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Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville Business Magazine Best & Brightest 35 and Under

Sep 01, 2017 08:55AM ● By Emily Stevenson
Presented by Furman University
Photography by Greenville Headshots

Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 2017, presented by Furman University, honors 35 young professionals who are making a difference in their workplaces and communities.

Judges Dr. Judith Prince, professor emeritus at USC Upstate, and Wendy Walden, associate vice president of executive affairs at Greenville Technical College, chose from among 124 candidates. As always, the decision wasn’t easy.

“All young leaders nominated for Greenville’s Best and Brightest for 2017 demonstrated noteworthy leadership characteristics of courage, resilience, tenacity, passion, commitment, and hard work,” says Prince. “Each of those selected as Greenville’s Best and Brightest for 2017 had a unique leadership journey and displayed a remarkable results-focused desire to give back to Greenville and to be innovative in their work.”

Walden agrees.

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

Our feature includes a short in the own words of  each of the winners, highlighting both their workplace and community contributions.

Winners will be honored on Sept. 19 at an awards ceremony held at the Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center at Furman University.

“How fortunate we are in Greenville to have these resourceful and productive young leaders accepting the many challenges that come with leadership today,” says Prince.

Mario E. Brown
Milestone Custom Homes | Realtor, Director of Sales & Marketing
Age 30

I am a former college football All-American, graduating from Gardner-Webb University in 2009 with degrees in English & political science. After cutting my teeth in business management and marketing with a national sports training company, I decided to go all-in on Greenville, residential construction and brokerage. I spent three years representing a national production builder, using marketing and social media skills crafted at my previous station, I quickly became the company’s top agent. Eager for a more integrated, local work concentration I joined Milestone Custom Homes, an exclusive, luxury homebuilder, as their director of sales and marketing. We are currently focused on developments and homes that are truly changing the residential landscape of Greenville, like the highly anticipated, Lew Oliver-planned, Hartness. 
A graduate of Leadership Greenville, I believe it is our responsibility to align our individual skills with the needs of our community. In 2016 I co-founded Affordable Greenville, a small real estate investment firm that re-develops energy efficient, multi-family apartment units. We currently own and manage 50+ “affordable” units in the Upstate.

Nominator Quote: “Mario is not just an idea man and entrepreneur, but a doer. Most dreamers can’t put their foot to pavement and do the work but Mario sees opportunity and is not afraid to take chances and do what is difficult. He sees a better future for Greenville and is literally building it.”

Brandi Jackson
Brandi Jackson Golf | Founder
Age 35

I am a 2003 Furman University graduate and former professional golfer, now running my own college recruiting consulting and coaching business based here in Greenville. The transition from playing a professional sport to the “real world” can be a very tough one, so I feel extremely blessed to continue to pursue a career that I love. I have the opportunity to coach and mentor young female golfers who have similar goals and aspirations as I had at that age. I was born and raised in the Upstate, so giving back to the community and to the game of golf is something that I feel is a privilege, as both have given me so much in my life! Just as the girls I work with, I have big goals and dreams for myself and my business that I am determined to work hard to achieve. I am honored and thrilled to be named as a Greenville Business Magazine Best and Brightest recipient!

Nominator Quote: “She is so dedicated to what she does. Her passion for these young golfers is unbelievable, and as a result, she does an outstanding job of relating to them and helping them become better at anything they might aspire to do.”

Jed Dews
Pendleton Place | Associate Executive Director
Age 35

I work as the associate executive director of Pendleton Place, a nonprofit agency dedicated to keeping children safe and supporting families in crisis through prevention, assessment, and intervention. I provide support for day-to-day operations of the organization’s innovative child and family services as well as strategic oversight for quality improvement and technology initiatives. I relocated to Greenville in 2012 and fell in love with the Upstate community. I am incredibly proud to serve as an appointed commissioner for the Greenville County Human Relations Commission and the vice-chair of Pulse Young Professionals as well as a national leader for the performance excellence community of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. I provided strategic leadership of public-private partnerships as part of the recent Keeping Kids in Families campaign for federal child welfare finance reform and I look forward to working on other such policy initiatives as part of my long-term career plan. I am humbled to be selected for this award and incredibly moved by the support of those I call friends, family, and colleagues.

Nominator quote: “Jed is a focused, passionate and giving community member who gives his all to every endeavor that he is engaged in.  He is smart as a whip and contributes great ideas and hard work to any initiative in which he is involved.”

Kelley Norris
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina | Account Executive, Major Group Division
Age 34

With 10 years of experience in the group benefit/health care industry, I joined BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina as an account executive in May of 2014. My role in the major group division is focused on client retainment by facilitating the renewal process. With BCBSSC, I have been selected to serve on product development teams and was recently awarded Account Executive of the year.

My long term goals are to continue pursuing avenues of both personal and professional growth, while also maintaining a successful work / life balance. As a mother of two young boys it’s important for me to be present in their lives, but also have time to tackle challenges and follow development opportunities in my career.

To me, giving back means many things – it could be volunteer time for an organization you are passionate about, providing new ideas that could positively impact Greenville or fundraising for a worthy cause. It’s about giving your time and energy back to Greenville and I am honored to be a part of a community so generous in this capacity.

