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Greenville Business Magazine

2019 Best & Brightest 35 and Under

Sep 04, 2019 11:59PM

2019 Best and Brightest 35 and Under Interviews

Welcome to Greenville Business Magazine’s 2019 Best & Brightest 35 and Under. Now in its 25th year, our annual Best & Brightest 35 and Under issue celebrates the women and men who are rising stars in the business community.

This year, we received over 100 nominations, which our selection committee narrowed down to the 37 individuals you will find below. Even though they have many more years in the workplace, these Best & Brightest winners have already made an impact at their places of business and in our community.  

The 2019 Best & Brightest 35 and Under is presented by Furman University and sponsored by Cherry Bekaert. We will honor the Best & Brightest with an awards ceremony on Tuesday, September 17 at Revel Event Center, 304 E. Stone Ave., in Greenville.

We would also like to thank both the Table 301 and Larkin’s Restaurants for giving us access their establishments. Because of them, we were able to photograph the 2019 Best & Brightest 35 and Under winners in Table 301’s Soby’s and the Lazy Goat and Larkin’s Restaurant’s Limoncello and Larkin’s On the River.

Please join us in saluting the Upstate’s future leaders.

 

Tajh Boyd
Age 28
Lead Sales Representative | Lakeside Lodge Clemson

I moved to the Upstate from Virginia Beach after being recruited to play football for Clemson University. In my four seasons, I was named First Team All-American, 2012 ACC Player of the Year and three-time All-Conference player. I graduated from Clemson with a degree in sociology, being the first in my family to obtain a college degree. 

In 2015, I founded the Tajh Boyd Foundation, which serves and supports at-risk youth in the Upstate. We have since donated almost 4,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to set these children up for success during the school year. 

I recently obtained my real estate license and am now the lead salesman at Lakeside Lodge Clemson, a new luxury condo hotel and a one-of-a-kind development for a one-of-a-kind town. 

I also take part in public speaking, writing and sports broadcasting opportunities. In my spare time, I like to read, watch movies, stay active in the gym and meet new people in the community.

I am honored to be included in Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under and look forward to continuing to give back to the community that has given so much to me. Go Tigers!


 Brad Cline
Age 34
Strategic Marketing Manager, Urban Mobility  | Michelin North America

I grew up in western Maryland and went to college at Virginia Tech. After school, I moved to Greenville to work for Michelin. Since then, I’ve had a variety of roles, from research and development to corporate recruiting to marketing and sales, and I’m currently a strategic marketing manager for urban fleet customers.

Six years ago, I was asked to represent Michelin on the Young Philanthropists (YP) Board of the United Way of Greenville County. This opportunity opened my eyes to the great work of the United Way and the power that the younger demographic can have in shaping our future community. When I looked at Michelin, I saw huge opportunity for greater engagement from the under-40 crowd. I worked with Michelin’s community relations team, and we organized the first Michelin Young Professionals event to benefit the United Way, which drew 200 attendees and increased awareness. After that, other companies began hosting their own Young Professional events as well. We have held events annually, and the engagement and attendance has grown each year.

When I’m out of the office, I’m on the move constantly with my three-year-old son and almost year-old daughter and my wife Elizabeth. I enjoy golfing and traveling, and we are both active in the community through different nonprofit boards and with our church, St. Matthew United Methodist. I hope that we can show our children the value of being involved and the responsibility that all of us have to make our community a better place.


 Kelsey Kees 
Age 30
Senior Designer | Young Office

I have always had a passion for helping people, and this led me to earn a degree in interior design from Virginia Tech in 2010. 

Interior design allows me to create spaces that can make positive differences in people’s lives, and my career has ranged from work on projects as varied as corporate offices, higher education institutions, K-12 schools and senior living projects. Since moving to Greenville in 2018 and starting with Young Office, I’ve enjoyed working with many local companies and organizations in the Upstate.

Throughout my career I have been involved with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). This organization has given me valuable leadership training and opportunities. While living in Virginia, I served on the state board as communications director, finance director and president. In 2017 I was awarded ASID’s Ones to Watch Scholarship, a two-year leadership training program within the design industry. 

In addition, I love both playing and coaching volleyball, as well as working with the nonprofit House of Hope, which helps trafficked women and children in Nicaragua, Honduras and Bolivia.


 Jordan Burns
Age 29
Financial Advisor | Northwestern Mutual

After graduating from Clemson in 2012, I chose Greenville to build my career as a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual. I wanted to help others make smart decisions for their financial future and prepare for the unexpected. 

