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Greenville Business Magazine

Women in Business 2020

They work in numerous fields and represent a variety of ages, backgrounds and career trajectories. But what they have in common is a sincere desire to make a difference in their workplaces and beyond.

Our panel selected these businesswomen from across the state based on their career achievements, contributions to their companies and community involvement.

On the following pages, we profile 21 women of distinction and another seven who are up-and-coming women to watch. Their gains in the workplace deserve praise, and their contributions to their industries and their communities are laudable.

At Integrated Media, publishers of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine, five women of a staff of six have prominent editorial or sales roles.

Let’s seek to follow in all of their footsteps.

Hope Caldwell

Founder & Principal

KLH Group


Industry: Event Management

Years in this industry: 16+

Years in this role: 5 years

Caldwell founded KLH Group, an event production firm specializing in social impact within the luxury event market, in 2015. To date, KLH Group and its clients have impacted more than 250,000 kids’ lives and had a global impact of more than 230,000 meals for children in developing countries. The company’s profits have grown by 200 percent over the past five years, but her nominator, Victoria Hill of KLH Group, says even those impressive numbers don’t do Caldwell justice. She calls Caldwell a trailblazer, and says she consistently supports her employees as well as entrepreneurs looking for advice.

After eight years working on luxury events at five-star properties, Caldwell went on a mission trip that changed the trajectory of her career. After returning from Uganda, she still loved event production and destination management, but felt conflicted about the opulence of the industry. Marrying her passions for sustainable community service and event production resulted in the creation of KLH Group. Projects include building clubhouses for pediatric cancer patients, designing dog houses for veteran service dogs, filling meals for disaster relief and developing mentorship programs for underserved children.

In addition to running a company, she is a thought leader on implementing corporate social responsibility with clients, and is a published author and speaker. She co-produces an annual event with NEEDTOBREATHE benefitting One World Health, raising more than $250,000 per year for sustainable clinics in developing countries, and she has worked with many Fortune 500 companies, including Wells Fargo and Newell Brands, as well as organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

Besides the Bible, I’d suggest Dave Ramsey’s “EntreLeadership” and Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.”

Who was your most influential mentor?

Thankfully, I have had a handful of people I’ve looked up to throughout my life. At Johnson & Wales University, my travel and tourism professor Christopher Desessa guided me into the hospitality industry. Post-college, I had an opportunity to work on a program for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. My contact with the foundation was instrumental in my growth during that time. My good friend and mentor, Sharon Martin, played an integral part in my confidence building. And present day, the women in my mastermind group help shape my daily path with their wisdom - especially my great friend Hilary Johnson, founder & CEO of Hatch Tribe.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

1. Look for a company whose values you share.

The events industry can be pretty robust, with a lot of different personalities. Get your feet wet with different styles of companies, but ultimately be on the lookout for an owner or mentor who shares your values and passions.

2. Be Persistent

If someone does not respond to your request for coffee or return your phone call for an interview - be persistent. Think outside the box. Where does he/she get coffee? Resourcefulness is the best quality someone can have in this industry.

3. Be ready to wear A LOT of hats

No day is EVER the same in the event industry, so you must be willing to be everything to everyone on “game day” to get the job done.

4. Fail Fast

Keep trying new things, but if you’re going to fail, make it quick and get back on the horse. This industry is all about innovation and shiny objects, so don’t be scared to get out and try.

Sally Caver

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Office Managing Partner


Industry: Law

Years in this industry: 13

Years in this role: 1

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s executive committee appointed Sally H. Caver to managing partner of the flagship office in Columbia, South Carolina, in May 2019. Within a year she was leading the state’s largest law firm through the Covid-19 pandemic, handling internal crisis communications with both empathy and strength. Caver is the second woman and the youngest office managing partner to be elected in the firm’s 120-plus year history. The firm’s flagship headquarters houses over 150 attorneys, policy advisors and paralegals, as well as more than 200 staff members.

Caver represents major automotive manufacturers with respect to manufacturer-dealer relations and market representation. She recently negotiated a $100 million-plus long-term supply agreement between an automotive manufacturer client and one of the nation’s largest aftermarket tire distributors. In total, she has represented over a dozen automakers, including U.S., non-U.S., volume, luxury and specialty brands. She has also served as co-lead counsel to one of the firm’s largest and most acquisitive corporate clients, South Carolina-based plastics and packaging manufacturer Novolex.

Caver is a 2019 Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, which identifies, trains and advances the next generation of leaders in the legal profession. Her legal work has been recognized by IFLR1000 USA, which named her a Rising Star in private equity and mergers and acquisitions in the state of South Carolina (2018-2019). She serves as a formal mentor to another female attorney through the firm’s mentorship program as well as serving as an informal mentor to several female attorneys. She recently completed a three-year term as a board member, executive committee member and secretary of the nonprofit Family Promise of the Midlands, which helps homeless families achieve sustainable independence by partnering with local church congregations and social service agencies and organizations to provide shelter and solutions for families who have children and are facing a housing crisis.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

For personal and professional development: “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

For fun, a Southern classic; “Beach Music” by Pat Conroy

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have been blessed to have several wonderful mentors, but my first and most influential is my friend and law partner Dan Fritze. Dan trained and developed me into the lawyer and leader I am today. He has opened countless doors of opportunity for me and has pushed me through those doors, even (especially) when I did not want to go through them.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Define your personal and professional goals and priorities and protect them at all costs. Do not allow others to define your priorities for you, and do not allow yourself to be shamed because your priorities are different from someone else’s. For me, that meant finding my own equilibrium point that would allow me to succeed professionally but also raise a family and pursue the things that bring me joy. There is no one-size-fits-all balancing point, but you need to allow yourself the freedom to find your own balancing point based on what is important to you at various stages in your life. Once you find it, protect it by surrounding yourself with supportive people who won’t cause you to lose balance and topple over!


Shelby Dodson

First Vice President



Industry: Commercial Real Estate

Years in this industry: 13

Years in this role: 10

As a first vice president at CBRE, Shelby Dodson has consistently been ranked as a top producer in the Greenville market and a top ten producer in South Carolina for the past five years. Dodson and her team are responsible for the leasing and marketing efforts of more than 4,500,000 square feet of office space in the Greenville-Spartanburg market. Her work in the Greenville market was recognized nationally as she was a National CREW Award recipient for economic impact for her work on the Plush Mills Project in 2019. Formerly a dilapidated brownfield site, it is now home to Venture X, a coworking franchise that offers full-service office space to startup and established companies.

Dodson, who previously worked in sales in New York City and as a green building advisor in Shanghai, specializes in office leasing and value-add opportunities, including brownfield sites, abandoned properties and incentive-based development. As a LEED professional, she is a sustainability leader and offers clients and properties expertise in the design and construction phases of green buildings.

She was the only female broker at CBRE for the first seven years of her career, and has encouraged further diversification within the company, often serving as a mentor and event speaker. “Shelby offers a creative and collaborative approach to her work to ensure her team and clients meet their goals and complete meaningful projects,” says her nominator, Steve Smith, managing director at CBRE. She often works with nonprofits and other organizations, teaching and mentoring through Clemson University, and was awarded the 2017 Big Sister of the Year for her support of that program. She also volunteers for Rebuild Upstate, which helps people stay in their homes by assisting them with various construction projects.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

I’m not sure I could ever choose a favorite book, but I recently finished “Lilac Girls” (by Martha Hall Kelly) and the story stuck with me for a while. It’s a World War II novel about the Ravensbrück concentration camp, told from the perspective of three different women, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses during unprecedented times.

