September 30, 2016 | Connecting Columbia
- Mike Brenan, State President, BB&T
- Dr. Christine La Cola, Executive Director of the Institute for Leadership and Professional Excellence at Columbia College
- Tom Ledbetter, Associate Vice President, Economic Development and Community Engagement at Midlands Technical College
- Barbara Rackes, CEO, TheRackesGroup
- Bakari Sellers, Attorney at Strom Law Firm
- Torrey Rush, Chairman, Richland County Council
Chairman and CEO of First Citizens Bank
Jim Apple has held executive leadership positions with First Citizens since joining the bank in 1993. In 1994, he was named president of First Citizens Bancorporation, the parent company of First Citizens Bank and Trust Company Inc. In addition, he served as the president of First Citizens Bank and Trust Company, Inc., from 1994 until 2002, when he was appointed Chairman of the Board. He has been the bank’s chief executive officer since 1998. Currently, Jim serves on the Palmetto Business Forum, Midlands Business Leadership Group, Central SC Alliance and the S.C. State Board of Financial Institutions.
In 2005, Jim received the “Living and Giving Award” from the Midlands chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In 1983, he was named “Outstanding Banker of the Year” at Northwestern Bank and received the Greater Columbia Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year Award in 2009. Jim graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Art degree in economics. He completed various banking schools and programs, including the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia.
Nate Barber is Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)/ Community Development Officer for South Carolina Bank and Trust.
He also consults regularly with small business development clients, and has served with many community organizations including the Jobs Economic Development Authority of South Carolina, Rotary International (Board of Directors), and Rock Hill Downtown Association.
Nate has an MBA from Indiana University and a BS in Chemistry from USC. He has served as an adjunct professor at Nantong University in Nantong, China as well as at the University of South Carolina.
Henri Etta Baskins
Executive Director of the Community Relations Council
Ms. Baskins was named Executive Director of the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council in May. Before joining the CRC, Baskins gained 40 years experience as a telecommunications professional. She has served on many nonprofit boards, including the American Red Cross, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and United Way of the Midlands.
Baskins attended College of Charleston and Liberty University for her undergraduate studies. For her graduate studies, she attended George Institute of Technology.
Mayor of Columbia
Steve Benjamin was elected Mayor of Columbia in April of 2010. He has worked very actively in community initiatives with numerous public and private organizations dating back to his years at the University of South Carolina where he served as President of the Student Government and as Student Bar Association President at the USC School of Law.
Having taken office in July 2010, Mayor Benjamin’s first term has been characterized by his firm belief in Columbia’s potential and the intense focus on economic development and job creation that helped secure more than $543 million in new investment and create over 2,300 new jobs in the midst of a national recession. Combined with the rebirth of Main Street, these accomplishments have drawn national attention.
Most recently, Mayor Benjamin was named one of The Washington Post’s “2011 The Root 100 List: The 100 most influential African Americans in 2011.”
Chief Operating Officer at Collins & Lacy, P.C.
Eddie has served as COO at Collins & Lacy P.C. since January, 2010.
Eddie Benton is the Chief Operating Officer of Collins & Lacy, P.C., a business defense law firm headquartered in Columbia and with offices in Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach. Eddie began his career in Dallas, TX, where he spent ten years working in corporate finance for a Fortune 100 company. In 1992, he returned to his home state of South Carolina and has spent the past 20 years in the field of medical and legal practice administration.
Eddie is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and received his M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He also holds a degree from Georgia Southern University, a M.A. from Appalachian State University, and spent a year of studies in England.
Eddie and his wife, Sabrina, were high school sweethearts and recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. They have 3 grown children.
Dean, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies
Charles Bierbauer has been dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies since it was created in 2002 with the uniting of its School of Journalism and Mass Communications and School of Library and Information Science.
Bierbauer came to the University of South Carolina after an award-winning, globe-trotting journalism career covering a broad range of media experience.
From 1981-2001, Bierbauer was a correspondent for CNN in Washington. For nine years, he covered the Re
agan and Bush administrations as CNN’s senior White House correspondent. He joined CNN as its Pentagon correspondent, covered five presidential campaigns from 1984-2000, and spent five terms as the network’s Supreme Court correspondent. In 2001, Bierbauer was reporter and producer for a Discovery Channel documentary on the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks.
Bierbauer is a graduate of Penn State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism. Penn State has honored him as a distinguished alumnus and alumni fellow.
DP Professionals’ founder and president
As DP Professionals’ founder and president, Barbara Blau brings extensive experience to the South Carolina information technology industry. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has served South Carolina’s IT personnel market for more than two decades.
Barbara is on the Executive Committee and the Board of Advisors of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. She also is on the boards of EngenuitySC and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – Palmetto Chapter.
She is a member of the Information Technology Council through the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Business Advisory Council for Vocational Rehabilitation.
Barbara also serves on the Wisdom Council for Columbia Opportunity Resource.
Publisher of the Columbia Regional Business Report
& Executive Director of SC BIZ News LLC
Bob Bouyea is the publisher of the Columbia Regional Business Report and executive editor of SC Biz News LLC, which publishes the Charleston Regional Business Journal, the Business Report, GSA Business and SCBIZ magazine.
Prior to joining SC Biz News, Bob was an editorial director for LRP Publications, a publisher of B-to-B newsletters, magazines and books in West Palm Beach, Fla. He has also worked as an editor and reporter for several daily newspapers in the Midwest and West Coast. He moved to South Carolina in December 2004 with his wife and two daughters.