Nominator quote: “I believe Kelley does a better job than anyone else I know of finding success and balance with her family, her work, and her community involvement.”

H. Hall Provence IV
Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP | Associate
Age 30

I am an associate with Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP. My practice is focused in the areas of tax, wealth transfer planning, and business transactions. I work with individuals, trusts and business entities with estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax planning, estate administration, corporate structure, and formation of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations. I serve on the board of directors of the Greenville Police Foundation and am involved with the ACE Mentor Program of the Upstate. I look forward to the relationships I will develop with the individuals, families and businesses in Greenville throughout my career. As a Greenville native, it is very fulfilling to be able to work in and serve this community and to have the opportunity to raise my family in this great town. I am very honored to have been selected for this year’s Best and Brightest and greatly appreciate the support my wife and family have provided me along the way.

Nominator Quote: “His energy is contagious, and it’s obvious that he truly enjoys his work in the community and in the firm.”

Halla Banafa
Marshall I. Pickens Hospital at Greenville Hospital System | Clinical Therapist
Age 28

As an empathic, solution-focused, and licensed social worker, I have had the privilege of implementing effective and specialized treatment plans for those experiencing a variety of mental health issues and social setbacks in the Greenville community.
Since 2013,  I have been working with children, adolescents and adults affected by mental illness, domestic violence and addiction in both group and individual settings. It is my passion to assist vulnerable individuals impacted by traumatizing life events.
I am a proud immigrant and the first female in my family to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While working toward both degrees, I was also inducted into both the Psi Chi and Phi Alpha honor societies through the University of South Carolina.
Currently, I am completing requirements to obtain my independent license, with plans to open my own practice and specialize in working with minority and immigrant populations. It is an absolute blessing for me to give back to the community that gave, and continues to give me support in achieving all that I have set out to accomplish.

Nominator Quote: “She is a bright light shining happiness into the lives of those around her. The humility and graciousness with which she serves are inspiring.”

Annah W. Toates
Bell Carrington & Price, LLC | Attorney & Managing Director of Residential Real Estate
Age 28

Since joining the law firm of Bell Carrington and Price in 2015, my practice has focused primarily in residential real estate, where I seek to provide efficient, streamlined, and enjoyable closings. Buying or selling a home is a major investment and I insist on providing each client with a personalized and memorable experience. When not at the closing table, I assist clients with contract review, entity formation, estate planning, and development matters.
My commitment to the local community is demonstrated in my partnership with Homes of Hope, a local organization focused on affordable housing and men’s development. In an effort to intentionally connect my career to a deeper calling, I make a contribution from the proceeds of each real estate closing to the organization. It’s imperative for me to connect my work in the office to a community impact project, and Homes for Hope serves to bring the two together with a tangible effect on the affordable housing dilemma in the Upstate.
I’m an active member of United Way and a Furman University Young Benefactor. I also serve in children’s ministry at my church alongside my husband, Patrick Toates, and I serve as a board member of Sterling Hope Center in Greenville.

Nominator Quote: “Greenville is lucky to have Annah Toates as an active part of the community and someone who recognizes the importance of giving back to the community.  Annah doesn’t wait for someone to ask her to help or get involved; she seeks out opportunities or creates them herself.”

Dr. Jermaine Whirl
Greenville Technical College | Vice President of Economic Development & Corporate Training
Age 32

Since 2004 I’ve dedicated my professional life to higher education. I started out working in institutional advancement (alumni relations). I briefly exited higher education to work for a nonprofit organization, and returned to higher education as a professor of economics. For the last 10 years I’ve had the pleasure of working with adult education/ESL students, serving as a professor at two community colleges, and two Carnegie designated research three institutions in the areas of strategic management and economics. Within these experiences, I’ve developed a strong passion for higher education administration and have worked on many strategic planning, accreditation, and economic development projects as a dean. My role as vice president of economic development and corporate training at Greenville Technical College has allowed me to marry all of my experiences in a meaningful way to serve our region. My long-term goal is to become a college president, but more importantly I want to ensure the constituents of our county are provided a world-class education and have access to sustainable and fulfilling careers.

Nominator Quote:  “Jermaine is often the all-important link that companies need to ensure that they have the “best and brightest” workforce. … He embodies what it takes to achieve business success and a strong, viable workforce.” 

Ashley Taylor
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System | Admin Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Age 28

I’m a Greenville native who has enjoyed the many benefits of the Upstate area. After college, I launched my career in the TV news business in Myrtle Beach as a video editor, reporter, and eventually as a news anchor. There, I learned the power of storytelling and the art of establishing credibility and networking within a community. I moved back to the Upstate to transition into the public relations field at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Greenville telling the inspirational stories of the expert orthopedic care provided to children. I currently serve on the board of directors for the Center for Development Services, a unique partnership of experts who link individuals and families with multi-disciplinary services for developmental evaluation, treatment, education and support. This community leadership role on a board that supports children with developmental and physical needs is indicative of my commitment to the Greenville community.

