50 Most Influential People Of 2018
Dec 28, 2018 11:30AM
● By Kathleen Maris
Greenville Business Magazine celebrates another year of honoring the region’s most influential people. The selection of our 50 individuals is a result of staff research and community nominations.
We are also celebrating our fifth year of selecting entrants for our Hall of Fame. This year, we’re adding eight new members who have continued to make a lasting impact on the Upstate.
Hall of Fame:
C. Dan Adams
CEO & Founder
Dan began demonstrating his passion for building businesses when he first founded the Capital Corporation in 1991, which has since become one of the most successful merger and acquisition firms in the Southeast. After establishing a foothold in the investment banking industry, Adams ventured into the private equity arena, acquiring majority ownership positions in a dozen different businesses across a variety of industries. Adams’ emphasis expands beyond growing businesses and reaches into improving education, serving on the boards of Public Education Partners and the University of South Carolina Upstate Foundation Board. Giving back to the community is also of great importance to Adams, evidenced by serving on the S.C. Ports Authority Board of Directors, as well as serving as chairman of both Palmetto Promise and the Upstate Heart Ball. Most recently, Adams has been appointed to serve on the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
Merl F. Code is an attorney at the law office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Code has been an active board member of over 30 organizations serving the interests of the Upstate, such as the Palmetto Institute, Minority Economic Development Institute, BB&T Bank of South Carolina, Clemson University Advisory Board, and the Greater Greenville YMCA, to name a few. In addition to serving as a board member, Code has also served as chairman for several of these organizations, including, but not limited to, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Phillis Wheatley Association, University Center of Greenville, and the United Way of Greenville. Code’s list of successful endeavors includes owner/CEO of Precision Tool Manufacturing, owner/chairman of Code Insurance Associates, and president of Code & Associates Sports Management Agency.
In addition, Code is the first African American to chair the Greenville County United Way Board of Directors, the first African American to serve as chairman of the Board of Governors for the University Center of Greenville, the first African American Municipal Court judge, and the first African American to become chairman of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce. He received the Order of the Palmetto and the Compleat Lawyer Award by the S.C. Bar Association, and has been inducted into the North Carolina A&T Hall of Fame and the S.C. Black Hall of Fame. Code’s law practice concentrates in the areas of positive employee relations and diversity. He has more than 40 years of trial level experience and has served as a certified mediator for over 25 years.
Rick Davis has spent his entire career with Elliott Davis and currently serves as its chief executive officer. He is a strong advocate of giving back to the community and has continually promoted a firm culture that incorporates community engagement as a top priority.
Having served on numerous boards in leadership roles, Davis gained an appreciation for the immense impact that volunteerism has on a community. His vision for a firm-wide employee program recently came to life. Elliott Davis Cares provides opportunities and choices for all employees to engage in volunteer initiatives through which they can follow their passion and have a positive impact on the communities in which they live and work.
SCBIO (South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization)
President and CEO
Sam Konduros joined SCBIO in spring 2017 as its new president and CEO, and focused on scaling up and leading the innovative statewide economic development and trade organization to its next level in advancing the $1.4 billion statewide life sciences industry. Prior to his role with SCBIO, Konduros served as executive director of the Greenville Health Research Development Corporation, as the founding CEO of Upstate SC Alliance, and has held leadership roles with the S.C. Department of Commerce and Alfmeier Corporation. He is also the founder and principal of SK Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in economic development, public-private partnerships, integrated marketing, and business development strategies and innovation. A licensed attorney since 1989, he is a member of numerous business and industry boards, including the former chair of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and Cancer Society of Greenville County, and is a current executive committee board member of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce.
President of North American
Peter Larocque serves as president of North American Technology Solutions for SYNNEX Corporation, a Fortune 200 technology company with its U.S. distribution headquarters in Greenville. He has celebrated 35 years with the company and currently oversees its North American distribution business. SYNNEX has been selected as one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina for the past eight years due in part to Larocque’s leadership. In 2011, Larocque started SYNNEX Share the Magic, which has raised $10 million for South Carolina children in need since its inception. Last year, Mr. Larocque was honored with the Order of the Palmetto award by Gov. Henry McMaster. Recently, Larocque and SYNNEX pledged a $250,000 contribution to Unity Park, where they will sponsor the construction of a world-class playground.
The SPINX Company
Founder & Chairman of the Board
Stewart Spinks started the SPINX Company in 1972 with home heating oil delivery and one gas station in Greenville. He currently serves as chairman of the board and founder of SPINX, which is now the largest privately owned retail company headquartered in S.C. with 81 locations and 1,400 associates. Spinks has served many organizations, including the Greenville Tech Foundation, Furman University, and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. He is an avid supporter of the Spinx Run Fest and Spinx Charity Golf Classic, both of which aid a variety of organizations across the state. As a cancer survivor himself, he is passionate about supporting the American Cancer Society and spearheads the company’s annual fundraising campaign, which has raised close to $750,000 over the past 10 years. Spinks has been recognized for his leadership and accomplishments on multiple occasions and was recently recognized as the 2018 Green Day Honoree.
Ranger Aerospace LLC
CEO & Founder
Chairman & CEO
Steve Townes, founder of Ranger Aerospace, CEO of ACL Airshop, and a key leader in the statewide South Carolina Aerospace movement, is a tireless and high-visibility advocate and promoter for aerospace growth in the Palmetto State.
An engineering grad of West Point and private equity investor with four decades of industry experience, over half as a CEO, Townes has long been a lightning rod for aviation growth, workforce development, and engaging educators and companies to join the efforts. He was the first industry voice that eventually led to the formation of six aviation high schools in South Carolina. (He says, “That’s a good start.”)
