Skip to main content

Greenville Business Magazine

50 Most Influential People of 2017

Jan 15, 2018 10:52AM ● By Emily Stevenson
Greenville Business Magazine celebrates another year of honoring the region's most influential people. The selection of our 50 individuals is a result of staff research and community nominations. 

We are also celebrating our fourth year of selecting entrants for our Hall of Fame. This year, we've added six new members who have continued to make a lasting impact on the Upstate.

Hall of Fame

Craig Brown
Greenville Drive | Owner
Craig Brown led the development of Fluor Field in 2006, which is now an award-winning and easily recognizable landmark on the skyline of downtown Greenville’s West End. After more than 10 years at the helm of the Drive, Brown continues to run a thriving operation. In 2016, he led the charge on a $14 million renovation project to enhance Fluor Field, including the addition of new hospitality venues, a new Will Call area, updated entrances, and the addition of 100 seats on the “Green Monster.” In addition to his work at Fluor Field, Brown is active in the community at large, particularly the medical field. Last August, Greenville Health System’s Medical Experience Academy announced a $50,000 scholarship named after Brown. He is also a member of GHS’s Strategic Coordinating Organization and is passionate about raising awareness for hydrocephalus.

David N. Edwards, Jr., A.A.E. 
Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) | President and CEO
David Edwards has served as the president and CEO of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District since July 2009. Edwards is responsible for the overall administration and development of GSP, including successfully leading GSP through Project Wingspan, a $127 million renovation/modernization program completed in early 2017. Wingspan has resulted in increased capacity, improved safety processes and efficiencies, and an enhanced customer experience. In 2016, the airport welcomed more than two million total passengers and airport passenger traffic for October 2017 was up 14.1 percent over the same month last year. Wingspan had an estimated $164 million economic impact on the region during its construction and it will have an ongoing positive economic impact on the region for years to come.

Butch Kirven 
Greenville County Council | Chairman
A certified general real estate appraiser and Army veteran, Butch Kirven currently serves as chairman of Greenville County Council, a post he previously held from 2005-2013. He is also a member of the Finance Committee and serves as chairman of the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study Policy Committee. He also served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Upstate SC Alliance. Kirven’s top priorities are improving roads and transportation, better planning to address suburban growth, and innovative economic development. 

Ray Lattimore 
Marketplace Staffing | President and CEO
Ray Lattmore founded Marketplace Staffing more than two decades ago and has run a thriving business since. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Lattimore is active with numerous nonprofits and organizations around the area. In 2016, he was the chairman of the United Way of Greenville County’s Board of Directors. He oversaw more than $17 million in fundraising efforts and managed the allocation of $60 million foundation funds. He was named the 2017 Citizen of the Year from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, an award given for community service. He is also the Board of Directors for Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, Phillis Wheatley Association, and Greenville County School District Foundation.

Dr. Keith Miller 
Greenville Technical College | President
Dr. Keith Miller is only the second president in Greenville Technical College’s 55-year history, and he has made a mark in his nine-year tenure. Miller is the visionary behind the college’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation, which opened in August 2016 on Millennium Boulevard next to CU-ICAR. In 2018, Miller will take the helm of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors.

Mike Riordan 
SC Health Company | Co-CEO
Mike Riordan is the co-CEO of SC Health Company (SCHC).  In July of 2017, Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health in Columbia, SC joined together to create a new, not-for-profit, locally governed health company designed to shape and lead the future of health care for all South Carolinians. Through this affiliation, the new company will improve the patient experience, clinical quality and access to care, and address rising health care costs. The SCHC expects to treat 1.2 million patients per year and treat about one-third of all Medicaid patients statewide. About half of South Carolinians will be within a 15-minute drive of one of its facilities, including 13 hospitals. Prior to the formation of the health company, Riordan served as president and CEO of GHS for 10 years. Under his leadership, GHS has become one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in the region with eight medical campuses, more than 150 physician practice sites, more than 15,000 employees and operating revenues of approximately $2 billion.

