Skip to main content

Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville Best and Brightest 35 and Under

Sep 15, 2021 04:52PM ● By David Dykes

2021 Best and Brightest comments on leadership

Welcome to Greenville Business Magazine’s 2021 Best & Brightest 35 and Under.

Now in its 27th year, our annual Best & Brightest 35 and Under issue celebrates the women and men who are rising stars in the business community.

Even though they have many more years in the workplace, these Best & Brightest have made an impact at their businesses and in our community.

We appreciate their dedication to making our state a better place to live, work and play.  

Each is unique, and we’re privileged to let them tell their stories here.  

The 2021 Best & Brightest 35 and Under for Greenville is sponsored by Blue Eye Soft, ACL Airshop, Infinity Marketing and AMEC.

Greenville Business Magazine’s 2021 Best & Brightest 35 and Under Awards Ceremony will be held Thursday, September 23rd from 6pm-8pm at Southern Bleachery. Tickets can be purchased at

Please join us in saluting these future leaders.

Patsy Ahearn


Childs Law Firm

Age 25

Growing up, I struggled to determine what I wanted my future to be. It seemed like I was always searching for something, but from my first day of college, I was hooked on law. I graduated from SUNY Dutchess with a degree in applied science paralegal in 2018 and started my internship at Rinaldi Law. I left my hometown of Hyde Park, N.Y., shortly after and planted my new roots here in Greenville. Since then, I have been the personal injury paralegal for Childs Law Firm where I have gained firsthand experience in both federal and state courts. One of my greatest accomplishments this year was settling a motor vehicle accident case for close to half a million dollars. Knowing I made a difference in a client’s life was the most humbling aspect of all.

I’ve served as VP of the South Carolina Upstate Paralegal Association for two years and am proud to be part of this group, which has given me many professional relationships and great opportunities to serve my community, volunteering and fundraising for organizations such as Jasmine Road, Serenity Place and the Julie Valentine Center. Giving back to organizations right here in my backyard gives me a sense of purpose, and it’s the best way to say thank you for all my blessings. In the future, I look forward to obtaining my paralegal certification at a national level and becoming more involved with Children’s Miracle Network and Serenity Place.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand

This quote reminds me to keep proving people wrong when they doubt your capabilities.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Stay true to who you are; you’ll thank yourself at 25.


Alissa Ahlemeyer

HR Partner

GE Power

Age 26

If you asked a young Alissa what she wanted to be when she grew up, you’d get “a dolphin trainer or a vet.” Fast forward to the college years — and one biology course later — cue a record scratch and a quick pivot to the business school. 

Originally from Wheaton, Ill., I traveled north to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University, receiving both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in international business and HR. There, I recognized my passion for people development, business strategies and the intersection of the two.

While not a Greenville native, I have called this place home since November 2019 when I relocated as part of the Human Resources Leadership Program (HRLP) at GE. This program has allowed me to further develop my passions and work amongst some fantastic talent along the way. I aspire to continue my GE journey and continuously develop myself and others to their full potential. Although I realized my childhood “dream jobs” weren’t for me, my affection for animals has only grown over the years, so I volunteer with various animal welfare groups wherever I go.

What is your favorite quote and why?

“Champions Adjust.” — A high school math teacher, Mr. L., would say this quite often, and it just stuck. Change is inevitable, and it’s best to embrace it and pivot as needed.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My dad has been and continues to be one of my rocks and biggest mentors. He has always taught me the value of hard work, persistence and thinking things through a little more than I usually do. Growing up, he was a great role model for the importance of dedication to work but also family. I value his opinion and respect him more than he probably knows.


Edward Anderson

Executive Director of OnTrack Greenville

United Way of Greenville County

Age 34

I am the executive director of OnTrack Greenville at the United Way of Greenville County. OnTrack Greenville is a community initiative designed to keep students on track to high school graduation and post-secondary success. I have spent my entire career working alongside communities and schools that are in poverty. I know poverty is a great barrier to student success, but I believe that children of poverty, when met with strategy and intervention, can be as successful and productive as their non-impoverished peers.

I attended the University of South Carolina where I earned a bachelor’s degree in education and later, a master’s in curriculum and instruction and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and technology. I worked 12 years as a teacher, district level academic specialist, assistant principal and principal. My wife, Cassie, who is a teacher, and my two sons, Ellison, 7, and Micah, 3, keep me centered.

I currently serve on the board of directors for Children’s Trust of South Carolina, an organization aimed at preventing child abuse, neglect and injury. Additionally, I serve as a mentor for the African American Male Scholar Initiative at Greenville Tech. I am a member of African American Leadership Greenville, along with the Young Leaders Society, and am co-founder of BOLD Leadership, which is focused on uplifting the profession of education, more specifically, on supporting African American male educators.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”

— Ralph Ellison

It reflects the decision I have made to provide a voice for those who are often unheard or unseen in our society.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother — she taught me the importance of family and demonstrated the core values I strive for each day: treating everyone with respect, working hard and standing up for what is right.


