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Greenville Business Magazine

2018 Best and Brightest 35 and Under

Sep 05, 2018 01:00PM ● By Emily Stevenson
Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 2018, presented by Furman University, honors 37 young professionals who are outstanding in their communities and careers.

Judges Dr. Judith Prince, professor emerita at USC Upstate; Wendy Walden, associate vice president of executive affairs at Greenville Technical College; and Mike Posey, vice president of marketing and communications at the United Way of Greenville County, were this year’s judges. They selected this year’s class from among 117 candidates.

The judges say it was a pleasure to learn about the accomplishments of the 37.

“It is always an honor to have the opportunity to learn more about the great young leaders in our community,” Posey says. “This year’s slate of nominees and winners is positive proof that being successful in work and in community service is something that should be admired and celebrated. My sincere congratulations to this year’s nominees and this year’s Best and Brightest winners.”

Prince concurs.

“Greenville is in good hands with the outstanding young professionals in Greenville Business Magazine’s 2018 Best and Brightest,” Prince says.  “I was delighted with the diversity of nominees this year, as they reflected more than ever before the diversity of Greenville! Judging is such a challenge with the outstanding profiles of those nominated. Greenville has so much to be proud of, including the young professionals who are committed to making this community the best possible.”
Walden is equally impressed.

“Each year, the pool of candidates from which to select Greenville’s Best & Brightest is more exceptional than the last,” Walden says. “I’m always astounded by the passion, drive, and commitment of the nominees and look forward to the incredible work that will result from their labor of love to make Greenville a better place.”

This year’s Best & Brightest section includes short biographies, written by each winner. Photos were taken at Fluor Field.

Kimberly Bailey

Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC | Project Manager
Age: 34

I studied building science at Auburn University. On day one of my first building science class, I knew construction was what I was meant to do. I feel at home walking onto a site full of trees and weeds and get excited knowing that, in a matter of months, an owner will have a beautiful facility. Each project has a story, and I pour myself into getting every detail right. As I’ve moved through the ranks within Brasfield & Gorrie during the last 13 years, I have seen the way these projects impact their communities.

Although I’m a busy working mother of two, I find it important to use my skills and passions to give back. I serve on Brasfield & Gorrie’s Women’s Resource Group Steering Committee, which supports women in construction operations positions. In the Greenville community, I am proud to serve on the executive board for CREW Upstate, which advances the achievements of women in the commercial real estate industry. I also serve A Child’s Haven as president of Haven’s Heroes and as a member of the building and grounds committee. My community involvement has helped me grow, and I am so grateful for the opportunities.


 Zachary Banks
Northwestern Mutual | Financial Representative
Age 31

Talking about finances can be overwhelming, so as a financial advisor, I simplify the conversation to help my clients see financial blind spots and anticipate big life changes, like starting a family.

My wife Candace and I are expecting our first child in September. With the excitement of expecting, it’s easy to forget personal and long-term goals and get carried away in the excitement.

As a financial advisor for the last 10 years, I remind expecting parents to start or build up their emergency fund and have six months of living expenses set aside to cover additional expenses that come with a newborn. New parents will need money to help subsidize lost income from maternity or paternity leave, purchase expensive baby essentials, and cover medical expenses. I also remind couples to keep funding their retirement at the highest level possible so their children aren’t worried about how to care for them as they age.

Times like these make my job as a financial advisor rewarding, especially when families decide to make smart financial decisions about parenthood before diaper changes and middle-of-the-night feedings start. I’m as ready as I will ever be for this new chapter of my life.


Tina Belge
Greenville County | Long Range Planner
Age 27

I moved to Greenville to serve in AmeriCorps. I ran the home repair program at Greenville County Redevelopment Authority (GCRA), where I met people from all over the county. After my term, I began full-time at GCRA, where I managed federal funding to our 30-plus nonprofit partners. I also helped persons experiencing homelessness with financial assistance and managed our neighborhood grant program.

I currently work in Greenville County Long-Range Planning, where I’ve expounded on my neighborhood work and served as a planner, solving problems alongside community groups. I am also the executive director for Keep Greenville County Beautiful, an environmental nonprofit focused on beautification, removing litter, and recycling. I currently serve as the third vice chair for the Greenville County Democratic Party and vice chair for the United Way Young Philanthropist 20s group, as well as on other boards.

In December I will graduate with my master of public administration in community and economic development from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As a natural extension of my job in planning, I’d like to better inform policy and have dreams of running for office one day.

I have a wonderful and supportive husband, Jacob Pocta, and two dogs, Lily and Ruff, with a little girl on the way.


Carlie Boese
Robert Half Office Team | Branch Manager
Age 31

My career with Robert Half began in November 2010 after exiting the sports information field. Having been a college athlete myself, I loved being an advocate for student athletes at the universities I worked with, but I was yearning to get more plugged into the young professional community here in Greenville.