Who was your most influential mentor?

Both of my parents continue to be influential as mentors. My mother’s strength of character, integrity and practicality inspire me to be honest and transparent. My father has taught me work ethic and shown me the opportunity in entrepreneurship. Together they challenge me to reach my highest potential while holding myself accountable for my actions, results and mistakes along the way.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

The opportunities in the commercial real estate world are endless if you’re willing to do the work, measure the risk, and take a chance. Be confident in what you know while retaining humility to always learn from others. Look for mentors and ask for advice. Give back some of the good fortune and grace you’ve been lucky enough to receive as you achieve degrees of success.


Jessica Donan

Managing Partner

EY Greenville Office


Industry: Finance/Accounting

Years in this industry: 20+

Years in this role: 2

Since moving to South Carolina in 2018, Jessica has been an instrumental leader in EY’s practice. She has served an impressive list of public and private companies in the Carolinas community. As one of the youngest partners to be asked to take the role of Office Managing Partner (OMP), she has been pivotal in growing and building the practice. Leading the team to triple-digit growth in her first fiscal year and double-digit growth in year two. She combines her skills as a certified public accountant and a Certified Futurist to think through the most complex business challenges to assist her clients transform their businesses. In addition to serving as the OMP, Jessica was elected by her fellow partners to represent them on the Regional Partner Forum. There she serves as a voice for them on the direction and vision of the practice by sharing their perspectives with the leadership of EY’s US-Central Region, which covers 20 states and 42 offices.

Jessica’s purpose statement, “To champion others so that we can realize our full potential and achieve things we never thought possible” is displayed in her office. In living out her purpose, she has led training, with the assistance of United Way, to equip young leaders to serve on S.C. nonprofit boards. She is both a Tocqueville Society and Poinsett Society Member of United Way. Most recently she was appointed to the Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission (REEM), where she will work with other community leaders to further her position of anti-racism. Jessica prioritizes coaching, mentoring, and the developmental efforts for EY’s professionals. She serves as a mentor for women and minorities focusing on the development of EY’s professionals by providing high-potential women and minorities with access to key experiences and opportunities to enable them to fully develop their potential.

“She lives EY’s purpose of building a better working world and is committed to giving back both within the workplace and community,” said her nominator, Marshall Franklin, client executive at EY. “Her No. 1 priority is her husband and their six children. Jessica is a role model for work-life integration and is passionate when it comes to supporting working mothers and providing them experiences to succeed in the office and at home.”   

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Greater Than Yourself” by Steve Farber

Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor throughout my career has been and continues to be one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever had the chance to encounter, Amy Baker. When I began my career, Amy took me under her wing and has continued to do so over the last twenty-plus years. She has coached, counseled, and sponsored my progression both in and outside of the firm. Amy has not only taught me the technical skills needed to perform my role; she has taught me, through example, how servant leadership should look, the value of genuine care and encouragement for others, and how to build relationships based on doing the right thing. These skills have helped me be successful not only in my profession but in my personal life.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Own your career by asking for what you want and remember: the answer is always “no” until you ask. We negotiate every day and many times don’t even realize it. It can be as simple as negotiating the time for a team meeting to negotiating a complex deal. However, every negotiation starts with an ask. To make the ask you need to know what you want, but I would encourage you to think differently about what you want. Think about multiple scenarios that would in some way line up with what you want. Do your homework and be prepared with why you want what you want and how it is the best outcome for both parties. Then ask for it. Know that the more often you ask, the more comfortable you will become with doing it; this skill will serve you personally and professionally for years to come.


Angela Gardner

Director of Business Development and Marketing

Hill Electric Co.


Industry: Construction marketing

Years in this industry: 28

Years in this role: 1

Hill Electric is an industrial electrical contractor that has earned a reputation for safety and expertise in its 65 years in business. Gardner, who joined the firm a year ago, is navigating how to best market Hill Electric during the unprecedented pandemic, forging ahead with projects including revamping the website, coordinating photography sessions to capture storytelling moments, building relationships and other branding efforts.

In her previous role as president of her family business, Donald A. Gardner Architects, she had to navigate the recession as a young executive. By the time she left in 2010, she increased revenues almost to the rate before the recession by cutting costs, improving efficiencies and pivoting to meet clients’ needs. She also boosted brand identification and is working toward doing the same at Hill Electric. She has always been an advocate that it takes a team to accomplish greatness, according to her nominator, Brittany Farrar, an associate at CBRE. “Her beliefs are that being kind and showing empathy creates trust and respect that will never be taken away,” Farrar said.

She’s a believer in giving back: she co-founded the Women in Construction Forum and is currently involved in the Skilled Trade Alliance, CREW Upstate and FAVOR Greenville. She has also served as a board or committee member for the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Better Business Bureau (locally and nationally), Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders Association of Greenville. She regularly mentors students and young professionals in the construction industry, and as secretary of the Golden Strip Trail Board, has pushed to extend the Swamp Rabbit Trail through the Golden Strip.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have had key mentors in various seasons of my life: my parents and grandparents, siblings and numerous peers. Currently, I consider each woman in our Women Construction Forum group a mentor. They each embodied a crush-it mentality, which is contagious.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Be authentic.

Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.”

Don’t be intimidated.

Get to know other women in construction in your community.

Make every challenging moment an opportunity to grow.

Let your PASSION and VALUES guide you.


Dr. Cameo Green

Doctor of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner

Regional Medical Center


Industry: Health care

Years in this industry: 12

Years in this role: 5

In addition to her duties at Regional Medical Center, Green is a professor at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Claflin University. Known for her compassionate care and excellent bedside manner, Green has had patients go on to donate to the hospital in gratitude. A sought-after speaker, she has given commencement addresses at South University and Chamberlain College of Nursing in Virginia. “Dr. Green enjoys teaching other people,” said her nominator, Alicia Brackett, a pharmacist. “She continues to mentor the next generation.”

Green, a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina, is known to stay up to date on the latest medical literature to ensure that she is treating all patients with innovative care. She uses special treatment modalities and individualized plans to meet the needs of her psychiatric and medical patients at the Regional Medical Center and constantly works to provide compassionate care to her patients and their families.

To further give back to the community, Green has been closely involved with Empowerment Connection, serving on the board, and has served as an official ambassador to help reduce domestic violence. Her own nonprofit, Rural and Urban Communities Matter, cuts the lawns for 15 elderly citizens free of charge. A proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, she hosted a free dementia awareness event at Hopkins Park, spoke at the Women Making History program in Binghamton, New York, and won the Women Making History Award. Her biography was inducted into the Richland County Black History section, and she received the Living the Legacy Award for Medicine from the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Health Care Ethics and Law” by Donna K. Hammaker and Thomas M. Knadig

Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I pray and consult with Jesus in every aspect of my life.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Prepare mentally, physically and emotionally before pursuing a career in the field of health care. I recommend researching the different types of careers in this sector. Also, it is imperative to build a support system as you go through your selected program of study. For example, my parents were very encouraging at moments when I felt like simply giving up during my doctoral program at the Medical University of South Carolina. It is important to have cheerleaders throughout your journey. The first part of the battle is simply believing in yourself. The next step is having the self-realization that you possess all of the necessary keys to achieve any level of success that your heart may desire. Lastly, enjoy building on your strengths so that you can share those qualities with your patients as an esteemed health care provider.