Unfortunately, I experienced firsthand that it is never too early to start planning when I lost my younger brother a few years ago. My passion to serve others by aligning their hopes and dreams to a strategic financial plan has only grown through the years, along with my family. 

My wife Chelsea and I just welcomed our first child, a baby girl, in July. Our “firstborn” golden retriever is still adjusting to taking a back seat. Our friends, our Grace Church Downtown family, the short drive to my alma mater for fall football weekends, the nearby mountains and lakes, and being close enough to visit my hometown of Florence make Greenville a very special place for me. 

I feel very fortunate to have the best of both worlds: my career allows me to develop lifelong relationships with my clients, while also providing me with the flexibility to focus on what is important to my growing family and community.


 Brandon Robinson
Age 28
Tax Manager | Cherry Bekaert LLP

A native of Woodruff and graduate of Wofford College and Clemson University, I’ve spent my life in the Upstate, and have been a part of the Cherry Bekaert team since 2013.
 
As a tax manager, I strive to provide every client with the highest level of service. I try to be a leader in our firm and the kind of peer and mentor to others that I have been lucky enough to have in my life. 
 
The most humbling and joyful experience of my life happened last September when my wife and I welcomed our daughter Blair into our lives. In a short time, she has already taught me so much while reminding me of a quote my high school teacher repeated frequently, “Patience is a virtue.” 
 
I was inspired to help others by joining Wofford’s GOLD committee and Clemson’s Accounting Advisory Board. Both of these enable me to serve the schools, professors and administration that helped get me to this point. 
 
I’m grateful to have the support of my family, friends and peers. They have all played and continue to play an active role in my success. 


 Brittany Farrar
Age 31
Associate | CBRE

If you had told me when I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in child and family development that I would become a commercial real estate agent for one of the top firms in the country, I would have said “No way!” Now, less than 10 years later, I am thrilled that this has become my career. 

I’m an Atlanta(ish) native but moved to Greenville from Charlotte, N.C., at the end of 2015 to be closer to my now-husband, Batten. I then spent the next two years commuting to the Queen City almost daily.

My professional experience started in the marketing industry for News Corp, but I made a career change in 2018 to follow my passion for commercial real estate. Making this radical transition posed challenges. I knew from the outset that I would need to immerse myself in the Greenville community in order to be successful, and I began serving on the Greenville County Board of Zoning Appeals, as Chair of the CREW Network Career Development Committee, and as a member of the Junior League of Greenville.

While this is not where I saw myself a decade ago, I would not change my life for anything. Batten and I got married in April 2017 and now reside in the ’05 with our beloved (and spoiled) French Bulldog, Bruno. I could not be prouder to call Greenville home.


 Luis Martinez
Age 30
Head of Marketing Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management | Denny's

If you would have asked me back at Harvard, where I studied history, where I would spend my post-college years, I would have mentioned a large city like New York, Boston or Los Angeles. Fast forward to today, and I have lived in Arkansas, Kansas, and now South Carolina, each filled with wonderful and life-defining experiences. Of all the places I have had the pleasure to call home, Greenville has quickly become my favorite. The charm of a historic town, with the promise of growth and change that it offers is unique and compelling.

Serving on the Board of Zoning Appeals has given me great visibility into the ambition of this city and the great work that will allow us all to thrive as we realize the potential of the GVL2040 Comprehensive Master Plan. Working with fast-growing companies like UMG, the area’s first Hispanic advertising agency, has also allowed me to see firsthand the innovation and drive that will make Greenville a prized destination for many years to come.

My job with Denny’s entails making sense of a seemingly limitless amount of data and translating this into business intelligence and recommendations that can impact Denny’s strategy into the future. In addition, my team is focused on building meaningful one-to-one relationships with our millions of guests. 

Prior to moving to Greenville in 2016, I had roles in media and digital marketing at Sprint and Walmart, and I currently sit on the customer advisory boards of leading companies including NinthDecimal and Yext. I’m also a member of the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Digital Marketing and Data and Measurement committees.


 Kevin Wentzel
Age 35
Chief Operating Officer | Kopis USA

I grew up with two hard-working parents who always encouraged my curiosity, and I know that my upbringing has had an immeasurable impact on my success. My father taught me from a young age that we can only control two things in our lives: our attitude and our effort. It took a few years for me to really understand what he meant, but when it finally clicked, my life changed.
 
I believe a strong leader always provides positive impact, simplifies the complicated, and treats everyone around them with respect. I try to apply those principles as a husband, father, volleyball coach with Upward Stars Upstate, mentor with Greenville Tech Charter High School and in my role as COO at Kopis. 

I may have an extremely competitive nature, but am so grateful to have a supportive wife, Meredith, and three great kids who keep me balanced and grounded.