As a frequent convention keynoter, he has rallied companies, government agencies, and even the 16 state technical colleges toward more aerospace career-building.
After his years as executive vice president of Stevens Aviation in Greenville, he later started Ranger at his kitchen table in 1997. Ranger buys and aggressively builds companies—more than a few consolidations in the past 22 years, with no end in sight; creating large scale successes such as “ASIG,” Keystone Helicopter, and Ranger International. Ranger has managed as many as 4,250 people in previous ventures. Nowadays, he is passionately building up ACL Airshop, headquartered in Greenville, with air cargo support operations at 51 of the world’s Top 100 airports.
ACL has doubled in less than three years under Ranger’s leadership. Townes, a non-stop growth catalyst, is building an ultra-modern landmark factory for ACL here, and predicts it will attract other aerospace CEOs to grow in South Carolina.
Vivian Wong and her husband, Thomas, came to Greenville from Hong Kong more than 50 years ago, and they have called Greenville home ever since. Together, they built a family business that began with the Dragon Den chain of restaurants, an Upstate staple, and grew to encompass everything from real estate development to banking. In 2005, Wong was recognized as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the Carolinas. Throughout her decades-long business career, Vivian has remained focused on serving the community with philanthropic efforts like donating land for the Cancer Survivors Park and the Patewood Medical Campus, serving on civic committees like the Greenville Tech Foundation’s advisory board, supporting community-focused charities like Goodwill, and serving as South Carolina’s honorary trade ambassador, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley.
50 Most Influential of 2018:
United Way of Greenville County
President & CEO
Meghan Barp is a mission-driven strategist, community builder, and advocate. She joined United Way of Greenville County as president and CEO in February 2018, having previously served as senior vice president of community impact for the Greater Twin Cities United Way in Minneapolis, Minn.
In her first year, Barp has met with hundreds of civic, business, and nonprofit leaders in Greenville County to better understand the challenges faced by more than 50,000 living in poverty and the opportunities we have as a community to help more of our neighbors achieve prosperity.
She frequently presents nationally and internationally on philanthropy and volunteerism, and often provides expert consultation to corporations, community leaders, and nonprofits. Barp was recognized as one of Minnesota Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 2014. Barp proudly serves on the board of directors for both the Peace Center and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.
South Carolina Children’s Theatre
For 30 years, Debbie Bell has been leading by example, employing her whatever-it-takes attitude to ensure the S.C. Children’s Theatre (SCCT) is the very best organization it can be.
Driven by her passion for the arts, the crux of her dedication is providing accessible theatre experiences for all the children of South Carolina. During her tenure as executive director, Bell has grown SCCT from a small community theatre to one of the premiere children’s theatres in the region, serving more than 50,000 children and their families annually.
Under her leadership, a significant capital campaign went public in September and construction began on SCCT’s new Theatre Arts and Education Center for Children and organization headquarters. The center will be an anchor and showpiece of Greenville’s West End, bringing the city’s vision of a dedicated arts district to fruition.
ChartSpan Medical Technologies
CEO and co-founder
Jon-Michial Carter leads ChartSpan as CEO and cofounder. Doctors, clinics, and health systems hire ChartSpan to care for patients with chronic conditions between doctor visits. Telephonically communicating with patients each month, ChartSpan clinicians assist patients with their everyday healthcare needs to prevent complications and hospitalizations.
ChartSpan was chosen by the Mayo Clinic and Iron Yard Ventures as one of the Top 10 new healthcare startup companies in America in 2013. In 2015, ChartSpan was chosen as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in America, and in 2018, ChartSpan became the nation’s largest managed provider of patient care coordination services.
Having raised more than $25 million in venture capital, ChartSpan headquarters are located in 100,000 square feet of office space in downtown Greenville. Currently employing more than 200 people, ChartSpan expects to hire an additional 300 new employees in the next 36 months.
Carter is a board member of NEXT, an organization providing an entrepreneurial ecosystem for more than 100 Greenville area startups. He sits on the boards of several Greenville companies and was recently featured in a Business Week article naming Greenville as the new “Silicon Valley of the South.”
J. Patrick Carter
ChartSpan Medical Technologies
Executive Vice President of Clinical Services and Co-Founder
J. Patrick Carter is a 20-year medical provider, administrator, and university professor with extensive national and international experience. He also has eleven years of successful entrepreneurial and executive management experience.
Prior to joining ChartSpan Medical Technologies, Carter served as interim program director for the East Carolina University Physician Assistant Program. During his tenure, Carter was responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction related to academic affairs, clinical education, and was instrumental in the implementation of mobile educational technologies and expansion of the global health curriculum.
Carter has also been actively involved in global healthcare, traveling to South and Central America to care for poverty-stricken patients with limited and often times no access to healthcare.
Carter currently oversees Clinical Services provided by employees of ChartSpan, develops and deploys data integration strategies with electronic health record companies, and works on various data integration projects as a member of the ChartSpan technology team.
Carter lives in Greenville with his wife and two children. When not at work or with his family, he can be found surfing the waves along the South Carolina beaches or traveling to remote areas of the planet.
North American Rescue LLC
CEO & Founder
Robert Castellani, a former United States Air Force Pararescueman, founded North American Rescue in 1996 with the vision to provide innovative medical and rescue solutions for the military, law enforcement, EMS, and other first responders. NAR’s mission is to reduce preventable deaths on the battle field. The company has continued to evolve its offerings to support the expanding need for immediate public access to medical supplies that can address major injuries—stopping traumatic bleeding and saving lives.
Over the past two decades, Castellani and NAR have donated to many veteran and crisis foundations. Pursuing this mission, Castellani and his family have contributed to foundations against sexual abuse, domestic violence, and programs associated with child sexual abuse, of which many of these efforts have focused on the Upstate. Castellani and North American Rescue plan to continue donating to these efforts.
