JonPaul and Dawn Herring
JonPaul and Dawn Herring
Courtesy of JonPaul Herring

JonPaul and Dawn Herring, both Decatur, AL, natives, say they’ve made some fortuitous choices in their lives, including JonPaul’s decision to attend The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, and his long career with Walmart. Because of these choices, JonPaul says he and Dawn have been able to live all over the U.S., meet and work with talented people and make a positive difference in their communities. That includes their recent gift of $25,000 to establish the Paul Herring Endowed Scholarship in Supply Chain Management with the College of Business and their decision to make a planned gift to UAH.

JonPaul’s decision to attend UAH was, he says, partly because of the university’s reputation and partly because his best friend was also attending. “UAH was and is one of the top schools in the state,” he shares. “It was near where I lived, and my best friend had decided to attend, so I enrolled also. For three years we were able to carpool back and forth from Decatur to Huntsville. We got to see the construction of 565 and how much Madison and Huntsville grew in that time.”

JonPaul says he initially wanted to be an accountant because he’d always had “an interest in numbers,” but after taking his first class with over 100 students in it, he decided he wanted to try something different. He settled on finance, but as graduation approached, he worried about finding a job in a lagging economy. “Then I attended a UAH job fair,” he says. “There were a few jobs available, like sales and stockbroker, but those weren’t interesting to me. Walmart was at the fair and I interviewed with them on the spot. I was called back for a second interview and a tour of one of their distribution centers in Cullman, AL. I fell in love with it, and I’m proud to say that more than 31 years later I’m still working in Supply Chain Management with Walmart.”

It’s a decision he’s not regretted. “The company has been very good to us,” JonPaul enthuses. “I’ve held many different leadership positions in the organization. I started at an entry-level management position and progressed to being a general manager responsible for a 950,000-square-foot building, 900 associates and 45 leaders.” His work with Walmart led the Herrings to live in Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, Ohio, and their most recent location, Burlington, NC.

One thing that’s been important to the Herrings as they’ve moved around, Dawn says, is connecting with their communities. “Distribution centers are often in small communities,” she explains. “We’ve tried to be helpful however we can, whether that be supporting a local food bank, a church or a hospital. Sometimes that’s us giving our time, and sometimes it’s financial. And for us, it’s important that we’re not the leaders, but participants.”

JonPaul adds that his passion is working with Habitat for Humanity, something he’s done now for more than 20 years. “I love Habitat,” he explains. “I love being on the board, but the best part is going to the building site and participating in the construction of the houses and showing others how to build. It’s so great to see families move into these homes and start a new community.” He mentions that Walmart has a Volunteerism Always Pays program, in which they donate $250 to a charitable organization for every 25 hours an employee works. “I’m out there every week and work more than 100 hours a year, which translates to $1,000 Habitat gets for my efforts.” Dawn says that’s who JonPaul is, both in his personal causes and at work: “He will be remembered as the person who lifts up everyone he works with. His goal is to help every person succeed and be the best they can be. I’m so impressed with the number of people who reach out to him even years later for his mentorship. He helps people be stronger leaders.”

JonPaul says giving back is something he grew up with, but he insists Dawn is his inspiration. “She’s such a giving person. About five to six years ago, we started a scholarship with her sorority, and we began receiving letters from students who had received the scholarship. For the last 20 years, Dawn has been in some sort of volunteer role, and she’s been my inspiration. Just this past summer, she became the international president of her sorority.”

Dawn remains humble: “I didn’t have a lot growing up.” As a first-generation college student, she knows what it’s like to benefit from scholarship support. “I attended the University of North Alabama, and I loved every minute of it,” she shares. “It was important for my mother that I get a college education. When I found out I was getting a scholarship, I knew it meant I was going to school.”

That’s why they established a scholarship at UNA, and now they’re making a gift to UAH. This scholarship supports students in Supply Chain Management, which ties directly to JonPaul’s long and lucrative career: “Supply Chain Management is the backbone of our country.” He says supply chain wasn’t something people thought a lot about until COVID: “During COVID and now coming out of it, all we hear about is supply chain. I am so impressed with how Walmart was able to adapt and provide necessities to the public in the face of those complications.”

Now, JonPaul says the new challenge is to figure out how to get something off the shelf to a customer’s door in two hours when they place an order on their phone or computer. “Consumers’ expectations have changed, and that’s going to be the challenge for the next generation. And when you think about Huntsville and North Alabama, there are going to be huge supply chain networks here. These students will have to solve these problems and create new opportunities.”

The Paul Herring Endowed Scholarship in Supply Chain Management will be awarded to undergraduate students in the College of Business pursuing a concentration in Supply Chain Management. JonPaul says when they established the scholarship, he did so in his father’s honor. “I told my dad he was really the one establishing this scholarship because he put me through college. It was my way to show him my appreciation for giving me the opportunity to get an education.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of JonPaul and Dawn Herring in establishing an endowed scholarship in the UAH College of Business,” says Dr. Jason Greene, dean of the College of Business. “Their gift will have a tremendous impact on the lives of our students and their families for generations to come. By helping students access an outstanding education in our program, the Paul Herring Scholarship allows students to focus on their education at UAH as they prepare for a successful career in Supply Chain Management.”

Creating a scholarship now, Dawn emphasizes, is a deeply rewarding thing. “I say give while you’re alive and kicking,” she encourages. “We could have done this when we were gone, but we wouldn’t have the chance to hear from the student recipients. We love meeting those individuals and investing in their lives, and it’s a legacy we can leave forever.”

The other part of their legacy comes in the form of a planned gift. “Several years ago, we started thinking about our will and the question was, what are our interests and who do we want to have what we have now?” JonPaul explains. “Our colleges put us on our current path, so we wanted to give back.” With his scholarship already in place, JonPaul says the funds from the planned gift can go directly into that scholarship and bolster its impact, and their gift ensures they are welcomed as members of the Richardson Shaver Thrasher (RST) Society.

Dawn reminds that establishing a scholarship is a gift anyone can make. “Anyone can do this,” she stresses. “If we can do it, so can many others. You budget for it and make it a priority.” Doing so, she assures, it is worth the effort: “Our endowed gift will be here long after we’re gone. You never know what your gift might mean to someone.”

The UAH College of Business contributes to the economic vitality of Huntsville and beyond through its mission to fuel innovation in business, spark ideas through research and launch the careers of students. With its faculty of outstanding teachers and accomplished researchers, it offers accredited business degree programs at the undergraduate level in six major areas and at the graduate level through seven master's degrees programs, including a flexible MBA program that can be taken online, in-person or a combination of both.

The Richardson Shaver Thrasher (RST) Society honors those who have included UAH Foundation in their wills or estate plans. By leveraging the power of estate planning, the distinguished members of the RST Society leave a lasting impact and shape UAH’s future far beyond their lifetimes. With a planned gift, you can create your legacy of support for UAH. It is easier than you think! Visit to learn more!

Established in 1962, UAH Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supplements the University’s fundraising activities. Tax-deductible gifts to UAH Foundation advance the UAH mission to explore, discover, create and communicate knowledge.



Dr. Helen Lien

Russ Nelson