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Greenville Business Magazine

2023 Women in Business

Jul 12, 2023 03:53PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

Advice from 2023 Women in Business leaders

South Carolina is fortunate to have a thriving business community, and much of that success is due to the women who have made such an impact on the state’s economy, health care, educational systems, and more.

We’re proud to honor 76 of those women in these pages. These women are making a difference in many fields, from education to real estate, law to banking, construction to entrepreneurship.

Integrated Media Publishing reviewed an impressive group of nominees to come up with this list of 70 Women in Business honorees, along with five Women to Watch, who are just beginning to make an impression on the business world in the Palmetto State.

This year’s honorees offer their personal stories, along with advice for other women who are making strides in business.


Ellyn Alexander

Home Advantage Realty, LLC


Ellyn Alexander is the CFO of Home Advantage Realty, LLC which has five real estate offices in South Carolina, primarily in the Columbia area. 

Prior to her current role, Alexander was with Walmart Stores Inc from 2010 to 2019 in a variety of accounting and finance roles, with her most recent role being director, FP&A for the company’s distribution centers.  Before Walmart, Ellyn spent five years with KPMG, LLP in Greenville, where she worked primarily on publicly listed clients across the finance, food and beverage, and entertainment sectors.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

Compassion for others and recognizing that most of the time, people are doing their best.


Euleta Alston

US&S, Inc.

President and Co-Owner

As both president and co-owner of US&S, Alston is responsible for the day-to-day administration and management of all business functions of the company. She has nearly 15 years of service and experience at the company, holding various positions throughout her career. Alston also serves on the board of directors and executive committee for Community Works, the UNCF Upstate Leadership Council, and the Greenville Chamber’s board of directors.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Something that we all have heard, but I wish I internalized a bit earlier in my life is that life itself is precious and it goes by much faster than we think. Making every moment count is critical and there is no price tag that can be put on being present and allowing yourself to be immersed in life’s special moments — professionally and personally. It’s so easy to get caught in the grind of the day to day and miss out on the little things; if you find yourself caught, allow yourself both flexibility and grace!


Liz Ashley


CEO and Chief Aligner

Specializing in professional development and team training, Liz Ashley serves as the chairwoman for Thrive, a professional women’s organization affiliated with the Charleston Metro Chamber. She sits on the executive board at the Harbour Club at WestEdge as the chairwoman of the membership committee, and serves on the board of Warrior Surf Foundation, an organization that provides surf therapy to veterans struggling with PTSD.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

My ability to create cohesive and alignment makes me an effective leader. I work alongside clients and colleagues to co-create a clear vision for the future and agree upon what is needed to move a team toward that goal. One of my greatest strengths is the skill of facilitating productive dialogue. I am still working on finding excitement in the challenges that create discomfort. 


Jacque Barr

The Dieter Company

Guest Relations Coordinator

Jacque Barr describes her role with the Dieter Company, which offers sales and vacation rental management services for Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach properties, as “making sure every guest has a memorable stay with us!”

A Georgetown native, Barr has been with the Dieter Company for more than 20 years, and a colleague nominated her for the South Carolina Women in Business honor in part because she “makes every guest feel valued, important, and seen during their stay.”

When she’s not working, Barr enjoys boating, motorcycles, photography, and spending time with family.


Becky Berube

United Catalyst Corporation

President and Founder

Becky Berube has served the recycling community for over 30 years. As United Catalyst Corporation president, she writes a monthly educational column for the industry, serves on the ARA Annual Convention Educational Programming Committee and Peer Mentoring Program, and is a past president of the International Precious Metals Institute.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

The one thing that I have learned in 31 years of business is that it is always too soon to quit. In business, as in life, there will be lean times and times of abundance. The secret is to stay in the game. To never rest on your laurels or yesterday’s accomplishments. Always work hard and bring your A game. If you do, it will pay off in the end. Or at least you will finish the race!


Gina Boulware

Table 301

Director, Marketing and Public Relations

Gina Boulware joined Table 301 in 2003. Since joining the company, she has played a role in the branding and marketing of all Table 301 restaurant concepts. With more than 25 years of experience in the field, Boulware now works as the company’s director of marketing and public relations. She has served on the board of Loaves and Fishes and Visit Greenville SC. In addition, Boulware was involved in the creation of the Euphoria food, wine and music festival and served on the festival’s board for multiple terms.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust your team. It’s easy to think there is a secret to success that others know, and you don’t. What I’ve found is that most of us are “making it up as we go.” There is not one right way to achieve a result or goal. Try things. If they work, do them again. If they don’t, well, I’m willing to bet you still learned a valuable lesson that will help with a future idea.


Nancy Brookshire

Plus-Plus USA

Director of Operations

Born in Mexico, raised in Texas, and graduating with a degree in Supply Chain Management from Greenville Technical College, Nancy Brookshire enjoys working daily with a diverse team. As the director of operations for Plus-Plus USA, she operates under the philosophy that if she can enjoy what she’s doing, she will work harder.

How do you define leadership? 