 Lauren Neely
Age 34
Senior Director | Hughes Agency

My career at Hughes Agency started in March 2014. For more than 5 years, I have been the director of SYNNEX Share the Magic, a fundraising initiative founded by SYNNEX Corporation to provide funding for Upstate children facing incredible challenges such as life-threatening illness, abuse, neglect or cognitive delays. 

Since conception eight years ago, the organization has raised more than $10 million. I am proud to be a part of such an incredible group that’s making a difference in the lives of thousands of children and their families in our community. I am especially thankful for the opportunities Hughes Agency has provided me to help others in need.
 
I have a wonderful and supportive husband and an amazing 2-year old son. 


 Shawn Bell
Age 32
City Administrator | City of Fountain Inn

Just over six years ago, I moved to South Carolina to begin working in city management. Being the city administrator for the second fastest-growing municipality in South Carolina is both exciting and challenging. There’s a lot happening down at this end of the county, and if you haven’t been to Fountain Inn in a while I encourage you to come check out our downtown or one of our many special events throughout the year.
 
I’m originally from the St. Louis area and I’ve spent my entire professional career working in public affairs and government. My first city administrator appointment came at age 28 in the Pee Dee region of the state and I’ve been in Fountain Inn since October 2017. I’m a member of the Fountain Inn Rotary Club and a graduate of Leadership South Carolina Class of 2018.
 
When I’m not running a city, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Kristen, and our two beautiful daughters, McKenzie (age 4) and Reagan (age 1). It’s not easy being married to a city administrator, so I am very thankful to have such great family support.


 Madeline Rehm
Age 26
Founder and Clinical Director | Bloom Behavioral Therapy

When I was a child, a counselor helped me through a very challenging time in my life. Since then, I’ve been driven to provide the same support, kindness and guidance I received to other children in need. I pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Clemson University and went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina. (Yes, I went to both schools, but go Tigers!)

During college and graduate school, I volunteered at Greenville’s CrisisLine, helping deescalate and stabilize individuals in their most critical time of need. After graduate school, I worked for Greenville’s community mental health center as a school-based therapist at a Title I school. In my time as a school-based therapist, I recognized that no matter how hard I worked to help students, it was very difficult to effect real change without significant family involvement. 

Consequently, I began pursuing training in the family therapy modality Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a highly effective, evidence-based, parent-training model in which parents wear an earpiece and are coached on positive parenting techniques by a therapist in an adjacent room. I drove to Michigan and used my savings to become trained and certified in PCIT. I started using PCIT with my students and their families and was amazed by how quickly and profoundly their relationship and interaction improved, transforming children’s behavior and functioning. 

After recognizing the immense value of and great need for PCIT within the Greenville community, I decided to take a leap of faith and open my own therapy practice specializing in PCIT. Bloom Behavioral Therapy now has four full-time therapists and has served hundreds of children and families in the Upstate. I know this would not be possible without the support of my mentors, colleagues, friends and family in the Greenville community, so I want to share the honor of this nomination with them!


 Katy Betz
Age 32
Strategy Consultant, AVP | Wells Fargo

I work as a Strategy Consultant, AVP within the Wells Fargo Wholesale Transformation Office to drive efficiency goals and customer-focused innovation. This spring, I was honored to receive the 2018 Pinnacle Award for my work as a top-performing team member within Wells Fargo Wholesale Banking. 

Previously, I worked as a consultant, development coordinator, and writer for small- and mid-sized businesses from Manhattan to the Carolinas. I also enjoy volunteering at the Greenville County Museum of Art and with Wildlife Rehab of Greenville.

I am living with a rare invisible illness, superior mesenteric artery syndrome, which leads to painful inflammation and can cause irreversible damage to the body’s ability to digest food. It’s incurable, but through surgery and careful management, I am able to enjoy a robust career and an active life. If I’m lucky, I can catch a breeze off of Paris Mountain through the window of my home office, and it’s hard not to follow that breeze up into the mountains to hike, swim and float with my fiancé David as often as possible.


 Lauren Dorrity
Age 31
Senior Project Manager  | Auro Hotels

As a third-generation, lifelong resident of the Upstate, I am proud to call Greenville home. The Lord, my family, and my community have all played a significant role in my journey.

As the daughter of a broker, I became interested in real estate at a young age. During my college years at North Greenville University, I interned at a local property management office before graduating with a degree in business administration and obtaining my real estate license. Graduating debt-free and earning employment at the end of the recession allowed me the opportunity to invest in my first residential property.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve gained experience in a variety of real estate disciplines, from corporate real estate to full-cycle, ground-up commercial development. I’m always proud to see a project I’ve contributed to succeed, whether that’s helping a retail tenant set up their business, selling a friend’s home, developing a 100,000-square-foot self-storage facility or supporting funding efforts on a hotel in downtown Greenville. 