District 78 Representative, South Carolina House
Representative Joan Brady (R) was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004. She is serving a fourth term and seeking re-election from District 78.
Rep. Brady serves on the House – Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, and chairs the Insurance Sub-Committee. She is vice-chair of both the Committee to Screen Candidates for Trustees of State University and Colleges, and the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children. She has been an effective voice for issues impacting the state’s children and families.
Rep. Brady serves on numberous local and national boards, including serving as executive board secretary of Women in Government. She is a 2005 Toll Leadership Fellow with the Council of State Governments, and the 2011 Champions for Children, presented by Richland Couny CASA.
Senior Vice President at First Citizens
Emily Brannen is currently Senior Vice President, Alternate Delivery Channel Manager at First Citizens. She is responsible for personal online banking, bill pay, mobile banking and the bank’s newtork of approximately 200 ATMs. Prior to First Citizens, Emily was an account director at Cyberwoven, a Columbia-based web design and branding agency. Emily also spent six years holding several different positions with TD Bank.
Emily received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and International Trade from Clemson University, and her MBA from the University of South Carolina. She is a 2012 graduate of Leadership South Carolina, a 2007 graduate of Leadership Columbia and was named a 2011 “20 Under 40” award winner by The State. Emily currently serves as a board member and past president of Communities in Schools of the Midlands, and as a board member of Clemson University Humanities Advancement Board.
Michael “Mike” R. Brenan
President of BB&T of South Carolina
Brenan received his B.A. in Economics from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He has held his current position as President of BB&T of South Carolina since January 2000. Prior to that, he was Executive Vice President of BB&T of North Carolina.
Active in business and civic affairs, Brenan is Past Chairman of the South Carolina Bankers Association Board of Directors. He currently serves as Chairman of the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation and is Chair-Elect of the United Way Association of South Carolina and the SC Independent Colleges and Universities. He serves on the Business and Industry Political Committee (BIPEC), Midland’s Business Leadership Group, Palmetto Leadership Council, President’s Advisory Board at Clemson University, South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) and the Palmetto Business Forum. His current work with foundations includes involvement with the Palmetto Health Foundation, Central Carolina Community Foundation, and the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Foundation.
Executive Vice President and SC Banking Executive at First Citizens
Sharon is executive vice president and South Carolina banking executive, director of Wealth Advisory Group, president of First Citizens Securities. She joined the company in 1999 as executive vice president and director of human resources.
As S.C. banking executive, Sharon is responsible for all of the company’s retail and commercial operations in South Carolina. She has more than 28 years of banking, fiduciary and investment services experience. She is a licensed securities representative and principal, a 2004 recipient of the Women of Disctinction award from the Girl Scouts of America, a 1995 Leadership Columbia graduate and a founding member of Women in Philanthropy.
Sharon is United Way of the Midlands’ co-campaigning chair, Home Works’ advisory board chair, and a board member for Midlands Technical College Foundation and Central Carolina Community Foundation.
Senior Vice President of Fuel Procurement & Asset Management, SCANA
Sarena is responsible for SCANA’s fuel supply and capacity strategy and ensures that SCANA is responsive to regulatory requirements in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. She joined SCANA in 1991, serving as deputy general counsel and assistant secretary.
Sarena is a member of the Energy Bar Association and the South Carolina Women’s Lawyers Association. She serves as chair of the United Way of the Midlands board, and the Board of Visitors for Converse College.
A native Columbian, Sarena received her bachelor’s from Converse College and graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
Vice President and Special Assitant to the President, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce
Lee Catoe recently joined the senior staff of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce as vice president & special assistant to the president & CEO for community affairs. As part of the Columbia Chamber, Catoe will focus on outreach and recruitment of small, minority and women-owned businesses and serve as a chamber representative for various organizations and community meetings. Catoe will also aid in the implementation of key initiatives as determined by Columbia Chamber President & CEO Ike McLeese.
Catoe was raised in Westville, S.C., and currently reside in Columbia. He graduated from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla., with a bachelor’s degree in physical science and earned his master’s from the University of South Carolina. Catoe retired in January 2011, having served most of his career with South Carolina state government. He served for eight years as the director of the SC Department of Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Services, seven years, two as chairman, as commissioner of the SC Workers Compensation Commission. He also worked as the executive assistant to Gov. Carroll Campbell and was accountable for the management of the health & human services and economic opportunity divisions. In addition, he advised the governor on matters involving race and human relations.
Principle at River Bluff High School
Luke Clamp has served as Principal at River Bluff High School since 2011. He is responsible for innovative instructional design, site management, school wide vision and leadership, and community, staff and student relationships. Prior to River Bluff, Luke served as Assistant Principal at Lexington High School and Dean of Students at Irmo High School.
Luke holds his Ed.D. Curriculum and Instruction, Ed.S. & M.Ed. Educational Administratoin from the University of South Carolina, and a B.S. in Science Teaching from Clemson University. Luke is a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Association for Supervision and Curriculm Development, South Carolina Association of School Administrators and the Palmetto State Teachers Association.
Luke lives in Lexington with his wife and two sons. He serves on the Lexington County Fellowship of Christian Athletes Advisory Board and the Staff Parish Relations Committee at Mt. Horeb UMC. He is a rotarian with the Lexington Rotary Club and a member of the Lexington County Boy Scout Eagle Scouth Review Board.