Bess Havens

General Manager

Havens Fine Framing

Mount Pleasant

Industry: Retail

Years in this industry: 6

Years in this role: 4

Bess Havens has taken on continuing the legacy of her parents’ business of 52 years, maintaining its commitment to quality while updating the company for today’s customer. Havens Fine Framing has been known for half a century for its customer service, attention to detail and expertise in handling a variety of projects, including working with valuable, fragile or oversized artwork. Bess Havens continues that tradition by creating a positive work environment for her staff, encouraging creativity and collaboration.

As the third generation to lead the business, Havens also works with a variety of community organizations, contributing framing services or funding to groups such as Hollings Cancer Center, Whitesides Elementary School, the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and Trident Opportunity Fund. She also participated in the Gibbes Museum’s Women’s Council Art of Design event as a corporate sponsor in 2017.

“Bess is inspiring to her staff and clients because she believes so much in her team and what they can do when they have the ability to be creative and work together to problem-solve,” according to her nominator, Rob Havens, lead installer with Havens Art Installation. “With Bess as their leader, the Havens Fine Framing staff has a sense of autonomy, which allows them to bring to life the vision that individuals in the community trust only Havens to accomplish.”

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Minding the Store” by Stanley Marcus. This book was recommended to me by my aunt, Betsy Havens, who owned and operated a successful frame shop and specialty store in Columbia, S.C. She lent it to me when I was 23 and just starting out at Havens. It is an intriguing read that lays out the values the founders of Neiman Marcus committed to despite numerous hurdles. There is also an added element of family business, which is a special delicacy I am personally interested in, being part of a third-generation family run business.

One of the largest lessons I took from this book is how important it is to focus on the client and not the sale. It isn’t about moving a high-dollar item; it’s about building a connection with that person that creates lifelong trust and loyalty.

Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents are my most influential mentors. I have had a lifetime of learning with them that has created who I am today, in the business world and outside of it. My mother has shown by example how to never settle in life, but always strive for the best. She taught me grit and how to work hard, focus on what is truly important and to always be thankful for those things.

My dad taught me the ins and outs of the picture framing industry by taking me to trade shows and leading by example on the sales floor and in clients’ homes. More importantly, he taught me general business values such as the importance of taking care of your staff and fostering a healthy work environment. He also taught me to always speak up if I see something that isn’t right and to never compromise on quality.

My parents both have a great sense of style and an appreciation of art that was imprinted on me at a young age. Over the years, they have shown a crazy amount of trust and faith in me by letting me step in and run the business they worked their lives to build. Because of this, my situation is a unique one and I am so thankful for them both getting me where I am today.


Karen R. Jenkins


KRJ Consulting, LLC


Industry: Professional Services

Years in this industry: 30

Years in this role: 12

Prior to founding KRJ Consulting, LLC, in April 2008, Jenkins worked in the banking and financial services industry in Columbia for two decades. Leveraging more than thirty years of leadership experience, Jenkins and her team of 30 employees and 18 contractors provide consulting and leadership development and support services to clients, including federal and local governments, corporations and small businesses. A member of the National Speakers Association, Global Speakers’ Federation, and certified professional coach, she is a sought-after keynote speaker, workshop leader and panelist for numerous organizations and programs, including the Women Presidents’ Organization national conference, the South Carolina Collaborative and the City of Columbia.

She shares best practices for small businesses as a contributor on Columbia’s NBC affiliate WIS-TV 10 and is the author of “Nobody Told Me: The Path to Financial Empowerment,” which was published in 2010. An alumna of the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program, Jenkins is a recent graduate of the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program. She “always goes above and beyond in her interactions professionally, personally and within her community,” said her nominator, Kesi Stribling, CEO and chief strategist at KSG Strategic Consulting. “She is a living legend in that she is consistent, thoughtful, proactive and committed to her company, those within her circle of influence and family.”

KRJ Consulting, LLC, has established scholarships that assist students who may not receive traditional funding, but need financial support to pursue their college education. In addition, the company provides mentoring and coaching to new and established small businesses in Columbia through its signature networking program, the Eat. Learn. Grow Series. Held every other month at a local restaurant, Karen shares best practices and insight with small business attendees during the complimentary gathering. Karen also serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Council and she is a former board member of the South Carolina Greater Community Relations Council and the Columbia Urban League and was recently appointed to serve on the Columbia Chamber of Commerce executive board of directors.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra

Who was your most influential mentor?

There are too many to name. There is no one size fits all and that applies to mentors as well. By leveraging relationships and modeling what I liked and admired most about a variety of successful people, I was able to gain a remarkable amount of experience and information that could help me on my journey.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Gain as much knowledge as you can to be an expert in your field; then make a plan to SERVE and help as many people as you can.


M. Felicia Douglas Littlejohn

President, CEO, National Social Security and Financial Advisor

The Legacy Group/Legacy Financial Advisors LLC


Industry: Wealth Management

Years in this industry: 20

Years in this role: 17

Felicia Douglas Littlejohn has served her community as a dedicated financial consultant for more than 17 years, making sure her clients have all the financial services they need to thrive. She specializes in 401(k)/IRA rollovers, secure retirement planning, financial planning, Social Security maximization and insurance solutions. For her efforts in the financial industry, she has been selected into the National Association of Professional Women. Forbes Advisors Advocates and other publications have highlighted her work and regional impact.

She was nominated by Brittney Brackett, operations manager at b dynamic! Productions, who formerly worked as Littlejohn’s marketing assistant. “I witnessed the long hours, home visits, cards in the mail and phone calls to make sure her clients knew that she cared about them,” Brackett said. Littlejohn conducts ongoing educational seminars on financial and Social Security planning for leadership groups, growing families, pre-retirees, retirees and seniors across the Southeast as a way to give back to the neighborhoods that helped her grow her business. She partners with many organizations and is periodically featured on a variety of local radio and television programs.

Littlejohn was nominated for the 2010 Athena Award by the Business Women in Action Association, an award presented in partnership with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and has received many awards and honors. She serves on the United Way Advisory Board, is an officer and member of Epsilon Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and has served as a volunteer and/or financial facilitator for Senior Action, Long Branch and St. Matthew Baptist Churches, Project Host Soup Kitchen, the Kroc Center, SHARE, Safe Harbor and African American Leadership Greenville.

Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor for the last 25 years is Merl F. Code, attorney, former municipal court judge, business owner and active board member of many organizations serving the interest of the community. Merl emphasized to me over 20 years ago that I need to be twice as good in all my endeavors to be equal to others who have the same qualified credentials, and I should strive to be “at the table and not on the menu.” In my professional and personal lives, I strive to personify the Bible verse, “To whom much is given, much is required.” I strive to be a change agent in my career and community, as well as intentional in my philanthropic efforts while continuing to promote economic development and financial empowerment for the community. I have instilled these same principles in my children and other proteges, who have become successful in their endeavors.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

My advice to a young woman who is interested in starting a career in helping the community through wealth management is to “know your why.” Most individuals and organizations face sweeping economic changes that present various challenges. Therefore, it’s vital to promote the concepts of economic development and financial empowerment. One needs to purposefully and effectively allow the market and community to benefit from one’s unique commitment and dedication, customized gamut of world-class resources and highly innovative financial services.