In my current position as administrative director of marketing and public relations at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, I continue to identify and tell the stories of Bon Secours’ patients, physicians and staff that make up our community. I am dedicated to communicating Bon Secours’ commitment to community education on healthcare topics including medical advancements, breakthroughs in patient care and our community outreach programs. I exhibit servant leadership in my position at Bon Secours through the rare quality of being a good listener, seeking to understand the task at hand, and fostering consensus to implement action. Energetic, committed, and passionate are adjectives that describe me. I possesses a ministry heart for the Bon Secours’ mission of being Good Help to Those in Need.

Nominator Quote:  “Energetic, committed, and passionate are all adjectives that describe Ashley. Her contributions to Greenville will definitely help bring out community together and change our community for the better.”

Cortney Donell Newmans
Lima One Capital | Director of Business Development
Age 27

I am currently the director of business development for Lima One Capital. My responsibilities include spearheading key business developments activities for the company and establishing relationships with industry partners throughout the nation.
I received my bachelor’s degree in consumer economics and real estate from the University of Georgia. Before joining Lima One Capital, I previously worked one year in the merchant services industry in outside sales, where I was recognized for being in the top 10 percent of company sales representatives.
I had plenty of role models and mentors throughout the years. They have all played a critical and key part in my life as a bridge builder. Giving back to the community affords me that opportunity to affect someone’s life in that same positive light.
This has been a great honor. Being named Best & Brightest 35 and Under will continue to fuel the fire for me to be the best person I can and role model for those to look up to.

Nominator Quote: “Newmans sets and achieves professional and community service goals that demonstrate his remarkable ambition and dedication to the Greenville community.”

Kelly Byers
Roper Mountain Science Center | Community Engagement Specialist
Age 31

While I didn’t choose to attend Presbyterian College because of the school’s motto, “While we live, we serve,” I have adopted it as my own. I know that the greater Greenville community we call home is due to the hard work and commitment of many visionaries who came before us, and I feel a heavy sense of responsibility to ensure that greatness whether it’s through my career, volunteering, philanthropy, or serving on City Council in Travelers Rest.

Working in philanthropy, I see generosity towards and commitment to a better Greenville in action every day. The collective impact of this community’s service and leadership impresses and inspires me. It’s a great privilege to get to know and serve my community in a plethora of capacities and to do my part in continuing the good works of others before me. And it’s certainly an honor to join the cohort of inspiring young people of Greenville as a “Best and Brightest.”

Nominator quote: “She consistently works with a boundless energy, unwavering positivity, and an inclusive mindset that brings people from all walks of life together for a common cause.”

Allison Wallis McGarity
Simpsonville Area Chamber of Commerce | President/CEO
Age 30

I moved to Greenville after graduating from Clemson’s MBA program in 2011, and have worked for the Simpsonville Area Chamber of Commerce since 2012. I was promoted to president/CEO in 2013, and I immediately dug my heels into the challenge and found success. I have made it my goal to constantly seek out new and innovative ways to support our members and fulfill our mission. Earlier this year, I graduated from the U.S. Chamber’s Institute of Organization Management where I gained skills that I will use to ensure that the Simpsonville Chamber is the go-to source of leadership and advocacy in Simpsonville.  My long-term goals include furthering my professional development and strengthening my skills in the areas of economic development and public administration.
Aside from my work for the Chamber, I proudly serve on several nonprofit boards in the Greenville area. The insight and experience that I’ve gained through those groups has enhanced my perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by our community. Volunteering in the community has given me a sense of purpose and has allowed me to learn from a diverse range of community activists and leaders.
Being included in this year’s list of Best and Brightest young professionals is an incredible honor. I am grateful to be included among some of Greenville’s most influential leaders and I am excited to connect with my fellow honorees.

Nominator Quote: “Allison has taken on many leadership roles throughout our entire community and State.  She has excelled at them all.  She uses her many talents and abilities to improve our community and all those that reside here.”

Travis Sanchez Morris
Greenville Health System, Acceleration Sports Institute | Head Sports Performance Coach
Age 32

For nine years I have been privileged to work with thousands of youth and adults in sports camps, schools, and colleges as well as professional and amateur athletes. I strongly believe that health and wellness, along with spiritual well-being, is a vehicle that gives life greater meaning and purpose. Much of my joy comes from encouraging and challenging people to accomplish things that they never thought could be done.
As a trainer and musician, I have found that music and fitness speak a universal language and cross many cultural barriers in a powerful way that can bridge differences. My lifelong goal is to bridge the gap between economic disparities and social barriers in our community.  
I plan to continue my journey of personal and professional development through entrepreneurship, while continuing to seek opportunities to empower and influence people around me. Being one of Greenville’s Best and Brightest is a great honor and has encouraged me to stay humble, diligent, passionate, and faithful on this journey called LIFE!

Nominator Quote: “Leadership is about vision, and the leadership in which Travis engages is, simply put, leadership for changing lives.”