Robert Half gave me the opportunity to directly impact people’s lives right here in the town where I was putting down roots. I worked almost exclusively with the unemployed population and made a living becoming an expert in partnering with local Upstate clients to find top talent for their organizations. It was more than just staffing—it was matchmaking. And I was hooked.

In the better part of a decade, I have partnered with more than 700 companies staffing 3,000-plus jobs and placing 1,000-plus candidates here in the community that I love.

The best part about that? This job has afforded me the opportunity to network with a very diverse group of people, inadvertently introducing me to the Red Shoe Society, where I spent several years on the board, as both their volunteer chair and, later, president. During my time with RSS, I was able to lead multiple record-breaking fundraising events—most notably, our Plane Pull and #StripesforRMHC campaigns.


Rob Corney
Gallivan, White & Boyd, P.A. | Associate
Age 33

I am an associate at Gallivan, White & Boyd, P.A. in Greenville, where I focus my practice on civil litigation. Before entering private practice, I was an assistant attorney general with the S.C. Attorney General’s Office, where I defended the state in thousands of cases challenging criminal convictions. I was raised in Charleston and am a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina and Charleston School of Law.

I have the privilege of serving on the board of PlaySafe, a nonprofit that employs/provides full-time athletic trainers to more than 45 schools in three states to promote safety in high school athletics. I’ve completed the Greenville Chamber’s Opportunity Greenville and year-long Pulse Pacesetters mentorship program.

I reside in the North Main area with my wife and three young daughters. We are members of First Presbyterian Church, where we volunteer with charitable organizations like Feed My Starving Children. I am grateful to live, work, and raise my children in the Greenville community, where generosity, hospitality, and doing the right thing are staples of everyday life. I’m honored to be on Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under list and intend to continue to invest my time and talents in ways that will help better Greenville.


Matthew Couvillion
Wyche, P.A. | Associate
Age 33

I am an associate with Wyche, P.A. and focus my practice on transactional matters, with an emphasis on corporate law, tax law, and nonprofit organizations. I enjoy advising clients on mergers and acquisitions, tax matters, and corporate governance.

I grew up in Greenville and attended Auburn University before earning my law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. I also have an LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. After working for firms in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., my family and I wanted to return home to Greenville, where I could continue to grow professionally and be involved in my hometown.

I serve on the board of directors and as treasurer of the Greenville Bar Pro Bono Foundation and sit on the board of advisors for LAST (Legal Assistance for Survivors of Trafficking), which offers legal representation for victims of sex trafficking. I am also active on the board of SCBIO (South Carolina Biotechnology Innovation Organization). I’ve volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, even co-chairing a build, and have participated in several mission trips to Haiti.

I am honored to have been nominated and selected for Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under.


Kate Dabbs
Coldwell Banker Caine | Director of Marketing and Operations
Age 30

When I first graduated from Furman University, my idea of leadership was quite different. As a younger professional, I thought of leadership as more of a resume builder, where the goal was to join as many things as possible and pursue positions of influence.

However, when part-time graduate school with full-time working became a delicate Tetris of time management, I had to let some of my commitments go. I kept the ones that connected most with my passions, skills, and personal mission, so to speak. Though this was an adjustment that initially made me feel somehow less of a leader, I learned a valuable lesson that informs how I lead today.

Now, I see leadership as a daily practice of continuously making decisions that are sometimes hard—all for the betterment of the people I serve. It is a minute-by-minute choice to do the thing that will take longer to make sure it is right or the conversation that will be uncomfortable but will help others enjoy a happy and harmonious workplace. It is leading by living a life of integrity, diligence, and kindness.

Of course, connecting to organizations beyond my daily work is a vital element of leadership, and I am enjoying those roles more than I ever have. My biggest lesson has been to see it more as a lifestyle and less as a collection of good deeds.


Drew Dezen
Jeff Dezen Public Relations | Strategist, Business Development Executive
Age 29

A Greenville native whose family’s values of integrity, productivity, and kindness align closely with those of the Upstate, I am inspired by the many community leaders who have successfully built strong businesses while also using their knowledge and resources to make Greenville the thriving city it is today.

After graduating from Furman University in 2012, I left Greenville to work for Major League Baseball International in Sydney, Australia. There, I benefited from being in a position with more responsibility than I may have been qualified to manage, nurtured by a talented team who empowered me to thrive. Life abroad gave me terrific perspective and life-altering opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

In 2014, I returned to Greenville to join my family’s business, JDPR. At JDPR, we pride ourselves on being strategic communicators for brands of all sizes with consumer-facing goods or services, navigating the evolving communications landscape to give our clients a competitive advantage. In my role, I focus on strategic planning, client management, and new business development.