Laura Beth Medley

VP, Chief Human Resources

& Corporate Communications Officer

Canal Insurance Company


Industry: Human Resources

Years in this industry: 15

Years in this role: 3

Medley joined Canal in 2007 as a benefits specialist and rose to various positions with increasing levels of challenge and responsibility during her 13-year tenure with the enterprise. She was promoted to vice president of human resources and joined the Canal senior leadership team in 2015. Recently, her leadership role was expanded to include corporate communications. A third-generation HR professional, she beautifully balances her career and young children, according to nominator Kayla Currey, corporate account manager at DFS Creative Concepts. As a member of the Canal senior team, Medley is a valued and well respected colleague whose contributions transcend her experience and years of service.

As a leader, she has been instrumental in driving several strategic initiatives for Canal and also in helping its enterprise and employee team stay grounded in the Greenville community. Through her responsibilities in managing Canal’s employee benefits package, she has been a champion of the employee wellness program, which includes a staffed on-site preventative care clinic, nutritionist counseling and a state-of-the-art exercise facility - unusual for a company Canal’s size. She also championed a recent local financial grant from Canal to support a new mobile mammography unit.

Medley is a member of the United Way Palmetto Society, has volunteered with The Family Effect for several years and is active at her local church, Earle Street Baptist Church. At Canal, she finds new ways to engage the employee population with the Greenville community. Canal celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2019, and Medley led the “80 for 80” campaign, during which employees joined together to provide 80 acts of community service in March, supported by a financial donation from Canal. The impacted local charities included the Greenville Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Friends of the Greenville County Library, Triune Mercy Center and the Ronald McDonald House.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Bossypants” by Tina Fey

A fun read that never gets old.

Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother was and continues to be my most influential mentor - as a leader in the HR profession herself, she’s always willing to lend an ear or give advice - and as a mom myself, I try to emulate her in the way that I love, encourage and guide my own children, Layton (4) and Gibbs (2).

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Always remember to treat people the way that you would want to be treated and don’t be afraid to try new things. I’ve often found that opportunities happen when you step up to lend a hand, share an idea or ask to be included as an opportunity to learn - do these things as often as the opportunities arise.


Heather Mitchell




Industry: Architecture

Years in this industry: 26

Years in this role: 14

Fourteen years ago, Mitchell took the helm at BOUDREAUX, leading diverse teams of architects and designers that have helped shape the landscape and character of properties throughout South Carolina. Her commitment to excellence and community is showcased in her resume of pivotal projects, including the University of South Carolina’s new School of Law, the Cathy Novinger Leadership Center for Girl Scouts, the recent renovations at Richland libraries and Clemson University’s Douthit Hills Student Community. Working hand in hand with organizations, institutions and local businesses, she is driven to lift up a client’s vision through responsible and forward-thinking design, and she works to plan and create spaces that foster community pride.

Her talent and specialty is taking raw vision and manifesting a monument to that idea, according to her nominator, Rachel John, the marketing director at BOUDREAUX. Her current and recent community involvement includes the Columbia Chamber and City Center Partnership executive committees, the Liberty Fellowship Class of 2017, the Midlands Business Leadership Group and One Columbia for Arts & Culture.

Leading a team of mostly women, with a ratio of 2:1 at the firm, she is dedicated to finding talented women and nurturing their careers. Her mentor program gives employees opportunities to learn from experts in their fields and get advice from principals at the firm on career growth, and she has fostered an environment at the firm that encourages a healthy balance between work and home.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Who was your most influential mentor?

John Boudreaux, our founding principal who retired in 2012. I joined the firm fresh out of graduate school and John supported and encouraged my growth as a young professional, all the way up to entrusting me to carry on what he began. Providing me opportunity after opportunity, he taught me so much about the value of cultivating relationships that still guides me today.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Soak it in and seek it out! The joy of the architecture profession is that every project is different and we are always learning. Ask questions, seek to understand how a construction detail gets built, ask to join in on client meetings and visit construction sites, get involved in community and professional organizations, engage in design conversations. The more leadership you take on, the more you will be given.


Christina Moir


SagePoint Valuation


Industry: Real Estate/Commercial Services

Years in this industry: 16

Years in this role: 12

Moir has successfully operated her commercial appraisal company for 12 years. During her career, she has valued well over $1 billion in commercial real estate in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska. She has appraised more than 3,000 properties and worked for numerous national, regional and local clients. Most recently, she has been hired as a commercial valuation expert for the Department of Justice and testified as an expert witness in federal bankruptcy court.

Over the past several years, she has expanded her career to include property management of personal assets, including office properties and a multi-tenant retail property. During the course of her career, she has trained new commercial appraisers and has been a guest lecturer at Clemson University.

Moir has hired many women into the commercial real estate appraisal business and has served as an informal coach to professional women in career transitions. She contributes to her industry by serving on the South Carolina Appraisal Institute Board of Directors as a regional representative for the five-state area. She is also the president of the Piedmont Executive Toastmaster group, is a former board member of CREW Upstate and is currently an active member of the sponsorship committee.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach. This is a simple story, but it reminds us that we can pursue greatness in whichever path we choose.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have two. My father, Ralph Moir, is a nuclear physicist who has six patents and over 180 publications in his field of expertise. Continual pursuit of knowledge and advancing his intellectual abilities have been lifelong values. My mother, Liz Branstead, earned two master’s degrees, wrote three books, and taught me the perspective of life balance. Between the two influences, I endeavor to live my dreams and inspire others to live theirs.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

I would recommend learning about the industry online and then talking with career professionals. Most experts are willing to share time with those who have put in initial effort and have a genuine interest. Set a goal and continue striving towards it; once achieved, “up your game” with the next stepping stone.


Beth Paul

General Manager

Bon Secours Wellness Arena


Industry: Hospitality

Years in this industry: 15+

Years in this role: 5.5

After serving as general manager of Bon Secours Wellness Arena for just two years, Beth Paul doubled the operating profit, and has continued that growth ever since. Under her leadership, the arena continues to positively impact the community through programming, outreach and more than $55 million in economic impact. She was instrumental in securing the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, hosting opening rounds in 2017, a women’s regional in 2020 and the first and second rounds in 2022.

A driven and focused leader, she has secured prestigious and successful events, including Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, and Garth Brooks. The coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges for the live entertainment industry, but Paul continues to lead her team with “grit and grace,” according to her nominator, Cayce French, development officer of Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County. “Hard work and dedication set her apart as a female leader believing that gender should never matter in one’s role within a company,” French said in nominating Paul. The only female general manager of an arena in South Carolina, she has leveraged her leadership position and the arena’s platform to improve the Upstate community.

After serving as director of finance at the Harbor Yard Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Paul returned to Greenville and joined the arena team 15 years ago as director of finance, soon becoming assistant general manager and then general manager. Her community engagement efforts include STAGE (Serving Together: Arena Giving Experience), as well as creating an inclusive sensory suite for guests with disabilities and working with Habitat for Humanity to build a Habitat home on-site at the arena before moving it to its permanent location. Paul also works with CEO Build and Women Build to partner with families in need to help build and purchase a home. She also mentors the Furman Women’s Basketball team as part of the Women of Distinction program.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

A recent favorite is “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson. It is a beautifully written story of resilience, compassion and bravery, and highlights the power of books and literacy. Themes of poverty, racism and prejudice, hardships, neighbors helping neighbors, sacrifice and hope are found throughout.

Who was your most influential mentor?