Michelin North America, Inc.
Chairman & President
Scott Clark was appointed chairman and president of Michelin North America in January 2018. From 2007 to 2017, Clark served as executive vice president of Michelin North America and chief operating officer of Michelin Americas Small Tires. He was senior vice president of Michelin in Asia where he led Michelin’s truck tire division from 2005 to 2007.
Clark has also served as vice president of marketing and sales in Europe and vice president of marketing in North America, both for the passenger and light truck business.
After earning a bachelor of science in Business Administration and an MBA from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Clark spent eight years in marketing with the Ralston Purina Company before joining Michelin in 1996.
James “Jim” Clements
Dr. Jim Clements has served as president of Clemson University for five years. Under his leadership, Clemson has broken records in admissions, enrollment, research funding, graduation and retention rates, athletic success, and private fundraising. In addition, Clemson is undergoing the largest construction boom in the history of the university, with more than $900 million in new construction completed or underway.
Clements is a nationally recognized leader in higher education, serving on the board of directors of the American Council on Education and on the executive committees for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Business Higher Education Forum. Clements holds a B.S. degree in computer science, as well as an M.S. degree and Ph.D. in operations analysis from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2016. He also holds an M.S. degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.
Co-Founder & CEO
Keith Coker thrives in a constantly evolving complex tech environment and is proficient in all fields of telecom including cloud, managed services, wireless, and networking. He has served in many executive level technical capacities, including chief technology officer at two telecommunications organizations.
In 2011, he started Green Cloud Technologies with Eric Hester and Charles Houser, and today is CEO of one the largest independent channel-only cloud IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) providers in the country offering SMBs, enterprise-class organizations, and expansive suite cloud-based products based on Cisco and Vmware technologies.
When Coker isn’t focused on building partner networks and providing customers with world-class servers and backup and recovery solutions to meet his customers’ IT needs, he spends time with his wife and three children.
Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Eric Hester has spent more than 20 years professionally in the technology field. An entrepreneur since his teenage years, he has built several successful ventures, including a regional internet service provider in the late 1990s and the infrastructure teams at NuVox Communications.
In 2011, Hester co-founded Green Cloud Technologies with Charles Houser and Keith Coker to create a successful business model completely focused on building partner networks and providing customers with world-class servers and backup and recovery solutions.
Outside of work, Hester can be found flying drones, building solar panels, or spending time with his wife, Candice, and two children, Lilly and Evan. Hester also gives time to many organizations and schools in Greenville such as Green Charter School and the Brickyard.
Charles L. Houser
Founder & Executive VP, Sales & Marketing
A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Charles Houser brought 18 years of experience as an entrepreneur and senior manager in the telecommunications industry to Green Cloud. Before co-founding Green Cloud, Houser led sales and business development for the $180 million per year Integrated Communications division of SYNNEX Corporation (NASDAQ: SNX).
Houser also co-founded NuVox in 1997, an integrated communications company where he served in various sales and marketing roles, and helped grow the company to more than $500 million of annualized revenue and 1,000 employees.
President and CEO
Marion Crawford is CEO of Crawford Strategy and works with her team of more than 30 employees to make their clients’ brands unforgettable. The company has expertise in the healthcare, financial services, higher education, and travel and tourism industries.
Crawford works closely with dynamic organizations like United Community Bank, Spartanburg Water, Prisma Health, and North Myrtle Beach, among others. In 2018, Crawford celebrated its eighth anniversary and was ranked 17th on the list of Best Places to Work in South Carolina. Crawford speaks frequently at conferences, including the prestigious Becker’s Hospital Review Conference in Chicago.
In 2013, she was inducted into the Greenville Tech Entrepreneurs Forum, a prestigious group of local business leaders. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Peace Center, the board of governors of the Greenville Country Club, and the executive committee for the Upstate Heart Ball.
Elizabeth Davis became Furman University’s 12th President in July 2014. Under her leadership, the university has instituted the Furman Advantage, a distinctive vision for higher education that has received national attention.
Davis is a member of the Council of Presidents as well as the Council of Independent Colleges board of directors. In 2018, she received the William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education.
Davis serves on the board of directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and is an honorary member of the board of governors of the Commerce Club. She is a member of the Greenville Rotary Club, American Council on Education’s Women’s Network Executive Committee, and the South Carolina Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission.
Improving the quality of life for the citizens of Greenville has been Amy Doyle’s top priority and how she views public service. Doyle continues to be an advocate for a business-friendly environment for employers and employees.
She has been able to collaborate with local businesses on one of the largest public investments outside of downtown for public improvement: the NorthPointe development and Wade Hampton Boulevard strategic plan. She continues to support local businesses and attract new ones to the community while investing in public infrastructure throughout the city.
The city’s investment in 35 neighborhood parks and trails continues to be the main reason why families relocate to Greenville. The city crime rate has decreased while the city simultaneously restructured the entire police department and provided wage increases. As a mother of four, Doyle would like to continue to promote a family friendly environment for Greenville.
City of Greer
Ed Driggers has served as city administrator for the City of Greer since June of 2000, managing an annual operating budget and special funds in excess of $30 million and more than 300 full-time and part-time employees.
Working with City Council and the employees of Team Greer, Driggers is guiding the City of Greer through a period of unprecedented growth. Greer continues to be recognized as one of the fastest growing cities in South Carolina. In addition to leading the City of Greer, Driggers is active in community organizations, serving on several boards and committees, and is active in his church.