I define leadership as empowering a great group of people, inspiring them to perform at their fullest potential. Understanding that not everything is for everyone, but how key it is for everyone to be in the right seat. Leadership is understanding that to be a great leader you must look beyond the “office walls,” that each person on the team has a story, a passion, a goal in life. It’s understanding that as their leader you play an important role in helping each person achieve their goals. Leadership is listening, sympathizing, and leading by example.


Lorelie Brown

Showhomes Charleston

Franchise Owner

Lorelie Brown and her husband opened the Showhomes of Charleston franchise in 2010 as she sought a career to pursue her love for design. Her 12-year career in marketing for a national education company allowed her the opportunity to design commercial interiors at new locations and redesign existing sites.

How do you define leadership? 

I recognize that leadership can be defined in thousands of suppositional and experiential approaches. Countless books have been written on leadership theories and viewpoints. My graduate degree was in leadership, and while I am not an expert, I do have some formalized training in the art of leading others. Notwithstanding, I personally believe leadership involves empowering others toward a unified effort through serving, guiding, and helping them to become their best. When everyone works toward a common purpose, knowing they are supported and given the tools necessary to pursue those goals and objectives well, everyone succeeds – the employees or constituents, the leader, and ultimately, the organization.


Elizabeth Wooten Burwell

First National Bank, PA

Senior Vice President

A 23-year financial industry veteran, Elizabeth Wooten Burwell joined First National Bank in 2019 as Charleston Market President to build and lead their commercial banking team.

Prior to her current role, she held various positions with Wells Fargo Bank and its successors. Most recently, she served as a Business Banking Manager in Charleston responsible for a large team of relationship managers, and oversight of their portfolios and operations.

What is the best advice you’ve received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Raise your hand and then lend a hand! Do not be afraid to speak up and raise your hand. Do not wait until you feel 100 percent ready for the next step or challenge.  Dream, lean in, work hard, believe, embrace the next opportunity, and then lend a hand to help the person coming behind you.


Lydia Callahan

The Reading HQ and Palmetto Fortis

Chief Marketing Officer and Founder

After starting her marketing company Palmetto Fortis with a friend in 2016, Lydia Callahan returned to her roots as a teacher following the pandemic by creating a service to help students who are struggling in reading, which she named the Reading HQ program.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Everyone who started the company seven years ago is still with the company. That time period has seen a lot of hard work, difficult decisions, intentional industry pivots, and stretching ourselves beyond what we thought we could really do. Through it all, we’ve kept our internal lines of communication open, allowing for new ideas to flow and feedback (both positive and negative) to be not just submitted, but implemented. Every seat at the table is heard.


Jessica Carter, Ph.D.

Lowcountry Graduate Center


Jessica Carter is an innovator, parallel entrepreneur, and strategist with over 20 years of experience in achieving business growth objectives within start-ups, turnaround, and rapid-change environments.

How do you define leadership?

I have yet to find a definitive definition of leadership, and even in academia, there is no consensus. In the business world, a leader's success is often measured by their financial gain; however, this does not necessarily equate to good leadership. On the other hand, there are many leaders who have gone unrecognized. Nevertheless, there is one theme that often appears: Leaders are recognized for having a vision that not only benefits them, but positively impacts others.


Mary-Allyson Chauvin

Langston Construction Company of Piedmont, LLC

Human Resources/People Operation Manager

With an undergraduate degree in industrial chemistry and graduate degrees in human resources and project management, Mary-Allyson Chauvin adapts her scientific methodology experience to successfully drive high-impact business solutions with critical people operations to align culture and business objectives. 

In her role with Langston Construction Co., Chauvin provides leadership and facilitates collaboration for innovative solutions to multi-level challenges in order to elevate the rhythm of business and nurture motivating employee experiences. 

How do you define leadership?

An effective leader has the ability to recognize an individual's value and empower them to harness and elevate their value to benefit the collective.


Jennifer S. Cluverius

Maynard Nexsen

Shareholder, Board of Directors, Labor & Employment Practice Group Leader

Jennifer “Jennie” Cluverius is an experienced litigator who also provides daily counsel to employers on employment, labor, and other business-related matters.

She regularly advises and defends some of the most prominent companies doing business in the Southeast and works with many Carolina businesses, colleges, and universities. She represents employers in federal and state court litigation, and before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, and the Department of Employment and Workforce.

Cluverius regularly works with management clients on disputes involving ADA, ADEA, FLSA, FMLA, Title VII and NLRA claims, as well as claims such as breach of contract, wrongful termination, unlawful theft, use, and disclosure of trade secrets, and workers’ compensation retaliation.

She conducts investigations into alleged harassment, discrimination, and other misconduct claims across the country. 


Lia Colabello

Planet+Purpose Solutions, PBC

Managing Principal

Lia Colabello develops and manages award-winning sustainability initiatives for organizations, with a focus on conducting sustainability assessments, reducing single-use plastic, pursuing Climate Neutral and B Corporation certifications, implementing circular economy strategies, and engaging entire brand ecosystems in these efforts. A graduate of Arizona State University, Colabello is the managing principal of Planet+Purpose Solutions, a women-led, B Corp Certified boutique consulting practice.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

My career path has been an interesting international journey with each experience building a foundation and providing learnings for subsequent opportunities. It has all laddered up to the knowledge, network, resources, and confidence it takes to start a business. Launching Planet+Purpose Solutions, a boutique B Corp Certified consulting practice that helps organizations with their sustainability initiatives, has certainly been a pinnacle moment for me. 