CEO of Cohn Construction
Richard founded Cohn Construction in 1993 with the goal of building quality products and a company of integrity. Since graduating from Wofford College in 1973, Richard has become a prominent member of the Midlands Community. His civic involvement includes his current role as City of Columbia Planning Commissioner, incoming President of the Tree of Life Congregation, and former board of directors for both the South Carolina Philharmonic and the Wofford Terrier Club, membership in the American Arbitration Association, and former Rotarian service. Through his leadership, Cohn Construction has won numerous awards. Demonstrating his focus on delivering quality products on time and within budget, 8,000,000 SF.
Founder of Period Three and Coverge
Gene is a designer and serial entrepreneur with over a decade of experience creating simple, user specific, elegant web sites and applications. His list of creative projects is substantial. Gene is the founder of Converge, a highly popular conference for creative and web professionals hosted around the country.
Gene is founding partner in Period Three and manages the blog UnmatchedStyle.com. He is highly connected in the creative and digital industries and is nationally recognized. Gene’s latest project is Columbia’s first coworking space for creative professionals, SOCO.
Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Judy Davis is Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and its Companion companies. She is responsible for managing Companion Property and Casualty Company and Companion Life Insurance Company. In addition, she manages the legal operations, federal affairs, state public affairs, corporate communications and public relations for Blue Cross and its subsidiary companies.
Prior to joining BCBSSC in 1995, Davis practiced law for 11 years with Lincoln National Corporation in Fort Wayne, IN where she specialized in mergers and acquisitions.
Active in her community, Judy currently serves as a board member for South Carolina Governors School of Science and Mathematics Foundation, Engenuity Executive Committee, United Way of the Midlands and Women’s Studies at the University of South Carolina. She has previously served as chair of the United Way of the Midlands board of directors, the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Trinity Housing Corporation of Columbia.
Judy received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ohio Northern University and her Juris Doctor from the Ohio State University School of Law.
Director of Media Education at the Nickelodeon Theatre
Sherard Duvall is the Director of Media Education at the Nickelodeon Theatre and is a native son of Columbia, SC. Sherard completed his elementary, middle and high school education in Richland One Schools and is a 2001 graduate of U.S.C. with a major in film/video and minor in history.
After working with Mad Monkey Productions in Columbia, SC he became the Sr. TV/Film producer at Genesis Studios in Cayce, SC where he served for 8 years before launching his own production company, OTR Films in 2012.
Formerly DJ Shekeese tha Beast of Hot. 103.9FM, he is 1/3rd of NonStop HipHop Live, the group that brought Columbia it’s first HipHop Family Day – Love, Peace & HipHop in April 2013 and manages HipHop artist FatRat Da Czar. Sherard currently serves on the board for Concerned Black Men of Columbia, a chapter of Concerned Black Men of America and The RAM (Reading Art Mathematics) Foundation, a privately run under-served youth enrichment program
TrenMedia and ECL Network (Creator of CultureMass.com)
Yoma Edwin is building a digital empire where original content is key. He’s a recognized thought leader in social media, digital strategy, brand development, new media and mobile marketing. Over the past 10 years, Yoma has built a successful web design and digital media strategy business with offices in Columbia, SC and Orlando, FL.
His latest venture Edwin Content Licensing Network (ECL Network) is focused on building a global digital media platform with wildly popular online properties such as CultureMass.com. CultureMass has more than 28 writers and contributors on staff and is known for being “where the internet comes to think”. Yoma is a graduate of Benedict College and an active investor and support of the local community.
Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of the Midlands
Anita Floyd is Vice President for Community Impact at the United Way of the Midlands in Columbia where she directs United Way’s community work in six counties.
Anita has over 20 years of experience in community development with particular expertise in homelessness and housing. She is an experienced trainer and facilitator. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois and an MA in International Studies at the University of South Carolina.
Anita’s volunteer activities include tutoring with the Midlands Reading Consortium, serving as an arbitrator with the Lexington County Juvenile Arbitration Program, Board Member of COR, Vice Chair of the State Homeless Coalition and member of the advisory board of the Midlands Housing Alliance.
Senior Vice President of Bank of America, SC Markets
Bill currently serves as the Small Business Banking Market Executive for the South Carolina and Metro Charlotte markets at Bank of America. Bill holds direct leadership responsibility for client satisfaction, revenue generation and leadership development for 20 bankers servicing greater Columbia, Greenville, SC, and Charlotte, NC.
Before his tenure banking, Bill spent 15 years in the telecommunications industry holding various leadership positions in engineering, sales and finance.
Bill is a graduate of Pfeiffer University and North Carolina School of Banking at UNC – Chapel Hill. He is active in a number of civic and community service organizations.
Publisher of State Media Company
Henry Haitz became President of The State Media Company and Publisher of The State newspaper on May 22, 2006. Currently, Henry serves on the boards of the United Way of the Midlands, the Central Carolina Community Foundation, Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie Foundation, South Carolina Economics and the Knight Foundation Community Advisory Board. Henry is a member of University Associates. He is also a member of the Inland Press Association Board of Directors.
In 2004, Henry was the recipient of the Bloomsburg University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni of the Year Award and in 2000 was named one of the top 20 newspaper executives under the age of 40 by NAA.
Henry received his bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting from Bloomsburg University in 1986. He received his masters of business administration in finance from Penn State University in 1991.
Steve Hall, CPC
Vice President of Business Development, Find Great People International
Steve has worked with Find Great People for over two decades. He has completed hundreds of searches for clients, and focuses on the retail, manufacturing, consumer goods and insurance industries.
He was promoted to VP of Business Development in 2009. Previously, Steve served as director of professional recruiting at FGP International, during that time revenue grew 500 percent.