Driggers is recognized as a credentialed manager by the International City and County Management Association and is a member of the ICMA Executive Board, serving as a vice president for the 11-state Southeast Region. He was appointed by the S.C. General Assembly in 2018 to the Winthrop University Board of Trustees.
The Caine Companies
President & CEO
Stephen Edgerton is president and CEO of The Caine Companies. More than ten years ago, Edgerton joined the firm as the chief operating officer and set into motion an initiative to evolve the then 75-year-old firm into a progressive company challenging the status quo of the real estate industry.
Chairman of the Coldwell Banker Large Office Group (LOG) for four years and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Metro Greenville YMCA, Edgerton’s professional influence reaches beyond the workplace. He is also a member of the prestigious Young Presidents Organization (YPO).
Thanks to Edgerton’s philanthropic leadership, the firm’s Caine Cares program impacts the community with a focus on human services, animal welfare, arts, and health and wellness. These values are evident in his own life through his personal community service efforts, including delivering to the same Meals on Wheels route for the past 10 years.
Chief Business Officer
A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, Ghisela Eljach has made a tremendous impact in the Greenville community. She has worked closely with several nonprofits, and most noteworthy in her work in raising scholarship funds for minorities.
Additionally, she has been active in the fashion and beauty industry for almost 15 years. As the chief business officer of InSouth Magazine, Eljach works closely with clients, team members, and the community to grow herself both personally and professionally while helping others around her grow and flourish.
Metropolitan Arts Council
Before becoming Metropolitan Arts Council’s executive director in January 2006, Greenville native Alan Ethridge had served as director of marketing and development since January 2004. He did not replace himself upon taking the higher position and has performed the duties of both roles since.
Under Ethridge’s leadership, MAC has exceeded the past year’s fundraising goal each year, and in 2016 its endowment surpassed $1 million. His cumulative fundraising total is $15 million, all of which is sent back into the community, fairly and responsibly, to more than 1,300 artists and almost 60 arts organizations.
Further credited to Ethridge is his diligence in creating cohesion among the regional arts stakeholders. When he began as executive director, 80 artists were participating in Greenville Open Studios; there are now more than 130. Nearly half a million people have visited Greenville artists and purchased more than $2.8 million in local art.
After federal funding ended for the SmartArts program in Greenville schools, Ethridge’s nearly single-handed efforts not only sustained the program, but enabled it to expand from just two schools to more than 60 and opened the possibility of grant funding to every public school teacher in Greenville County.
In addition to his MAC duties, Ethridge serves on the boards of VisitGreenvilleSC, Artisphere, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and the Greenville Tech Department of Visual Arts.
Quality Business Solutions
President & CEO
Pamela Evette is the president and CEO of Quality Business Solutions (QBS). In 2018, she stepped into public service and will become the first female Republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina in 2019.
In 2018, QBS ranked sixth among S.C. 25 Fastest Growing Companies list and seventh among the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies by Women Presidents’ Organization. QBS received the S.C. Excellence in Business Award and was honored as one of the best places to work in South Carolina. Evette was also a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Southeast Awards program.
Evette served on South Carolina’s Small Business Regulatory Review Committee and on the boards of directors for the St. Francis Foundation and the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations. QBS supports multiple charities including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Julie Valentine Center, Pendleton Place, and the Meyer Center.
Greenville Area Development Corporation
President & CEO
Mark Farris has more than 32 years of experience in economic development in South Carolina and has assisted in company location and expansion projects totaling more than $6 billion of capital investment and 37,000 jobs during that time. Farris was named president and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corporation in October 2014. He leads the industrial and business recruitment efforts of the largest county in South Carolina.
Since becoming GADC’s CEO, the organization has announced more than $1.6 billion in new and expanded capital investment and more than 7,900 new jobs. Recent initiatives include the expansion of available industrial sites and speculative buildings in Greenville County, implementation of an existing industry program, and development of new web-based labor resources recruitment. Farris currently serves on the board of the United Way of Greenville County and board of directors of the Greenville Chamber.
S.C. State President
Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe is Duke Energy’s state president in South Carolina. In this role, he is responsible for the financial performance of Duke Energy’s two electric utilities in South Carolina and managing state and local regulatory and government relations, as well as community affairs. Ghartey-Tagoe and Duke Energy are honored to serve more than 750,000 electric customers primarily in the Upstate and Pee Dee regions.
Ghartey-Tagoe is passionate about Duke Energy’s efforts to build a smarter energy infrastructure that will help attract and grow businesses in our state. Ghartey-Tagoe currently serves on the United Way Greenville Board of Trustees and as an executive committee member of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Centennial American Properties LLC
Brody Glenn is the president of Centennial American Properties LLC, a commercial real estate development and management company based in Greenville and developer of the transformational multi-use Camperdown development at the intersection of Main and Broad streets in downtown Greenville.
Glenn manages day-to-day operations at Centennial, which has successfully developed more than seven million square feet of commercial space, including neighborhood and community shopping centers, free-standing retail stores, specialty centers, and professional office buildings, in many of the most prominent and competitive markets across the country.
A native of Greenville, Glenn has been involved in several other projects in his hometown, including attracting national retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to the market and Greenville’s acclaimed downtown baseball stadium, Fluor Field and The Field House. Glenn has previously served as chairman on the City of Greenville’s planning commission.
United States Senator
Senator Lindsey Graham has represented South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since 2003. Graham has earned a reputation as a conservative problem-solver and a major proponent of a robust national defense. He is a leader in cutting spending, reforming entitlements, and getting government out of the way so businesses can create jobs.
Graham has been an early leader and supporter of deepening the Charleston port, an important priority for the South Carolina business community. A deeper port will help in the global logistic supply as goods from South Carolina flow through the Charleston port to markets around the world.