Leslie Crickman

Mattress By Appointment

Chief Financial Officer

Leslie Crickman began her career at Mattress By Appointment in 2014, eventually assuming the position of director of finance in 2016 and earning a promotion to vice president of finance in 2017. As the CFO, Leslie orchestrates financials, human resources, customer service, and information technology management with the help of a small team.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

My proudest accomplishments have always been with my relationships with people. I love being able to teach someone something that someone else has taught me along the way, and then watch them flourish in their career. I can’t take full credit for any of the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, but I do hope our time together has had a lasting impact on them professionally.


Rachel Delport

Greenville Humane Society

Chief Executive Officer

Rachel Delport is a professional animal welfare leader in Greenville, South Carolina with 10 years of experience in the animal shelter industry. She gets to enjoy her love for both animals and people daily by serving as the chief executive officer at the Greenville Humane Society.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

I am an approachable people-person that exudes positive energy. I am honest, dependable, and reliable. I value the growth in others and want to be an integral part of their growth journey. I have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. I am fascinated by the future and what it may hold for myself and those around me. I inspire others to make bold moves because I believe that opportunities are endless. I believe that you can accomplish anything that you put your mind to, and I take pride in that daily. With determination, confidence, and support, one can really make the impossible possible.


Christine DuBose

Wells Fargo

District Manager

Christine DuBose has over 17 years of experience in banking and leadership with Wells Fargo. She is currently a District Manager and leads a team of 95 employees across 11 branches in Charleston and surrounding areas.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

My greatest fear is to have regrets as a mother. To overcome this, I live life to the fullest. I am present and spend quality time with my children. I show them that we make decisions in our lives to be happy and healthy. I remind myself often (especially on the tough days) that I’m their role model for discipline, integrity, confidence, and kindness.


Tyler Easterling

The Brandon Agency


Tyler Easterling is president of The Brandon Agency, an integrated marketing agency headquartered in Myrtle Beach.

Easterling learned to grow brands during her years working on such accounts as Celebrity Cruises, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Orient-Express Hotels.

She has served on the SC Chamber of Commerce, Waccamaw Community Foundation, Helping Hands of Georgetown and YPO Southern 7 boards. She has also chaired the Coastal Montessori Charter School board, Kappa Delta Sorority Nominating Committee and Litchfield Dance Foundation.

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is the art of articulating a vision and motivating a group toward a common goal. The fun part of getting to lead a team is seeing others become smarter, more confident and getting to celebrate successes together.


Joann Elkin

Core4ce, LLC

Vice President and Corporate Controller

With 29 years of accounting experience, Joann Elkin works as the vice president and corporate controller at Core4ce where she oversees accounting operations and supports nearly 500 employees within the company. Elkin was among the earliest members of the Core4ce team and has worked to build the company from the ground up – positioning Core4ce for future growth, shaping a supportive corporate culture, and advising senior executives.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

What makes me an effective leader is my ability to be kind, listen to people, and to try and help others do their best. My greatest strength is being able to consistently work hard with the level of perseverance necessary to solve complex problems. I’m still working on refining my delegation skills to apply the right mix of talent to get the job done.


Tina Emerson

Maynard Nexsen

Chief Marketing Officer

Tina Emerson’s business-to-business communications experience spans more than 20 years, with the majority of that work developing business and building client relationships for law firms. With a sharp focus on client experience, she leads business development and marketing efforts for Maynard Nexsen’s attorneys and other professionals to design growth strategies and develop short- and long-term plans for success.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

I have learned over the years that everyone does their best work when they enjoy it and feel valued. I have been so fortunate to have worked with great teams, smart lawyers, and just really fun people who love what they do. It has inspired me to find the joy in what I’m doing and do my best to encourage and praise others along the way.


Pamela Evette

State of South Carolina

Lieutenant Governor

Pamela Evette is the 93rd lieutenant governor of South Carolina and the first female Republican lieutenant governor.

An entrepreneur and businesswoman, Evette has received numerous accolades including the ATHENA Leadership Award and the Enterprising Woman of the Year Award.

Since taking office in 2019, Evette has focused on highlighting South Carolina’s small business ecosystem, attracting new business to the state, and promoting public-private partnerships. 

Evette created the Grab A Bag SC annual statewide litter clean up initiative in partnership with PalmettoPride to help protect the state’s natural resources.

How do you define leadership?

A leader is someone who listens more than they talk. On every team, people come from different backgrounds and have different ideas about how to best approach a project or problem — so a leader must be able to consider numerous points of view to find the best path forward. True leaders recognize the value of asking questions and digging deeper, because the loudest voice rarely carries the greatest amount of wisdom.


Jessica Shultz Ferguson

Turner Padget Graham and Laney, P.A.