My fiancé, Maddy Varin, and I are passionate about animal advocacy and are founding board members of Partners in Animal Care. I am honored to be named one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under. I personally know many worthy candidates in our community.


Emanuel Flemming
Southernside Block Partnership | Executive Board
Age 35

Being a veteran and clergyman and having grown up on the west side of Greenville, I have befriended and interacted with people from all walks of life. I was taught by my parents and grandmother how to care for those less fortunate and how to be grateful for all you have; I remember being exposed to and involved with social issues, protests, marches, and events at an early age. My grandmother ran a community center that focused on feeding and clothing the homeless, feeding and fellowshipping with senior citizens, and providing a summer camp and enrichment programs for local youth.

My future aspirations are to become a certified chaplain, both as a civilian and within the military; hold a doctor of divinity degree; and become a philanthropist.

I personally feel that my life experiences and rearing has made me a humble, servant-minded, hard-working, caring, respectful, and optimistic man. I believe all people need are some success stories to motivate them and help them achieve more out of life. I also believe that your blessings come in being a blessing to others. I am here to serve, God, family, country, and community until my time is up.


Leslie Haas
Leslie Haas Social | CEO
Age 33

As a social media entrepreneur and marketer, I utilize my skill set to help companies gain major traction in an ever-changing digital and social media landscape. This skill set isn’t taught at any school as trends in my industry change weekly, sometimes daily. It’s this challenge that I love—my career requires just as much from me analytically as it does creatively.

I’m a proud fifth generation Greenville native who takes personal pride in seeing our local businesses and community thrive. I feel as though I’ve been raised by the Upstate and am thankful for the opportunities this community constantly presents. Who would’ve thought this shy, small-town girl would grow up to be an entrepreneur and a social media influencer with a TV show? Because of this, I take my contributions to Greenville seriously. I’m a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 43, and I currently serve on boards and committees for The Family Effect, Carolina Ballet Theatre, Safe Harbor, and more. I’m honored to be recognized as one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under, and it’s even more of an honor to use the tools our town gave me to continue to contribute to our city’s success.


Candice Hipp
Greenville Health System | Manager of Medical Neighborhoods
Age 29

As the manager of Medical Neighborhoods for Greenville Health System (GHS), I provide oversight to the Neighborhood Health Partners Care Team (Community Health Workers and Community Paramedics), a partnership with Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service-Health Extension program and the Diabetes Prevention Program for GHS employees and dependents. My programs work to improve the overall health of the community and aim to develop new innovative models for enabling population health management.

I received my master’s in health administration from the Medical University of South Carolina and bachelor’s in finance from Wofford College. Outside of professional obligations, I am the secretary of the S.C. Community Health Worker Association (SCCHWA), a member of the SCCHWA Executive Committee, and the chair of the SCCHWA Education Committee. Also, I am member of the American Heart Association’s Upstate Heart Ball and Go Red for Women Luncheon Silent Auction Committees, and a volunteer with Meals on Wheels. I am a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church and active in the Radiance Bible study group. Thank you for the honor of being named one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under.


Nick Hollstegge
CBRE, Inc. | Senior Associate
Age 33

If you would’ve told me that I’d be living and working in Greenville today when I was a freshman at Furman University way back in 2003, I would’ve called you crazy. Now, it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else.

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I first came to Greenville to attend Furman and play on the baseball team. I relocated to Atlanta after graduation and eventually found my way back when I was afforded the opportunity to join the industrial group at The Furman Co., now CBRE. It’s been a wonderful ride so far being able to directly contribute to the growth of our great city.

At CBRE, I advise clients on a wide scope of industrial real estate transactions. My services range from something as straightforward as finding and leasing warehouse space for automotive suppliers to more complex deals, like repositioning textile mills into mixed-use projects through tax credit utilization. Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with an outstanding team on the redevelopment of Judson Mill.

Outside of the office, I have coached high school baseball, served on the Paladin Club Board at Furman, and volunteered for the First Tee of the Upstate. I live in Overbrook with my wife Ali and son Brooks. I feel honored and extremely grateful to be included amongst this very talented and community-driven group of individuals.


Laura Jones
McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture | Architect
Age 34

I graduated from Clemson with a bachelor’s in architecture with a minor in speech and communications. During my senior year, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, changing my career path forever.

In 2011, I graduated with a master’s in architecture and earned a post-professional degree in architecture and health focusing on evidenced-based design of health care facilities. Working in the field of health care architecture, I have the privilege of designing spaces that support patients, family, and staff during some of the most vulnerable and stressful times in people’s lives and leading the team for McMillan Pazdan Smith that does the planning, design, and construction oversight for our Greenville Health System projects.