In 2018, Graham played an instrumental role in helping confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Graham’s defense was cited by many as the most critical moment of the hearings, which turned the tide toward Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
After serving his country for 23 years as a U.S. Naval Officer and retiring with the rank of commander, Richard Hagins followed his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for service when founding US&S, Inc., previously Universal Supplies & Services, Inc., in 2003. US&S is a facility maintenance and support service provider specializing in operations and maintenance, repairs, renovation, janitorial, grounds maintenance, and professional services. US&S, Inc. was accepted into the Savannah River Nuclear Site Mentor-Protégé Program in 2018.
Hagins was recently named a participant in the St. Francis Forum, and elected the 2020 chairman of the board for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.
Previously, Hagins was appointed by the governor as a state commissioner of minority affairs. In 2007, he served on the board of the S.C. State Port Authorities (SCSPA). Mr. Hagins was heavily involved in developing the board’s five-year strategic plan. Subsequently, he was elected treasurer of the SCSPA Board and became a member of the executive committee until 2011.
Additionally, he has served as programs committee chair of the Greenville Metro YMCA Board, board of trustees for the Blood Connection, chairman of the board for the Blood Connection, and chairman of the Hillcrest Hospital Advisory Board. He has served as a board member of the Mauldin and Simpsonville Area Chambers and chairman of the American and Red Cross Armed Forces Committee. Mr. Hagins is a Charter Member of 100 Black Men of the Upstate and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is also a member of the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation Board.
Founder & Chief Creative Officer
Larkin Hammond is celebrating 20 years of the Larkin’s brand this year. While a lot has changed in the last 20 years of business, like opening seven restaurants and running a booming catering business, there’s much that hasn’t changed. Hammond will still bus a table today like she did in 1998, she still has a passion for philanthropy and giving back to the community that supports her, and she continues to live out her dream through her ideas each and every day.
Over the last year, Hammond has partnered in events to benefit the Cancer Survivor’s Park Alliance, flood relief victims through the Red Cross, the Lake Lure Police Department, Poe Mill Achievement Center, the Meyer Center, and more.
She plans to continue these relationships in 2019 for events such as the Limoncello Restaurant Walk in January and the second annual Picnic for the Park in the spring.
Henry C. Harrison
American Services, Inc.
Henry Harrison founded American Services, which has been in business for more than 45 years. With offices in four states, American Services currently employs more than 3,500 employees, with more than 2,000 here in the Upstate, many of which work in roles critical to supporting growth in this area.
Philanthropically, he gives back to his community through various organizations that help people in a multitude of ways and provide opportunities which help them further themselves in life. Examples include his involvement with Tri-County Technical College, which led to the Henry Harrison Criminal Justice Program for students interested in a law enforcement career; scholarships for the GHS MedEx Academy for students interested in the medical field, and his contributions to the GHS Children’s Hospital, the St. Francis Festival of Trees and Pearls and Pump, the Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society.
United Community Bank
President & CEO
In 2018, Lynn Harton officially took the reins as president and chief executive officer of the $12.4 billion United Community Banks, Inc.
Harton has led the bank toward repeat recognition by Forbes magazine as one of the top performing banks in the country, by J.D. Power as best in class for customer service in the Southeast, and by American Banker for being one of the top 100 banks to work for in the U.S. United has more than 2,300 employees in 150 locations across four states, including more than 400 employees in the Upstate.
This year, the bank was honored to be recognized by the Community Foundation of Greenville with the Philanthropic Spirit Award. Harton maintains his strong ties to the Greenville community through service to many different Greenville organizations and currently serves as chair of the board of trustees of the Peace Center.
Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty
Owner & CEO
Joan Herlong has been a top producer in Greenville real estate since 1993. After 18 years with Greenville’s largest brokerage, Herlong launched her own firm in 2011. She has earned the rank of the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors®’s No. 1 Realtor for five of the past six years.
In 2017, Sotheby’s International Realty sought Herlong out to forge a partnership in the greater Greenville area and chose her as their representative. Respected by her peers, Herlong has earned a reputation for zealous and ethical client advocacy.
Herlong is a Leadership Greenville alumnus and served on its board of regents, as well as the boards for Artisphere and the Greenville Free Medical Clinic. She serves on the GGAR MLS Committee and the S.C. Realtors® Forms Committee.
Ten at the Top
Since becoming the first full-time executive director of Ten at the Top in 2010, Dean Hybl has coordinated the organization’s efforts to convene and connect stakeholders from across the Upstate around issues that impact economic vitality and quality of life. In 2018, Hybl led TATT’s efforts to build collective capacity around key issues such as transportation and mobility,
education and workforce, community vibrancy, sustainable growth, and supporting the Upstate’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Connecting Our Future Mobility & Connectivity Initiative completed phase one in 2018 with the unveiling of a regional mobility vision. In 2018, TATT and Public Education Partners co-hosted the first-ever meeting of Upstate K-12 Public School Superintendents, College/University Presidents & Provosts, and Business/Economic Development leaders. That meeting led to the formation of a regional task force looking at how to collectively address the growing K-12 teacher shortage. Overall, TATT engaged nearly 5,000 participants in more than 100 regional events in 2018.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner Realtors
Danny Joyner has lived in Greenville all his life and has worked with the company from his youth, starting in property management. He worked his way through the company doing appraisals, insurance, and residential sales, and he started in the commercial division in 1996 serving as president and general manager of the commercial division.
In his years of brokerage, he oversaw numerous acquisitions, including the property being used for the Kroc Center, the Historic Chamber Building, and Kent Court. Joyner became president of the C. Dan Joyner Company in 2010, and led the company through the transition to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, Realtors® in 2013.