Associate Attorney

Ferguson, a magna cum laude graduate of University of Tennessee, is an associate attorney in Turner Padget’s Greenville office, where she founded the firm’s probate practice in the South Carolina Upstate through community education presentations and creating professional relationships. Ferguson strives to provide her clients quality legal services in a comfortable atmosphere, with a passion for serving female business owners, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other minorities.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Genuinely and actively listen to more experienced professionals in your field, to your colleagues, to your community connections, to your staff, and, of course, to your clients. There is so much to learn from those around you that can be incorporated into your best practices


Liz Foy

Cottman of Columbia


After working in the banking industry for 17 years, Liz Foy and her husband purchased their Cottman automotive location in Columbia in 2013, eventually going on to transform it into a business which made over three times its previous yearly earnings. 

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

I feel that my greatest professional accomplishment is acquiring the business that I am currently in. The fear of entering into a business that is predominantly male was and still is a challenge and requires extra confidence and devotion to show that I am deserving to be here. Having very little knowledge in the automotive business was a challenge at first but with great determination I have become very comfortable in this field and have shown that as a woman I do belong here. Who I was then and who I am now is a great accomplishment to myself.


Lesley Gadson

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Vice President and Merrill Performance Coach

With 10 years’ experience in the financial field, Lesley Gadson joined Merrill Lynch in 2017. Alongside her professional role, she is the founder and CEO of Empowered U Youth Movement, a 501c3 nonprofit youth organization dedicated to empowering young minds and serving the community. Gadson spearheaded the establishment of the first youth panel in Columbia and the surrounding areas called “I Wish Adults Knew…,” providing a platform for youths to voice their perspectives.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

It’s crucial to surround yourself with people who possess more knowledge and expertise than you do. Always embrace the role of a student, for the moment you stop growing and learning is the moment you cease to progress. Continual growth and learning are essential for personal and professional development.


Stacey Gardin

Stacey Gardin Portraits


An actor, model, and multimedia creator, Stacey Gardin runs Stacey Gardin Portraits, a full-service portrait studio she started in 2011. She is also a facilitator with Village Launch, a company that helps budding entrepreneurs navigate launching a successful and sustainable business.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

My greatest strength as a leader is that I lead with empathy. I believe that the best way to lead others is to find common ground. Transparency is the best way to create meaningful connections. Our ability to be human with each other is what sets us up for the best success in life and business. Empathy brings us all together to do good work in a healthy environment. I’m still working on honoring myself. That means taking the necessary time away from work to replenish. I’ve been creating a space where I work called “The Oasis” that creates peace for me as well as my clients.


Becky Gossett

Alma Rose Med Spa

Owner and Master Aesthetician

Alma Rose is the lifelong dream and creation of its master aesthetician Becky Gossett. She spent decades crafting her skills and educating industry peers. Her dream has always been to have a place where people can come to receive the best in treatments and technologies to improve their well-being and self-image. Gossett named Alma Rose to honor a woman who was a pillar of strength, with Christian values and a great sense of style. 

How do you define leadership?

Leadership to me is to set the example. Always be willing to do anything you ask others to do. Respect every job in the workplace as if it is the most important. Everyone and every job work together as a whole to make the company.


Alana Grant

Richland County Public Education Partners

Executive Director and Entrepreneur

Through her role as executive director of Richland County Public Education Partners, Alana Grant leads the nonprofit toward improving the experience of educators, students, and parents. Through her role as president of Grant & Grant Consulting, she focuses on diversity equity, and inclusion and guiding groups in making sustainable impact by addressing bias. For her work, Grant has received recognition from the White House, Anti-Defamation League, King Center, Public Allies, Jefferson Awards, and many others.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

My greatest professional accomplishment to date has been conquering the fear to “have it all.” Being an executive and an entrepreneur sounds lofty, but through consistency, structure, and grace, I’ve been blessed to do both very well.


Teri Cox Gilstrap

Anderson County Economic Development

Assistant Director

With over 20 years of experience in workforce development and community relations, Teri Cox Gilstrap is a past president of the Anderson Area Society of Human Resource Management who has extensive training in industrial psychology, case management, workforce, and career development. She is the current chair of the Anderson County Vocational Rehabilitation Business Advisors, a member of the Worklink Workforce Development Board, member of the Rotary Club of Anderson, and a board member of the United Way of Anderson County.

How do you define leadership?

Being an effective leader to me is being someone who works with individuals to bring out the best in them. I care about individuals and feel that everyone has a strength that can be used to help the group and help each other reach their goals and dreams. In saying this, leadership is defined as someone who lifts the group and not the individual. By elevating the team, the greatest amount of success is achieved. A true measure of leadership is helping others reach their fullest potential.


Victoria Hammond

World Acceptance Corporation

SVP, Marketing

Originally hailing from Michigan, Victoria Hammond has been proud to call South Carolina home for the past 20 years. A graduate of Central Michigan University and Clemson University MBA Program, she has spent her career in the marketing field – both client and agency side across a variety of industries.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Show your work! People, myself included, value understanding how you think about a problem. It really is about the journey not the destination. Critical thinking is so important and, in your career, sometimes the fear of being “wrong” can stop that process.