I served as a board member for the Medical Benevolence Foundation, helping to build and equipping locals to run hospitals and clinics around the world. Locally, I have served as the coordinator for Interfaith Hospitality Network at our church and now serve as the chairwoman of the Mission Committee, leading the committee in the planning and execution of mission work in our local community and around the world. I have been involved in eight United Way campaigns, serving as McMillan Pazdan Smith’s co-chair for seven of them, and have participated in the School Tools campaign, Hands on Greenville, and Live United Day.


Shawn Kinard
Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing | Recruiting and Branding Specialist
Age 27

From the time I was old enough to go on mission trips to serving for nonprofits now, I’ve been giving back in any way I can. During my college years at Anderson University, I got heavily involved in my local church, where I discovered a passion for mentoring the next generation. I believe equipping and serving this world’s future leaders is one of the best investments we can make.

After college, I landed a job at Godshall Professional Recruiting. My role as the recruiting and branding specialist is a great combination, allowing me to use my HR degree and my creative/marketing side as well.

As a single gal, I know I have less time constraints than many. While I enjoy the fun attractions in Greenville, I’ve chosen to spend much of my time volunteering and serving for the greater good. You can find me at my church; serving on Echelon’s board, an auxiliary group of the Salvation Army; and volunteering with other local nonprofits in the area.

Being selected as one of Greenville’s Best and Brightest is truly an honor. I hope to continue to live up to its expectations and look forward to meeting my other fellow honorees.


Matt King
Augusta Road Baptist Church | Senior Pastor
Age 35

My wife and I came to Greenville in 2014 when I became the senior pastor of Augusta Road Baptist Church. We quickly fell in love with this innovative city that is working to create a community where everyone thrives. We are inspired by those who ensure every voice is heard and valued and those who give of themselves to make the lives of those around them better.

It is my privilege to lead ARBC’s congregation, ministers, and program staff to achieve the church’s mission through spiritual leadership, preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and administration. Each day, I get to work with passionate people who want to impact the community in which our church is rooted. It is an honor to serve our neighbors through transformative relationships, radical hospitality, engaging worship, and faithful service.

I am humbled by this award. Whether interacting with those on our campus, serving through a local mission effort, or running into someone in the community, I love connecting with people, and I am constantly amazed by the potential of those in our city to create a brighter future. I am confident that Greenville will be a great place for our daughter and the generations who come after her.


Matthew Kirk
Clemson University | Associate Director, Tiger Alliance
Age 29

I am a native of Philadelphia, by way of Prince George’s County, Md. I’ve always believed I was put on this earth to encourage and foster the professional, academic, spiritual, and personal development of those around me. I began this professional journey when I started working with a program called Higher Achievement after graduating from Wake Forest University with a history degree in 2010. Higher Achievement is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bridge the achievement and opportunity gaps for students in D.C. and northern Virginia. I absolutely loved my kids, but realized that I wanted to impact students at a different stage of their academic and identity development.

In 2012, I moved to South Carolina to pursue a master’s degree in counselor education, student affairs from Clemson University. After graduating, I began working at Clemson as a full-time academic coach and advisor. In November 2017, I transitioned to my current role as associate director of Tiger Alliance. Tiger Alliance is a college-access program designed to assist in building pathways to college and a college-going culture for high school students in the Upstate of South Carolina. Tiger Alliance is specifically for males, and targets young men of color in grades 9-12.


Katherine Laffitte
Smith Moore Leatherwood | Associate Attorney
Age 29

I am an attorney with Smith Moore Leatherwood, where I focus my practice on commercial real estate transactions, creditors’ rights, and bankruptcy law.

Beyond my professional career, I have had the honor of working with several great nonprofit organizations in Greenville, including the Circle of Hearts, which is a group of young women working together to promote the Julie Valentine Center; the Hope Ball, the premiere fundraising event for the Cancer Society of Greenville; and the Child Life Program at the Children’s Hospital at Greenville Hospital System. Additionally, through my participation in Leadership Greenville Class 44, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering at the Meyer Center for Special Children to help build a sensory garden for its students.

Contributing to the Greenville community is important to me because I believe we all have an obligation to help and promote one another when able. And, in return, each of these opportunities has served me by broadening my perspective and appreciation for Greenville and the great people with whom we share our community.

Thank you to those who nominated me for Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under. I am grateful and honored to have been chosen.


Kate Mendez
United Way of Greenville County | Grant Accounting and Compliance Manager
Age 33

During the six years that I have called Greenville home, I am reminded daily of our amazing community. I work for United Way of Greenville County, and it is truly inspiring to work with both our donors and community partners to help everyone who seeks help and refuge find their cycle of success.