Jeff Antinoro

Director of Manufacturing

ACL Airshop LLC

Age 29

After graduating from Clemson University where I studied finance and accounting, I was very blessed to end up in Greenville. It has been nothing but amazing, and I look forward to what is in store for this great, fast-growing city.

I joined the ACL Airshop family almost a decade ago. From there, I have grown both as a professional and a person. During my time at ACL, I have played a vital role in our expansion to more than 50 of the world’s top airports. Ongoing growth would not be possible without the procedures and processes I put in place for our purchasing, quality control, manufacturing and shipping/receiving departments. It’s exciting to think about what the future holds. As we continue to focus more on lean manufacturing and other technologies, I believe we can become the leader in air cargo nets and straps. With that said, I am extremely thankful for my colleagues around the world and in Greenville.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My grandfather was my most influential mentor. He was always there to lend a life lesson or educate me on matters whether they were major or minor.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Stay focused, keep grinding and hard work pays off. Don’t sweat the little things and try your best. Everything else will fall into place.



Mandee Armfield

Executive Director of Development

Northwestern Mutual

Age 33

Originally from Upstate New York, I relocated to Greenville after graduating from Canisius College in 2009. In my current role as the executive director of development for Northwestern Mutual in Upstate South Carolina, I manage the onboarding of new financial representatives, oversee their contracting and licensing, create ongoing training and coaching schedules and coordinate the internship program. I enjoy helping others identify their key skills while encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones to achieve their goals.

Even though last year presented many challenges, my long-term goal has always been to face any challenge head-on, put fear of the unknown aside and support my teammates. I also believe in supporting and mentoring young athletes. When I am not spending time with my husband and son, I am passionate about the game of soccer and using this team sport to help coach young athletes. In 2018, I served as the assistant soccer coach at League Academy when the middle school girls soccer team won the district championship, and it was an experience I will never forget.


Who was your most influential mentor?

John Tripoli, managing director at Northwestern Mutual, took a chance on me as a new graduate over 10 years ago and gave me the opportunity to grow and lead in a leading financial services firm. He has believed in me and encouraged me to do things I didn’t think I could and has provided example after example of how I want to lead, motivate and care for others.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Make lasting memories. Life changes so fast. People come in and out of your life, but what is most important is living in the moment and making memories that will last a lifetime.


Tori Wallace-Babcock

Project Manager

Mashburn Construction

Company, Inc.

Age 33

“Construction Project Manager” is the job title every little girl dreams of, right? I have worked hard to bring this dream to life. After growing up in the small town of El Paso, IL., I earned a bachelor of science degree in architectural studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Two years later, the lure of a master of real estate development degree at Clemson University brought me to South Carolina. Now at Mashburn Construction, I am thrilled to lead teams that deliver high-quality projects serving our clients’ unique needs.

Upon making the Upstate my home, I have served as a part-time lecturer for Clemson’s MRED program. I am a member of the Financial Committee of Holy Communion Lutheran Church and a reliable volunteer for programs such as Hogfest and Spring Fling. I am continuing to expand my community involvement this year through Leadership Greenville’s Class 48. In the long-term, I plan to continue finding new ways I can invest in and give back to my community.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” — Katharine Hepburn

I tell myself every day, “If you are not happy, you cannot make anyone else happy.” Making my overall well-being my responsibility and priority allows me to be a brighter light to those around me.


Who was your most influential mentor?

I have a variety of people I call on for their expertise, but only one I consult in every instance, my father, Mike Wallace.


Matt Bello

Preconstruction Manager

Brasfield & Gorrie

Age 32

From a young age, I’ve been fascinated with seeing something grow from nothing, which naturally led me to a career in the building industry. After graduating from East Carolina University in 2011 with a degree in construction management and business, I began my career in construction. For the last three years, I have been fortunate to work as a preconstruction manager at Brasfield & Gorrie. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is being involved in projects that directly impact our local community. I also enjoy building relationships with people from all walks of life and working with industry partners toward a common goal.

I’m a big proponent of leaving things better than how you found them. This goes hand in hand with giving back to our community. I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer and invest resources in several local organizations like PMAC, GirlUp GVL and Soteria. Now more than ever, I’m passionate about shaping Greenville’s future and advocating for our entire community’s continued growth and success.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” — C.S. Lewis

In a world where everyone is instantly connected through multiple social media platforms, it’s easy to make decisions based on what and how others may view you; this quote is a reminder to stay true to myself.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Dedicate time each day to enjoy life; do what you love and what makes you happy: explore, travel, meet new people, cultivate existing friendships and spend time with family. Oh — and save early/often (compounded interest)!


Stephanie Clark

Vice President of Operations

ProGrin Dental

Age 35

I am the vice president of operations at ProGrin Dental, a multi-location dental organization with staff members who strive to provide the Upstate with the “perfect patient experience.” My role includes planning, directing, coordinating and overseeing activities to ensure development and implementation of efficient operations and cost-effective systems. I enjoy watching my organization grow and seeing my team grow to become Greenville’s up and coming leaders.