Steve is a certified personal consultant and a graduate of Leadership Greenville. He serves on the boards of the State Recruiting Association SCAPS, and the Ronal McDonald House.
Public Relations/Government Affairs Manager at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport
Kaela Harmon is the Public Relations and Government Affairs Manager for the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. She has nearly 10 years of experience in marketing, public relations and broadcast media. Prior to joining the airport staff, she worked at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum where she was not just the first African-American to have a leadership position in the organization but also the youngest. Before that, she hosted a talk radio program on WGCV 620am during which she interviewed high profile politicos such as then Senators Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul. Kaela is active in her community as a volunteer for the Midlands Reading Consortium and as the Service Chair for the Palmetto Chapter of the Washington and Lee Alumni Association. She also serves on the media advisory councils for Washington and Lee University and Claflin University. Recently, Kaela has been recognized among the Top 20 Under 40 byThe State newspaper and as an Influential Woman in Business by the Columbia Region Business Report and the Southeastern Business Magazine.
Paula Harper Bethea
South Carolina Education Lottery Executive Director
Paula Harper Bethea has served as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Education Lottery since September 2009. She had previously served as one of nine South Carolinians chosen to establish the Lottery in 2001.
Prior to joining SCEL, Bethea was Director of External Relations for the McNair Law Firm. Active in numerous local, state and national organizations, she chairs The Caring Coins Foundation on Hilton Head Island, is vice-chairman of the board of First Financial Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiary, SCBT, and serves on the board of the MCI Heritage Classic Foundation. She is President-Elect of the USC Alumni Association, and past Chair of the Boards of the SC Chamber of Commerce, Columbia College and the Centers of Economic Excellence (Smart State). She is Chair Emeritus of the United Way of America Board of Governors.
A native of Hampton County, South Carolina, Bethea graduated with honors from the University of South Carolina. Mrs. Bethea has received Honorary Degrees from the University of South Carolina and from Presbyterian College and in 2006 she and her husband were named South Carolina’s Business Leaders of the Year. Mrs. Bethea and her husband, Bill, reside in Columbia and Bluffton, South Carolina.
Director of Government Relations
Conservation Voter of SC
Rebecca directs state advocacy and lobbying strategies for Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC), a non-profit organization. Through coordination of the Conservation Common Agenda, Rebecca brings over forty conservation organizations together from across South Carolina to have a common voice in the SC legislature. Rebecca brings more than seven years of experience working on water policy with communities, utilities, and agencies, most recently at American Rivers. Rebecca holds a BA in Political Science, Certificate in Environmental Ethics, and a MS in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development from the University of Georgia.
Rebecca is also active in the Columbia community as President of the Earlewood Community Citizens Organization, City of Columbia Bull St. Commissioner, founder of the NOMA Bark Park, and a member of the State’s 2014 Class of Top 20 under 40.
Executive Director of Richland County Public Library
Melanie is a noted expert in strategic planning, collaborations, leadership development and library staffing. She frequently speaks and facilitates at other libraries and organizations. Melanie joined RCPL in 2009 after serving as Director of St. Paul Public Library.
During her time at RCPL she has led a new focus for strategic planning, coordinated RCPL’s first Amnesty Week, and received more than $1 million in grants. These grants allowed RCPL to establish a job center at the main library in downtown Columbia. She continues to lead the implementation of a ten year capital plan that includes expansion and renovation of three libraries within the next five years.
Executive Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic
Rhonda Hunsinger is Executive Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic (SCP) and has worked in that capacity since 2002. She joined SCP in 1998 as Development Director. Rhonda is an active member of the League of American Orchestras, recently chairing the Advisory Committee for orchestras of similar size across the country. She is currenly Chair of the Columbia Rotary’s Cultural Affairs Committee, which strives to share Columbia’s many cultural offerings with its members, and is a member of the One Columbia Board.
Rhonda earned her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication and her Master of Liberal Studies from Rollins College. She has 27 years experience in fundraising and nonprofit management.
EngenuitySC’s Executive Director
George Hutton serves as EngenuitySC’s Executive Director, leading the organization’s efforts to establish industry clusters and an innovation-based economy in Columbia and the Midlands.
As Executive Director, Hutton oversees EngenuitySC’s ongoing economic development initiatives including NuHub, Ignite!, Science Cafe, and the organization’s partnerships with the Fuel Cell Collaborative and New Carolina. Before Engenuity, he gained extensive experience in business, marketing, and collaboration management from his time at Barclays Bank and W.R. Grace. Hutton also served in the Peace Corps leading economic development efforts in eastern Europe.
George received his undergraduate degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and earned his Masters of Business Administration from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.
Executive Vice President of NBSC
At NBSC, Boyd serves as executive vice president, commercial lead banking officer and regional executive for Richland, Lexington, Kershaw and York counties. He has established a bank-wide committee to develop the bank’s commercial and industrial business strategy, as well as developing sales leadership, trading and and customer development.
Boyd manages one billion dollars in core deposits and 800 million dollars in a commercial retail loan portfolio. He received the All Star City Award in 2002, 2005 and 2010. Currently, Boyd serves as vice chair of finance for the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce board.
Boyd attended the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. He also attended South Carolina Bankers School and the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
President and CEO of City Center Partnership
Matt Kennell currently serves as the President and CEO of the City Center Partnership in Columbia, SC which provides public space management, economic development, retail recruitment, homeless outreach, public advocacy, and planning.