I also love working closely with Femmeportant (formerly GirlBoss Greenville) and leading MomBoss Greenville, a collaborative that focuses on creating support for local moms and provides tangible ways for women to support each other. I also convene the Upstate Human Trafficking Coalition and serve on the board of directors for Keeping Greenville County Beautiful.

As a recent graduate of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Furman University and Leadership Greenville Class 43, I plan to continue finding new and innovative ways to support the women in our community, as well as continue making Greenville an inclusive, safe, and amazing place to live for all. I am thrilled to be a part of such an esteemed group. Thank you for this honor.


Laura Moore
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management | Financial Advisor
Age 28

If you had asked me 10 years ago what I thought I would be doing today, I never would have guessed I’d be working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. While solving planning issues and managing investment portfolios for individuals and families is what I do on paper, the best part of my job goes beyond that. I love hearing people’s stories and finding out what’s important to them. There’s no greater joy than helping others achieve their financial goals, whether it be sending a child to college, having peace of mind about finances, or taking their entire family on a trip to Disney World. Working in a male-dominated industry, I’m also passionate about working with women and instilling confidence when it comes to finances.

As a Greenville native, I’ve watched this beautiful city transform before my eyes over the last decade or so. I enjoy being active in the community and currently serve on the board of Greenville Women Giving and the Rotary Club of Greenville. In my free time, my husband and I enjoy taking part in everything our city has to offer.


Jamika Nedwards
Julie Valentine Center | Crisis Program Director
Age 35

As the crisis program director at the Julie Valentine Center, I am committed to providing the highest quality sexual assault recovery services to my community. This work is not just what I do, but who I am. I am honored to be a part of a team that shares the same passion for providing hope and healing to the courageous survivors of sexual assault and abuse in Greenville. I believe that as a leader, you are only as good as the people you serve, and I have been blessed to serve the best staff and community members that Greenville has to offer.

I received my bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in criminal justice from Lander University. Additionally, I received my master’s in criminal justice from Boston University. I am a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 43—the best class of all time. I have been honored as an Upstate Black History Maker and I have had the pleasure of volunteering at various organizations in the area.

I am a native of Greenville, and giving back to the community that has served me is a great honor. I am humbled to be one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under. Success is never achieved alone, and I am grateful to my family, friends, leadership, and team for supporting, challenging, and inspiring me to best version of myself.


Cory Patterson
Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. | Attorney
Age 33

I am an associate attorney with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. licensed to practice in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. My practice is focused primarily on utility, construction, financial services, insurance defense, and criminal law. I proudly co-chair HSB’s Diversity Committee.

Service to the Greenville community is extremely important to me, and it is truly an honor to serve this community. I am a proud alumnus of the Spring 2018 class of the Diversity Leaders Initiative at the Riley Institute at Furman University. I currently serve as the president of the Greenville Friends of the Library board, a board member of the Upstate Carolina Education Outreach (UCEO), and a member of the Rotary Club of Greenville. Also, I am a member of the Greenville Cancer Institute Advancement Council, which is responsible for raising funds to support the Greenville Health System Cancer Institute.

Being included in Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under is an incredible honor. I am grateful to be included among some of Greenville’s most influential leaders. and I am excited to connect with my fellow honorees. My family and I love the Greenville community and are proud to call Greenville home.


Kate Patterson
Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office | Assistant Solicitor
Age 35

Having grown up in Greenville, when I left home to attend Duke University, my 18-year-old self was sure that I would never return. In my mind, I was off to bigger, more exciting places and things.

For 12 years, I stayed true to that mindset. I graduated from Duke and went on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to the University of Hong Kong, where I received my master’s in international affairs. After that, it was back to Duke for law school and then to Manhattan to work at a Wall Street law firm. I clerked for judges in Charlotte and Miami.

I had a fantastic time living in different places and meeting different people, but with time came different perspectives, wisdoms, and priorities. The draw back to Greenville and to a community and family I love was strong.

I am now an assistant solicitor for Greenville County. My work at the Solicitor’s Office focuses primarily on child victims, which fills me with passion as a lawyer and a mother. I am thrilled to be back and part of the vibrant, growing Greenville community, both as a Greenville County employee and as an active member of the community through the United Way of Greenville County, the YMCA, the Junior League, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.


Eric Penkert
Ogletree Deakins | Associate Attorney
Age 33

In my role as an attorney in the employee benefit practice group at Ogletree Deakins, I assist employers in navigating the complicated web of employee benefit laws. Helping businesses provide excellent benefits for their workforces, which allows them to recruit and retain great employees, is tremendously rewarding. Every day, I get to work with and learn from a wonderful team of brilliant lawyers across the country. The opportunity to develop a national practice from the comfort of my hometown is a huge blessing.
 
I also put my legal training to good use through service on the board of trustees for the Greenville Firefighters’ Pension Fund. Playing a role in helping ensure the financial security of this group of exceptional men and women is an honor.
 
