and Birmingham Business Journal’s 7 Companies to Watch in 2019.

Kenneth DeWitt, Business Coach and Founder, DeWitt

Kenneth DeWitt is a lifelong entrepreneur. He was a founding member of two accounting firms and had partnerships in other retail, agriculture, consumer finance, overseas travel and commercial real estate enterprises.

He specializes in helping entrepreneurs and CEOs create highly-profitable businesses that serve and enrich their lives, rather than control them. During his 30-year career, Ken has served over 200 companies with revenues from $1 million to over $50 million as a trusted advisor through his CPA and coaching practices.

His extensive experience has taught him what does and does not work in building valuable businesses. He uses this knowledge to help organizations implement strategic initiatives that reduce frustrations and improve profits, cash flows, banker relationships and quality of life for the owners.

Whether you’re looking for startup support or an entrepreneurial environment to connect to your local business community, the members of the Birmingham Business Journal Leadership Trust have you covered.