Matt has worked in urban development and management for three decades in a variety of roles including City Planner, Main Street Manager, Community Development Manager, and in Business Improvement District (BID) management in Florida, Virginia, and South Carolina. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University in Virginia and Florida Atlantic University where he earned his MPA degree in Environmental Growth Management.
Matt served two terms on the International Downtown Association (IDA) Board of Directors, is a former President of the Virginia Downtown Development Association, and the Roanoke, VA Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a founding member of the Urban Land Institute’s South Carolina Center for Sustainable Leadership and the Rethinking Southern Cities Council as well as the ULI Midlands Executive Committee. He is a founding board member of the Midlands Housing Alliance, and serves on the boards of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Capital City Club.
Area Vice President at Time Warner Cable South Carolina
Charlane was named Area Vice President of South Carolina in 2010 after joining Time Warner Cable in 2004. She is the market leader for operations througout the state’s 109 franchise areas serving more than 433,000 residential subscribers. She is responsible for customer care and all retail center operations.
Previously, Charlane was selected by Ameritech Corporation as an exchange executive with Deuthce Telekom responsible for developing joint business operations strategies for integrated digital services in Bonn and Berlin, German.
She serves on the Board of Trustees of the United Way of the Midlands, Midlands Technical College Foundation Board’s Finance Committe, is Vice Chair of the Columbia Urban League and chapter president of Women in Cable Telecommunications – Carolinas.
Charlane earner a Master’s in Business Administration from Mercer University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business from the State University of New York, Albany.
Executive Director of Congaree Vista Guild
Sarah Lewis is the executive director of the Congaree Vista Guild, Columbia’s arts and entertainment district. As director, she acts as the liaison between the Vista Guild’s business, gallery, restaurant, resident and retail members and county and city officials. She also leads the neighborhood’s events such as Vista Lights an annual holiday event and Artista Vista, the annual gallery crawl, and brings her business-to-business development and management skills to work each day.
Sarah graduated from Clemson University and earned her Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Before returning to Columbia, where she grew up, Sarah worked as the business development manager in the Georgetown County Economic Development office in Georgetown, S.C., where she promoted Georgetown County’s economic growth and development. She served as the communications chair and secretary for the Bridge2Bridge Community Revitalization business association, and as chair for Georgetown County Cambers of Commerce’s Young Professionals group.
Sarah has worked with Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands and the Columbia Urban League. She is past committee chair for the United Way Gala and has served as head of marketing and public relations for an Animal Shelter Gala.
Executive Director of IT-oLogy @ Innovista
Todd serves as the Executive Director of IT-oLogy @ Innovista. In this role he is responsible for every aspect of the Columbia operation, including strategy, marketing, program development and delivery, finance, and a host of other less prominent, yet still important, areas.
Todd also serves as Project Manager for the CoursePower project. CoursePower is major initiative creating an Applied Computing minor or certificate program at each of the four local universities – Benedict College, Columbia College, Midlands Tech, and The University of South Carolina. It is a collaboration between these four schools, IT-oLogy, SCRA, South Carolina Department of Commerce, Engenuity, and a host of private sector entities.
In his spare time Todd creates and coordinates technology conferences. These include POSSCON, All Things Open, and Great Wide Open. These events annually attract the best and most well known technologists in the world as well as the largest IT companies. He also serves on multiple local boards, including the Information Technology Council (ITC), SC Humane Society, Red Cross Blood Services Division, and the Columbia Sertoma Club.
District Four Councilman, Richland County Council
Paul represents Richland County Council Distric 4. He has been a member of RCC for more than 20 years. He has made lasting impacts in economic development and education, and has played an integral role in attracting major industry to South Carolina.
Paul is also an instructor and psychology coordinator at Midlands Technical College where he was voted teacher of the year in 1980. He graduated from the South Carolina Economic Developer’s School and has served on many community boards including Richland School District One, Engenuity SC and the Richland County Council Economic Development Committee.
President & CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism
Ric Luber is the President and CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism. Ric attended Ohio State University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in marketing. During his undergraduate, he worked for the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) in Columbus, Ohio.
After earning a law degree and practicing for a couple of years, Ric was asked to come back to the CVB as a Vice President. Since then, his career has almost entirely involved working in the tourism industry. Ric ran the the CVB in Austin, Texas for five years and the CVB in Rochester, New York for seven years.
Dr. Louis B. Lynn
ENVIRO Ag Science, Inc.
Dr. Louis B. Lynn’s horticultural enterprise, ENVIRO Ag Science, Inc., established in 1985, is the largest African American-owned landscape firm in South Carolina. His company’s construction division has completed a number of showcase projects including the Columbia Convention Center, the University of South Carolina Colonial Center and BMW Manufacturing. Other clients include Ft. Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base, Fort Gordon and the Savannah River Nuclear site. As a research scientist, Lynn worked at Monsanto developing the Roundup® herbicide.
Early in his entrepreneurial career, Lynn was challenged to own a socially responsible firm and from a public perspective to “pay his civic rent.” His civic engagement includes election to six four-year terms on the Clemson Board of Trustees since 1988. Additionally, he has served on the boards of the S.C. Workforce Investment, the State Chamber of Commerce, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, the Palmetto Agribusiness Council, the Midlands Business Leadership Council, the State Museum Foundation, the S.C. Horticulture Society and the S.C. Commission of Higher Education.
A devout Christian, Dr. Lynn considers his business as his ministry, and that desire to use his vocation to advocate his faith has led to his pursuit of a certificate in Market Place Ministry at Columbia Bible College. Dr. Lynn often shares his faith by leading community prayers for Clemson vs. USC football games, the Mayor’s Inauguration, the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast and numerous business events. His business mission statement is Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
The Darlington County native was in the second freshman class to integrate Clemson University, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Horticulture. He earned his Ph.D in Horticulture at the University of Maryland.