50 Most Influential People

Dan Adams
The Capital Corporation | CEO
Dan Adams is an active advocate of education. In the last 18 months, he has been elected as chair of the board of directors of the Palmetto Promise Institute. He remains a member of the Commission for Higher Education of Spartanburg County and was recently appointed to the finance committee of that commission. He recently was appointed as a director of Public Education Partners and sponsored their “Make Summer Count” reading program for schools in Greenville County. He is the CEO of The Capital Corporation, which was invited to become a member of the International Mergers and Acquisition Professionals. There are only 40 such investment banks worldwide that are members of IMAP and only five in the U.S.

Darian Blue
Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church | Pastor
Phyllis Wheatley Association | Executive Director
Darian Blue is the pastor of Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church and executive director of the Phillis Wheatley Association, one of Greenville’s oldest nonprofits serving Greenville since 1919. Pastor Blue’s ideals of love, lift, and lead have greatly impacted the Nicholtown community and the city of Greenville. In May, 2017 he was the recipient of the Calder B. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual Award in Diversity and Inclusion. Also, in 2017 he was featured in USA Today for his efforts to eliminate poverty in the community. As PWA approaches its 100th year celebration, Blue’s vision of an on-site historical gallery, culinary school, and minority nonprofit leadership academy is on the horizon.

Mike Buddie
Furman University | Athletic Director
Mike Buddie was named Furman’s athletics director in 2015. The sports program has seen a major resurgence during his time at Furman, as the Paladins have captured a Southern Conference-leading 19 league championships and qualified nine teams for NCAA Tournament competition. Buddie spearheaded the effort by Furman, Greenville and the Southern Conference to bring the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament to Bon Secours Arena this past spring. He has also proved to be a strong fundraiser for the university, with the football and cross country/track programs each receiving $1 million gifts in 2017. A former major league baseball player, Buddie was appointed to serve a four-year term as a member of the NCAA Baseball Committee beginning Sept. 1, 2017. 

Dr. James Clements
Clemson University | President
Max Allen
Clemson University | Vice President and Chief of Staff
As the top two executives at Clemson University, Dr. James Clements and Max Allen have had a strong influence on the university and the Upstate as a whole. In less than four years at the helm, President Clements has further propelled the university in the national spotlight. In 2017, Clemson was named a top 25 public university by U.S. News and World Report for the tenth year, making it the highest national university in South Carolina. Since his arrival at Clemson in 2015, Allen has helped strengthen the university’s overall national reputation and awareness. Because of the impact of his work on Clemson and the Upstate, he was promoted to vice president and chief of staff in February 2017. Allen has helped design and implement the Clemson Forward strategic plan, coordinates a massive strategic reorganization of the campus diversity efforts and serves as the primary liaison with key community leaders and partners.

Didi Caldwell
Global Location Strategies| Founding Principal
Didi Caldwell’s company, Global Location Strategies, has helped produce $5.6 billion of announced capital investments and 5,300 new jobs since 2012. If last year’s pace is any indication, future economic prosperity looks equally bright. In 2017, Didi led the site selection for a $400 million tissue plant from Canadian company Irving; she was elected to serve as an officer on the board of the Site Selectors Guild; an interview with Reuters about Amazon’s HQ2 search was covered extensively by publications nationwide; and she was a featured speaker at numerous global and regional conferences.

 John Castile
City of Greenville  | City Manager
John Castille has served as Greenville’s city manager since 2010, becoming the city’s first African-American city manager. A graduate of Furman University, he serves, or has served, on several local boards, including the Bon Secours St. Francis Health System Board, and the Greenville Urban League Board.

James Childress
Genesis Homes | Retired Founding Executive Director
Under James Childress’ guidance, Genesis has not only built almost 50 homes but has been as active in building communities where families can thrive. In 2016, Genesis and Jim were honored with the Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award and the SCACED Community Partnership Award because of the solid connections he has forged with the City of Greenville, City of Laurens and State Housing that oversees much of the work in affordable housing across the state. Earning and honoring the trust of the people in the communities we serve is Jim’s goal and legacy.

Fred Cartwright
Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research | Executive Director
Under Fred Cartwright’s leadership, CU-ICAR now includes 23 companies and 1,200+ people on campus, accumulating $26.6 million in research expenditures and awarding 450+ automotive engineering degrees. In addition, Cartwright is also spearheading efforts to improve mobility in the Upstate via various smart cities initiatives, including launch of the Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation (CA4I) and a partnership with Ten at the Top to launch the “Connecting Our Future” initiative. In 2017, Cartwright launched the Global Mobility Network (GMN) to serve and connect the expanding mobility ecosystem, partnering with mobility accelerator DRIVE in Tel Aviv to bring Israeli-based startups to the Greenville area and catalyze Greenville’s own mobility startup community.