Dr. Rachel Stewart, beloved professor at Presbyterian College, was exceptional at challenging me to always think, write and communicate with persuasion and purpose, and her teachings still resonate with me today. Liz Dukes Wolverton, my first boss and brilliant leader, will always be a mentor to me and someone I deeply admire. But above all, the three most influential women in my life are my mother and my two grandmothers. They are and were always poised, dignified, witty, and found the perfect balance between career and family.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

One could take many different paths within the live entertainment and venue management industry, so I would encourage flexibility and a strong willingness to engage in as many different areas as possible. Also, establishing strong working relationships is key to success in this industry, and those are achieved through strong communication skills and building trust.


Juana Quick


queue, llc


Industry: Marketing

Years in this industry: 30+

Years in this role: 11

Through Juana’s leadership, queue has been recognized with numerous awards, accolades and recognition for outstanding work, including ADDY Awards, Aster Awards and more. Last November, Juana was awarded the 2019 John. L. Thomason Award, which recognizes outstanding marketing and communications professionals who are also leaders in their community. The Thomason Award is the highest honor presented by the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (CHPRMS), the North and South Carolina organization representing healthcare marketing professionals from across the two states. She was selected by her peers in the health care marketing field.

Quick has helped numerous organizations that work to better meet the health care needs of the community. She is a past board member of the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Foundation and currently serves on the board of directors for the South Carolina Free Clinic Association. She has served as past president and board member of the Midlands Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), past board member of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) of the Midlands and as a past board member of CREW in Atlanta, an organization that supports the advancement of women in commercial real estate. She also served as a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Association.

In 2018 she founded a group for female business owners in Columbia called Women on the Move, with the mission of fostering, mentoring and encouraging women to explore entrepreneurship. Suzanne Magnus, account director at queue, says the entire staff has been with Quick for 11 years since the agency first opened its doors - “quite a testament to her positive leadership qualities, traits and skills. She is always strategic in her decisions and is truly an inspiration to us all.”

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Who was your most influential mentor?

I’ve had many mentors and influencers; however, my first mentor was my fourth-grade teacher, Regina Moore, who taught me that living in a small town shouldn’t limit me, and that there was more to life than what and where I lived, but to value my roots. She also taught me that education is the key to life, along with many other lessons.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Do your homework. This simple, yet invaluable, lesson is critical to success. While many young women think marketing is only about great designs, ads and digital marketing, it’s as much about research as it is a final product of a great ad or the creation of a brand. Strive to research, listen and learn.


Nancy Sansom

Chief Commercial Officer



Industry: Technology

Years in this industry: 18

Years in this role: 6

As chief commercial officer, Sansom leads marketing, commercialization strategy, partner development and other aspects of the PlanSource go-to-market strategy. With more than 15 years of executive leadership experience with high-growth software-as-a-service companies, she excels in marketing, communications, P&L and product management, software design, business development and HR.

Prior to joining PlanSource, Sansom served on the senior leadership teams at Benefitfocus and PeopleMatter. During her 10-year career at Benefitfocus, she led product strategy and management, marketing and product design. Most recently she was CMO at PeopleMatter, where she developed the brand while building a demand-generation engine for driving top-line growth. She has also worked in manufacturing and software consulting. She started at PlanSource in 2015 as the first chief marketing officer in the company’s history. She scaled the marketing team, built a new demand-generation program and partner marketing program from the ground up to support the sales team and expand the partner network.

Sansom also started the annual Eclipse Conference, where PlanSource customers and partners attend for three days to learn about industry trends, thought leadership, new products and innovations. As part of the Eclipse conference, she selects a charitable organization to partner with that the conference will support. Some recent beneficiaries of this effort are Compassion International and The Wounded Warrior Project.

Sansom regularly participates in professional speaking engagements at industry conferences in the benefits and human capital management space. “She knows how to see the big picture and make the hard stuff crystal clear, says Kay Lucas, vice president of operations at ADP. “Nancy has an amazing work ethic, dives into the details, helps us focus on the things that matter most, and has a huge amount of respect from our internal teams, customers, executive team, analysts and board.”

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

I enjoy reading memoirs when I have the time because it’s an opportunity to learn from someone else’s experiences firsthand. “Infidel” is a fascinating autobiography written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, scholar and former politician. Ayaan has raised awareness about the oppression of women that is still rampant in many areas of the world.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have had several workplace mentors that guided me throughout my career, but the impact that my mom had on me early in my life really set me up for success. She showed me the importance of having high expectations, creating a plan and working hard to achieve it. She encouraged me to be creative and different. She also spent a lot of time with me helping me develop my public speaking and communication skills, which have been really important in the various roles I’ve had throughout my career.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Since there aren’t a lot of women in technology, you bring something special and unique to the table. Embrace the fact that you are different, and be confident about the positive impact that you can make. Look for ways to add value in your job and in all your relationships and you will have a lot of opportunities.


Victoria Simpson


Capitol Decorative Concrete


Industry: Construction

Years in this industry: 32

Years in this role: 32

Decorative concrete art is Simpson’s specialty. She has worked on a variety of projects, including the Sassafras Mountain Observation Tower, where she acid-stained all the walls as well as a S.C. medallion on the deck in a sunburst pattern. She has extensive commercial and residential experience, and has been recognized by Scofield, a leading manufacturer of decorative concrete products, five times as grand champion in their decorative concrete stain and artistic competition. She has also earned international awards at the World of Concrete in Las Vegas and is recognized as a local expert in the decorative concrete field.

Like all art forms, the work is very specialized, and she installs it personally. She makes sure her company stays focused on quality, and she keeps in touch with her clients, often becoming friends. She seeks to find the good in every day and everything, a lesson she learned from her father. She often supports other female entrepreneurs, sending the extra work whenever possible and training them to take on large, complex projects.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

The Bible, New International Version. In uncertain times, this is the only book that is constant and true. No matter what we face in life, you can find the answers here. So many people miss the peace of mind that these words bring straight from our Creator.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” I choose to claim that every day and believe the BEST is YET to COME.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have had so many in my life. My parents provided every opportunity for me to have the tools I needed to be successful. I have had many encouragers along the way. My work in decorative concrete has taken me into a field that is commonly a “man’s job,” so the first challenge was to prove that I had knowledge and experience to provide a quality job every time as a woman in this business. I have been encouraged to DREAM BIG and NEVER stop giving 150% every day to achieve my goals. There is no substitute for passion and love for what you do every day.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

I would advise her to set a goal and then get to work moving in that direction. In my case, when a position came open to take on another element of the concrete business, I jumped at the chance. During these years, I went from bookkeeping to meeting with customers to inventory control and ordering to contracts ... then to working on the installation crew, then managing the installation, then closing out the job with the customer, including any troubleshooting that may be required. I would advise her to learn everything she can about what she loves to do. Study those who have gone before you and achieved your goal. Listen to their advice, intern under their leadership and then don’t be afraid to step out and try. I knew that if I didn’t take the chance on my dream, someday I would have asked myself, ‘What if?’ What if I hadn’t taken the chance to see what would happen.

Thirty-two years later in this business, I have achieved those goals and have new friends all over the country. A “little piece of my dream” has been left in each project. The work I have installed will speak for me long after I am gone. I would not only advise her with words, I would welcome her to come along with me to find out what this business is all about. The greatest gift we can give to others is the gift of our time. I have been blessed to have received five international concrete awards at the World of Concrete in the artistic division, but the best reward of this work is the instant gratification you receive when you complete a project and can see what you accomplished that day. No plans for retirement. When you love what you do, it never really seems like work.