I am an active member of C12, the largest network of Christian executives working to increase company performance and integrate faith and business. I have worked my way up through the company and continue endeavoring to become the best that I can be. I enjoy taking care of my family, which includes our three dogs and our newest member, Mia the monkey! I give back to my community through an online platform I created called Christ Tribe where people come for advice, prayers and support. I am blessed to have a career that allows me to impact my community and team members while making time for family.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother has been my most influential mentor.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Continue to push toward your dreams. If it makes you happy, it does not matter what other people think.


Lena Cole

Catering Director, Table 301,


Table 301

Age 30

I moved to Greenville to attend Furman University where I double-majored in business administration and Spanish. Upon graduation, I worked as an event coordinator for Brick Street Café. After overseeing their daytime events, I would put on an apron to work as a line cook at night in the Soby’s kitchen. My career led to the Hilton Greenville where I gained experience as a sales administrator before working my way up to catering manager and eventually, senior sales manager.

In April 2017, I returned to the Table 301 family as private events sales manager. While I’m not currently pursuing my love of cooking in the Soby’s kitchen, I’m able to combine my passion for events, cuisine and people in my position as catering director, focusing on making the Avenue experience second to none. Hospitality is where my heart lies, and it’s how I best enjoy engaging with the Greenville community. I hope to continue doing so in future years with a long-term goal of running my own event space or boutique hotel.


Who was your most influential mentor?

From the grit and determination of my uncle who was set on becoming fluent in Spanish and now runs his own successful immigration law firm — to my mother who raised my sister and me as a single parent while giving the other part of herself serving in the Army for 23 years — many have helped mold and motivate me to get me to where I am today.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Have more fun and take more risks. As a teenager and even into my early twenties, I lived to follow the rules. I’ve grown to find out that many times, real progress, either personal or professional, comes from bending or breaking the rules. Also, mistakes aren’t the end of the world; you learn from them and may make incredible memories in the process.


Catherine Crandall

Senior Art Director


Age 35 

I am a senior art director at FUEL, but my path here was not direct. My passion growing up was language, and I graduated from Clemson with a degree in Japanese. My first job after college was at an ESL school in Arkansas. There, I learned I wanted to do more to help with communication. After moving back to Greenville in 2010, I enrolled at Greenville Technical College to get a certificate in graphic design and start a new career in marketing. Over the next nine years, I found that connecting with people to help bring their vision to life is extremely fulfilling. My appreciation of other voices has helped me listen to meaning instead of just words.

I am passionate about access to education, and I am a member of the advisory board for Greenville Technical College’s Visual Arts Department. My long-term goal is to bring more diversity into the Greenville marketing scene and to help the next generation of designers flourish here.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

— Lao Tzu

 My first Japanese language professor had us repeat this at the start of every lesson as a reminder that all great things take time.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Stay self-aware, but don’t validate yourself through others.


Meghan Foreman Dimas

Director of Analytics and Insights

Infinity Marketing

Age 30

 I grew up in Calumet, a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with my parents and three younger brothers. Since then, I’ve lived in many places, including Athens, Ohio, where I received my bachelor’s degree in strategic communication at Ohio University. After college, I moved to Chicago and worked in marketing and strategy for Sears Holdings Corporation followed by OptionsHouse, now part of E*TRADE.

In 2016, my now-husband and I visited Greenville, and within two weeks, we had broken the lease on our downtown Chicago apartment, found jobs in the Upstate and made the big move! Being part of the Greenville community has meant so much to me. One of my greatest joys is being able to give back to the community, volunteering for organizations such as Generations Group Home. I enjoy watching the Greenville Drive and the Swamp Rabbits, visiting local breweries and wineries and attending the festivals, performances and other events that are so fantastically executed all over the Upstate. I also love spending time with my husband, Christian, and our two dogs, Bella and Bori.

Currently, I am the director of analytics and insights at Infinity Marketing and am celebrating my fifth year with the company. Taking the analytics program from its infancy to where we are today has been one of my biggest professional successes. I can’t thank the rest of my team enough for all of the support and the great work they do every day.


Who was your most influential mentor?

From a very early age, I was fortunate to have had the best example of servant leadership by watching my dad grow in his career. I am forever thankful for his guidance.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Life is short. Appreciate each moment and never take a single second for granted. There is something to be thankful for each and every day, even when we aren’t where we want to be in our journey.


Mary Frances Duncan

Owner & Lead Chiropractor

Simply Southern Chiropractic Center

Age 31

I grew up in Greer and have always wanted to serve the Greater Greenville community. I attended Furman University for my undergraduate degree in political science, but I knew that my heart was for serving others. I decided to attend chiropractic school at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Florida to combine my passion for natural medicine and helping people.

I opened my first chiropractic clinic at the age of 25, and I didn’t know if I could be successful starting a private practice alone. There isn’t anything much scarier than taking out a substantial business loan and having no patients. I’m proud to say that it paid off, and I now have two clinics with four chiropractic associate doctors, serving over 5,000 patients in the Greater Greenville area. I hope to grow my practice and one day serve both Carolinas.