Paul Clark
VentureSouth | Co-Founder and  Managing Director
Matt Dunbar
VentureSouth | Co-Founder and Managing Director
In 2017, the VentureSouth Team continued to expand one of the largest angel investment organizations in the country by increasing its footprint to 12 angel groups across the Carolinas, representing more than 225 investors. The firm set a record with more than $4 million invested in Southeastern startups, closed its second co-investment fund, and began partnering with other investor groups to provide fund services. The group’s nonprofit sister organization, Venture Carolina, secured a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to provide investor and entrepreneur education across the Upstate. In 2017, Matt Dunbar was appointed to the S.C. Department of Commerce Innovation Council. 

Andrea Cooper
Upstate Forever | Executive Director
As the executive director of local conservation nonprofit Upstate Forever, Andrea Cooper has worked tirelessly to protect the critical lands, waters, and special character of the Upstate in the face of skyrocketing growth and unchecked sprawl. Cooper took over from founder Brad Wyche in 2015. A few highlights of her tenure include working with staff and conservation partners to stop an out-of-state company from dumping coal ash in an inappropriate landfill in Pickens County, holding Kinder Morgan accountable for a massive 370,000-gallon gasoline leak in Belton, and opposing a large proposed subdivision near Glassy Mountain in Pickens County. Under Cooper’s direction, Upstate Forever has also created a five-year strategic plan to save special places and combat sprawl in direct response to the area’s growth.

Marion Crawford
Crawford Strategy | CEO and Founder
Marion Crawford has helped many companies identify their strengths and tell their stories, to ultimately help them reach their audience and grow their business. Some organizations that she works closely with are Greenville Health System, United Community Bank, Godshall Professional Recruiting, Greenville Tech Foundation, O’Neal, and Nachman Norwood & Parrott. Crawford is also a main driver behind the success of United Community Bank Ice on Main as one of the founding members, and continues to grow that event. As a female business owner, she has grown her own company to more than 25 employees in just seven years and is eager to help her employees develop their own professional goals. 

Charles Dalton
Blue Ridge Electric Coop | President and CEO
Charles Dalton has led Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, South Carolina’s largest member-owned energy provider, as president and CEO for 35 years. During his tenure, the co-op has provided power to 66,000 members in the state’s most challenging terrain. Dalton also founded the coop’s annual fundraising event, Blue Ridge Fest. Employees select charities, recruit entertainers, and volunteer numerous hours for the cause. Since its inception 20 years ago, the festival has raised more than $2.5 million for local charities that provide individuals with basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and health care. 

Dr. Elizabeth Davis
Furman University | President
Since she became president of Furman University in 2014, Dr. Elizabeth Davis has worked hard to strengthen the university’s ties to the local community. In November 2017, Furman announced it would partner with M. Judson Booksellers on Main Street in Greenville, expanding the university’s presence downtown. The university has also established recent partnerships with the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the Greenville Drive and the Upcountry History Museum in an effort to reconnect with its roots. Furman was located in downtown Greenville for more than 100 years before moving to its current campus in the early 1960s.

Rick Davis
Elliott Davis | CEO
Rick Davis serves as the CEO of Elliott Davis, a top 40 accounting firm in the U.S. Elliott Davis was named the number one internship program in the U.S. for 2017, beating out larger companies like Citicorp, Nickelodeon, and many others. The firm was recently awarded the 2017 Philanthropic Spirit Award presented by the Community Foundation of Greenville. As CEO, Davis oversees key initiatives relating to revenue generation, client satisfaction, business development, policy and process implementation, and community relations. Rick directs a firm of nearly 800 employees, located in nine offices across four states in the Southeast.

Don Erickson
Lockheed Martin | Site Director
In 2017, Don Erickson led his team in welcoming the next evolution of the Lockheed Greenville site – producing the F-16, the most advanced 4th-generation fighter jet in the world. This new work is expected to add 170 new jobs at the site. That, coupled with the potential for the site to also produce the next trainer jet for the U.S. Air Force, has helped further position Greenville and the state as a leader in the aerospace industry. He has also remained an active leader in the community, and recently joined the Palmetto Conservation board of directors.