I am passionate about supporting women in business, and I give back by participating in CREW Upstate, Women in Construction, National Association of Realtors, Habitat for Humanity, and Meals on Wheels. I’ve served on North Greenville University’s alumni board, as an S.C. Guardian Ad Litem, and as a city representative in the Miss South Carolina Organization (MAO). 


 Lester Lippincott
Age 32
Senior Audit Manager | KPMG LLP

As a senior audit manager at KPMG I am responsible for overseeing financial statement audits of clients primarily in the industrial manufacturing and retail industries. Additionally, I am involved in recruiting and interviewing at local universities for my firm, and instruct continuing professional education at national trainings. Because I have benefited greatly from mentors throughout my career, I am passionate about mentoring professionals who are beginning their careers. Watching as my mentees develop and advance through their career is by far the most rewarding aspect of my job.
 
In addition to my day job, I serve on the board of directors and as treasurer of the Conestee Foundation, which oversees the Lake Conestee Nature Park, a 400+ acre park along the Reedy River with over 12 miles of trails. It has been great to work with those who foresaw this region’s future development and growth and worked to set aside a piece of Greenville to preserve its natural beauty.
 
My wonderful wife Sarah and I love raising our three daughters in Greenville and could not imagine a better community to call home.


 Savannah Porter
Age 35
Associate Director | Project Host

It is a privilege to have a servant leadership role as associate director of Project Host, a local non-profit that seeks to alleviate hunger and increase self-sustainability through workforce development in the culinary field. 

My daily work allows for an uplifting intersection of two of my passions—helping others and food. From higher-level needs and impact assessments, programmatic planning, and community engagement to helping a client overcome a personal barrier or showing an agency volunteer they are appreciated, each day is a labor of love.

I was first drawn to service work while volunteering at Head Start, and my dedication to giving back to the community was fueled as a student at Furman University when I began volunteering as an ESL tutor with Greenville Literacy. After graduating, I worked as a crime victim advocate for the 13th Circuit solicitor. My role with Project Host was simply a natural progression of my desire to invest in those in need in Greenville.

I am thrilled to be able to be a part of the Greenville community, raising two children with my husband in this great place where I try to instill an awareness of social causes and help them to know they too have a place in creating an environment where everyone deserves to thrive—just as my mother did for me. 

In addition to various community non-profit contributions, I am an active member of an area PTA board and School Improvement Council, and a recent graduate of the Greenville Chamber’s Leadership Greenville Class 45.


 Jenna Johnson
Age 35
Summer Camp Director | YMCA Camp Greenville

Five years ago, I moved my family to the area to take my position as summer camp director at YMCA Camp Greenville, and it was the best decision we ever made. As a 13-year camping professional, I have watched firsthand how the camp environment can change people’s lives. Adding the YMCA of Greenville to that equation allows that impact to multiply, and I am beyond proud to be a leader through both. 

I help lead the professional development aspect of our YMCA’s Women’s Network, sit on our Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Committee, and co-chair the YMCA Campfire Conference for the Southeast. I am also currently tackling getting my 5-year-old ready for kindergarten, which might be the hardest undertaking of them all. 

My family and I live on camp property, which means my son is spoiled with the best backyard in the entire Upstate. We are avid mountain-town explorers and waterfall discoverers and love the opportunity to come and be “tourists” in this great city. I wake up with gratitude every day for my personal and work family who support me, inspire me, and help me grow. 


 Meghan Riordan
Age 31
Attorney | Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

I love Greenville, and while I’m not a native, I did marry one. My husband, Chris Prince, keeps my head on straight and rarely complains when I stay late at work. I’m a half-litigation, half-business attorney at Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., so my days are long but intellectually challenging. I love what I do and am fortunate to work at a place where community engagement is celebrated.
 
I proudly serve as board president for the Warehouse Theatre, which, in my opinion, is Greenville’s most valuable artistic institution. The Warehouse stretches the boundaries of what is theatrically possible in Greenville through dynamic and challenging plays, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. 
 
I also sit on the board of Generations Group Home, which treats boys who have committed crimes involving sexual misconduct. Generations is the only group home in South Carolina dedicated to this type of rehabilitation—it is tough work on a tough subject, and I’m convinced Generations is critical to breaking the cycle of sexual abuse in this state.
 