The heart of my career is giving back to the community by making a difference in my patients’ lives. I want them to be able to enjoy their lives without pain, unnecessary surgeries and unnecessary medication.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.” — John Wesley

This quote speaks for itself. I strive to do the best that I can and help the most people I can in everything I do.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother — she has supported every aspect of my life and career goals; that even included working for me after she retired from teaching.


Jenna Elser

Artistic Director

Glow Lyric Theatre

Age 35

Growing up in rural Arkansas, participating in theatre showed me the power of the performing arts to create empathy and enact social change. I moved to Greenville in 2009 and co-founded Glow Lyric Theatre in the middle of the recession with $700 from my own savings account. My mission was to form a vocal arts company producing opera and musical theatre in response to the political and social climate of South Carolina.

Productions I’ve directed with Glow have served over 100,000 audience members and provided jobs to 1,300 artists. Glow’s benefit concerts have raised vital funds for organizations like Community Remembrance Project and Upstate Pride. I’m proud of my partnership with The Hispanic Alliance on “West Side Story,” which sparked dialogue about the treatment of immigrants. I also collaborated with Jasmine Road and Safe Harbor on productions illuminating the effect of trafficking and abuse on Southern women.

My ultimate hope is that the arts be recognized as a powerful force igniting positive community change. The arts are businesses — just as vital to the Greenville economy as they are to our culture and the well-being of our citizens.


Who was your most influential mentor?

The theatre director who cast me in my first play at age 7 was my most influential mentor.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Take more time for yourself and make sure you develop hobbies. Quit planning so much. Listen to the universe.


Lauren Gosse

VP Treasury Sales Officer

Bank of America

Age 27

I serve as a VP treasury sales officer at Bank of America in Greenville. My passion for my community and Bank of America began right after I graduated from the University of South Carolina and moved to Greenville for my first job. As a double major in finance and marketing with a minor in retail, I found the Bank of America Financial Center Operations Development Program to be a great first step in establishing relationships with our clients and assisting them with their financial priorities. Soon after my time on the consumer banking side, I transitioned to commercial banking — middle market treasury. It has been an amazing opportunity helping our middle market commercial clients with their treasury needs and developing relationships across the community.

Additionally, I have volunteered with impactful organizations in the Upstate. It has been an honor to give back to the community where I live, and Bank of America provides resources and flexibility for volunteerism. From leading the Upstate Snack Pack Program (delivering 750+ snack packs to Title I schools) to installing siding on a Habitat for Humanity house — these were unforgettable experiences. As I continue to advance my career, I am excited to serve my clients and my community while also helping further grow companies in the Upstate.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents — they are the most hardworking individuals, and it has been a blessing to look up to them for 27 years and counting.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Do not worry about what others think of you — be yourself. Enjoy the present because time flies.


Maegan Heinz

Executive Director / Producer

Greenville Fashion Week

Age 32

I have an extremely diversified background that includes nursing, marketing, modeling, pageantry, dance and many entrepreneurial endeavors. Growing up in Easley, I was always interested in fashion and even received the best dressed award in high school. While I was attending College of Charleston, that interest was fueled when Charleston Fashion Week started. Witnessing the beginning of such an incredible event, I had a dream of bringing something like that to the Upstate, and the result was Greenville Fashion Week (GFW).

My background has played a vital role in my ability to recognize and recruit the best and most talented team to make my idea a reality. Driven to succeed, I found a mentor to guide me in this process. I also depended on my tenacity to form the tough skin needed to accept the challenges and many “no’s” along the way.

Heading into its fifth year, GFW has catapulted to success. It has been incredible to have a front-row seat and to see the designers, models, stylists and many others growing and thriving, along with my business as a whole. I’ve been fortunate to bring celebrity status and economic impact to Greenville. I’m so blessed to be part of the community and take great pride in its growth. In my free time, I love advocating for helmet safety and spending time with my husband and daughter. The new title of “Mom” is my favorite! 


What is your favorite quote and why?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”   — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote for the mere fact that no matter what we have faced or will face in life, the strength and resiliency that lie within us are what matters. As a business owner, you will face many challenges and obstacles, but you must remember your “why” and what lies within you to evolve to the next level.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Carl Sobocinski as he helped guide me through establishing Greenville Fashion Week. It has truly been an honor to watch not only Table 301 continue to flourish and grow, but also Euphoria, especially after the conditions we faced this past year. The advice he stated was to never give up, and when you find something that ignites a passion within you — do just that. He has a passion for helping others and mentoring young entrepreneurs to achieve their ambitions. I hope to one day be in a position to do the same and give back.


Lacey Hennessey

Traveling Artist

Lacey Does

Age 34

I am a self-taught artist, traveling muralist and entrepreneur based out of Greenville. My body of work is often a reflection of my personality — or so I’d like to think . . .  colorful and fun, displaying bold lines and patterns, all with purpose. I’m known as a “chameleon of the arts” because my style and techniques are adaptable. My mediums range from digital applications, to acrylic, watercolor, mixed-media collages and textile design.

My love for travel and freedom to explore new opportunities was the catalyst for pursuing a full-time art career, and it is what drives my creative spirit every day. Since 2018, I’ve sent commissions out of my home studio to clients in over 30 states and now ship internationally. With over 50 murals on my résumé, my goal is to do one in every state. I attribute much of my success to a growing following on social media and consistent word-of-mouth references to “see if Lacey does it.”