Pamela Evette
Quality Business Solutions | CEO
Under Pamela Evette’s leadership, Quality Business Solutions continues to grow exponentially. In 2017, QBS was once again honored among the fastest growing companies in South Carolina and named one of S.C.’s Best Places to Work for the third consecutive year. In 2017, Evette was appointed to serve as a member of South Carolina’s Small Business Regulatory Committee. Evette joined the board of directors for the St Francis Foundation and the National Association of Professional Employer Organization. She also uses her business and leadership expertise to advise fellow entrepreneurs and shape programming through the Zenith II Group of the Women Presidents Organization.

Mark Farris
Greenville Area Development Corp. | President
During Mark Farris’ three years at the helm, GADC has announced more than $1 billion in new industrial investment and more than 7,000 new jobs. Areas of focus include a new existing industry program designed to add value to the 650-plus manufacturing, distribution and office companies that call Greenville home. With Greenville County Council’s backing, GADC has also adopted a more aggressive recruitment position with both national and international companies. Farris has also spurred an effort to add new industrial property and speculative buildings critical to success in the Greenville market. Using core metrics to measure success, the organization is dedicated to assessing return-on-investment to the community with every new or expanded company announcement.

 Lynn Faust
The Faust-Boyer Group of Raymond James | SVP, Investments
Lynn Faust founded and is the senior partner of a multi-million dollar wealth management team, The Faust-Boyer Group of Raymond James. In 2017, she became the only South Carolina advisor to appear in Forbes Magazine’s inaugural list of the country’s Top 200 Women Wealth Advisors. She advocates for education and women’s leadership through the annual ATHENA Leadership Symposium, the Greenville Tech Foundation and Greenville Women Giving. She co-founded United Way Women’s Leadership Initiative and served on the Bi-Lo Charities board for 20 years, raising more than $50 million for local charities. She currently serves on the board of SYNNEX Share The Magic.

Knudt Flor
BMW Manufacturing Co. | President and CEO
Knudt Flor became president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing in December 2016. During his first year, the plant successfully launched the third-generation BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle. Over the next four years, Flor will oversee the company’s $600 million investment in manufacturing infrastructure as the plant prepares for the next-generation of X models, including the all-new BMW X7. An additional 1,000 new jobs will be added through 2021. The factory, which produces the BMW X3 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicles and the BMW X4 and X6 Sports Activity Coupes, celebrated production of its four millionth BMW in September.

Rev. J.M. Flemming
Greenville NAACP | President
Rev.J. M. Flemming is the president of the Greenville chapter of the NAACP.  During his tenure, he has led the partnership with the 400 Augusta Group in memorializing the only time Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Greenville in support of the African American workers in 1967 at the old Claussen’s Building. Rev. Flemming has brought all Greenville County law enforcement and elected officials together for the first time in meetings to work on police and community relationship. He also has led partnerships with organizations to do voter education and registration, hosted community forums and employment terminations, school expulsions, guiding parents with student issues and assisting residents with gentrification issues.

Sam Konduros
Erin Ford
SCBIO | Vice President, Former Board Chairman
A long-time fixture in South Carolina economic development and health care circles, Sam Konduros took on a new challenge in March, when he was named president and CEO of SCBIO, the state’s primary association promoting the life sciences sector. He quickly went to work, expanding the organization’s reach and improving its brand. The organization is also increasing its staff and has even bigger plans for 2018. Erin Ford is one of those new staff members. She served as board chair SCBIO before joining the organization staff in December 2017 as its inaugural vice president. An ex-officio SCBIO board member from 2013-2015, Erin has led the strategic positioning of SCBIO as the state’s lead organization building the business of life sciences in South Carolina.

Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe
Duke Energy | South Carolina State President
In his role as Duke Energy’s state president in South Carolina, Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe is responsible for the financial performance of Duke Energy’s electric utilities in South Carolina and managing state and local regulatory and government relations and community affairs. Since assuming the job in January 2017, he has enjoyed travelling across South Carolina meeting customers and other stakeholders, learning the ins and outs of the Palmetto State. He’s also taken the opportunity to share Duke Energy’s plans to build a smarter energy infrastructure that will help power the state’s economy for years to come.