Mallori VanSyckel

Research and Planning Coordinator

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control


Industry: Government

Years in this industry: 13

Years in this role: 6

In an effort to improve operations and training for environmental staff at DHEC, VanSyckel has worked to bring numerous stakeholders to the table from throughout the agency. DHEC relies on her to make good decisions when novel problems present themselves. She recently worked with a team to revamp standard operating procedures for water sampling, just one of her many areas of responsibility.

“Mallori has a servant leader’s heart, which is why she does a good job with making sure the small details are always accomplished and the projects stay on track while ensuring that multiple stakeholders are involved and heard,” says her nominator Judah VanSyckel, an attorney at Saluda Law LLC.

She is a member of Crossroads Columbia and the mother of three children. She is also a member of Multiples of the Midlands, and, as a twin mom of preemies, she has had unique mothering challenges that she has handled while continuing to remain a consummate professional.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters.” The book depicts an exchange of letters between the demon Screwtape and his nephew, Wormwood. The two discuss how to lead people away from truth. As a woman of faith, the letters highlight the struggle of good vs. evil in a way that causes me to pause and consider my own reactions to the encounters I have with others. There is no way for me to know everything going on in their life or the struggle they find themselves in, so I pause to consider how best to respond in love and in truth - despite what “Screwtape” may have schemed.

Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother. She passed away when I was nine years old but the values she instilled in my life are still just as true today as they were nearly 30 years ago. She loved her husband, her God, her family and her community. She poured into me in ways that encourage me to be a better wife, mother and leader. She was both humble and kind - traits that are key for successful leadership and life.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

In my field and every field: Constantly encourage yourself and those around you to improve as individuals and as an organization. Identify areas for improvement and offer solutions. Learn everything you can about your field and lay a firm foundation for those who come behind you. Work hard to help those around you and never be closed-fisted with the knowledge you are given. Work toward continuous improvement for yourself, your team and the constituents you serve.


Debbie Muller Walker

Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer

Midlands Technical College


Industry: Education

Years in this industry: 24

Years in this role: 4.5

Debbie Walker joined Midlands Technical College in 1996 as the file room and contract employees supervisor in the college’s Student Financial Services department. While advancing into multiple roles, she earned her master’s degree in business administration from Southern Wesleyan University. Today, she leads one of the largest divisions of the college, managing the entirety of MTC’s resources. Her dedication has helped thousands of students become a better version of themselves. She has been a leader in MTC receiving zero findings during reaffirmation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, has served as executive liaison for Staff Council and has served on MTC’s new strategic plan implementation team.

She designs programs to promote economic development and works closely with business, industry and political entities to implement them, and is the go-to person when MTC leadership is determining the impact of legislation from the State House and as well as regulations, policies and procedures. She is also responsible for oversight of the MTC Foundation’s assets and finances as well as other legal and contractual matters. The Government Finance Officers Association has recognized Walker and her finance team with its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 24 consecutive years.

While excelling on the operational and financial side, she always recognizes that she is in the business of improving the lives of real people. She is a past president of the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina, has volunteered at Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia and has volunteered at polling sites for elections in Cayce and West Columbia. “Debbie inspires young people day in and day out at Midlands Technical College,” says her nominator, Midlands Technical College President Ron Rhames. “While that is important, even more impressive and inspirational is how she handles business. In many cases, Debbie steps up and makes the difficult decisions when others are willing to ‘pass the buck.’”

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

Actually I have two favorite books:

1) The Holy Bible – The King James Version

2) “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor is Dr. Ronald L. Rhames, president of Midlands Technical College. He has taught me many things over the years as he is an expert in the fields of business administration and higher education leadership.

One of the most important things that I have learned from Dr. Rhames is to always give credit to your employees. You may be the one leading the project, but remember, you have an entire team that is working on the project with you. Another thing that he has instilled in me is to always treat people with kindness and respect.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Being a chief financial officer is more than having advanced knowledge of accounting and financial management. You will be responsible for ensuring the organization remains solvent/profitable. The role of the CFO has changed over the years. You will have many departments in your direct line of reporting. For instance, I oversee finance and accounting, human resources, plant operations, information resource management, auxiliary services, internal audit and the college’s theater - and many more. You will need to have excellent managerial, time management and communications skills. Also, you must be able to get along with others - different people with different work ethics.

My final advice to aspiring young women is to get as much relevant formal and continuing education as possible; to seek leadership opportunities, including volunteering; and to be willing to take calculated risks as they pursue professional goals.


Christine West

Dosimetry Supervisor

Naval Nuclear Laboratory

Goose Creek

Industry: Energy

Years in this industry: 9

Years in this role: 4

Within two years of being hired for her first job at the Naval Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) as a health physicist and scientist, West was selected as the operational supervisor and later the technical manager of the Dosimetry Laboratory. She also became the signature authority for the associated national accreditation system within the organization. One year later, deputy quality manager was added to her list of titles, and she ensured consistent, quality records were documented and submitted. She has also served as the training manager of the Dosimetry Laboratory, and all of these roles led to her current position as Dosimetry Supervisor.

West has taken the initiative to restaff, and led her team in organizing and enhancing the facilities, using audits and training to ensure that her team meets national standards and her clients are satisfied. “She chooses high standards above her own wants and needs, and smiles as she makes strides for humanity,” according to her nominator, Ashley Graham, a senior health physics specialist at Dominion Energy South Carolina. “She is a true motivator and an inspiration to everyone she comes in contact with.”

She is a Bible study instructor and facilities volunteer at Calvary Chapel, and is a member of numerous organizations, including Women in Radiation Protection, Health Physics Society, Women in Nuclear and American Physical Society.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

The Holy Bible

Who was your most influential mentor?

Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Always keep God first. Keep a positive can-do attitude, work hard and maintain a work life balance. NNL has been great at providing work-life balance options.


Sarah West

Division Human Resources Director

ITW Hartness


Industry: Manufacturing

Years in this industry: 17

Years in this role: 2

ITW Hartness, a Division of Illinois Tool Works (ITW), designs and manufactures packaging solutions, and in her current position, Sarah led a cultural transformation in the middle of a company turnaround. Two-thirds of the executive team is new since she joined the company, and she has successfully led employee turnover efforts to align and acquire diverse talent that is fit for purpose and on path to achieve the organization’s vision; all while the business continues to grow the top and bottom line. Her duties include HR strategy, organizational culture, talent management, diversity and inclusion, employee development and more.

“Sarah deeply connects with anyone she talks to and demonstrates an advanced level of emotional intelligence,” says her nominator Tim Hudson, Vice President and General Manager at ITW Hartness. “She captures the hearts of employees and leads by coaching employees every opportunity she gets; thus employees bring their best selves to work.”  

As the 2019 ITW Hartness United Way Campaign chair, she led the organization to historic growth in financial and volunteer contributions; her leadership yielded a historic five awards in one year from Greenville’s United Way. She also serves on the 2020 Greenville United Way Campaign committee, a Propel graduate, and on the Center for Developmental Services Board of Directors in Greenville.