CEO of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce
Since September 1994, Ike has served the Greater Columbia Region as President and CEO of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. McLeese sees his role at the Chamber as a catalyst in helping the Chamber re-focus, re-tool and re-engineer itself in order to better serve its membership in the 21st Century.
McLeese graduated from Anderson University in 1964 and from the University of South Carolina in 1967 with a degree in political science. He has served as a lecturer at the University’s former College of Journalism and Mass Communications and at the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government at Clemson University. He has also been awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor bestowed in South Carolina by two different Governors.
Music Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic
Morihiko has served as music director of the SC Philharmonic since 2008. The 2011-2012 seasons marks his ninth season with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra where he is resident conductor.
Morihiko is known for his charismatcis presence on and off the podium, innovative and audience-friendly programming skills and thoughtful interpretations of both standard and contemporary repertoire. He was featured in the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in March 2005.
Morihiko is a native of Kagoshima, Japan. He holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He previously served as music director of the Holland Symphony Orchestra and taught at Eastern Washington University and Andrews University.
Chief Retirement Planning Specialist at Michael Oana Retirement Planning Specialist
Michael is owner of Michael Oana Retirement Planning Specialist. He is responsible for all investment related decisions and offers independent advice, customized investment plans and personalized service.
Previously, Michael was assistant vice president of Merrill Lynch’s Columbia office. He worked with Merrill Lynch for 13 years before starting his own investment firm. In 2008, Michael was named in The State’s Top 20 Under 40 club.
Michael Graduated from the University of South Carolina with degrees in management and marketing. He holds insurance licenses in South Carolina and many additional states.
Hotelier, Restauranteur and Real Estate Developer
Rick Patel is one of the most recognized hoteliers and real estate developers in Columbia. He’s a first generation American who grew up in the hotel industry. Rick has been building, buying, selling and renovating hotel properties across the Carolinas for more than 25 years.
One of his most prominent projects is the completely renovated Sheraton Columbia Downtown, a boutique property in the heart of the revitalized city center; soon to be accompanied by the Sheraton Convention Center across the street. Rick is passionate about historic preservation and building strong communities, and works tirelessly to make Columbia a world class destination for hospitality.
Associate at Nexsen Pruet
As a lawyer, Tommy is committed to helping make South Carolina a more prosperous state. As an associate in the firm’s Public Policy and Governmental Affairs and Economic Development groups, Tommy regularly represents businesses and organizations on legislative, regulatory, public finance, and economic development matters. Tommy believes that South Carolina’s economic, social, and political environment makes our state the ideal place for companies, and sees his job as helping clients navigate the various state channels to eventually invest and create jobs in the state.In addition to practicing law, Tommy is still very active in the community. He currently serves as the Chair of the University of South Carolina Board of Visitors; the youngest and first person of color to Chair the Board. He is President of the Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association. He is on the Carolina Alumni Association Board of Governors, the Board of Sistercare,Inc, among others. Tommy is also active in the American Bar Association, where he serves in multiple national roles.Tommy graduated with a B.A. from the University of South Carolina is 2007 and with a J.D. from the University of South Carolina Law School in 2011.
Ernest Pringle, MPA
Assistant Dean for Information Technology at the University of South Carolina School of Law
Ernest M. Pringle, assistant dean for information technology, joined the University of South Carolina School of Law in September 2007. He is responsible for providing strategic leadership and direction for all information technology (IT) services, including the planning, delivery and management of academic and administrative technology for the law school.
Prior to joining the School of Law, Dean Pringle served as Associate Director of Student Development & University Housing for Information Technology. He also served as Network Manager for the College of Hotel, Restaurant and Sport Management (formerly the College of Applied Professional Sciences) at USC. Prior to that position he worked as a network operator for Policy Management Systems Corporation in Blythewood, SC.
Dean Pringle earned his BS degree in Office Information Systems and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with an information systems emphasis, both from the University of South Carolina. He is a certified Novell administrator (CNA), an EDUCAUSE Leadership Institute graduate and was nominated by former USC president Andrew Sorensen to participate in Blueprint for Leadership, an eight week United Way leadership training program. He also serves on the board of directors of Latino Communications Community Development Corporation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia.
Co-founder of Rhythmlink International, LLC
Shawn Regan is co-founder and the CEO of Rhythmlink International, LLC. He and his team are building a medical device powerhouse right here in Columbia. Rhythmlink is celebrating its 5th year on the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list and has been voted one of the best places to work in South Carolina.
After more than a decade of experience in the medical device and medical services fields, he and his partner created Rhythmlink to meet the needs of neurophysiologic end-users whom he discovered were underserved by both large and small medical device companies. Shawn is passionate about combining customer needs with innovative engineering solutions to improve patient care and reduce medical costs.
Chief Executive Officer and a partner in Total Comfort Solutions
Jim Reynolds is chief executive officer and a partner in Total Comfort Solutions, a leading provider of mechanical services to commercial, industrial, medical and institutional facilities in South Carolina. In 2010, he was chosen by The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce as Business Leader of the Year.
A native of Columbia, Reynolds is a graduate of Davidson College and earned an MBA from the University of Virginia. Following a 10-year career with the Coca-Cola Company in Boston and Atlanta, Reynolds returned to Columbia and used his small business knowledge to become a partner in Total Comfort Solutions.