Growing up in this wonderful community, I witnessed firsthand Greenville’s tradition of service exemplified by my parents, our church, local leaders, and so many others. My wife, Grace, and I are committed to doing our part to continue that tradition. I am honored and humbled to be included among this group of impressive individuals.


Frances Poe
Hughes Commercial Properties, Inc. | Director of Asset Management
Age 35

While working part-time in high school, I was blessed to have a mentor who invited me into his office, opened up the Wall Street Journal, picked an article, and engaged me in a “big picture talk.” This successful, busy individual took the time to challenge me, hear my thoughts, and show me the world was actually much larger than I imagined. Our friendship continues today, but our conversations center around the needs of the community. There is no shortage of material.

This friend and mentor gave me the confidence and determination to get involved. Greenville has countless individuals, agencies, businesses, and churches who are dedicated to making this a community where everyone can thrive. Volunteer opportunities are available to anyone who wants to make a difference. Serving agencies like United Ministries and Greenville Center for Creative Arts has become a passion and allows me an opportunity to help move the ball forward in our community. It is humbling to receive this recognition, as there are countless individuals worthier. As my mentor taught me, find your passion and invite others to be a part of the solution. You will find it is an honor to be a part of the journey.


Devon Puriefoy
The Law Offices of Truluck Thomason, LLC | Associate Attorney
Age 29

I am an associate attorney at Truluck Thomason, LLC and focus my practice primarily in the areas of civil business and corporate litigation, personal injury, and family law. I take pride in providing cost-effective, holistic, and result-driven representation with extensive experience in matters involving business formation and structuring, complex civil litigation, contract negotiation, employment and labor law disputes, motor vehicle accidents, and a wide variety of family law issues.

I earned my bachelor of arts degree from King University located in historic Bristol, Tenn., double-majoring in political science and history. I then obtained my juris doctor from the Charleston School of Law.

Raised in the small town of Abingdon, Va., located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am a relatively recent transplant to the firm’s Greenville, S.C. office. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, fishing, and anything that allows me to spend time with family and friends.

I volunteer yearly with the Habitat for Humanity Wills Clinic, which provides those that cannot afford estate planning assistance with the opportunity to have peace of mind knowing they have a will in place.

I am a member of The Kiwanis Club of Greenville and participate in a number of community involvement programs every year. Every three months, I host a special program at Heritage Elementary School called Terrific Kids, which is a student-recognition program that promotes character development and self-esteem.


Damon Qualls
Monaview Elementary School – Greenville County Schools | Principal
Age 35

My lifelong dream has been to serve as a public-school educator. From years playing school as a child to tutoring opportunities in grade school, I ultimately began my career through acceptance into the very first cohort of Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER Program.

After graduation from Benedict College in 2004, I ventured to the Upstate to begin teaching. After two years, my colleagues selected me as Teacher of the Year, leading to being named first runner-up as Greenville County Schools’ Teacher of the Year. Earning master’s degrees from Columbia College and Southern Wesleyan University and now with more than a decade of teaching and administrative experience, I am now the proud principal of Monaview Elementary School.

I’ve been extremely blessed to hold numerous national, state, and district leadership roles, which have pointed to exciting opportunities with Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Colbert, and Harvard University’s Principals’ Institute.

I believe in the importance of teacher quality and staff morale to promote both student achievement and a positive learning and working environment. With coined hashtags #MonaviewMoments and #loveSCschools, as well as collaborations with DonorsChoose.org, Public Education Partners, and the United Way of Greenville County, community engagement proves to be an essential component to the success of public schools.


Mareena Register
Cherry Bekaert, LLP | Audit Manager
Age 27

I moved to Greenville in 2009 to attend Bob Jones University, never planning to stay past college. That was nine years ago, but I cannot imagine leaving. Greenville has a unique charm, growth, and energy that inspires my involvement in the community, both professionally and personally.

As an auditor and CPA with Cherry Bekaert LLP, I serve clients all across the Upstate, primarily in the real estate and construction markets. This led to my involvement in Commercial Real Estate Women (“CREW”) as an executive board member. CREW’s mission is to influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women. I have been, and continue to be, supported by many outstanding men and women in Greenville. My goal is to help provide the same support system to other young people.

I am so honored to receive this award, and it only furthers my excitement for the Greenville community and the small part I have in helping it grow.


Bo Rogers
Infinity Marketing | Vice President of Client Services
Age 31

As a lifelong resident of the Upstate, I’m extremely proud to call this area home. Growing up as an only child with two very supportive and loving parents played a significant role in where I am today.

I graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate at the tail end of the recession. I bounced around jobs, from retail to warehouses, looking for my break. I received my opportunity in 2011 at Infinity. I was hired in April, bought my first home in June, and proposed to my wife in December. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that Infinity has provided to me and my family over these past seven years.

I joined Mentor Upstate four years ago and spend time with a young man on a weekly basis. He is now an upcoming fifth grader. I am very proud to have witnessed his growth and thankful for the perspective he provides me.

My beautiful wife and three wonderful children are my world. My daily goal is to make them proud in all that I do. They keep me grounded and are a constant reminder of what truly is important. They motivate and inspire me in so many ways.

Receiving this honor has encouraged me to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and look towards the future. I believe we can accomplish anything together. Thanks for all the support.


Kirsten Schoettelkotte
LS3P | Neal Prince Studio | Architect
Age 33

As a licensed residential architect at Neal Prince Studio, the custom home studio of LS3P, I have 10 years of experience in the Greenville area working closely with clients to transform their visions into award-winning homes. Though our projects have received attention from local and national publications, no amount of recognition is as fulfilling as the gratitude of clients whose homes are the product of our creative collaboration.  

I am fortunate that my talents have afforded me a challenging and rewarding career path, but even more so that I can apply those aptitudes in the local community. I was recently appointed to the Greenville Housing Authority Board, where I intend to apply my residential design insight to aid their efforts to provide affordable and workforce housing opportunities for the city’s residents. I serve on the mobility subcommittee of the Green Ribbon Advisory Committee, which promotes sustainable, accessible modes of transportation in the City of Greenville. And as chairperson for the Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), my mission is to foster a collaborative environment for residential architects that will raise the caliber of design in the region. I am committed to employing my passions and skills for the betterment of our community.


Magen Shelton
Interim HealthCare of the Upstate | Vice President of Hospice and Development
Age 28

My life’s work has been focused on serving people, primarily through health-care activities. After graduation from Wofford College, I worked on Capitol Hill, focusing on health-care efforts and various health care agencies in the Southeast before finding my home at Interim HealthCare, where I now serve as vice president of hospice and strategic development. I live my passion daily by ensuring that people in the Upstate receive the most compassionate care. Our mission is to enrich the lives of those we serve and help them to live life meaningfully in their homes for as long as possible.

Working in health care, I have been touched by many patients’ stories. There is one particular story that characterizes my love for my work. Last December, a team of Interim’s heroes and I planned a wedding for an interim patient whose dying wish was to marry her long-time fiancé. We worked tirelessly as a team to put her wedding together in less than a week. The joy was overwhelming for all involved, and the patient passed peacefully in the arms of her husband two weeks later. This is what health care and serving other is really about.

Aside from my work at Interim, I can be found with my pal and therapy dog Murphy visiting patients in nursing facilities around the Upstate. We get just as much fulfillment as the folks we visit by seeing so many smiles.


Candace Spradlin
Ranger Aerospace | Marketing and Communications Manager
Age 34

“Do it right the first time” is the motto I live by. Throughout my life, I’ve learned the value of working hard and paying close attention to detail in everything, while maintaining an eye on the big picture. I have high expectations for myself, and I’m always up for a challenge.

I hold in high regards the value of individual choice. After my beautiful daughter, Avalyn, was born, I knew it was time to finish my degree from Clemson—a short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. This taught me to never give up, and that dedication pays off.

Drive, amazing mentors, and a dose of divine intervention led me to my position with Ranger Aerospace. I wear a lot of hats at Ranger, which I love. I’m constantly challenged and growing in my self-awareness along the way. I thrive in the midst of chaos, and my passion translates to all of my duties at Ranger Aerospace.

I’m a Southern girl in every sense of the name, and I’m an avid Clemson fan--Go Tigers. I’m active at Grace Church and other local organizations. I highly value service as part of my life mission.

It’s an understatement to say I’m honored to be featured in Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under.


Ashleigh Sutter
Elliott Davis | Director of Accounting Advisory
Age 32

As the accounting advisory practice leader at Elliott Davis, I—like all of my colleagues—am committed to making a positive impact on our clients, our people, and our community. My responsibilities include developing our leadership team, cultivating a forward-thinking mentality, providing the best tools and processes for our advisory group, and delivering unmatched value to the clients that I work with directly.

Within my industry, I have a passion for empowering women. I’m a member of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), an organization that helps women in these fields achieve their full potential. For the past four years, I have served as president of the Greenville chapter.

Outside of my profession, my husband Jon, our two young daughters, and I serve as a family at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Carolinas, where I hold the position of treasurer. We want our community involvement to be a family affair, a commitment that will grow when our third child arrives around Christmas.

I’m honored to be selected as one of the Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 35 and Under. It fuels my desire to be an inspiration to those around me and to invest in others the same way many have done for me.