Claire Marie Stam
Clemson University | Grants Administrator
Age 30

I work for Clemson University and serve as the grants administrator for Greenville Health System, where I have submitted more than $86 million in funding requests for clinical research, community projects, and other sponsored programs. I obtained my BA in Communication Studies and Spanish from Furman and my MBA and MPA from Clemson. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D in Educational Leadership from Clemson as well as my certification as a Therapeutic Harp Practitioner (CTHP) with the International Harp Therapy Program. I am a professional harpist through my business, Upstate Harp, LLC, and perform at private events and with local ensembles, including the Brevard Philharmonic and Poinsett Wind Symphony. I am an active member and volunteer in the Junior League of Greenville and National Council for University Research Administrators, and serve as an advisory board member for the Diaper Bank of the Carolinas. I am committed to philanthropic efforts that improve health, education, and safety needs for families and children. Thank you for the honor of being named one of Greenville’s Best and Brightest 35 and Under!

Nominator Quote: “Claire is highly regarded by all she works with whether professionally at the Greenville Health System, Clemson University, and the Junior League or personally through her work as a harpist and philanthropic support in the Upstate. She has consistently shown an initiative to learn, aptitude for teaching, and sincerity in caring for others.”

Brett Lanzl
Elliott Davis Decosimo | Senior Manager
Age 33

I assist private equity groups, strategic corporate buyers and entrepreneurs in assessing sell-side and buy-side investment opportunities and providing merger and acquisition deal advisory services to allow my clients to make effective and timely decisions by identifying deal exposures and deal breakers. I also provide audit services to businesses in Greenville and across the country.
I grew up in a very community-oriented household and that influence continues to drive my community involvement today. I currently serve on the board of Communities In Schools of Greenville as treasurer. Communities In Schools works with students and their families in Greenville County to surround them with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
I am fortunate to have been surrounded by people whose love, support, advice, coaching and expectations gave me the confidence to take full responsibility for my future. I am passionate about giving employees and others within our community the same advice, encouragement and support to help them reach their career and life goals.

Nominator Quote: “Brett serves on boards and organizations with a footprint that benefit the Greenville community. He is a team player who aims to help people succeed and build meaningful, long-lasting relationships.” 

Doug Cone
Synergy Mill | Co-founder
Age 35

I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the community of Greenville. Although I’ve had the chance to speak at many conferences around the country, teaching classes at Synergy Mill is one of the most rewarding experiences. I’m amazed at the impact on students and entrepreneurs that we’ve made at Synergy Mill and we’re only just getting started.
I hope that Synergy Mill continues to build value in the economic and entrepreneurial landscape in Greenville. Our vision is that we inspire successful startup companies, develop smarter, more skilled people, and have fun doing some cool projects.
I hope that we will be a place where people can come to imagine, build, and share, and have a supportive environment to fail safely and quickly in their pursuits.
The most valuable resource we have as a community is our experience. We cannot create or share experiences by sitting on the couch. If you’ll get off your couch, places like Synergy Mill will connect you with amazing opportunities.

Nominator Quote: “I have known Doug for many years. I have engaged him on many projects and have enjoyed working with him. He is passionate about and dedicated to his craft.”

Jasmine Twitty
Easley Municipal Court | Associate Judge
Age 27

There were times I said I would never return to live in Greenville. But here I am as a native pursuing my dreams in the city where I grew up. Although breaking the Internet at 25 was not part of my plan, my judicial appointment gained attention abroad and nationally. I have been recognized by Glamour, Amy Poehler Smart Girls, The Wall Street Journal, Essence, Mental Floss and numerous media outlets. I’ve also been named a Future International Trailblazer, South Carolina Top 20 Under 40, Honorary Georgia Citizen, Talented Tenth Top 10 Young Professional, Couture Power Recipient and Urban League of the Upstate Volunteer of the Year. My career aspiration is to one day become a TV judge.
Service is the core of who I am, as my community involvement centers on education and coalescing the synergy of young professionals in the Upstate toward community and civic engagement. I rarely call it community service; I call it service therapy. As a native of Greenville, I am truly humbled to be selected for Best and Brightest.

Nominator Quote: “Jasmine walks the talk, serving as an inclusive, supportive and tenacious example for other aspiring leaders.”

Idaly Partridge
Hispanic Alliance | Operations and Outreach Manager
Age 35

As the operations and outreach manager for the Hispanic Alliance, I support the invaluable work of more than 200 volunteers in four community teams: education, health, legal and financial stability. I also have the privilege of helping shape Hispanic youths’ futures through the Student DREAMers Alliance program.

Prior to joining the Hispanic Alliance, I worked for Goodwill. As employment specialist, I helped 948 job seekers find employment in the Greenville area, and as team lead, I led staff in serving 18,500 new participants per year at eight Job Connection offices.

I currently serve on the ESL advisory board of Greenville Technical College, ECPI University business advisory board, and the Hispanic Business Council with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

Being selected as one of the Best & Brightest 35 and Under is an especially humbling honor for me. It is my long-term goal to empower younger generations, especially Hispanic youth, to develop as leaders and advocates to ensure Greenville continues to move forward as an inclusive and diverse community with equal opportunities for all its residents.

Nominator Quote: “Idaly is a bright, international professional who has adopted Greenville, South Carolina, as her hometown, and where she is tapping into a passion for empowerment and education to deliver solutions to complex social challenges.”