Who was your most influential mentor?

I bounce ideas off a talented group of women — all strong, independent go-getters — but Marion Crawford (owner of the marketing agency, Crawford) has played the roles of boss, mentor and friend to me for over eight years. The knowledge I’ve gained from her about leadership, being an entrepreneur and how to be a strong woman in business is more valuable than I ever could have expected. I was lucky to work alongside her and watch her business grow for six years. She supported my art . . . and encouraged me to follow my dream.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I’d say (maybe even shout), “Don’t listen to them, Lacey, artists do make money, and as long as you find something you love, the hustle and money will follow.”


Hayes Holliday


Holliday Ingram LLC

Age 35

In 2016, I founded Holliday Ingram on a core principle: to embody the high standards of a large firm while delivering the personalized attention of a smaller practice. By fundamentally building the foundation of the firm on authentic relationships and exceptional service, I have ensured the success of both the client and the company.

I am a native of Greenville, and I earned my undergraduate degree in marketing from Clemson University and law degree from the University of South Carolina. I began my legal career as a clerk for the Circuit Court judge and then served as assistant solicitor (district attorney) in South Carolina’s 7th Judicial Circuit. I entered the practice of real estate law at Leinster Law Firm in 2014. My wife, Katelyn, and I are proud parents to three children. We’re also avid Clemson fans and happily serve in ministry at Grace Church.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Joe Barron, my scoutmaster in Boy Scouts, was my most influential mentor — a great man who was an incredible leader and role model at an influential time in my childhood.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Success doesn’t come overnight. Keep your head down and stay humble. Adversity can be a good thing, so try to learn and grow from it. The best success can come after failure.


J.K. Jay

Founding Partner / President


Age 31

As co-founder and president of LyonJay, my responsibilities include overseeing the company’s operations, creating and maintaining relationships with capital partners and overseeing project development and investment. To date, I have secured over $1 billion in debt and equity commitments, and I am responsible for a portfolio currently valued at over $500 million.

As a former member of the Clemson football team and an All ACC Academic Team honoree under Coach Dabo Swinney, I try to exemplify the leadership he exhibited and the culture he graciously fostered during his time at Clemson. I am committed to creating optimal investment opportunities for LyonJay’s capital partners and developing great communities for their builder clients and residents. Outside of work, I enjoy giving back to my community by mentoring current Clemson players through the P.A.W. Journey program, serving on the board of directors of Clemson’s Letterman’s Association and serving on the Laurens County Transportation Committee. My greatest accomplishments and sources of pride are my wife, Katie, and two young boys, Jack and Hunter.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Coach Dabo Swinney and my business partner Jennings Lyon have been my most influential mentors.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I would tell myself to dream big dreams, not just in football, but in life. Dream big for what you want professionally, personally and spiritually. Trust God. Focus on the moment and be the best you can be in each moment. Focus on loving and serving people as much as you can. Enjoy the journey.


Jonathan Klett


Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

Age 29

I am not a Greenville native, but I am happy to have lived here for almost four years now. I am an attorney at Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. Focusing on commercial litigation, I have been in private practice since the fall of 2018. I also proudly serve on the American Red Cross Board for the Upstate South Carolina chapter.

Prior to joining Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., I worked for a United States District Court judge in Greenville. I received my bachelor of science degree from Clemson University in 2014 and my Juris Doctor degree from Tulane University School of Law in 2017. Most importantly, I am married to Lauren Klett, and we have a goldendoodle named Jax.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

I like this quote because it shows there is success in failure, and you will not achieve anything without at least trying.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My father, Corky Klett, has been my most influential mentor.


Srikanth Kodeboyina


BES Group

Age 33

I had a dream to come to America to build great businesses and help as many people as possible through the impact of those enterprises; I became the founder of Blue Eye Soft, BlueDocAI, the South Carolina Institute of Technology, BESC Real Estate and the Heroes Fund, so one might say I’ve been able to live the “American dream” life.

One of my proudest moments was when I became a direct commissioned officer with a rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Army and received expedited U.S. citizenship. I was also honored to be named Minority Businessperson of the Year by the South Carolina Small Business Association in 2019 and an ambassador for the S.C. Ports Authority.

My near-term goal is accomplishing the mission of the companies I founded: weatherproofing space and making it open to everyone on Earth; saving lives with artificial intelligence; and educating the next generation of space leaders with advanced technologies.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper has been my most influential mentor.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Live in the moment. Life is short. Fail big. Do only things that make you happy and never compromise.


Elizabeth Lee

Assistant Director of Water Resources

Greenville Water

Age 32

I was born and raised in Augusta, Ga., and I have called Greenville, S.C., my home since 2014. I am currently the assistant director of water resources for Greenville Water where I oversee the daily operations of both water treatment plants to ensure safe, high quality drinking water for the public. Additional areas of work include the watersheds, reservoirs, water quality laboratory and facility maintenance.