She is a key member of ITW’s Women’s Network (IWN) and leads efforts to attract, retain and promote women, building an organizational structure that supports women’s success. In addition to her efforts with IWN, she is also a champion for diversity and inclusion and has instituted and supported many programs to continue ITW Hartness’ journey on their path of full potential as the clear choice for current and prospective employees.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

There are so many! One book I have read several times and I highly recommend for many employees or people that I mentor is “Good to Great’’ by Jim Collins.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have been extremely fortunate to have many incredible mentors throughout my career, including my current leader. However, if I had to narrow it down to one, my Mom still remains my most influential mentor. My Mom grew up in circumstances far out of her control and chose to pursue life as an opportunity instead of the setbacks becoming a barrier. Despite the challenges early in life, she along with my father raised a family all while furthering her education and showing that a female in industry can be highly regarded and successful, no matter their title or role. She is deeply passionate, resilient, and has continually supported me personally and professionally. She consistently reminds me that being my authentic self is what provides true personal and professional happiness.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Every moment is a learning moment to stretch yourself and grow. Don’t shy away from tasks that seem remedial or too tough; take those tasks as an opportunity to further understand the business, stretch yourself, and bring greater value in your results. Ask a lot of questions and do even more listening. Show up and shine as your authentic self.


Juanita Wright




Industry: Nonprofit

Years in this industry: 22

Years in this role: 7

In 2012, the Welvista Board of Directors asked Wright, who served 19 years as a board member, to step in as the interim CEO for the struggling statewide nonprofit, which had major funding issues and no reserves. Since that time, Wright has turned Welvista into a stable health services provider, partnering with pharmaceutical companies, community leaders and medical professionals to bring life-saving medications and preventative pediatric dental care to vulnerable populations throughout South Carolina. In 2019, Welvista’s prescription medication assistance program provided 308,000 (90-day) free life-saving medications to 25,700 uninsured, low-income eligible South Carolina residents. The organization’s school-based pediatric dental program provided cleanings, sealants and restorative services to 4,100 economically disadvantaged children in 22 rural schools. 

Wright began her career as a science teacher, guidance counselor and piano teacher. She has also built a real estate residential building and development company. “As a board member, I was impressed from the beginning as I began to understand the amazing leadership qualities and business savvy that Juanita used not only to save Welvista but quickly restore funding support, reduce debt and stabilize all aspects of service provided by Welvista to vulnerable and struggling residents in South Carolina,” said her nominator, Kelly Shockley, director of marketing at Welvista.

Wright served on a variety of boards and committees, including Families Helping Families, The Family Shelter, Carolina Wildlife, Project Pet / Pawmetto Lifeline, Welvista / CommuniCare and Columbia Medical Alliance Auxiliary, and served as the president of Lexington Medical Alliance. Currently, Wright serves as a board member for the USC School of Dance and the HOA of the Palms at Rocky Point. She is a member of the Red Cross Tiffany Circle, Prisma Health Midlands Foundation Women’s Leadership Circle (past chair), Atrium Society (past chair), the UofSC Alumni Association and The Circle of Red. A woman of many talents, she is an award-winning pianist, a S.C. State Fair winner for her pear preserves and was once a drummer in a rock band. 

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done ….”


Who was your most influential mentor?

Marlena Myers was one of the founding board members of Welvista. We served on the board together for 20 years and she continued to serve after I accepted the position of CEO. She was a truly beautiful woman inside and out.


What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

It is important to have a heart for the mission and vision of your organization, serving with empathy, honesty and integrity. One should take the time to learn the nonprofit model and all its nuances, but always remember it is a business and needs to function as one to be viable and successful. One should maintain a strong, resilient mindset coupled with determination, focus and respect for all.

Women to Watch


Chakalah Crawford

Visual Artist / A.D.D. Art by Kalah, LLC


Industry: The Arts 

 Years in this industry: 3 

 Years in this role: 2

As an emerging artist, Crawford has found ways to help others, donating her paintings to charity to help organizations raise money for the betterment of the community. She has organized artist meetups and provided space for people to come together to paint, learn, grow and motivate each other. She has also collaborated with other artists and has been more than willing to provide helpful information to her fellow artists and businesswomen so they too can succeed.

Crawford, who is also a full-time educator, has made people aware of her mental disability, Attention Deficit Disorder, and has used it as an advantage. She has been a spokesperson at the Taste of Africa festival, where she discussed how not being able to focus for long periods of time allowed her to find her passion in different genres of art. She has inspired many, and often shares quotes about being committed to your passion and staying motivated. She named her business A.D.D. Art by Kalah as a nod to her attention deficit but also to creating Artistically Diversified and Defiant Art.

She has led several Paint and Sip classes and is looking forward to opening her first gallery soon. In 2019, she took part in her first exhibition at Gallery120 in Clover, and in June of 2019, she created an illustration for the book “21 Days to the New You” by Danielle Davis. She recently sold two pieces to customers in Dubai.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

One of my favorite books is “The 7 Mindsets to Live Your Ultimate Life” by Scott Shickler and Jeff Waller.

Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor is an amazing artist out of Orangeburg named Damion Johnson. He has inspired me to become more than I thought I was ever capable of becoming. I have grown so much with the way he humbly shares productive criticism with me.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Any young woman interested in starting a career in art must first and foremost be willing to understand patience. Patience is what grows an artist; it develops our skills and creates depth in our work. Patience is very hard at times - when you want to rush through something, you have to be willing to pause and remember that a masterpiece takes planning, planning takes time and time produces quality.


Cor’Deija Horne

CEO/Creative Director / The Avenue Events & Design, LLC


Industry: Hospitality 

Years in this industry: 3 

Years in this role: 3

Cor’Deija Horne is a doer and a problem solver. As CEO and creative director of The Avenue Events & Design LLC, she believes the best way to show people how much they matter is by celebrating them. Beyond creating traditional events such as weddings, social events and conferences, she is on a mission to help entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community and hosts a business start-up competition, awarding cash and prizes to those whose business serve a significant need in the community.

She was recently featured as Business of the Week in the Carolina Panorama and a South Carolina State University “Bulldog Entrepreneur.” She is also an advocate for fathers and father figures fostering positive relationships with their daughters and hosts a father-daughter dance that recognizes those who have made a significant impact in the lives of their children and the community.

Horne has been instrumental in the organization, coordination and implementation of many service projects, including voter registration drives, financial literacy workshops and efforts to feed the homeless. She has inspired entrepreneurial women, through her business pitch competition, to stay the course, and that whether their work is large-scale or small-scale, it should never go unnoticed.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Happy” by Dr. Ian Smith

Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor is Mr. Angelo McBride, LTC(R). He’s certainly been a great influence for me as it relates to business; however, the most valuable thing I’ve learned from him is the importance of family and serving others, and how time is much more valuable than money.


Ashton Link

Owner / 613 Boutique LLC


Industry: Retail Years in this industry: 4 Years in this role: <1

After managing another boutique, Link’s passion for fashion drove her to pursue her own business, so she opened 613 Boutique on North Pleasantburg Drive. After opening in the fall of 2019, the new shop was soon hammered by the Covid-19 crisis. Link’s

persistence and ingenuity led to a shift to an online/pickup/delivery model, which allowed the shop to reopen its doors in May of 2020.

Link has a keen buyer’s eye and great intuition for what women want. She is committed to bringing top fashion to customers at affordable prices, and believes that looking great and feeling good doesn’t have to be expensive. In addition to selling ladies clothing, shoes and accessories, Link also supports local artisans by featuring them in her shop. Handmade goods, candles, teas, woodwork and local art round out an eclectic shopping experience.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

“Psalms: Poetry on Fire (The Passion Translation)” by Brian Simmons. Every emotion of the heart is reflected in the Psalms with words that express our deepest and strongest feelings. They free us to become emotional, passionate, sincere worshippers, giving us an expression for faith and worship. The Passion Translation presents these 150 poetic masterpieces in modern English to convey the depth of our longings and fears, joys and celebration, becoming a mirror to the heart of God’s people in our quest to experience God’s presence.