Stephen Thompson
Upstate Karate | Professional UFC Fighter and Karate Instructor
Age 34

I was born in Greenville and have lived in Simpsonville all my life. I’m a full time martial arts instructor at our family business, Upstate Karate Family Martial Arts Center, located in Simpsonville at 129 N. Main St. We’ve been in business in Simpsonville since 1983. I began my martial arts training at the age of three. It was law in our house that all five of us kids had to study martial arts starting at three years and until at least 16 years of age. I hold Black Belt ranking in several arts and recently tested and earned the rank of Shichidan (6th Degree Black Belt). As the head instructor for our kids karate program I’m responsible for training, motivating, and preparing them for situations we hope they never get into. I’m not just training them in karate techniques; I’m also trying to help them develop good life skills, such as how to avoid bully situations, how to handle life issues such as peer pressure, how to handle losing and winning, etc. Being respectful to our parents, grandparents and country is a big deal in our school. We recite the Pledge Of Allegiance before every class. 

I’m also a professional mixed martial arts fighter, fighting for the largest fight promotion in the world, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships). I’m currently ranked as the #1 contender for the championship in the most stacked division in the world, the welterweight division. I began my fight career in kickboxing at the age of 15 where I was undefeated with 37 amateur kickboxing fights winning five world titles. As a professional kickboxer I had 20 bouts with 20 wins and one “no contest.” My MMA record is currently 13 wins, two losses and one draw. I’ve fought twice for the UFC Welterweight World title where I had one draw and one loss. I’m currently working to get back in the mix towards another title shot in hopes of bringing the UFC World title back to the Upstate. The Upstate is my home and I’m so proud to be a native Greenvillian.

Nominator Quote: “Stephen still spends a great deal of time in the Greenville County classrooms where he volunteers his time reading to classes and emphasizing the importance of living a healthy lifestyle though a good diet with exercise and drug avoidance. He also volunteers his time in local nursing homes where he shares some of his martial arts and acrobatic talents to brighten the elderly’s day! During every fight in the UFC, which is viewed by millions, he always represents Simpsonville/Greenville in the best of ways.”

Ramon Nieves-Lugo
UniComm Media Group | Principal
Age 30

As principal of UniComm Media Group, I provide the branding, strategic and marketing expertise to harness the power of a multicultural approach for his clients. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and I understand the importance of knowing the different cultures represented in our region and how to effectively build strong and meaningful relationships to elevate brands. I enjoy giving back to the community because it is part of my legacy-building goal. I currently serve as chair elect of the Greenville Chamber’s Hispanic Business Council and vice chair of the United Way of Greenville County’s LatinosUnited Leadership Group to help support the vibrant Hispanic community in Greenville. I am also a board member for Fall For Greenville, the largest food and music festival in the Upstate, and I am on the Greenville Chamber’s Pulse Marketing Committee. I’m really honored and humbled to be selected as the Best and Brightest and represent the Hispanic community. In my free time, I love being with my wife Alicia and enjoying a great movie.

Nominator Quote: “Ramon’s deep understanding, commitment and ties to the Hispanic community makes Greenville a more diverse and better place to live and do business.”

Dorothy Freeman Self
DFS Creative Concepts | Founder + Principal
Age 35

My grandmother made me promise two things: to never let anyone hold me back and to be a newscaster. While NBC didn’t get the memo, I’m following through on promise number one. She taught me that a strong sense of self, a great pair of heels and the refusal to accept no for an answer are key ingredients in life. From that, DFS Creative Concepts was born. A better way to serve clients, coworkers, colleagues and community: those are our pillars. Servant leadership and empathy drive the bus at our agency. Both are necessary for making a difference both inside and outside of the workplace.

My greatest accomplishment? Aside from my son Freeman, my professional response is always the same: seeing a young woman I’ve mentored become bigger and better than me. Same with clients: nothing is better than seeing them achieve their dreams.

Having spent much of my early career planning events honoring others, it feels odd to be on the other side as a recipient. Knowing someone believed I deserved to be among this group is humbling. Here’s to hoping one of my mentees and/or clients shows up in these pages, too, having blazed his or her own path.

Nominator Quote: “Dorothy is easily one of the most incredible people I have ever met, yet she does not demand any attention. She is a mother, mentor, friend, and founder of her own company. She is a role model to all who encounter her.”

Chris Schoen
Wyche P.A. | Associate
Age 32

I’m an Air Force brat who came to Greenville at age 10 and graduated from Riverside High and Furman before attending law school at UVA. I returned home to practice at Wyche, where I handle complex litigation and enjoy representing journalists in defamation cases and helping creative professionals protect their intellectual property. I’m involved with the federal and local bar associations, and have tried significant criminal cases as part of Wyche’s commitment to pro bono advocacy. For me, giving back is about serving marginalized people. I’m particularly passionate about rehabilitative justice and providing a fresh start for those struggling with addiction or returning from prison. I serve on the board of Soteria CDC and work with the Federal Drug Court program Judge Hendricks started in Greenville while I served as one of her law clerks. My wife and I helped plant Village Church and love the community there. My goals are simple – to represent my clients well, to serve my community, and to love my family – and I stay busy.