I’m an active member of the Water Environment Association of SC (WEASC), a member of the WEASC Membership Committee and secretary for the Blue Ridge Foothills District. Outside of work, I stay involved with the local community through environmental efforts such as SC Adopt-a-Stream and Reedy River cleanups. Cycling is one of my biggest passions, and I am actively involved in the local cycling community through riding and assisting with numerous cycling events throughout the Southeast. Additionally, I am a coach for Greenville NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association), which aims to get more middle school and high school kids on mountain bikes.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents — they pushed me to pursue my goals, and they have supported me through everything.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Take advantage of every opportunity and remember to slow down and enjoy the experience!


Grace Herlong Loveless

REALTOR® and Sales Associate

Joan Herlong & Associates

Sotheby’s International Realty

Age 31

Working for BMW of North America, I traveled all over the world, helping BMW’s dealer network ensure the company’s luxury clients were treated the same no matter where on the planet they made their purchases. I believe luxury is an experience, not a price point, and have brought that approach to Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty.

In my first year in full-time real estate sales, I sold more than $9 million and was named Rookie of the Year for the company. In 2020, I was a member of Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty’s President’s Circle for doing more than $5 million in total volume and was featured on HGTV’s “House Hunters.”

Growing up in Greenville, I attended Blythe Elementary, Hughes and League Middle, Greenville High and Furman University. My husband and I moved away for a few years but returned to Greenville after having our daughter in 2017. We are happy to be back and to have grandparents galore to spend time with our daughter and our baby boy, who was born in 2020.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother has been my most influential mentor. I grew up learning real estate by osmosis in the back seat of her car. She raised me to be strong and confident and to stand up for myself and people who need it — and somehow, she did it while working full time, becoming who she is and raising four kids. If I’m half the businesswoman and mother that she was, I’ll be doing just fine.


What is your favorite quote and why?

My favorite quote is, “Work hard and be nice to people.” I have no idea who said it. I just have pretty much always had that as my life motto. There’s no time or reason to ever be mean to someone; life is long, and I truly believe if you’re kind to all and work hard, you’ll be better off in the long run.


Daniel McFadden

AVP, Express Underwriting

Canal Insurance

Age 31 

I grew up in Daytona Beach, Fla., and came to Greenville to attend college at Furman University where I played football and graduated with a mathematics-economics degree. During my college years, I encountered new cultures, new people and a new career path, which led me to the actuary profession. With this newfound interest upon graduation, I was able to stay in Greenville and land an internship with Canal Insurance. 

After nearly a decade, I am now the AVP of Express Underwriting, an associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and an MBA graduate of Webster University. Every day, my focus is to reach new heights in every aspect of my life while elevating others. I believe life is not worth living unless you are positively affecting the world around you. Through various team sports, I volunteer to help coach and build the next generation of men. The Greenville Red Raiders youth football league and Relentless Church’s Night Flight Basketball have played huge parts in making that goal a reality.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mom has and continues to be my most influential mentor. She has always been able to weather any storm that may arrive through her faith, love and trust in God.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t be afraid to try, and if you fail, keep trying. Whatever goal you have set for yourself, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Persevere.


Holly McKissick

Senior Account Executive

Hughes Agency

Age 30

I’ve always appreciated a good story. It wasn’t until taking a job in corporate communications that I realized how impactful good storytelling can be in the workplace, and when I began working in public relations, I saw how impactful it can be in the community. As a senior account executive at Hughes Agency, I help clients craft and share their stories. Whether it’s landing a feature for a sustainability-focused technology company or securing coverage for our YMCA’s lifesaving programs, we get the word out to help drive the results our clients need.

Long-term, I’d like to lead strategic communications for clients. I’d also like to mentor young people who are finding their footing in the workplace and dedicate more of my time to serving organizations like Upstate Warrior Solution and the Charity Ball Board of Greenville. For me, giving back to the community means having compassion for those in need and figuring out how to help.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13

It just doesn’t get much more empowering or humbling than that.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents are my most influential mentors. They have encouraged me to pursue my passions and challenged me to strive to be the best I can be — and they are always available for advice. My mom and dad are both incredible in their own ways and lead lives I hope to emulate.


GP McLeer


City of Fountain Inn

Age 32

When I was in the sixth grade, my friends and I started a petition to get recess back — and it worked. That passion to work for positive change has fueled my role as executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance where we work to advance the arts through public policy at all levels of government; that has directly impacted my approach to serving as mayor of Fountain Inn.

As mayor, I have the pleasure of rolling up my sleeves and getting to work for our community. This ranges from changing zoning laws to ensure our small-town charm is protected to working with the dozen or so small businesses that have opened in the last year — to celebrating and embracing our new Fountain Inn High School. My greatest joy as mayor comes from connecting with the residents and businesses that make up our wonderful community and cheering them on. For me, giving back to the community is the key to appreciating where you live. Giving back doesn’t always mean doing something big; it’s typically the small ways you give back that add up and equal big change.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“It’s about teaching yourself that everything is interesting.” — Malcolm Gladwell

You have to have some level of interest in each component of your community in order to best serve it.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Treat your goals like a to-do list and get to work.