Lindsey Graham
United States Senator | State of South Carolina
Seemingly omnipresent on cable TV news shows in recent years, Lindsey Graham was co-sponsor of the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill, one of several unsuccessful efforts to repeal Obamacare.  He has also backed efforts to improve South Carolina’s infrastructure, including deepening Charleston Harbor. He has also supported efforts for a planned Jasper Ocean Terminal on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River. More recently, he supported a bipartisan law to fight sexual harassment.

Lynn Harton
United Community Bank | CEO 
In 2017, Lynn Harton continued to lead United Community Bank to success around its four-state Southeastern footprint. United announced and closed two acquisitions in 2017, expanding their footprint in Myrtle Beach and entering the competitive market in Raleigh, N.C., and bringing their total locations to 156. After five years with United, Harton was named CEO in August, elevating his role with the $11.9 billion bank. He has also continued to be involved with Greenville cultural institutions as a member of the board of Artisphere, the Greenville County Museum of Art, and in fall 2017, was named president of the board of The Peace Center.

Brad Halter
The Caine Company | Chairman 
Brad Halter is chairman of the Caine Company, which operates both Coldwell Banker Caine and Coldwell Banker Commercial Caine. He assists in the strategic direction of the company and leads community outreach and business development initiatives for the firm. In 2018, the company will celebrate its 85th anniversary. Halter is passionate about local cancer research and assistance for cancer victims, their families and caregivers, and will stay another year as chairman of the Cancer Society of Greenville County for 2018. Halter’s family started the annual Run4Life, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The race has now raised more than $1.2 million for GHS and CSGC to benefit the community.

Ted Hendry
United Way of Greenville County | President
Ted Hendry provided critical leadership in United Way of Greenville County’s work to bring people and resources together to fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of every person in our community. During 2017, United Way invested $14.4 million into local programs and initiatives that helped more than 100,000 people, answered 20,000 calls for help through 2-1-1, brought together 5,000+ volunteers to give back on Hands On Greenville Day, and provided 4,000 students with school supplies through the School Tools project. As board chair of TogetherSC, Hendry helped the organization be better positioned as a resource and capacity builder for nonprofits throughout South Carolina.

Dean Hybl
Ten at the Top | Executive Director
In 2017, Dean Hybl and Ten at the Top were involved in the Shaping Our Future Regional Growth Analysis initiative to better understand growth trends in the region. TATT is now leading the Connecting Our Future Regional Mobility and Connectivity Initiative to create a regional vision and strategies for reducing traffic congestion and increasing access to transportation choices in the Upstate. Under Hybl’s leadership, TATT also launched a series of regional asset maps for Outdoor Recreation, Child Well-Being and Senior Needs and is coordinating the Upstate Small Business Support Providers Network efforts to increase the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in the region.

Tammy Johnson
High Spirits Hospitality | President and CEO
The past 12 months were busy for Tammy Johnson. She consolidated her four established brands – Liquid Catering, The Old Cigar Warehouse, Bravo1 Protection and High Spirits Events – under one roof, High Spirits Hospitality. On top of that she created the region’s first true taco festival, Tacos N’ Tequila, which drew more than 500 people last spring. She also opened Topside Pool Club, which is Greenville’s first Main Street pool club located on the top floor of the Falls Place Building. Johnson also completed the Greenville Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator Program. When she is not running her company, she serves on the City of Greenville’s Accommodation’s Tax Committee, The Euphoria board, the University Center Board and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors.

Danny Joyner
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner | President and CEO
Danny Joyner took the helm of the family-owned business in 2012. In just the past year, Joyner has led the company through significant growth in the addition of more than 50 sales associates and two new locations. His commitment to doing what is right, creating a family-like culture and unwavering support of the Upstate community led to the company being named a 2017 South Carolina Top Workplace by Workplace Dynamics. Joyner was recognized with a Leadership Special Award, based on standout scores for employee responses to specific survey statements. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner achieved top rankings for 2016 and was honored at the network’s annual sales convention last year. The company ranked as the number 23 real estate brokerage firm in the U.S. network, moving up from the 2015 ranking.