Nominator Quote: “Chris is an insightful, dynamic leader who creates effective solutions for critical issues. His forward-thinking approach allows him to see potential where others only see problems.”

Adam Lewis Quattlebaum
Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP | Senior Manager
Age 31

I live near downtown Greenville with my wife, Powers, and three dogs. I have thoroughly enjoyed my six years living here and I’m proud to call Greenville home. I attended the University of South Carolina, where I received my Bachelors of Science and Masters of Accountancy.
I work with Dixon Hughes Goodman, where I’m responsible for leading a specialty niche tax practice. For the practice, I focus on business development, development of the team, and overseeing the work performed by the practice. I’m proud to say that I helped create this specialty practice over five years ago and have enjoyed watching it grow exponentially.
I really enjoy being active in the Greenville community and finding opportunities to give back. I especially enjoy serving the United Way and seeing their direct impact strengthen the community and improve the lives of those in need. I have served various roles with the United Way from loaned executive to corporate solicitor. I have also participated in Opportunity Greenville, YP20s, and PULSE.

Nominator Quote: “In addition to being a well-respected tax advisor, Adam is actively involved and serves his community. Adam has an unbridled entrepreneurial spirit and our firm is very proud to have Adam representing us.”

Whitney Hanna
Greenville County Schools
Coordinator of Community Collaboration & Institutional Advancement
Age 31

As coordinator of community collaboration & institutional advancement for Greenville County Schools, every day I have the opportunity to work with outstanding people and organizations in our community. Through collaboration, we strive to create effective business and community partnerships that enhance students’ educational experiences and help them to become college- and career-ready. This position is fulfilling my ultimate goal of finding the intersection of skills and passion. It brings together my background in communications and marketing, and pairs it with the opportunity to have a positive impact within our community. This role allows me to achieve an additional dream of being a lifelong learner. Within the areas of education and community engagement, there is always someone new to meet and something new to learn, which keeps me energized and motivated. Long-term, as my husband and I grow our family, I hope my own children will benefit from this work and will be prepared to contribute positively to their community. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of this year’s Best & Brightest cohort with so many talented young leaders!

Nominator Quote: “Her leadership makes others want to get involved and serve with her. She is the type of person who will never stop serving and never stop helping.”

Brent McDonald
Greenville City Fire Department | Fire Specialist
Age 31

I have been a firefighter with the City of Greenville for five years and currently work at station 1, assigned to Rescue 1. I’ve worked in emergency services for nearly a decade, starting in Southern California as an EMT on an ambulance. I have always known this was a calling for me. Recently promoted to Fire Specialist, I work every position on the rig including filling in as crew supervisor when needed. I am also a CPR instructor, provide medical training for my shift, and work as a part-time Paramedic with Greenville County EMS.

Working in this profession has given me the opportunity to give back to this community in meaningful and exciting ways by helping people in their most vulnerable situations. I am enthusiastic for the future of emergency services in this rapidly growing community and passionate about finding innovative ways for the GCFD to be recognized as a national leader in the fire service. It is an honor to be chosen as one of this year’s Best and Brightest in Greenville.

Nominator Quote: “He is an everyday hero and an amazing role model for our youth. His job as a firefighter for the city represents a pillar needed in keeping our community safe. He sacrifices so much of himself to give back to others. He doesn’t see his career in the fire department as a job - there is a deeper connection that motivates him to be the best, most prepared and most professional person in the field.”

Katie Smith
Hughes Agency | Account Executive
Age 28

I have been with the Hughes Agency for more than five years and have worked on several different client accounts during my tenure. I currently manage some of the Greenville Chamber’s largest events including the Annual Meeting, Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards Dinner and the Golf Tournament. I also serve as an advisor to Clement’s Kindness Fund for the Children, helping facilitate press announcements and producing their annual report. My long-term goal is to grow and develop professionally in leadership areas and to continue gain experience in my career field.
Greenville is such a wonderful place to work and live in and it is a blessing to call this city home. My love for the area and the people that live here make giving back feel like being a part of the community. I feel so honored to be selected as one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 35 and Under and am thankful to be among a great group of young professionals.

Nominator quote: “Katie’s greatest contribution to the Greenville community is her work in helping local charities implement programs and raise funds that are critical to their success.”

Kenneth “Jay” Anthony
The Anthony Law Firm, P.A. | Attorney/Partner
Age 33

I have been fortunate to have learned from some wonderful people and lawyers throughout my career. At Furman, I grew academically and personally and also met my wife. Following law school, I clerked for Justice Costa M. Pleicones on the Supreme Court of South Carolina and I then practiced with many fine lawyers who taught me skills, work-life balance, and the importance of giving back. In 2014, I began practice with the best lawyer I know – my father. I’m proud of the work we have done in cases ranging from construction to personal injury to product defect.
Particularly now that I am a father myself, I am determined to do my part to make Greenville even better. I am currently serving as president of the Cleveland Forest Neighborhood Association, as a board member with The Family Effect, and as a chair of the S.C. Young Lawyers Families Forever Adoption Project. I am a recent graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 43.
On weekends, I can usually be found on the Swamp Rabbit Trail with my family.