MaryEllis Petrosian

Executive Director

YMCA of Greenville Foundation

Age 34

After graduating from Clemson University, I began to volunteer with local nonprofits and found my calling. I have continued to follow this passion, earning my Certified Fundraising Executive credential from AFP International as well as certifications from Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Since 2017, I have been proud to serve as the executive director of the YMCA of Greenville Foundation. Each day, I have the privilege of working to improve Greenville with an organization that emphasizes caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Our community is constantly changing, but these pillars to empower future generations, to treasure each individual and family in our community, are daily reminders of why nonprofit work is crucial.

Currently, I serve on boards for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Piedmont Chapter, Christ Church Endowment Corporation and Camp Alleghany for Girls. I’m an active member of the Junior League of Greenville, Greenville Clemson Club and Greenville Women Giving and serve as a moderator for the YMCA of the USA Financial Development Community. Each role, locally and nationally, is a chance to help another organization provide a positive impact in the lives of others.


What is your favorite quote and why?

 “Your talent will open the door, but only your character can keep you there.” — Christine Caine

This quote reminds me of what it means to be a strong and honest leader, working hard to achieve goals and giving credit where it is due while being part of a larger team pushing forward together.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My parents are my most influential mentors.


Christiana Pott

Chief Executive Officer

Zenith Real Estate

Age 23

Born in California but raised in the Carolinas, I claim to be a native and am proud to be a part of such a rapidly growing city. My husband and I married young and found a shared interest in, well, interest! We quickly became fascinated with investments, specifically real estate. Starting in 2018, we jumped headfirst into building a now $12.4 million portfolio of residential and commercial properties in the Upstate. In 2020, we started Zenith Real Estate, a real estate acquisitions, holdings and development group that provides entitled land to home builders, lucrative investment opportunities to our clients, rental housing solutions for tenants and creative purchasing solutions for homeowners. Zenith has grown to over 15 employees and is on track to produce over $2.8 million in revenue in 2021.

In the coming years, I plan to purchase and redevelop more companies that provide valuable solutions within our economy. I care deeply for all of our stakeholders and strive to carry this mindset into any and all future ventures. It is my belief that building solution-based companies and focusing on the community’s needs go hand in hand. I aim to continue providing necessary and impactful organizations.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” — Jim Collins

This quote constantly reminds me, in every aspect of my life, that being the best version of myself requires movement. Greatness is not spontaneous; it cannot suddenly appear out of nothing. Sitting on my couch does not produce anything but more laziness. If what you are doing does not produce greatness, it never will. If your result is the same, change the variables. This is proven in math and science. It’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. It’s basic algebra.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My husband, Josiah Pott, is, among other great things, the strongest, smartest and most hardworking man I know. He has taught me to be strong, confident, assertive and hardworking and shown me what being brave and taking risks look like, all while being the most supportive and loving friend and coworker I could ever have. My father-in-law, Christopher Pott, has been my greatest adviser since beginning this journey. He has taught me what it means to lead, care for my employees, calculate risk, keep my passion in perspective and work smart. He is selfless, caring and brilliant.


Leigh Powell

Client Resource Manager

TransTech, A Wabtec Company

Age 35

Nine years ago, I accepted a temporary position at TransTech. Since that time, TransTech has doubled in size and is a $40 million business unit of the Fortune 300 Wabtec Company. TransTech provides electrical distribution equipment to the passenger transit and industrial markets. Our products and services support critical infrastructure like transit agencies and steel mills, and I am extremely proud of our contributions to communities throughout North America.

I am now a member of the senior leadership team at TransTech. As the client resource manager, I have many and varied responsibilities. I create and implement site-wide processes, I support my team members’ career growth and I ensure our customers’ needs are understood internally. I also analyze data regarding supply chain and production and then utilize that data to create strategies to meet revenue goals. Long-term, I hope to be in a position that enables me to focus on people through professional growth and leadership. Outside of the office, I enjoy hiking and kayaking in the natural beauty of my hometown of Greenville and throughout the Upstate.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

— Brené Brown

This is my favorite quote because it inspires me to model my behavior in accordance with my values.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Steven Halbert, who has supported me along my career path, and Benjamin Barth, who is a sounding board for all things related to communication, are my most influential mentors.


Jon Rhodes

Vice President of Business Development

Phillips Staffing

Age 34

I am a Greenville transplant of 14 years, and I absolutely love this wonderful city I get to call home. That is why I am incredibly honored to be included in Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest 35 and Under.

I started my career in commercial and industrial construction and worked my way up from helper electrician, eventually earning my journeyman’s certificate in 2008. In 2011, I transitioned from construction to recruiting and began sourcing skilled tradesmen from all over the country to work on various industrial construction projects in the Upstate. Becoming more engaged in the workforce and training field, I eventually earned an OSHA 500 Authorized Training Certificate through the Department of Labor and went on to train thousands in the construction and general industry fields. 

In 2018, I became vice president of business development for Phillips Staffing. I was tasked with leading their business development team and have increased revenues each year since. Additionally, I became a job analyst for WIN Learning through the Department of Employment and Workforce in 2020. I am a National SHRM member and act as the workforce development volunteer for the local Anderson Area SHRM chapter.