Finally, I get to teach health law and policy at Furman University, where I’ve been an adjunct professor since 2016. I also get to be a mentor for the Furman Women’s Basketball team, which has introduced me to the strongest and most diverse group of women I know.


 Nathan Cox
Age 34
DJ, Producer, Mentor | Furman University

Making a career as a DJ is something that I’m very grateful for. Being the first official DJ for the Furman Paladins has been a dream job. Our home sporting events are some of the best around, and I am honored to be a part of it. 

I’m also proud to have been voted Best DJ of the Upstate three consecutive years by our community. This gives me the chance to give opportunities to other working DJs. Last year, I was able to employ over 20 DJs, graphic designers, photographers and videographers, collectively. My latest project is a networking event for DJs that allows us to all meet, share ideas and test new equipment.

Beyond music, I work as a mentor through the South Carolina Children’s Theater as an advocate of the Bully Prevention Program. We speak and present to sixth grade students in schools all over Greenville County in hopes of creating a better future for our youth. 

Most of my free time is spent with my family. My wife Lauren is a first grade teacher and the backbone of our household. The best part of my job is being able to be a stay-at-home dad to our beautiful daughter Lachlyn, which has turned out to be the greatest job I’ve ever had. 


 Chris Butler
Age 31
Associate Broker | KDS Properties

I first came to Greenville in 2006 as a recipient of Furman University’s Hollingsworth Scholarship. It was here that I first saw the country’s cycling elite racing up Paris Mountain in the U.S. Professional Road Cycling National Championships. 

My goal was set; I wanted to race with the best and one day be the fastest up that mountain.  

After graduating from Furman in 2010, my hard work and training landed me on one of the best teams in the world under the leadership of my mentor and friend, George Hincapie. My cycling career has so far taken me to more than 40 countries. 

When I’m not on a bike, you can find me developing my experience and expertise as a commercial real estate broker at KDS Commercial Properties.

I support Wheels for Meals, a signature cycling/fundraising event established in 2007 by KDS principal Larry Webb, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. My true passion is mentoring young cyclists and watching them realize that they can achieve what they previously thought to be uunobtainable.


 Will Davis
Age 30
Attorney | Christian & Davis LLC 

As an attorney whose practice focuses solely on litigation, I represent individuals and small businesses prosecuting complex civil litigation matters. I feel fortunate that my practice allows me to make a meaningful impact on individuals and the community by making sure the rights of individuals are protected, and helping my clients create a path forward after a catastrophic event. 

I regularly appear in Federal Court, State Circuit Court, and Family Court, and I’m admitted to practice in South Carolina, the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, and the U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit. I was recently honored to become a member of the National Trial Lawyers’  Top 40 under 40.

I’m a Greenville native and graduate of Greenville High School, and I’m dedicated to serving the community I grew up in through my work with the Greenville County Bar Pro Bono Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Additionally, this year I look forward to serving the South Carolina Bar Association as a member of the Fee Dispute Board, Children’s Law Committee, and the Young Lawyers Division Professional Development Committee. 


 Jenna Bradley
Age 33
Assistant Vice President, Relationship Manager | Wells Fargo Commercial Banking

As a relationship manager with Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, I provide businesses with financial products and services to help them understand their credit and cash flow needs. I support my business clients and investors in managing growth and minimizing risk. The best part of my job is visiting my clients and experiencing the product they manufacture or the service they provide firsthand. It is amazing to see the joy they display when sharing it with me.

I relocated to Greenville in 2017 and quickly fell in love with the city. Contributing to the Greenville community is important to me because I believe we choose what holds us back and what moves us forward. 

I’m a member of Leadership Greenville Class 45, a graduate student at Clemson University, an active member of Junior League of Greenville, current secretary for CREW Upstate, and I also serve on the Executive Leadership Committee for the American Cancer Society. I believe that to be successful, you must leave a legacy of leadership in your community, organization and family.


Emily Mosely
Age 33
Manager, Public Relations | Crawford Strategy

Reading, writing and learning have always been a passion for me. I’m incredibly fortunate to have found a career where I can truly do each of those things every day. 

In my five years at Crawford Strategy, I have gotten the opportunity to use my skills and expertise on behalf of wonderful clients, many of whom are helping to make the Upstate a better place to live and work. I once was described as someone who always did or said the right thing at the right time, and I like to think that my job is helping others to do the same.   

Although I’m not native to Greenville, it has definitely become my home since moving here with my husband. I’ve lived a lot of places—from Chicago to Wake Forest University then to Washington, D.C—but Greenville is special, and the place where we have chosen to start our family. I enjoy learning about all aspects of the community and getting involved when possible, including being a part of the Junior League. 