Peter Larocque 
SYNNEX Corp. | President, North American Technology Solutions
Bob Stegner
SYNNEX Corp. | Senior Vice President of Marketing, NA
Peter Larocque has celebrated more than 33 years with SYNNEX and currently oversees the company’s North American distribution business. SYNNEX has been selected as one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina for the past seven years due in part to his leadership. In 2011, he founded SYNNEX Share the Magic. The annual fundraiser has raised more than $6.5 million for South Carolina children and their families. Bob Stegner continues to be an ambassador for Greenville as a convention location and destination. He is the host of the annual SYNNEX Inspire Conference, which drew nearly 2,000 attendees across the United States for several days in October. Another example of community impact is the BMW Charity Pro-Am, which is presented by SYNNEX and has been for the past seven years. 

David Lominack
TD Bank  | South Carolina Market President
David Lominack is responsible for commercial banking throughout the state. He is also the driving force behind TD Bank’s major sponsorship efforts in the Upstate, including TD Saturday Market, TD Stage at The Peace Center, TD Convention Center, TD Bank Reedy River Run, and Artisphere. In 2017, TD Bank announced its continued support of Artisphere as the presenting sponsor for another three years. Lominack also serves on numerous community boards. Currently, he is chair elect for United Way of Greenville County, board member of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts and board member of the Greenville Health System.

John Lummus
Upstate Alliance | President and CEO
With John Lummus at the helm, the Upstate SC Alliance has expanded its work to ensure the 10-county Upstate is a globally recognized, competitive region. At home, the organization has launched the Global Competitiveness Council, a collaborative effort that has engaged more than 50 private and public-sector investors. The efforts continue to pay off: so far this year, the Upstate has seen more than $40 million in capital investment and 432 new jobs announced that originated within the Alliance’s industrial project pipeline.

Craig McCoy
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System | CEO
Craig McCoy has continued to build on his first year commitment of positioning Bon Secours for growth. In 2017, he along with other leaders of the Bon Secours St. Francis Health System became volunteers for an initiative entitled ‘Mentor Upstate’ which is a program dedicated to supporting under-resourced children in downtown Greenville.  He also partnered with the Greenville County School System to facilitate another new project called Project Search, a high school transition program for individuals with disabilities. He was named one of the 135 Not-For-Profit Health System CEOs to know by Becker’s Hospital Review in 2016 and selected into the 2019 Class of Health Management Academy of GE Fellows. Due to McCoy’s leadership, his strong commitment to patient safety and quality has been recognized nationally through Bon Secours St. Francis Health System being the recipient of the Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award, performing in the Top 5 percent in the nation and receiving the “Top 100 Hospitals” in the nation by Truven Health Analytics.

Adela Mendoza
Hispanic Alliance | Executive Director
A native of Veracruz, Mexico, Adela endoza’s ability to build and sustain diverse coalitions led to her natural role as executive director of the Hispanic Alliance. Mendoza is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, a Liberty Fellow, and a graduate of Leadership Greenville and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative. These fellowships have informed her model and vision for the Student DREAMers Alliance (SDA). Unique in South Carolina, SDA was piloted in 2016-2017 with the goal of equipping Hispanic students with the skills to advocate for the needs of themselves and their communities. The SDA model was featured this summer at the Aspen Institute Action Forum, in fulfillment of Adela’s 2015 action pledge to build opportunity for emerging Hispanic leaders.

Beth Paul
Bon Secours Wellness Arena | General Manager
As general manager of the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Beth Paul is tasked with securing a diverse, engaging, and entertaining lineup. The year 2017 was a record year at the Well, hosting more than 666,000 guests at 312 events. Major events this year included the return of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, three sold out Garth Brooks shows, and more than 100 community events. 

Fred Payne
County of Greenville | Council Member
Fred Payne, Greenville County Councilman, has represented District 28 for 11 years. In 2017, Payne led a County/CA4I team proposing to deploy A-Taxi Shuttles using Automated Connected Electric Shared (ACES) technologies to enhance first/last mile mobility around multi-modal hubs. FHWA awarded its first automated vehicle grant to Greenville, a $4 million award, plus local matching, that will be transformational for the area. He has supported comprehensive planning, automated transportation, and Amazon HQ2. Payne is on Carolinas Alliance 4 Innovation (CA4I), and the National Association of Counties (NACo) Transportation Committee, and Vice Chair of Transit/ Rail Sub-Committee. 