Angela Hensel

Afaxys Inc.

Executive Director, Afaxys Services

Angela Hensel is the executive director of Afaxys Group Services, LLC. With over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Hensel began her career in the operating room as a surgical technologist, where she developed a passion for patient care. After obtaining a business degree, Angela ventured into the world of GPOs (group purchasing organizations), where she has spent the last 17 years working for various healthcare GPOs.

As a department head at Afaxys, Angela supports the company's mission to provide affordable access to reproductive healthcare for all individuals.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

I have learned that fear of the unknown should not be a barrier to trying new adventures. By pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I have discovered new passions, developed new skills, and broadened my perspective. One example of me embracing a challenge is SCUBA diving. Despite my initial fear, this activity led to fulfilling rewards.


Ashley Hunter

MPA Strategies


After spending six years working for the largest lobbying firm in the state as the vice president of government relations, Ashley Hunter went on to start her own company in 2011. A Greenville native, she is a former member of the Cayce Public Safety Foundation, an ambassador for the Lexington Medical Center Foundation, a member of the American Advertising Federation, former chair of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Public Relations Committee, and the former chairman of the board of the LRADAC Healing Families Foundation.

Is there a mentor who has meant a lot to you in your career? 

My mentor in my career is my dad. To this day, he is still the person I call when I need business advice. Even at a very young age, I remember how hard my dad worked. He always planned ahead and wanted to be sure that my siblings and I had the best opportunities. He works hard and is dedicated to finding ways to help his clients. He is incredibly smart, a compassionate leader, thorough, steady, and a wonderful role model.


Kate Iseman


Founder and CEO

After graduating from the University of South Carolina and spending 10 years with leading technology companies, Kate Iseman took a leap in 2021 and opened her own brokerage firm, CICADA. In less than two years, the company has grown to meet the needs of customers in 13 states. Under her leadership, CICADA changes and grows rapidly to meet customer needs – “never the other way around,” she says.

How do you define leadership? 

We’ve built a strong, capable team at CICADA, but each member of that team knows that as their leader, I am beside them every step of the way. A great leader, I think, will do any and every task I expect someone else on my team to do. I strive to be a servant leader, and that way of thinking also affects how my team and I ultimately work with our customers. We’re always thinking like our customers and working to best serve their needs.


Stephanie Johnson

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Greenville


After spending 16 years in Greenville Hospital working on financial projections for many noteworthy projects, Stephanie Johnson moved on to Controller at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Greenville in 2021. There, she has been part of a leadership team that opened the hospital from the ground up.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

As a working mother of four girls, I’ve learned that being able to balance priorities both personal and professional is incredibly important. I came to this realization early in my career when my first child Victoria was born in 2000. She lacked oxygen at birth and suffered extreme physical and mental disabilities as a result. … This one event changed my family’s trajectory in countless ways. It is not what happens to you in life, but rather how you respond to the challenges that you are presented. You need to be your own advocate for what you want whether it be in your career or in your personal life. …  I encourage women to actively seek out the resources and support systems that they need to succeed in whatever challenges they face.


Tommi Jones

Clemson University

Lead Senior Project Manager

After attending Clemson for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Tommi Jones now leads construction at Clemson and is an active advocate for green building and sustainable design. As a member of the Women Construction Forum, she also volunteers her time encouraging young women to join the industry.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

My greatest strength is caring about people. In order to build a successful team, I treat everyone with respect and kindness. To make human connections with each team member, I strive to show that I care about their work and contributions. My goal is to build a strong relationship with each team member and earn their trust. As a strong believer in continuous improvement, I will forever be a lifelong learner seeking to improve myself.


Megan Kolak

Greenville Triumph and Greenville Liberty

Senior Vice President

Megan Kolak has been with the Greenville Triumph SC since the club’s formation in 2018, leading its partnership marketing and community relations efforts until being promoted to senior vice president in 2022. As senior vice president, Kolak has been essential to launching and acquiring partnerships with businesses throughout the community for the Greenville Liberty, the Upstate’s pre-professional W-League soccer team.

What makes you an effective leader (your greatest strength)? What are you still working on?

As a leader, I aim to be attentive to my staff’s needs, provide a listening ear, encourage them to bring their ideas to fruition and ask how I can support them to achieve their goals. I empower them to take ownership of their work and am constantly working to evolve with them to ensure I am meeting their needs to aid their success.


Jane Litz

Coastal Community Foundation

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Jane Litz has served as chief financial officer at Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina (CCF) since 2019, helping to grow and guide the largest grant-making entity in the state. By focusing on the story behind the numbers, she strives to make financial and operational reporting meaningful and relatable for every audience.

Prior to joining CCF, Jane served as CFO at Barberton Community Foundation, executive director of FirstMerit Foundation, and vice president-finance at FirstMerit Bank/Huntington Bank.

What’s the best advice you’ve received in management that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The secret to success is to never give up. Always believe something wonderful is about to happen!