“Lord, you know all my desires and deepest longings. My tears are liquid words and you can read them all.”

Psalm 38:9 TPT

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Don’t quit. Remain open to EVERYTHING! You can only learn from the mistakes, the mishaps, the unfortunate situations. A strong faith helps, guides and allows rest. Work hard at the most accurate ability that you have been given. Use all of your senses and follow your heart. The heart guides and the mind provides. It is okay to cry because it rids the soul of the impurities and allows rejuvenation. Fashion is ever-changing, but you don’t have to change. Know who you are and whose you are. Stick to what you know and desire. I have done just that and I believe that is truly what sets me and 613 Boutique apart. After all, 613 is named after Isaiah 61:3, “Beauty for Ashes.”


Joyce McAbee

President / Monogram Concierge, Inc.


Years in this industry: 3 Years in this role: 3

Joyce McAbee has developed a one-of-a-kind service for the Upstate area. Her concierge firm is structured to make life easier and less stressful for her clients by taking care of anything and everything that shows up on their “to do” lists – errands, laundry care, meal prep, mail management, care for the family pet, organizing, decluttering, vendor management, and administrative services to name just a few of the many and varied services Monogram Concierge offers.

Monogram Concierge is an all-female company and McAbee mentors each team member, instilling a sense of self-worth in all employees - even those that may leave to pursue other careers. McAbee has also hosted several speaking engagements on various topics, from Lunch & Learns to talks on specific ways to add value in a corporate setting.

McAbee always looks for ways that Monogram Concierge can be of service to the community. Early in the business, she partnered with another company to rotate deliveries for Meals on Wheels, and she donates to and supports Greenville Women Giving. “She inspires each of us every day,” says her nominator, Janet Osborne, director of operations at Monogram. “With her positive outlook on life and business, she never gets down, even in these disturbing times. Joyce will always go that extra mile to make someone feel special.”

Who was your most influential mentor?

Gosh, I have been blessed with so many. There are two who immediately come to mind: Ron Brooks, the chaplain of my high school, and my mom Barbara. From Maj. Brooks I learned so many great life principles that have held me in good stead all of my adult life. Mom’s wisdom is simpler, but no less valuable. She has often reminded me that life may not be perfect, but you can still “bloom where you’re planted.” I think that’s pretty wise advice.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

At heart, you absolutely have to respect and enjoy the amazing diversity of human beings. You can’t make someone’s life easier, which is really what the provision of concierge services is all about, if you are closed-minded or judgmental about people. This is a field that requires strong social empathy. Additionally, I would say that it demands a nearly perfect blend of rational, logical decision making mixed with a huge dose of creativity - and hard work!


Michelle Osborne

Owner / Michelle Osborne Photography


Years in this industry: 3 

Years in this role: 3

Osborne has earned a reputation as one of the most talented newborn photographers in the area, and has been told by many clients that she is “magic” with their babies. She can calm the fussiest of newborns and instill confidence in brand new parents. Her work has led several professional teachers to reach out to her to host workshops teaching newborn photography, and she often gets requests from those who want to shadow her to learn about her process.

A perfectionist in her craft, she also has a passion for her clients. She believes in helping those less fortunate, and has offered many maternity and newborn session as “model calls” at no charge. She also works hard to create special experiences special for families with rainbow babies - a healthy baby born after miscarriage, stilllbirth or infant loss.

What is your favorite book that you would recommend reading?

I am a book nerd and have been since I was a kid. I love everything - fiction, nonfiction, the classics, true crime, psychological thrillers, murder mysteries, biographies and inspirational. I’m always reading something if I have spare time. But one book had an impact on me recently: “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist.

Who was your most influential mentor?

In the newborn photography world, the two women who’ve influenced me the most are Amy McDaniel of Dewdrops Photography and Kristen Mackey of Son Kissed Photography. I’ve mentored with both and they truly help me take my newborn photography craft to the next level.

But the person who has influenced me most in my life is my mother. As a single parent, she always had to shoulder the burdens of parenthood alone while working a full-time job and trying to wear many hats for many people. She’s the single strongest human being I know and everything I am began with her. My strength, my perseverance, my drive, my work ethic - I learned from her example. She’s overcome more in her lifetime than any soul should have to bear and she’s still here - still fighting and doing her best every day. When I first decided to seriously pursue newborn photography and had no idea how I would make this business work, she supported me. As I struggled to build a business from nothing and to get my name out into the community, wondering if anyone would ever take notice, she told me to keep going. She gave me the space I needed to flourish and helped me pick myself back up anytime I fell down. I wouldn’t be half the person or business woman that I am today if it weren’t for her.


Angela Self

Owner/Partner / Vital Spaces, LLC (owner) and Angels Three Development, LLC (partner)


Years in this industry: 4 

Years in this role: 4

After a 17-year career in health care, Self began Vital Spaces, LLC, in 2015, beginning her second career offering commercial construction project management and Building Biology consulting. Self is one of the few certified Building Biologists - certified in the science of healthy buildings - in the Southeast. Vital Spaces specializes in healthy, modern office renovations.

In 2018, she and partner Michael Watts began Angels Three Development, LLC. Through this organization, she is contributing to the revitalization of the Upstate, serving as initial investor and leader in commercial building renovations in cities such as Woodruff, McCormick and Seneca, S.C.

Self has served on boards including Greenwood Community Theatre, American Cancer Society, Greenwood Genetic Center Board of Visitors, Greenwood County Arts Council (President 2003-2004), Wesley Commons Board of Visitors, Lander University Foundation, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Foundation, and as a deacon (as well as chair of the deacon board) for First Baptist Church of Greenwood. She is also a graduate of Leadership Greenwood (1994) and Leadership Greenville (2016), and has worked with the Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels. She is currently president of CREW Upstate (Commercial Real Estate Women). In this capacity, she added a committee to reach out to high school and college women to educate them on careers in the field.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I’ve had two distinct careers and two incredible mentors. The first is Sam Tolbert, who hired me into my health care career. Not only was he an amazing teacher but also one of the kindest caring souls I have been lucky enough to know. And the second is Michael Watts, my supremely knowledgeable real estate development mentor. Michael has guided, coached, supported (and sometimes pushed and shoved!) me down my perfect path. I am where I am today because of these two men and no words would ever be adequate to thank them enough.


Brittany Sparks

Founder & CEO / Brittany Feulner Limited/Dead Ramen Co.


Years in this industry: 3 Years in this role: 2

Sparks founded her company in 2018 and has taken it to great heights, including more than a billion content streams, 105,000 product sales and 43 awards. A streaming personality and artist as well as a published author and businesswoman, Sparks founded Dead Ramen as an integrated media organization and a leader in independent consumer product and entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that deliver original products and content to audiences worldwide. Sparks made her directorial debut with the animated short film “Yue Tu” in March 2018.

Her nominator, Kiara Harris, says Sparks always puts fair and equal treatment first, and that her employees and contractors are treated like part of the family. Active in her community, Sparks used abuse and harassment in her past to fuel her involvement, creating the Brittany Fuelner Foundation, which supports organizations such as RAINN and local safe homes. She inspires many women, who can see that their lives can improve after experiencing trauma.

Who was your most influential mentor?

I have come across many amazing, strong women in many levels of business and in all aspects of business that have helped and inspired me, as I hope to do for others.

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in starting a career in your field?

Leap. Take the chances that you may think you can’t or are not strong enough to take. You are. You absolutely are strong enough and you never know whose life you’ll affect and what difference you will make.