Carlos Phillips
Greenville Chamber of Commerce | President 
Following his extensive listening tour in 2016, Carlos Phillips hit the ground running. With Phillips at the helm, the Greenville Chamber has increased their influence in the advocacy arena and has revitalized the Accelerate program, increasing funding for the economic development initiative by more than 85 percent year over year. Carlos has a passion for seeing the Upstate area thrive and was influential in bringing the Greenville and Spartanburg Chambers together for the first-ever joint Intercommunity Leadership Visit. Carlos continues to enact innovative strategies, prioritize the Chamber’s organizational culture and streamline internal processes to achieve the Chamber’s vision of a globally competitive Upstate economy where businesses succeed and people prosper.

Dennis Raines
City of Mauldin | Mayor
Dennis Raines has served for six years on City Council and spent the last six years as mayor. He also serves on the executive board of the Municipal Association of South Carolina as 3rd Vice President and on the Community Action Board of Upstate Warrior Solutions. Earlier this year, Raines, with the help of the economic development team in the City of Mauldin, negotiated two infrastructure funding contracts with Greenville County that will allow the development of a 24.5-acre tract behind City Hall that is slated to become Mauldin’s first downtown area. An additional 100 acre tract along I-385 known currently as Center Pointe will be developed as an urban village.

Brian Rogers
Wells Fargo | Senior VP
Brian Rogers is a senior vice president at Wells Fargo leading the bank’s Upstate business banking and investment real estate strategies. Rogers also leads the bank’s philanthropic efforts supporting education, community development, arts, and health and human services.  Rogers is currently on the Board of the Greenville Cancer Society, the Greenville Tech Foundation, The Greenville Chamber Board of Advisors, and The Charity Ball of Greenville  - where he was the Benefactors Chairman for the 2017 Rose Ball.

Dr. W. Burke Royster
Greenville County Schools | Superintendent
Dr. W. Burke Royster is in his sixth year at the helm of Greenville County Schools.  Under his leadership, the district’s graduation rate has continued a steady upward march, reaching 87.3 percent with the class of 2017 -- a 14.9-point increase since Royster’s tenure began. Students also earned more than 3,500 college credit-hours via dual-credit classes last year and recorded another 12,500 possible credits based on AP test scores, in addition to qualifying for more than 600 industry certifications.  Royster was named a 2017 Education Week “Leader to Learn From” and is the reigning South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ Superintendent of the Year.

 Art Seaver
Southern First Bank | Founder and CEO
Art Seaver is founder and CEO of Southern First Bank and its holding company Southern First Bancshares.  Southern First Bank was established in 2000 and currently has 11 offices and operates in five markets. Total assets are $1.6 billion. Seaver is a 1986 graduate of Clemson University with a degree in financial management and a 1999 Graduate of the BAI Graduate School of Community Bank Management. He currently serves on the United Way Board, the Federal Reserve-Community Deposit Institutions Advisory Board and on the Board of Directors at Thornblade Club.

Pete Selleck
Michelin North America | CEO
Pete Selleck retired as chairman and president of Michelin North America, effective Dec. 31, 2017, concluding a six-year tenure in the role. Selleck presided over Michelin North America in a period of dynamic growth, in which Michelin Group invested nearly $4 billion in North America. Selleck has played a key role advocating for road improvements across South Carolina; advocating for fiscal reform in the federal government; promoting dialogue and understanding on matters of diversity and inclusion; developing technical education to support industrial careers in South Carolina; and active support for the community of West Point alumni, the Boy Scouts of America and the United Way.

Cherington Shucker
Greenville Center for Creative Arts | Executive Director
As the executive director of Greenville Center for Creative Arts, Cherington Shucker provides strategic leadership to the center’s team, board and founders to expand its positive impact on the community. GCCA  provides year-round access to the visual arts in an educational facility located in the Brandon Mill in the Village of West Greenville. The Center offers art classes, exhibition space and has 15 studio artists working in the facility. Cherington believes that the arts are a critical component to creating a healthy and vibrant community.