Emily Luther

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP

Public Finance Practice Group Partner

Emily Luther spends her days working with private and public clients to finance infrastructure across South Carolina and the Southeast. Her practice also allows her to advise and counsel clients on local taxation matters and economic development projects. Luther has enjoyed working with local governments and corporations to expand the investment and job opportunities in South Carolina.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

Someone once advised me to manage my “yeses” well. Contained in that advice was the unspoken implication that a yes indicates a willingness to be accountable and reliable. An offer of accountability and reliability should always be given fully and without casualness. Ever since I received that advice, I’ve tried to be intentional and thoughtful about anything I’ve said yes to, both professionally and personally. I fully consider whether I have the time and ability to be wholly accountable and reliable to whatever or whoever I commit to.


Sue Maner

Special Olympics SC

Executive Vice President

Sue Maner holds a Special Education degree from Winthrop University. She spent 20 years teaching, which is how she became involved in Special Olympics. Her students trained and competed locally and traveled to state events, giving them experiences that were not available in a classroom.

Maner joined the Special Olympics South Carolina staff as communications director, later became the vice president of the program, and now serves as executive vice president of the state program.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

My greatest fear is an athlete that is sitting home and not involved in Special Olympics. I have to take a deep breath and know I have to do better at letting every community in the state know what is available and find a way to work through other groups serving our population to reach out. We offer sports, health, and education programs that will benefit all individuals with special needs. 


Jennifer Maxwell


Regional Director of Sales

Having worked in the hospitality industry for 18 years, Jennifer Maxwell oversees the sales and marketing for hotels in the Charleston, Greenville, and Augusta markets. In 2017, she was awarded the Director of Sales Award for Hilton Garden Inns in North America. Maxwell now serves on the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee for the Town of Mount Pleasant. She has volunteered with the Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce since joining and is the current president.

How do you define leadership? 

Leadership to me is being able to support and motivate my team. Clear communication and expectations are key. I show my team that I have their back and trust their decisions. If I can help them succeed, then we will all succeed together.


Jessica McDowell


Senior Vice President, Business Development & Security Strategy

Jessica McDowell currently serves as the senior vice president of the security and networking business at TD SYNNEX, where she leads a team that supports over 120 vendor partners. She is a TD SYNNEX Founder’s Award winner and President’s Club honoree. McDowell is also a 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 CRN Women of the Channel award winner and was recognized as a 2023 CRN Channel Chief.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

My greatest fear is getting too comfortable in my career. I have a relentless need to challenge myself and my team to raise the bar at any given opportunity. Many times, this means diving headfirst into the unknown, which is also scary. However, I have been fortunate to have leaders in my career who have been willing to let me take risks (and fail). Being given the freedom to fail has shaped the way I lead my own team.


Laura Beth Medley

Canal Insurance Company

VP, Chief Human Resources & Corporate Communications Officer

Laura Beth Medley joined Canal in 2007 as a benefits specialist. In 2015, she was promoted to Vice President of Human Resources and, more recently, her role expanded to include corporate communications. She has championed the establishment of the Canal Cares program, a comprehensive employee wellness initiative that includes an on-site preventative care clinic and creates opportunities for employees to volunteer through local partnerships.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

I take immense pride in witnessing the recognition bestowed upon a member of my team or organization for their hard work, accomplishments, or contributions. As a leader, it brings me great joy to witness the growth and development of individuals within our organization, watching them flourish in their careers. This aspect of my role is incredibly fulfilling, as I am privileged to play a part in fostering their professional journey.


Catie Meehan

Steinberg Law Firm


After years of serving patients as a nurse in a hospital setting, Catie Meehan wanted to help them in a legal setting and decided to become a lawyer. For nearly 10 years, she has represented injured people in both workers’ compensation and personal injury cases.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

One thing I have learned that has served me well over the years is assertiveness. … Beyond court appearances and advocating for clients, assertiveness has helped me advance professionally. It is not always easy to speak up for oneself. It can be uncomfortable to voice concerns to superiors in the workplace; yet, throughout my career, I have made the conscious decision to verbally advocate for myself and others, whether that be for higher pay, more workplace flexibility, or career advancement. My mindset has always been “the worst that can happen is they say ‘no.’” Employers are not mind-readers. You have to speak up. Of course, assertiveness needs to be practiced in a professional, courteous manner, but I have found that advocating for myself has served me well both professionally and personally.


Laura Middleton

The Middleton Group

Co-Founder and Principal Architect

After graduating from Auburn University, Laura Middleton worked as a project manager in Greenville, South Carolina, where she met her husband and learned a lot about the architecture field. In 2007, she and her husband Blake started The Middleton Group, which has since grown to 12 employees. She has been a licensed architect since 2006 and has a wide variety of project experience, including single-family homes, multi-family developments, office developments, and medical facilities.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Integrity is everything. In other words, do what you say and say what you mean. You will earn respect from coworkers and clients if you are honest, admit your mistakes, and follow through when you say you will do something.


