Alabama Academy of Honor


John J. McMahon, Jr.

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2000.



John J. McMahon, Jr., a well-known business and community leader in Birmingham, has supported numerous civic and public efforts of statewide significance during his career. He currently serves as Chairman of Ligon Industries, LLC, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of McWane, Inc.

A native of Birmingham, Mr. McMahon received his B.A. degree from Birmingham-Southern College in 1965 and his LL.B. from The University of Alabama in 1968.

During the time Mr. McMahon was a senior officer, McWane became one of the largest and most significant private companies in the State. Under Mr. McMahon’s leadership, McWane has played a significant role in supporting public and civic activities in the Birmingham area, including the creation of the McWane Center Science Museum. McWane established the first true merit scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College to attract and retain exceptional young people in our State.

Mr. McMahon was also involved in the creation of the National Bank of Commerce which became the State’s largest privately owned bank. The bank is now part of Alabama National Bancorporation, one of the five largest bank holding companies headquartered in Alabama.

Mr. McMahon was instrumental in the organization and creation of the Birmingham Airport Authority, serving as chairman of the committee that supervised the rebuilding of the airport terminal. Because of the Authority’s renovation and improvement efforts, the Birmingham airport experienced a significant increase in air transportation service.

An interest in health care led to Mr. McMahon’s involvement in the organization of the UAB Health System, which provided the first fully integrated health system in Alabama. He served as the organization’s first chairman and continues to serve as chairman of the board of directors.

Working through McWane and the Kaul Foundation, Mr. McMahon was involved in sponsoring an evaluation of the Birmingham Police Department which led to the adoption of a number of nationally recognized crime fighting techniques and the creation of the Police Foundation.

Mr. McMahon has served on numerous boards including the Alabama National Bancorporation, National Bank of Commerce, Protective Life Insurance Company, The John H. Harland Company, Birmingham Airport Authority, UAB Health Systems, and The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation (Kirklin Clinic). He has also served as Chairman of the Birmingham Police Foundation; Director of the Birmingham Opera; and Trustee of The University of Alabama, of Birmingham-Southern College, and of The Hugh Kaul Foundation.

During his distinguished career, Mr. McMahon has voluntarily contributed much of his time and energy to efforts to improve the quality of life in Alabama.