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Eva Robertson: Leadership, compassion, Alabama personified – 2024 ‘Momma B’ Award

The “Momma B” award is named after beloved Alabama philanthropist and true woman of impact, Joann Bashinsky. Each year, this esteemed award is given to a woman who represents her legacy of community care and business advancement within Alabama and beyond. 

This year, we are proud to honor Eva Robertson as the recipient of this distinguished award, as she exemplifies the very traits that the award’s namesake represents: her compassion, her selfless generosity, and her unyielding support of her community.

For Robertson, serving people is not simply one of her values — it’s a way of life.

“We didn’t have the attitude that we could, but that we should,” Robertson explains, referring to her work at Protective Life, and a career that expanded over four decades. She served in a variety of roles throughout her time with the company, from Director of Accounting Systems to Vice President of Investor Relations. In 2018, she took on the role of Executive Director of the Protective Life Foundation, which supports hundreds of nonprofits in the community.

“When that came open, I knew I wanted to take it. The Foundation gave me a chance to act out of the heart of the company, and at that point I had lived it and knew it… and now I was able to show it to the outside world.” 

Robertson did just that. From education and literacy organizations to environmental projects, Robertson oversaw dozens of initiatives to improve the lives of both Birmingham residents and individuals across the state.

The Foundation poured $4.5 million in contributions back into the community in the past year alone, and reached almost 200 local nonprofit organizations that selflessly serve their communities.

From replacing roofs for Northside Birmingham residents to renovating bathrooms in Birmingham’s historic Alabama Theatre, the Foundation’s projects stretch far and wide to support building a better community and better quality of life for its residents. 

For Robertson, these community projects mean so much more than simply offering financial support.

“The giving part is a typical part of a foundation, but we as a team really set out to get involved personally. We get to look over the landscape of the city and see the good, the industrious, the people who care, and we help them. We connect them to others who are doing the same and leverage what they can do.”

These connections are vitally important in Robertson’s eyes as a way to make a lasting impact in Birmingham and beyond— and while her work has supported a variety of organizations and programs, she always keeps the individual in mind.

“We show up,” she explains. “We lead people to get involved personally, not just from a distance. It’s that act of service that changes the relationship.”

With her leadership spanning over hundreds of projects, Robertson’s work role has required a steadfast commitment to her colleagues and to the residents she serves. This steadiness stems in part from a surprising place— her background in dance. As an undergraduate, Robertson studied modern dance at Southern Methodist University, an experience that has aided her career in ways she didn’t expect.

“Dancing is about doing difficult and impossible things and making it look easy,” she says. “I can do difficult things in the eye of the storm, yet the goal is to make my audience relax.” 

She has found that skill to be applicable across all of her work, as her selfless service to her community, her “audience,” is who she tirelessly works to protect and improve.

Since retiring at the end of 2023, Robertson has continued, and will continue, her philanthropic work within her state. She has served on the Boards of the Alabama Ballet, The Railroad Park Foundation, and The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Alabama.

With RMHC, Robertson has ensured and strengthened Protective Life’s continuous support by helping create an annual service week to support families with sick children in their time of need. She encourages everyone to get involved and connect with local projects.

If Robertson’s work were summarized in a single word, it would be just that — connection. 

“The proud part of my career relates to connecting the company’s heart to the people where we live and work. We’ve created these connections and these relationships in the community that are longstanding, to connect and inspire others to do the same.” 

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