Traci Newkirk

Human Potential Advisors

Founder and President

Traci Newkirk partnered with her husband over 17 years ago to open Intellectual Capitol Inc. (ICAP), an IT staffing and consulting company that has grown to over 50 employees. In 2014 the Newkirks decided to launch a new arm of the business that pulls from their expertise in leading and teaching others, resulting in the birth of Human Potential Advisors. She has worked with small-to-medium businesses, Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, churches, chambers of commerce, government agencies, and more.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

Collaboration is my leadership strength. I can work with anyone and can find something good about each person I meet. At the same time, there are moments where collaboration isn’t possible, and I am working through how to make decisions in a quicker time frame. This can lead me to have decision-fatigue sometimes.


Kamber Parker

The YoPro Know

Founder and CEO

A graduate of Furman University, Kamber Parker started The YoPro Know in 2018 to be a bridge between young professionals and the companies that wish to hire and keep them. She has spent the last five years interviewing thousands of young professionals identifying their key struggles, successes, and ultimately, ways to make them more successful in the workplace.

Is there a mentor who has meant a lot to you in your career? 

I am fortunate to have many mentors in my career thus far, and I know I would not be where I am today without them. They know who they are, but I’ll share this about these incredible people: Whether it has been in a formal or informal capacity, these mentors, both close and far in age to myself, have helped me with various aspects of my business and personal growth. Some have helped me push past my fears of running a business, one focused on getting my budget to where it is today, and others have helped open doors for me. Each of these mentors has meant so much to me, and I don’t know how I will ever repay them.


Nisha Patel

NPatel Communications


Nisha Patel has nearly two decades of experience in marketing and PR, first starting out as a reporter at CBS in Georgia and later at FOX Carolina. Following this, she dipped her toe in marketing and PR, holding jobs in government, nonprofit, and eventually a local agency, before finally branching off and starting her own company a few years ago.

Is there a mentor who has meant a lot to you in your career? 

I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of mentors throughout my career. But there are two that stand out the most. One is my sister, Asha. While she doesn’t run her own business, she has taught me how to be successful in my career and how to be patient with all different types of personalities. The second would be Marion Crawford. She taught me that it’s possible to have it all: run a business, have a family, and still be true to yourself.


Aretha R. Polite-Powers, DHA

Fetter Health Care Network

Chief Executive Officer

Aretha R. Polite-Powers, DHA, has been CEO of Fetter Health Care Network since 2016. In her role as CEO, Polite-Powers is responsible for 24 sites, four mobile units, 165 employees, and a $29 million annual budget.

She previously worked as CEO at J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center in Savannah, where she helped start up a comprehensive integrated community health center serving uninsured and underinsured patients, as well as people experiencing homelessness.

Polite-Powers is a board member of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association, Beyond Our Walls, and Lowcountry Youth Services. 


Lora Prevatte

Moody & O’Neal CPAs, LLC

Co-Managing Partner

A University of North Carolina – Wilmington graduate, Lora Prevatte has a professional background that includes tax planning and compliance, audit and assurance services, and advisory services. Lora is a CPA licensed in both South Carolina and North Carolina, which she uses to assist customers daily. She serves on the South Carolina Board of Accountancy and is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Charleston. Prevatte has also served as a member of the Leadership Charleston Class of 2014-2015.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Lead by example. If you want positive results and a collaborative team working toward a common goal, set the right example for others to show that you are willing to invest in what you’re asking others to invest.


Barbara Rackes

South Carolina Women in Leadership


Barbara Rackes built a $10 million women’s apparel company doing business in three Southeastern cities and employing more than 100 people.

In 2018, Rackes co-founded the South Carolina Women’s Leadership Network dba, SC Women in Leadership. Its mission is to encourage women to step up and lead corporations, boards, and governments. In 2019, SC WIL began collaborating with other organizations to ensure fair voting, filling the pipeline with diverse candidates, and reducing polarization.

Is there a mentor who meant a lot in your career?

I observed my mother. She would not have understood or "owned" the term mentor. She lived an atypical life for her time, starting her first business in 1928 at the age of 21. She actively led that business for nearly 50 years through the Great Depression and World War II. Like many young people, I had NO appreciation for her acumen until I was much older and discovered I had absorbed much of her strength and savvy.


Jennifer Rosado

Rosado Properties / Palmco Services

Broker in Charge, Owner, and Co-Founder

Jennifer Rosado, a real estate professional with 19 years of experience, is the proud owner of a successful brokerage in Greenville, South Carolina. She also is the co-owner of a commercial and residential construction company which has undertaken a diverse portfolio of projects. She remains heavily involved in community service, serving on the board of directors at Pendleton Place while also mentoring students through Mentor Upstate.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Throughout my career, I discovered some invaluable lessons. One of them is the importance of being proactive. Launching your big idea may be daunting, but waiting for everything to be perfect will delay your path to success. Don’t be afraid to take risks and embrace your failures, as it is these setbacks that help reveal the best possible outcome. Starting a project with the intention of perfecting it down the line is futile; rather, launch your idea and fix the kinks later. This is the only way to move closer to your end goal and achieve success.