As a working mom, time is precious, but I hope to teach my daughter that giving back helps you learn more about the community you are in.


 E. Powers Price
Age 33
Associate Attorney | Price Law Firm, P.A.

I am a partner with Price Law Firm, where I focus my practice on criminal defense, personal injury, family law and Title IX cases. I have the privilege of practicing law in a small, family-run firm with both my father and my brother. I enjoy litigation and routinely appear in both state and federal courts across the Upstate. 

I am president-elect of the Greenville County Bar Association, and I am a founding board member of the Greenville Bar Pro Bono Foundation. I have served as chair of the mentor program for federal drug court, known as BRIDGE, since 2016, which led me to also find a seat on the board of the S.C. Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.  

I was born and raised in Greenville and could not imagine my family living anywhere else.


 Kenny Ridgell
Age 27
President | Ridge Media LLC

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in Greenville. Through my upbringing, I found a strong faith in God and was blessed in the fact that I was able to found my own digital marketing agency, Ridge Media LLC, while attending the College of Charleston. I truly believe that I have had little to do with the level of success that I have found professionally. I owe it all to God and the people he placed in my life. 

Truly, I have been blessed to be able to trust the team members that have been placed around me since we started the company and to execute on the vision we set forth with each client. We have a family feel where we are emotionally connected to each client, which is very important to me as the owner. I believe this attitude stems from our office culture that was created when the company started with my mom and me. 

Since beginning the company, our goal has been to impact the community in each of our projects. We seek to accomplish this by guaranteeing to produce award-level work for all of our clients whether they are non-profits or corporate clients. It is our promise to dedicate the same level of craft and care to each account.


 Lauren Luneckas
Age 31
President | Kentwool Performance Apparel

I moved to Greenville in 2016 to join Kentwool, a 176-year-old wool yarn and performance sock business. I have always been fascinated with history and tradition, and since my time as a student at Wake Forest University, I have taken a keen interest in the ways innovation and legacy intersect in business. In my role leading the Kentwool Performance Apparel brand, I get to explore this interaction daily. There is remarkable history in our organization, but a great sense of entrepreneurism and innovative spirit as well. 
 
There is also remarkable history in Greenville. I am especially thankful for the rich tradition of community service here. I am particularly passionate about early childhood education, and I am most interested in how innovative partnerships and out-of-the-box thinking can positively impact Greenville’s youngest learners. I channel this passion as a member of the Children’s Museum of the Upstate board and as a volunteer with Hollis Academy, Monaview Elementary and Public Education Partners. 
 
When I’m not working or volunteering, you’ll find me enjoying time with my husband and our two rescue dogs, cooking, golfing, gallery hopping or globe-trotting in my Kentwool socks.


Sally Morris Cote
Age 30
Director of Planning and Evaluation Capacity Building  | Riley Institute at Furman

I have always been fascinated by people, their stories and the systems they build. This fascination led me to study sociology first at Furman University and then eventually at the University of North Carolina. I returned to Greenville from Chapel Hill to complete my doctoral research because Greenville’s progressive philanthropic and nonprofit community provided the perfect setting to study the topic of my dissertation, nonprofit effectiveness.
 
Upon receiving my doctorate, I joined the Riley Institute at Furman, where, through the Institute’s Planning and Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative, I help community organizations maximize their impact through data-driven decision-making. I am motivated by a desire to find practical solutions to community problems, and I feel incredibly fortunate that my work enables me to combine my interest in people and organizations with my love of data and research methods in pursuit of this goal. 
 
Many of the organizations I work with focus on early childhood development, a topic that has become particularly meaningful to me upon the recent birth of my first child, who I am thrilled to raise in this vibrant, growing city. I am honored to have been selected for this award. 


 Joe McNeely
Age 28
Project Manager | GLOBAL SALES GROUP

I work as a New Project Manager for Global Sales Group, Inc., a worldwide supply chain management company that works primarily in the lawn and garden industry. 

I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology at The Citadel in 2013. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to learn from great leaders who taught me life lessons that have helped shape me into who I am today and the person I hope to become in the future. I believe sticking to your values and morals, having a strong work ethic and building strong relationships are the keys to the success not only in business but, more importantly, in life. 

After graduating from The Citadel in 2013, I began my career as a sales representative and moved up the ladder into the position I’m currently in. At GSG, I’m blessed to travel the world and experience situations that give me an opportunity to learn and grow. 

I’m part of several organizations within our community. The Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, Mentor Upstate, and Brushy Creek Young Professionals form the core of my volunteer work. All three organizations are focused on improving the lives of others through love and service. 