In addition to being a small businessman, Reynolds shares his passion for advancing education and workforce development by serving as chair of the South Carolina Chamber’s Excellence in Education Council. He also co-chairs the New Carolina Education and Workforce Development Task Force and serves on the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) Coordinating Council. Reynolds is past chair of the Midlands Technical College Foundation Board and past chair of the Midlands Education and Business Alliance.
Dr. Linda Salane
Executive Director of the Leadership Institute at Columbia College
Dr. Salane serves as executive director of the Leadership Institute and special assistant to the president at Columbia College. She organized the Institute and is its first and only executive director. She also organized Columbia College’s Alliance for Women.
She was previously USC’s Vice President for student affairs and the chief financial officer at Columbia College. She is a recipient of the James T. Rogers Meritorious Service Award from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Always recharging her batteries, Dr. Salane is a routine three-mile runner. She lives conveniently close to the gym at Woodhill Mall, where she is often seen in a workout. She serves on the board of directors of The Cooperative Ministry and she is one of Columbia’s Women in Philanthropy.
Dean of the College of Social Work at USC
As Dean of the College of Social Work, Dr. Anna Scheyett makes change happen by providing structure, support, and leadership for her faculty and students
Anna has been busy making change happen in her own research as well. For example, her research on North Carolina jails influenced policy around the treatment of incarcerated persons with mental illnesses. She has also focused on creating interventions to support university students with mental illnesses.
Anna began her career as a social worker for adults with serious mental illnesses, and has focused her work on supports, services, and advocacy needed so that people with mental illnesses may live meaningful lives of recovery in the community. Her more recent work focuses on the intersection of mental illnesses and the legal system, and, because of her administrative responsibilities, mental health and university students. The goal of her work is change at the practice and policy levels to increase well-being and autonomy in individuals with mental illnesses and other vulnerable populations such as those in the justice system.
Martha Scott Smith
Director of Public Affairs/Foundations at AT&T-SE
Martha Scott Smith is director of public affairs/foundations at AT&T-SE. During her 30-plus year tenure at AT&T (Bellsouth), Smith has held positions in marketing, human resources and public relations.
Active in the community, Martha is a founding member of Women in Philanthropy and Millennium Magazine’s “Celebrating Your Gifts” Youth Awards. She is also currently president of the Columbia Urban League Guild; the Governor’s appointee to the board of trustees of South Carolina State University; and a member of the Columbia Chapter of LINKS Inc, Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics and Allen University Foundation board. Martha has served as the chairman of the board of directors for the American Red Cross, Midlands Technical College Foundation, the South Carolina State Museum and South Carolina Voices for Children.
Martha attended South Carolina State University and received her Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences and Science from the University of South Carolina. She was named the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year by the United Way of the Midlands and the 2008 Trustee of the Year by South Carolina State University.
Dr. Darrel Staat
President of the S.C. Technical College System
Dr. Darrel Staat has been president of the S.C. Technical College System since August 2010. Prior to that, he served as president of the Central Virginia Community College.
Staat has had more than 33 years of successful administrative success in a variety of executive positions and 18 years as college president, including serving in the Maine Community College System as president of both York County Community College and Eastern Maine Community College.
He earned his Doctorate of Arts in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.
Ann Marie Stieritz
Director of Business Solutions for Innovista at the University of South Carolina
Ann Marie Stieritz has been director of business solutions for Innovista at the University of South Carolina. Her responsibilities there include recruiting high-tech businesses to the Midlands and serving as the liaison between USC’s researchers and the business community.
Stieritz previously worked at the S.C. Technical College System for four years, where she served as vice president for economic development and workforce competitiveness. She also is former statewide coordinator for 12 Regional Education Centers, which coordinate education, workforce and economic development with business and industry initiatives to develop education and workforce readiness strategies.
Stieritz earned a B.A. from Xavier University and a Diploma of Studies from the Université de Paris, la Sorbonne. She earned an M.A. and an M. Phil. in political science from New York University.
She is a member of the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Midlands and is the chair of that organization’s Community Impact Committee and sits on the Underserved Counties Task Force. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Rotary Club, has been recognized as a Guatemala Literacy Fellow for her support of Rotary International’s Guatemala Literacy Project and is a multiple level Paul Harris Fellow. She is a member of Women in Philanthropy, the Columbia Museum of Arts’ Taylor Society and Collectors’ Circle, and is a graduate of the S.C. Technical College System’s Leadership Academy.
She was named to the Class of 2009 “20 Under 40” leaders in South Carolina and was recognized as the 2009 Executive of the Year by the Palmetto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
Broker at NAI Avant
Nick Stomski, SIOR is an industrial and investment specialist and a Lifetime Member of the Central Carolina Realtors Association’s Circle of Excellence. He offers specialization in acquisition, disposition, landlord and tenantrepresentation in the industrial market across the state, focusing on corporate services in the capacity of brokerage and consulting.Nick was awarded the Circle of Excellence recognition in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, Nick was the recipient of the Columbia Region CoStar Power Broker Award for Top Industrial Leasing. In 2011 he also received the Columbia Region CoStar Power Broker Award for Top Sales Volume. Nick was recognized by the State Newspaper as one of 20 top rising business stars under the age of 40 in the Midlands who are committed to improving life in South Carolina’s capital city.Nick received his Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the University of South Carolina with a double major in Real Estate and Entrepreneurial Management.