Stewart Spinks
Spinx | Founder and Chairman
Stewart Spinks started SPINX 45 years ago in downtown Greenville. An operator of 80 convenience stores throughout South Carolina, SPINX currently employs more than 1,400 associates. Spinks has been instrumental in Greenville’s growth, most recently by the company reinvesting and rebuilding its stores near the Greenville Hospital System and in the West End Village, where he is also involved in the planning of a community garden. Through the Spinks Family Foundation, Stewart and his company give back to the community and host the annual Spinx Charity Golf Classic, which benefits local nonprofit organizations. Spinks recently provided the endowment of two scholarships to Greenville Tech, including a Falcon 10 Jet to the Greenville Tech Aviation Maintenance Technology program, providing invaluable hands-on education. 

Chris Stone
VisitGreenvilleSC | President and CEO
Chris Stone serves as president and CEO of VisitGreenvilleSC, an economic development travel promotion organization. Stone’s work is centered on merging design, architecture, talent, and authentic experiences. Under Stone’s leadership, a notable up-and-comer brand was created and strategically promoted. Taking notice of Greenville’s emergence has been the likes of The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveler, among a host of high-profile media accolades and editorial coverage. Strong brand performance has led to record-setting visitation and tourism economic success. A bonus outcome has been the brand’s ability to broaden Greenville’s appeal and economic achievements.

Dabo Swinney
Clemson University | Head Football Coach
After winning college football’s top prize in January, Dabo Swinney entered 2018 with hopes of a second consecutive national championship, making the sport’s four-team playoff for the third year in a row. The 48-year-old coach has taken his team to unprecedented heights the last few years, and signed an eight-year contract extension last August, reportedly making him the second highest paid college coach behind Alabama’s Nick Saban. 

Steve Townes
Ranger Aerospace | Founder and CEO
Steve Townes is a lightning rod for aviation growth in South Carolina. In late 2017, he ended a two-year chairmanship of the statewide public/private partnership, S.C. Aerospace. He has instigated and pushed for at least one certified aviation high school in the state; in 2017, six schools were announced, each receiving a $50,000 grant. Townes has led accelerated growth of Upstate-based ACL Airshop, which has shown year-over-year economic metrics showing a 28 percent surge over 2016. In late 2017, Townes also announced a global exclusive joint venture for Bluetooth innovations to the air cargo industry, a first-to-market initiative. He has arranged more than $100 million in various forms of financing, and is plowing more millions each year into growth investments and expanding the network of airport operations.

Dr. Nika White
Nika White Consulting, LLC  | President and CEO
Dr. Nika White found inspiration through the intersection of business, diversity, and leadership, and has made this her niche, launching Nika White Consulting, LLC. She is a national consultant, thought leader, and speaker to organizations on issues of team engagement and organizational leadership, delivering expertise in strategic diversity and intentional inclusion. Dr. White serves as the senior advisor to the Greenville Chamber’s D&I initiatives and creates and implements the D&I strategy. Dr. White is the author of Amazon best seller, “The Intentional Inclusionist”, a book for leaders who desire to grow as inclusion-minded individuals to enhance the workplace, build communities, and have a positive impact on any circle of influence they belong.

Dr. Brenda Thames
Greenville Health System Health Sciences Center | Executive Vice President
Dr. Brenda Thames, is the executive vice president and provost for the Health Sciences Center at Greenville Health System, which opened in 2017. Dr. Thames actively guides GHS’ academic partners in a collaborative approach to addressing the health issues facing the community through academics. Her leadership within the Health Sciences Center has expanded GHS’ partnerships with Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and Furman University, maintaining emphasis on academics and research while also facilitating deeper connections to the business community through a focus on workforce development and entrepreneurship. In her role connecting GHS to the larger business community, she also served as the 2017 chair of the board of directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, where she led efforts to outline the future of the chamber. 

Dick Wilkerson
Michelin North America | Retired Chairman and President
Since retiring as chairman and president of Michelin six years ago, Dick Wilkerson has dedicated his time to giving back to Greenville. He serves on the boards of the United Way (past chair), the Community Foundation (past chair), the Greenville Area Development Corp. (past chair), and the Institute for Child Success. He has worked to increase collaboration among these important non-profits. In addition, he chairs the annual CEO Build for Habitat for Humanity and serves on the board of the newly formed South Carolina Health Company (the combination of Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health).