 Emily Bridges
Age 29
Associate | Fox Rothschild LLP

Having grown up in Greenville, I’ve always had a sense of place and belonging in this community. I have loved watching our city change and grow. After graduating from Furman University, I attended the University of South Carolina School of Law, but always knew I would return to my hometown.

Currently, I am an associate at Fox Rothschild LLP. My practice focuses on franchise matters, labor and employment issues, and general business litigation. I enjoy combining my legal training with my local knowledge to advise Greenville’s emerging businesses.

My experience as a member of the Margaret Linder Southern Committee through the Community Foundation of Greenville has given me the opportunity to learn more about the numerous amazing non-profits in Greenville. I also serve as the president of the Christ Church Episcopal School Alumni Association, and have been involved with the United Way, the South Carolina Young Lawyers Division, and Greenville Chamber Young Professionals.

One of my favorite things is to show visitors and former residents all of the new things Greenville has to offer, and I look forward to continuing my involvement with my community.


 Kyra Lobbins 
Age 32
Associate Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the President  | Clemson University

My role at the University brings together experiences that I gained throughout my career, from my role in athletics to my role of directing Clemson University’s President’s Leadership Institute and working with business and industry leaders as coordinator of the President’s Advisory Board. I also enjoy my work on community boards such as Clemson’s Chamber Board and the Greenville Chamber Advisory Board.

Six years ago, I came to Clemson as director of student athlete development where I led a team of professionals in helping student athletes across 16 sports develop professional and leadership skills. 

I call myself a professional student, and I am working on my doctorate degree in educational leadership with plans to graduate in the next decade or two. I earned my MBA from the University of Akron in 2015, a master’s in sport management from Northern Illinois University in 2011 and a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2008. 

I enjoy the energy of my new hometown Greenville, where my cat Lex Man and I live.


 Amber Geathers 
Age 29
Senior Patient Advocate  | Proactive MD

As a licensed clinical social worker working with the onsite employer primary care health and wellness centers at Proactive MD, I have been able to leverage my understanding of how people work with my training in how the hospital systems work.

Health care has become increasingly complex, and patients are too often bounced around from provider to provider. No providers in the current healthcare system raise their hands for patients to say, “I will guide you through the entire overwhelming healthcare system and ensure you get the answers you need.” With Proactive MD, I have had the privilege of building a Patient Advocate program that does just that. 

We have successfully built a program that partners with providers to treat every patient as a son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister. We also identify the social determinants of health for the employer populations we serve, and in doing so establish relationships between our primary care providers and patients in need of their care, giving them a better quality of life and driving down health care costs for the employer.


 Gregory Hair 
Age 34
Director of Nursing | Prisma Health-Upstate

My passion for caring for others has led me to my position as the director of nursing for Emergency Services in the Level 1 Trauma Center at the Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Medical Campus. My primary emphasis as a nursing administrator in a large, complex health system is to be well prepared for all challenges as they arise and to always balance our priority of patient-focused care with evolving health care policies and practices. I am passionate about serving in this influential role, empowering health care staff and shaping the landscape of the future of health care in Greenville.
 
Growing up in Liberty, I have had the vantage point of evolving alongside the Upstate. I earned my bachelors in nursing and masters in nursing administration from Clemson University and continue to be an involved alumnus. 

My wife and I have two amazing boys that we are proud to be raising in this beautiful and growing community.


 David Hawkins
Age 33
Owner/CEO | MY PR Lab

I like to joke that Greenville has grown up at the same rate that I did. When I left 13 years ago, I never saw myself returning. Between living in New York City and Los Angeles, I felt the big city life would remain a constant, and Greenville became smaller and smaller in my proverbial rearview mirror. But, as with most things, God had different plans.  

In those formative 13 years I found fast success with a public relations career spanning industries, including entertainment, fashion, health and beauty, lifestyle, consumer and more. But at the same time I was growing into my profession, my hometown was making its own strides to become the grown-up Greenville we know and love today.  

I’m grateful to have been immersed in big-city cultural clusters for all those years. But I’m even more thankful to have the option to return home, emboldened with lessons learned and horizons widened. It provides me the foresight, vision and inspiration to continue to push Greenville forward through our work at MY PR Lab.

My team and I proudly state that we are the Upstate’s most untraditional PR firm, where we achieve big-city success for our small-town, small business clients. 

I credit this award to my high school alma mater, the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and, to my mother, also a Greenville native, for always giving me the opportunity to risk it all on integrity and passion.