Debra B. “Debbie” Summers
Debbie Summers serves as council member to Lexington County District 4, Oak Grove, Springdale and part of Lexington. Debbie is past chair of the council, the first female chair of the council and is currently the only female serving on the council. She works as a sales executive for Sun Printing in West Columbia.
Turnquist leads the Central Carolina Community Foundation in implementing the long-range strategic plan and works with the board of trustees and staff to set the vision for new initiatives. She provides stewardship services to new and existing donors and works to expand the role of the Foundation within the community.
Turnquist was previously Chief of Staff at The Moore School of Business, Director Corporate Accounts at JohnsonDiversey and Vice President of Sales Jan/San and Commercial Outlets at The Clorox Company Connections.
Executive Director of Historic Columbia Foundation
Robin Waites is the Executive Director for Historic Columbia and has served in that capacity since 2004. A life-long resident of Columbia, Robin is well equipped to work with the various constituents and issues that are part of preservation and education in our capital city.
A product of Columbia’s Richland School District One, Robin attended Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont where she received a bachelor of arts with a double major in Art History and Russian. She received a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of SC in 1996 and immediately began work at the South Carolina State Museum. She served in a variety of capacities including the chief curator of art, which was her position when she left the State Museum to work with Historic Columbia as the director of Marketing and Development.
Robin is active in the community, serving on the board of the South Caroliniana Library and a member of the Columbia Rotary Club. She is a 2004 graduate of Leadership Columbia and a 2007 recipient of the State Newspapers’ “20 Under 40,” which recognizes rising stars in the community.
Ginny Nissen Waller
Executive Director of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands
Ginny joined the STSM agency as the Director of Development in 2008, becoming Executive Director in February 2009. She brings creative fundraising techniques, extensive leadership experience and a passion for eliminating sexual assault and abuse. Since 2008, Ginny has raised more than $2.6 million in funding for the agency.
Ginny graduated from USC Law School in May 2003 after serving as President of Women in Law and a member of the Pro Bono Board.
In May 2008, the SC Bar YLD chose Ginny as their Young Lawyer of the Year for her commitment to public service and the profession. In February 2010, The State named Ginny as one of the Top 20 Under 40 in the Midlands. Recently, the Girl Scouts Mountains to Midlands recognized Ginny as one of the 2011 Women of Distinction.
Councilman Kelvin Washington
Richland County Council & SC Dept. Transportation
In January, Kelvin was elected County Council Chairman of Richland County Council. Kelvin was elected to office to represent District Ten in November, 2008. His district covers the majority of the Lower Richland area, including Hopkins, Eastover, Gadsden and historic Arthurtown.
Kelvin works for the South Carolina Department of Transportation and is President and CEO of Global Asset Management Solutions, LLC. For the past 20 years, he has been a steward fro the Lower Richland community. He served as volunteer fire chief of Hopkins Fire Station and vice-chair of the Renaissance Foundation.
Kelvin received his B.S. in electrical engineering from South Carolina State University, and completed the Strategic Leadership for State Executives course at Duke University.
Founder of Innovative Global Supply
Cherod Webber is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years experience working around the world for BMW. In 2008, Webber founded Innovative Global Supply to combine his passion for fitness, wellness, and nutrition. IGS is a dynamic distribution company delivering fortified foods, nutritional supplements and other healthcare products to markets around the world.
The company has seen tremendous growth and Cherod has developed a reputation as a door opener in emerging markets around the globe, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and The Middle East. In fact, IGS was nominated in 2012 as “Exporter of the Year” for South Carolina. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the United States Export-Import Bank and has recently been appointed as the Honorary Ambassador to Ghana and Greater West Africa Region by the City of Columbia. Cherod has a vision of social entrepreneurship, where he can bring valuable wellness and nutrition products to those most in need. He’s a consummate professional, an incredible salesman, and passionate global change agent.
City Manager of the City of Columbia
Teresa Wilson was chosen to serve as Columbia’s City Manager in January 2013 after building a remarkable record of accomplishment since joining the city in 2007.
In the six years she served as the city’s Director of Governmental Affairs and Assistant City Manager for Community Programs, Economic Development and Government Services, Teresa’s leadership was key in a number of groundbreaking initiatives including transforming Columbia’s Community Development department into a nationally recognized model organization and reducing the city’s Commercial Revolving Loan Fund’s default rate from 29% to 4% in just one fiscal year.
Prior to joining the City of Columbia, Teresa served as Government and Community Relations Coordinator for the University of South Carolina’s Office of the President where she not only successfully lobbied the state legislature on the University’s behalf, but also served as a liaison for USC and the City of Columbia and a number of community organizations. Teresa was born and raised in Columbia and graduated from Irmo High School, the University of South Carolina Honors College and the University of South Carolina School of Law.
Managing Partner of Lifestone Communities
Andy White is managing partner of Lifestone Communities, developer of Saluda River Club. He also serves as CEO of Palmetto Builders Concrete, LLC and is a partner in Edge City Homes, LLC, Ensight Homes, LLC and Lifestone Homes, LLC.
A Camden native, Andy has been a home builder and developer since college, where he earned a degree in financial management. He has been responsible for the development and construction of over 8,000 homes in more than 100 communities in SC, NC, FL and AZ.
Andy is married with three adult sons, and also serves is a variety of community organizations, including:
- Elder at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church in Lexington
- Board of Directors, Lexington School District One Education Foundation
- Board of Directors, Lexington Chamber of Commerce
- Legislative Chairman, Home Builders Association of South Carolina
- Executive Committee, Home Builders Association of South Carolina
- Vice-Chairman, Lexington County Planning Commission