Nominator Quote: “Jay’s involvement in the community is not indicative of some hollow ambition, but is a reflection of his deep and abiding care for the community in which he lives.”

Heather Schmid Moore
Ob Hospitalist Group | Director of Risk, Quality, Compliance
Age 33

I am the director of risk management, quality and compliance for Ob Hospitalist Group, the nation’s largest OB/GYN hospitalist organization, named for five consecutive years as an Inc. 5000 company. Our mission is to elevate women’s health care by ensuring timely, high quality care to pregnant women in the hospital setting. My responsibilities include global risk strategy, national quality initiatives, and serving as corporate compliance officer. I love having a profession in health care which is a cornerstone issue to our communities. 

Outside of the office I am mama to two wild boys, wife, and owner of a menagerie of pets including chickens and hermit crabs. My most important long term goal is raising happy and healthy kids who are well prepared for life’s adventures and opportunities. I consider myself incredibly fortunate in this life and think that giving back through volunteering time, fundraising for issues important to me, and contributing to my community is how I show gratitude.

To be named alongside people with such impressive talents and achievements is exciting and energizing!

Nominator Quote:  “Heather is known for her warmth, sharp wit and self-deprecating sense of humor. She instinctively rejects the status quo and has a talent for identifying innovation.  Her strong business sense, creativity and natural leadership skills make her an asset to the Greenville community.”

Moses Nickerson
The Haro Group of Keller Williams Realty | General Manager
Age 29

Over the past five years, I have overseen the sale of more than 1,000 homes in Greenville as an agent, sales manager, and now general manager. Last year, Haro Setian and I were honored to be interviewed nationally by Gary Keller, the cofounder of Keller Williams. We have grown from the three of us in 2012 to the #1 producing real estate team in the upstate, and we have had a blast doing it. As a company, we are driven to serve our communities by creating unparalleled experiences and opportunities for the clients and associates God gives us. I am driven to build leaders who build leaders and who seek their welfare in the welfare of others, creating legacies of wisdom and wealth. To do that I invest in the training and coaching of our agents and want to grow to train and coach nationally in real estate and beyond. Thank you to all who nominated me; I am honored and humbled to be recognized for our team’s accomplishments.
Nominator quote: “He genuinely wants the people under his leadership to thrive, in every sense of the word - spiritually, financially, with the spouses and children. One word to describe him is “steward” - he is a good steward of all that he is entrusted with.”

Melissa L. Fair
Institute for the Advancement of Community Health at Furman University
Community Action Director
Age 30

Beginning with generations of local farmers and mill workers, my connection to the Greenville community runs deep. I have the distinct privilege of being born, raised, educated, and beginning my career in Greenville. Out of this longstanding connection grew my passion to be a force for positive change in my community. While my journey has shifted from a career in clinical health to one in public health research, my commitment to reducing the burden of chronic disease and obesity has remained the same. This led me to pursue my Doctorate in Public Health from the University of South Carolina and most recently my appointment at my alma mater, Furman University, as the Community Action Director at the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health. Through my research I engage in community-based efforts to create and promote equitable health environments, including the evaluation of two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grants, totaling more than a $3 million investment to reduce youth obesity in Greenville County.

Nominator quote: “Melissa demonstrates a commitment to mentoring and training our future public health workforce. She has mentored many students from Furman and other local universities both in academic and community settings, seeking to help them understand the importance of diversity, inclusion, and fairness to create a healthier Greenville County.”

Ashley Mason Brown
Ashley Brown Strategy | Owner
GirlBossGreenville | Founder
Age 26

My life has changed a lot in the past 18 months. I went from being a full-time employee to full-time self employed and also began writing for The Huffington Post and started a not-for-profit group called #GirlBossGreenville. My not-for-profit group, GirlBossGreenville, makes me so happy. We have classes and meetups and support one another online and in person. Running a small business is a wonderful experience. I spend a lot more money on hair dye to cover the white hairs because of it though! If I’ve learned anything over these past 18 months, it’s that life is simple. We exist to help one another. Thank you so much for this honor!

Nominator Quote: “Ashley has proven her abilities, intelligence, hard work ethic, love for Greenville, and her willingness to take risks, all at a very young age.”

Helen Sanders
Hughes Development Corp. | Director of Residential Development
Age 35

What a surprise and honor to receive this recognition. Thank you. I am humbled because there are so many deserving people that could have received this instead of me. Greenville would not be what it is today without all of you, the hard-working, selfless, generous and devoted community members. Greenville’s success story is not because of one person. Greenville has been able to achieve so much because we work together in all that we undertake. Working in residential development allows me the opportunity to provide homes for people to raise their families in, and these people can go on and contribute to Greenville’s story. My husband Ansel, who works so diligently every single day to better public education, and I will do our best to raise our three young daughters with humility, respect, kindness, and genuine responsibility to give back to a community that will give them so much as they grow. Thank you again.

Nominator Quote: “It is rare to have a leader that brings a calm, compassionate, wise, honest and impactful form of leadership.  Helen produces tangible, positive results that shape the physical development of our communities.”