Under his leadership, C. Dan Joyner, with over 425 realtors, continues to be the Upstate’s market leader in residential home sales and is poised for continued growth.
Carolina Recycling Company and Taylors Mill Development
A Greenville native, Caleb Lewis has put his entrepreneurial spirit to work since starting Carolina Recycling Company in 2008. Shortly after moving his recycling business into the Taylors Mill, Lewis was the majority investor in acquiring the old textile mill.
The 700,000-square-foot building is now the home to over 75 small businesses. Some of the businesses that currently make up the Taylors Mill community include a large number of artists and entrepreneurs, a brewery, an event space, and most recently a restaurant.
About 300,000 square feet of the mill is currently occupied, and roughly 400,000 square feet remain undeveloped. Still very much in the development process, Lewis has ambitious plans for the future of the Mill. Since the acquisition in 2015, the Mill has grown leaps and bounds in the way of a thriving community. Once the workplace of many Taylors residents, the resurgence of the old textile mill has breathed new life into the area and hope for a very bright future.
S.C. market president
David Lominack is South Carolina Market President for TD Bank and is responsible for commercial banking throughout the state. TD has continued its expansion across South Carolina and the regional hub on I-85 in Greenville now employees over 1,800 colleagues that support the organization from Maine to Florida. Lominack has been the driving force for TD’s significant community engagement across the state through its support of organizations and events such as TD Saturday Market, Artisphere, Metropolitan Arts Council, and the International African American Museum.
As a stalwart community supporter, Lominack has served on the boards of many organizations across the state. Currently, he is chair of the board for United Way of Greenville County and an executive committee member for the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member for Peace Center and Greenville Health System.
Lominack is also a Liberty Fellow and a graduate of Leadership Greenville and the Diversity Leadership Initiative at the Riley Institute at Furman.
Upstate SC Alliance
President & CEO
As leader of an economic development organization that spans the 10-county Upstate, John Lummus is at the forefront of marketing the area to business prospects and positioning the region for continued success.
And strong relationships drive strong regional representation—the Alliance is supported by more than 180 private companies, 10 counties, and nine cities. That means key decision makers and business resources are only one touch away.
Lummus, a Wake Forest University alumnus with a master’s degree from University of South Carolina, joined the alliance in 2014. He previously served as vice president of Economic and Institutional Advancement at Tri-County Technical College and as director of the Anderson County Office of Economic Development.
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
Craig McCoy demonstrates servant leadership as market president of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and by his significant contributions to Greenville. By building affordable homes through Habitat for Humanity to expanding mentoring services at Hughes Academy and now Hollis Academy, Craig lives out the health system’s mission of being Good Help to Those in Need ®.
One of the projects closest to McCoy’s heart is the implementation of the Project Search program which offers on-the-job training for those with disabilities. He offered full-time jobs to the first graduating class of interns. His heart for Greenville is infectious as he works to make an impact right here at home.
Hispanic Alliance of South Carolina
Adela Mendoza’s visionary leadership as executive director of Hispanic Alliance has solidified her position on this list for a second year. Her laser focus on fostering cross-cultural partnerships and grassroots initiatives has released a cascade of collective impact and abiding progress that elevates the trajectory of our entire community.
The Student DREAMers Alliance, her trailblazing leadership accelerator for Hispanic youth, was one of six initiatives around the globe to be awarded the McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund through the Aspen Institute. Her commitment to opening doors for the diverse leaders of the future won her the 2018 Diversity Leadership Award for Outstanding Contributions in International Diversity.
This year, Mendoza orchestrated the first in-depth needs assessment targeted solely at understanding the opportunities and barriers for Latinos in Greenville County. The results will be presented in early 2019 as a vital resource for generating opportunity and equity-building initiatives available to all residents.
The Furman Co.
President & CEO
Steve Navarro is president and CEO of the Furman Co., a 130-year-old firm focused on development, investment advisory services, and risk management. Navarro’s development and advisory services work spans multiple states and countries, corporate, and institutional clients. His primary focus is in South Carolina.
He is a counselor of real estate, was named a fellow of the London-based Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, serves on the Clemson University Advancement Board for Real Estate Development, and is a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM).
Navarro’s passion is the sustainable development of land. He has been a trustee with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) since 2008 and is a ULI Foundation Board member and governor.
DNA Creative Communications
President and Founder
Debbie Nelson is the president and founder of DNA Creative Communications, a public relations and inspirational marketing firm for nonprofits. Nelson launched Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums in 2010, an annual professional development program that has served more than 2000 nonprofit leaders since its inception. Nelson also manages the Knowledge Network for Together SC, South Carolina’s statewide nonprofit membership organization.
As a community advocate, Nelson regularly shares nonprofit success stories in in Greenville Business Magazine and Columbia Business Monthly. She has also taught nonprofit marketing and public relations at Presbyterian College and in Clemson University’s Masters of Public Administration program to inspire future nonprofit leaders.
Nelson is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, Leadership South Carolina, and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative. She currently serves on the boards of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, the United Way of Greenville County, and the United Way Association of South Carolina.
Owner and CEO
A native of Greer, Kelly Owens started Marleylilly in the living room of her Greenville home in 2010. The ecommerce retail company specializes in monogrammed women’s apparel and personalization. The business has rapidly grown to occupy 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the Upstate.
In 2018, the company launched a new children’s website, Marleylilly Kids. This fall Marleylilly integrated a robotic fulfillment system in order to meet seasonal demand for holiday orders. The company has impacted hundreds of people through job creation and economic development.
Owens is focused on keeping Marleylilly an enjoyable and creative place to work through the rapid growth, and helping the employees thrive and prosper.
Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Under Beth Paul’s leadership, the Bon Secours Wellness Arena continues to positively impact the community through robust programming, strategic community outreach initiatives, and over $55 million economic impact from activities of the Arena.
The most recent roster of nationally touring artists who played or will play the Bon Secours Wellness Arena include Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, New Kids on the Block, and Luke Combs, making The Well one of the most active arenas in the country.
Paul is highly respected in the live entertainment industry and was nominated as Venue Executive of the Year by International Entertainment Buyers Association and was included on the list for 2018 Women of Influence by VenuesNow.
In addition to securing events for the arena, Paul is equally as passionate about community outreach and using the The Well as a platform to serve the community; STAGE (Serving Together: The Arena’s Giving Experience), the recently branded community outreach initiative, supports numerous non-profit organizations throughout the Upstate through ticket donations, financial support, volunteerism, and use of the arena.
Greenville Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO
Carlos Phillips brings a collaborative spirit and fresh approach to his leadership of the largest business organization in the Upstate. Under Phillips’ leadership, the Greenville Chamber strategically develops solutions that foster business success and community prosperity.
Phillips has especially championed such efforts as attracting talent and expanding the workforce, removing barriers to workforce participation, and increasing the chamber’s impact in advocating for Upstate businesses.
Phillips served on various boards throughout the nation in 2018, including the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the United Way of Greenville County, and also chaired the United Negro College Fund’s Upstate SC Mayor’s Masked Ball.
City of Mauldin
Mayor Dennis Raines’ service to the City of Mauldin includes a wide variety of different disciplines. His first service to the community began as a volunteer fireman for 13 years. He has also served as president of the Mauldin Dixie Youth program for six years and on the Mauldin City Council from 1996-2001, where he chaired the Finance and Policy Committee for his last four years on council. His role as mayor began in 2012, and he was re-elected for a second term in 2016.
Raines is a native of Spartanburg County and is a graduate of Limestone College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration.His professional career included 26 years at Kemet Electronics, where he served in various management positions in supervisory functions and staff management positions that included production manager and plant cost accountant. He currently serves as the vice president of finance for Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County.
Raines’ most rewarding community achievement has been that of serving as Director and founder of the Mauldin Miracle League for 11 years. The Mauldin Miracle League is a baseball program for children with disabilities in which the motto is “Every Child Deserves a Chance to Play Baseball.” He also serves on the executive board of the Municipal Association of SC as first vice president. He is a charter member of the Mauldin Civitan Club and serves on the Community Action Board of Upstate Warrior Solutions.
Dharmendra J. “D.J.” Rama
President & CEO
Growing up in a hospitality family, D.J. Rama knows every aspect of the business. While holding on to the legacy that his family built through four decades of hard work and integrity, he adds his knowledge of current trends and best practices to lead Auro Hotels into the 21st century of the lodging industry.
Rama has a passion for providing a quality experience in every area of hospitality from design and aesthetics to customer service. His hands-on attitude, attention to detail, and keen listening skills set him apart. He is known as a visionary and beloved by his associates. He has a heart for giving and created Auro O.N.E., the charitable giving and volunteer arm of the company, as well as the Beacon Fund, which offers employee assistance during times of crisis.
Currently, Rama serves on the board of directors of the Peace Center and chairs the Greenville Heroes: Serve & Protect luncheon committee, raising money to support firefighters and police officers. Rama obtained his bachelors of science in hospitality management from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I. and a masters of management in hospitality from Cornell University. He is also 2016 graduate of the Owner/President Management Program Program of Harvard Business School.
Associate VP of Strategic Initiatives & Executive Director
Dr. Nick Rigas serves as associate vice president of strategic initiatives and executive director of the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville.
Similar to his prior role leading Clemson’s Restoration Institute (CURI) in North Charleston, Rigas is a key driver of the university’s corporate engagement initiatives to foster the continued growth and success of South Carolina’s advanced technology industries.
Rigas supports Clemson’s recently launched Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM), the centerpiece of the university’s commitment to education, research, innovation, and workforce development in support of one of the state’s most critical sectors.
Several CAM entities are based out of CU-ICAR, including the Clemson Vehicle Assembly Center, a research hub featuring a prototype assembly line; the Clemson Composites Center focused on advanced materials; and Deep Orange, a two-year student-built vehicle prototype program that has partnered with global leaders such as BMW, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Honda R&D Americas, Toyota, Mazda, and MINI.
Dr. W. Burke Royster
Greenville County Schools
As superintendent of the largest district in South Carolina, Dr. W. Burke Royster has combined meeting students’ diverse individual needs with the expansion of opportunities to earn college credit and industry certifications while still in high school.
Public-private partnerships developed under his leadership have led to industry apprenticeships, a paid internship initiative with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and co-curricular STEM programs that encourage students’ interest in high-demand occupations.
He has also focused on the whole child by increasing the presence of mental health counselors in schools across GCS and through the expansion of the OnTrack model of student support.
Chief of Staff & Liaison to the Board of Trustees
A native of Chicago, Ill., Liz Seman has lived in Greenville since 1999. Her nonprofit career has included leadership roles with the American Red Cross, Hands on Greenville, and Meals on Wheels.
Seman came to Furman University in 2013 as the executive director of corporate engagement, and currently serves as chief of staff and liaison to the Board of Trustees. She is chair of the board of directors of the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SC-TAC) and is immediate past-chair of Meals on Wheels America. She is an active member of the Greenville Professional Women’s Forum and Greenville Women Giving. She is a member of the board of the Community Foundation of Greenville, the Peace Center, and Visit Greenville SC. She is also an advisory board member for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and Bridges to a Brighter Future.