Along with my wife, Abby, and our two children, Parker and Owen, I enjoy the lake, mountains and coastal areas of the Carolinas. I am proud of the support system my family provides and consider myself to be truly blessed. I look forward to strengthening my roots and continuing to make a positive impact in the Upstate.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My mother for her grace and relentless love and my father for his knowledge and wisdom are my most influential mentors.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Trust the process and let go of things that are out of your control.


Antonio Smith


Visionary Insights

Age 27

I am a South Carolina native and a graduate of Wofford College and the University of South Carolina. I obtained my CPA license in 2019 and have been working in the public accounting field for over 10 years. I have assisted numerous small business owners across the Southeast with various aspects of running their enterprises.

My background in accounting, economics, finance and international business has provided me a unique perspective, which I synergize with the services I offer. I have provided financial statement packages, along with advisory services and business and individual income tax services. In July 2021, I formed Visionary Insights to focus my efforts on giving business owners clarity as to the financial health and operational efficiency of their businesses.

Many business owners lack the available time to refine their business models. My aim is to help small business owners reach the next level in their business endeavors. Through rigorous financial statement analysis, bespoke data analysis and concise conclusions, Visionary Insights can help them achieve this goal.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama

This quote reminds me that I am in control of my destiny.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Add computer science to your undergraduate curriculum.


Chad Stepp

Senior Associate / Shareholder

Lee & Associates

Age 27

Born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina, I have been fortunate to see the Upstate grow into what it is today. Upon graduating from Clemson University in 2016, I moved to Greenville and started my career in commercial real estate at Lee & Associates (a full-service commercial real estate firm). 

As an industrial real estate broker, I represent my clients across the Upstate and throughout the Southeast. Whether it’s helping a client who’s building a new speculative facility or assisting a company with relocation, I am gratified by the continued growth of Greenville and the surrounding area. 

In my free time, I enjoy fly fishing, the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My father, Rick Stepp, has been my most influential mentor. He taught me how to think like an entrepreneur, and I think that plays a huge role in the real estate industry.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t be afraid of rejection.


Frank S. Stern


Turner Padget

Age 32

As a Turner Padget associate, I have had the distinct honor of serving as first chair in nearly 20 jury trials in courtrooms across Upstate South Carolina. I represent and defend national insurance carriers, leading trucking and transportation companies, along with other businesses in insurance disputes, construction litigation, product liability, personal injury and premises liability suits.

Serving as co-chair of the firm’s Associates Committee has afforded me the opportunity and privilege of mentoring my fellow associates, as well as organizing events and programs that further develop the firm’s future leaders. One of my deepest honors has been to serve on the board of directors and projects committee for TreesUpstate as we partner with community members to restore the natural resources and beauty of the area. Growing up in this terrific city, I have witnessed firsthand Greenville’s extraordinary growth and commitment to service. I am honored to have been nominated and selected for Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor is David L. Moore Jr.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from striving toward your goals.


Jessica Tanoury

Vice President of Product Management for Mobility


Age 35

I currently serve as vice president of product management for mobility at SYNNEX Corporation. I’ve had the privilege of working for SYNNEX since 2008 and have been honored with President’s Club and Women of the Channel recognitions multiple times over the past several years. One of the best parts of my job has been the opportunity to grow, promote and support both team members and outside organizations. I’ve been lucky to be part of our SYNNEX Share the Magic committee and to be involved in the launch of one of the first Employee Resource Groups at the company. However, the single most important and rewarding aspect of my life is my family. My husband, Anthony, and my two boys, Anthony and Henry, keep me on my toes and challenge me every day.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

­— Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I admire Ruth Bader Ginsburg; she was able to accomplish so much not only professionally, but also as a wife and mother.


Who was your most influential mentor?

My first and longest standing mentors have been my parents. Professionally, I’ve been fortunate to have so many mentors throughout my career, but I’d have to mention former SYNNEX SVP Rob Moyer as someone who has always truly had my best interest at heart and pushes and challenges me to this day.


Javion Woods


LifeEaze Virtual Assistant LLC

More Than a Mother

Age 35

Javion Woods is who I am, but I am most proud of having a heart of grace and servitude and being a mother of 10 beautiful children. The opportunity to be their mother is what has helped me strive to become the best version of myself.

After surviving a tumultuous marriage filled with adultery and abuse, I was fortunate enough to earn a degree in HR and business management as well as launch a business and a nonprofit organization. My business is LifeEaze Virtual Assistant, and the nonprofit I founded is More Than a Mother. Both are based on what is inside of us and the principle of not losing ourselves to just existing — but choosing to become more. With these two organizations, I hope to create a pathway for women to reach within themselves and use the skills they have mastered to pursue their passions while being able to add monetary value to their lives.


Who was your most influential mentor?

Jil Littlejohn Bostick has been my most influential mentor.


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Hey girl, above all else, choose love, hold onto the strength in forgiveness, and don’t allow external circumstances to keep you from believing how amazing you really are.