Laura Bratton
Laurens Road United Methodist Church | Reverend
Age 33

I was born and raised in Greenville. After graduating from Greenville High School, I attended Arizona State University and graduated with honors in 2006 with a BA in psychology. In 2010, I was the first blind student to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. Since 2011, I have been the senior pastor at Laurens Road United Methodist Church in Greenville. In 2015, I founded Ubi Global LLC, an organization that offers speaking and coaching to people overcoming traumatic situations. In 2016, my book, Harnessing Courage, was published.
I strive to always give back to my community. My goal is to empower others just as my community has given me strength.
I am honored to be selected as one of the Best and Brightest 35 and Under. I am deeply grateful for each person who has positively influenced my life so that I could reach my goals.

Nominator Quote: “Laura is an extremely intelligent, hard working, individual who has overcome the very difficult disability of blindness from a teenage disease.”

Yasha Patel
The Rutherford | Owner
Age 32

From my work as a public defender to my role now as owner and operator of a new event venue, I have always thrived in a fast-paced environment.  After growing up in Savannah, I went to Georgia State University for college and then continued my studies at Florida A & M for law school; I then became licensed as an attorney in both N.C. and S.C. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family; both of my parents are immigrants from India and, over the years, came to own several hotels in Savannah. Their entrepreneurial spirit has always been with me, and in 2016 I decided to renovate an old building along the Poinsett area corridor to create a new venue space in an area of the city that is historically under-served.  Part of my vision for The Rutherford is to be on the forefront of an urban revitalization project in a part of the city that hasn’t yet seen such a transformation.
My vision now is to grow The Rutherford into one of Greenville’s premier event venues, and to catalyze growth in the area by inspiring other entrepreneurs to open up businesses along Rutherford Ave.
I am honored to be selected as one of the Best and Brightest Under 35 in Greenville, my adopted city. I love Greenville, and I hope that my small contribution through opening The Rutherford helps to further expand Greenville’s attraction as a destination.

Nominator Quote: “Her willingness to work hard on behalf of others and take the risk to start her own business are attributes to which we should all aspire (regardless of our age).”

Katie Leckenbusch
The Warehouse Theater | Director of Development
Age 35

I am a native South Dakotan who fell in love with the other “South” and put down roots with my husband, Matt, and our two fantastic kids. After working with performing arts and cultural organizations in the area, I completed a Master in Arts Administration from Winthrop University, returning to my artistic home at The Warehouse Theatre as the director of development. Over the past five seasons, I have had the honor to celebrate the theatre’s 40th anniversary, the creation of The Harriet Wyche Endowment, participation in Leadership Greenville Class 41, while fostering lasting relationships with our donors, partners, and patrons. As potentially the only fundraiser in the area who can also weld, I still love to assist backstage. It is incredibly humbling to be included in Best & Brightest, a group whose members have given generously to our community. Looking forward, I am inspired to continue to nurture vibrant cultural landscape of the Upstate and The Warehouse Theatre’s long tradition of challenging our audiences with productions reflecting our community. 

Nominator Quote: “Katie Leckenbusch embodies the many things that are right about our community with her selflessness, dedication, work ethic, and humor.  She has used her community and company position to not only advocate for the arts in the Upstate, but has used the arts to enhance the lives of people of all races, genders, backgrounds, income levels, and ages.”

Thomas Coleman “Tommy” Flinn
Corporate & Institutional Banking, PNC Financial Services Group | Vice President
Age 32

I was born and raised in Winston-Salem, N.C. My parents instilled in me that I could accomplish anything if I worked hard, believed in myself and treated others with respect. I graduated from N.C. State University and upon graduation started my career in commercial banking. I moved to Greenville in 2013 and I quickly realized this is a terrific place to live and work. I lead PNC Bank’s initiative to develop commercial banking relationships across the Upstate. Giving back to the community means doing whatever I can to make Greenville a better place to live. I try to make a difference through volunteerism, nonprofit board involvement and by working to help my clients achieve their goals.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to help businesses grow and create jobs, which has a direct economic impact on our community.  Being selected for “Best and Brightest” is an honor, and I hope it will help me to make a bigger difference in Greenville.

Nominator Quote: “Tommy has exhibited strong desire to make a difference in the community and the people around him.  He actively look become engaged with many different organizations in Greenville.”

Blair Dobson Miller
Wilson Associates | Realtor Associate
Age 35

I am a graduate of Clemson University’s Calhoun Honors College and the Medical University of South Carolina. I practiced as a physician assistant with Greenville Health System for nine years and currently work in residential real estate sales with Wilson Associates. I’ve shared a common passion in both of my careers - the desire to help people during good times in their life and in difficult times. In both my careers, I’ve learned that it is most important to be a good listener. You will learn so much about others by listening, which will allow you to serve them better.

I’ve served on various committees in the community including Junior League of Greenville, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, South Carolina Children’s Theatre, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, and currently co-chair the Annual Holiday Greenery sale for the Cancer Society of Greenville County.

I love giving back to the Community that has given so much to me. I am very honored and humbled to have received this award.

Nominator Quote: “She is an inspiration to her fellow agents and her future is limitless. They will say “Does she ever sleep?” We don’t think so.”

Best and Brightest Perspectives