First elected in 2008, Seman serves on Greenville County Council and represents District 24. She currently chairs the Public Works Committee and is a member of the Finance Committee. She has also served on the board of directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Greenville Forward, the Junior League of Greenville, Saint Joseph’s Catholic School, the Leadership Greenville Alumni Association, the Palmetto Bank Community Board, Greenville County Redevelopment Authority Board, Community Works Carolina, and the Advisory Board of the American Red Cross.
Seman is a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class XXVII and Diversity Leadership Academy Class IV. She was one of the YWCA Dream Achievers in 2006 and was named one of Greenville’s Top 25 under 35 in 2003. She is also an elder at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Seman received her bachelors of science in business from Miami of Ohio.
Greenville Center for Creative Arts
Since opening in 2015, GCCA has attracted more than 35,000 people to experience Greenville’s hub for the visual arts by offering year-round access to nearly 100 art classes, 15 working studio artists, and a 4,000-square-foot gallery that showcases artists from Greenville and beyond.
In 2018, Shucker expanded the GCCA staff to five, initiating cross-sector collaborations and supporting the board’s successful purchase of the facility. In the next phase of development, GCCA will increase its positive impact by creating space for 3D studio classrooms offering ceramics, jewelry and metals, and woodworking; employing additional high-quality art instructors; and increasing art school student participation.
GCCA’s expansion will strengthen Greenville’s arts reputation and serve as a visual indicator of its dedication to a vibrant cultural arts sector that enhances Greenville’s quality of life.
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Bob Stegner leads North American marketing efforts for SYNNEX Corporation, a Fortune 200 company with its U.S. distribution headquarters in Greenville. With more than 30 years of experience, Stegner is one of the most recognized marketing executives in the IT industry.
Locally, he is an ambassador for Greenville as a convention location. He hosts several large events in Greenville each year, bringing thousands to the city. He is also involved in SYNNEX Share the Magic, which has raised $10 million for four Upstate children’s charities since 2011. Stegner sits on the SC Charities, Inc. Board and manages SYNNEX’s sponsorship of the annual BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Most recently, Stegner and SYNNEX pledged a $250,000 contribution to Unity Park, where they will sponsor the construction of a world-class playground.
Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer
Jennifer Stilwell is EVP/chief marketing officer at VisitGreenvilleSC, the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of Greenville.
A high-level strategic thinker and key contributor to the creative process, Stilwell is one of the tourism industry’s most knowledgeable and decorated brand strategists. She successfully directed and launched a new brand identity for the destination—“yeahTHATgreenville”—that has been recognized with more than 55 awards for best-in-class, performance-driven work.
Under Stilwell’s leadership as the brand architect and navigator, dramatic industry growth has resulted in record-setting, highest-ever achievements in tourism visitation and economic success. Tourism today is a $1.2 billion industry in Greenville. Campaign ROI is returning at $223 to $1. #yeahTHATgreenville
Dr. Spence M. Taylor
Greenville Health System
Spence M. Taylor, M.D., is a vascular surgeon and joined Greenville Health System (GHS) after a tour of active duty in the Air Force in 1992. When he was named president of GHS in 2016, he became the organization’s first physician leader.
Prior to his current leadership role, Dr. Taylor has served GHS as the chair of the Department of Surgery, executive director of the University Medical Group, president of GHS Clinical University, and vice president of Academics.
Under his leadership, GHS has experienced unprecedented growth and advancement in academics, including development of a one-of-a-kind education and research model called the GHS Health Sciences Center and designation as an academic health center. He also led the development of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and served as its founding senior associate dean of academic affairs and diversity.
He is currently serving as the chair of the American Board of Surgery.
Dr. Brenda J. Thames
Greenville Health System Health Sciences Center
Executive Vice President & Provost
Brenda J. Thames, Ed.D. is executive vice president and provost for Greenville Health System Health Sciences Center. After 31 years of experience in higher education, she joined GHS in 2007 where she provides executive leadership for academics. Her leadership within the Health Sciences Center has expanded GHS’s partnership with Clemson University, Furman University, and University of South Carolina.
Dr. Thames received her bachelors of science degree from Mississippi State University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Clemson University. She is the founder of the GHS Medical Experience (MedEx) Academy program launched in summer 2010 to provide high school and college students with an opportunity to experience the “real world” of healthcare. She is on the Dean’s Cabinet for the USC School of Medicine Greenville, serving as associate dean for institutional culture and inclusivity.
South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District
Local entrepreneur, attorney, and former State Sen. William Timmons is the new U.S. Congressman for South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District.
A native of Greenville, Timmons holds degrees in law and international studies from the University of South Carolina, and earned his undergraduate degree at George Washington University.
After beginning his professional career prosecuting domestic violence cases, William started several small businesses including Swamp Rabbit CrossFit, Timmons & Company, LLC, and Soul Yoga.
As a state senator, Timmons worked to limit the size of government and earn back the trust of the taxpayers. He is committed to taking those same values to Washington as he represents the people of Greenville and Spartanburg.
In addition to his service in Washington, Timmons is a first lieutenant in the S.C. Army National Guard serving as a JAG officer.
Dr. Nika White
Nika White Consulting
Founder and CEO
Dr. Nika White’s professional career spans approximately 20 years, ranging from serving as a diversity and inclusion practitioner, an accomplished marketing communications executive, economic development leader, and community advocate.
Dr. White found inspiration through the intersection of business, diversity, and leadership, and has made this her niche. As founder and CEO of Nika White Consulting, she is a nationally sought-after consultant, thought leader, and speaker to countless organizations and executives on issues of team engagement, organizational leadership, strategic diversity, and intentional inclusion.
Dr. White serves as the senior advisor to the Greenville Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and is responsible for creating and collaboratively implementing an overarching diversity strategy for the organization as an extension of the executive team.