Monty Turner
Global Location Strategies | Senior Consultant
Age 29

Growing up in Africa and traveling the world from a young age, I have always had a keen awareness of, and fascination with, global connectedness. Therefore, having never set foot on campus, I left Johannesburg to move halfway across the world to play rugby at Furman University. My teammates and coaches became a family to me, which continues today through my role as a board member of Furman University’s Rugby Foundation.

After graduating in 2011, I accepted a position at Global Location Strategies, a site selection firm specializing in location advisory services for industrial manufacturers. Working closely with companies and government officials all over the world can be challenging, but extremely rewarding, knowing I have a hand in bringing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of capital investment to deserving communities.

I met my wife in Greenville, and in December, we welcomed our first child. Having worked in every market in the U.S., I can say with all personal bias aside that Greenville’s leadership has done a superb job shaping the trajectory of the city. We could live anywhere in the world, but we choose Greenville. Greenville has given me a family, a world-class education, a job that makes a difference, and an opportunity to improve the community around me.


Jessica Wallace
Ibrahim & Rao, LLP | Attorney
Age 31

I am an immigration attorney with the firm Ibrahim & Rao, LLP. I was born and raised right here in Greenville. I left Greenville in 2005 to attend Emory University in Atlanta. While at Emory, I studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain, where I fell in love with the Spanish language and culture. My experience inspired me to go to law school to pursue a career in immigration law.

In May of 2012, I graduated from Mercer University’s School of Law. That same year, I found my way back to Greenville, where I established a new office for my firm. Since then, I have served as the managing attorney for our Greenville office, where I represent immigrants from all over the world. I handle a wide range of visa matters, and I represent clients in complex deportation cases in immigration court.

Outside of the office, I am a zealous advocate for the immigrant community. I was recently voted “pro bono champion” for the American Immigration Lawyers Association Carolinas Chapter. I am also the chair of the Hispanic Alliance’s Legal Team, where we aim to improve access to legal services for the immigrant population in the Upstate.


Genevieve Weaver
The Clardy Law Firm, P.A. | Litigation Attorney
Age 33

I grew up in the small, tight-knit community of Florence. I am a proud Tiger fan and a graduate of Clemson University’s Calhoun Honors College. I attended the University of Miami for law school, and my time practicing in Miami at a personal injury firm offered me invaluable trial experience. I came to my husband’s hometown of Greenville in 2013. Greenville was equal parts small, southern community and bright, bustling city (with great food). It felt like the perfect place to start our family and continue our careers.

I have been a litigation attorney with the Clardy Law Firm, P.A. for four years, and I consider the attorneys and staff my second family. The clients we serve around the Upstate are an extension of our work family; work here feels less like work, and more of an opportunity to fight for the rights of others. I am supporter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and I particularly enjoy helping families and clients injured by drunk drivers. When I’m not working, I enjoy volunteering for local programs—I am currently the Junior League of Greenville’s chairman for the Home Run for Healthy Kids event, and I am also serving on the board of the Metropolitan Arts Council. 


Sara White
Quest Site Solutions | Director
Age 32

I am a site selection consultant, which means I help companies, primarily industrial users, figure out where to locate their facilities. The site selection process contemplates a wide array of factors, including everything from the property location itself to local workforce, infrastructure, and available incentives.

As a child, I never said. “I want to be a site selection consultant when I grow up,” but was fortunate to start in the business after gaining the relevant experience interning at the state Department of Commerce in college. My father has been in economic development for almost 40 years, so you could say it is in my blood.

One benefit of my job is that it has taken me to a diverse group of communities across the country. I enjoy learning about new places and the people in these communities that, without my job, I would not have otherwise known about.

When I am not chasing down industrial sites, I enjoy chasing around my three-year-old son and five-month-old daughter with my husband, David. I am forever grateful for my family’s support that has allowed me to continue to grow professionally and personally.


Lauren Winkelman-Smith
Clemson University | Director of Development, College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences
Age 30

Six years ago, I moved to South Carolina to become the director of development at Clemson University. I found a gem in Greenville and fell in love with the people who are aggressively working to improve our community for everyone who lives here.

My first experience with the passion of the Upstate was as part of the YWCA’s Junior Board, with a mission to empower women and eliminate racism in our community. When the YWCA closed, a small group of us sat around my kitchen table trying to figure out what came next. We determined that there was too much value in the work to be done and decided to create something new in LeadHER Greenville. LeadHER is now in its fifth year, striving to empower professional women in the Upstate and raising thousands of dollars for charity each year.

I am honored to be chosen for this award, but more so to live among people who don’t take our community for granted and actively engage to make it better. I am inspired by the countless individuals collaborating to serve children and families and provide better transportation, affordable housing, and stronger schools. I look forward to what else we can accomplish together.