 Lelia King
Age 35
Executive Director | Build Carolina

Upon moving to Greenville in 2014, I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond the beautiful setting and welcoming people. What I have found in the years since is a supportive, innovative and collaborative community that punches well above its weight. 

From working with an incredible team of people at The Iron Yard, one of our city’s startup success stories, to supporting dozens of people in the midst of career change, to launching a new nonprofit organization, I have seen so much growth in such a short time—both in myself and in our community. In my current role as executive director of Build Carolina, I’m excited to be part of an organization that has its hands in education, tech and the entrepreneurial ecosystem with a particular focus on talent development and economic mobility. 

Whether directly through our programs Carolina Code School and SC Codes, or through partnerships with organizations and institutions like Capita, Furman University, Ten at the Top or Augusta Road Baptist Church (where my husband serves as senior pastor), I look forward to continuing to work hard to strengthen our city and region—both for my daughter and for all those who come after us.


 Lauren Stephens
Age 30
Director of Social Ministries | The Salvation Army 

As a native of Greenville, I always knew that I wanted to invest back into the community that has given me so much. 

As the director of Social Ministries at The Salvation Army, I have the unique task of meeting the ever-changing needs of a dynamic, underserved and marginalized segment of our community. In my job I have the pleasure of walking alongside people who are often at rock bottom, ministering to them and helping them get back on their feet and on a new road to stability. No matter what that looks like, their stability is their personal path, and I’m there to support their journey. 

I also work with local social service organizations to advocate for affordable housing, transportation and other critical life needs that so many of us take for granted. 

When not working, I enjoy spending my time with my family and friends, cheering on the Clemson Tigers, and exercising my newfound love of CrossFit. Of course, that’s when I’m not chasing around my two daughters, Piper (5) and Hollis (3). 

My passion for serving those around me carries over into my personal life in helping to support fellow moms of children with special needs, a title my youngest daughter gave me the honor of carrying. It was not a title anyone ever wants, but one I feel has given me another way to help those in my community. 


 Chesley White
Age 34
Principal | SHLTR Architects

I grew up just outside of Atlanta and attended college at nearby Georgia Tech. I started out as an engineering major, but switched when I found my true passion: design and architecture. While interning with an airline company, I was given the challenge to redesign their existing large mailroom and break area into something that would be more efficient for incoming/outgoing pilots and flight attendants. 

After working to solve their space needs, I was hooked and realized architecture was the right path for me. I quickly began to focus on developing my career in architecture and now co-own a boutique architecture firm, SHLTR Architects, here in Greenville.
 
I really enjoy working with our clients to help bring something new and exciting to the community. We work as a team to transform their spaces, buildings and investments into places they feel proud to work and welcome their clients and customers. 
 
I am also proud to serve on the executive board for CREW Upstate, which advances the achievements of women in the commercial real estate industry. I love giving back to this organization and cheering on my colleagues as we work to make our mark within Greenville and the Upstate.


 Michael Williamson
Age 35
Assistant Community Development Manager | City of Greenville

In my six years as part of the Community Development Division with the City of Greenville, I have had the opportunity to get to know amazing people that make Greenville the great place that it is. They include neighborhood leaders, nonprofits devoted to creating affordable housing, community-centered residents, dedicated city staff members and my Leadership Greenville 45 classmates. Those relationships are what make our work in community development successful.  

At Clemson, I received a bachelor’s of architecture and master’s of real estate development degree. 

Outside of work, I serve on the board of YouthBASE and as secretary-elect of First Baptist Church Greenville Diaconate. I have volunteered for the last two years with the S.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Community Planning Assistance Team, a multidisciplinary team of planning professionals that assist communities with limited access to planning resources and expertise.

I am also a three-time marathon finisher, something I would have thought impossible until just a few years ago. My husband and I have been welcomed unconditionally in our church, our professions, and our community, and are incredibly fortunate to call Greenville home.


 Westley Roberts
Age 26
National Director of New Employer Engagement | Proactive MD

I graduated from Clemson University in 2016 with a degree in business management and entrepreneurship, and have worked in the healthcare industry since my senior year. My wife and I both grew up in the Greenville area and have lived here our entire lives. We love this city and are lucky enough to have most of our family in town with us.

Working at Proactive MD has been a privilege, and as the national director of new employer engagement, I spend most of my time meeting new people and educating them on the power of primary care, especially within an employer setting. We partner with companies all over the country, but I have recently been working to expand our services in the Upstate, working with companies of all sizes to provide care to their employees and families. We are changing lives every day, and it is incredible to be a part of this team and organization.

Outside of work, I enjoy golf, Clemson football, spending time with my wife and family, and serving in our local church, Fellowship Greenville.