Elizabeth Serricchio

Amaryllis Counseling

Founder and CEO

Elizabeth Serricchio is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, professional counselor, and addiction counselor who is the founder and CEO of Amaryllis Counseling, a local LGBTQ+ affirmative mental health clinic. Additionally, she is the cofounder of 864pride and the Queer Wellness Center.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

One thing I’ve learned through the years is people will build you up and tear you down in their minds to serve a narrative they need. Their projection on you resembles them more closely than it will ever resemble you. As women in business and leadership roles, there are additional projections and expectations placed on us, and when we do not perform to those specifications, the reaction back at us can be overwhelming. There is no box you have to fit in, there is no specific role you have to fulfill, there is no definition that anyone has the right to place on you. Only you have the power to define yourself through your actions and intentions, the honesty you have with yourself, and the compassion you show yourself.


Katie Skoloff 

In Site Designs

Founder and Principal Designer

Katie Skoloff founded In Site Designs in 2005, and it has been her passion ever since. She still manages all business aspects of the firm while designing a select few residential and commercial projects each year. She also owns Big AL LLC, an award-winning development company focused on historic renovations, and is a partner in Greenville’s Cycle Bar, which opened in 2017.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The best advice I received in business was from my husband, who is also an incredible businessman and leader. He told me that I would always be happiest if I made my own money and never borrowed funds (except for major loans such as office or car) to get my business going. I took his advice and have always run a cash business, and my personal life follows the same mantra. Earn first. This takes fear out of the equation when making decisions and financial stability offers peace of mind. A cash business is a happy business.


Andrea Smith

Senior Action

Executive Director and CEO

Andrea Smith is the executive director/CEO of Senior Action, a nonprofit organization devoted to keeping adults over the age of 55 healthy, active, and engaged in meaningful activities. Under her leadership over the past 16+ years, the organization has grown from 900 members to more than 5,000. Smith has also held leadership positions for several healthcare and nonprofit organizations and served on local, state, and national boards and task forces.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

A former boss once told me that in the moments when you feel the most uncomfortable and most reluctant, those times when you procrastinate and look for almost any other task you can find to avoid the challenge ahead – those are the moments of greatest growth in your life. I have found this to be incredibly true and this has helped me over the years to power through challenges and struggles knowing that on the other side I was going to be a better leader and a better person.


Ava Smith

Flat Fee Recruiting, LLC


Ava Smith has over 25 years of experience as a human resources professional. In 2002, she began her own HR consulting firm, Ava Smith & Associates, which specializes in providing HR services, training, and DEI support. Smith went on to form the successful permanent placement agency Flat Fee Recruiting in 2010. She has also supported her community in Upstate South Carolina by serving on several boards and committees.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

My greatest strength is that I am relational. I connect to people easily and genuinely desire to be a part of their success story. I naturally move as a servant-leader, always trying to find ways to help. Although I know that “time is money,” I want my time to also be spent uplifting and supporting others. I know that listening and understanding leads to solving. This mindset has shaped me to be an effective leader.


Macie Smith, Ed.D.

Diversified Training Consultants Group, LLC

Owner and CEO

Macie Smith, Ed.D., is a graduate of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, where she serves as vice chairwoman of the board of trustees. She was the first woman elected to this seat on the board. She is the owner and CEO of Diversified Training Consultants Group, LLC, a geriatric care management group located in Columbia.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

One of my greatest fears is being told “no” and failing to succeed. Because I know that success is defined by the person and because I know that for every one “yes,” there are going to be 10 “nos.” I’ve accepted that what is considered failure to others are learning opportunities for me to grow and excel. So, bring on the “nos,” “not todays,” and “maybe another times,” because each one of these is necessary for my growth.


Nancy Smith

South Carolina State Fair 

General Manager

After a lengthy history with the South Carolina State Fair, Smith assumed leadership there at the start of 2018 as secretary/treasurer general manager, the first woman to serve in this position. She has also served in the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) and is now the president of the South Carolina Association of Fairs.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

I have learned to appreciate where I am and to make the best of every day. Learn from the past and use the challenging times and experiences to continue to move forward. To do so, I must possess an “attitude of gratitude.” In the fair world, this is of critical importance, as we have a truly short window of time to accomplish our goal, which is to bring the best 12 days of the year to the people of South Carolina. In the words of the 4H motto, I should always be striving to “Make the Best Better.”


Sara Middleton Styles

Smoked, Peak Drift Brewing, SC House Calls, GSM Property Development

Founder and Owner

Sara Middleton Styles is an attorney and entrepreneur who founded two companies that each have earned prestigious awards in their respective fields. As an award-winning real estate developer, she specializes in historic preservation in South Carolina and is the co-owner of several healthcare organizations located throughout the Southeast.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The best advice I have ever received in business wasn’t related to business at all and in fact came from my vocal coach many years ago. She asked me, “Why are you afraid of failure? So what if people are watching and you hit the wrong note? Most of the audience will never know it, but you will, and you’ll confront that failure repeatedly until you perfect it. I hope you hit a ton of wrong notes throughout the years because that’s how the perfect sound is ultimately created.” Every decision you make in business is a music note and you have to be comfortable in continuously critiquing yourself and your failures in order to sing the whole song perfectly.


Shonette Sullivan

The Shekinah Group, LLC

CEO and Co-Founder

Shonette Sullivan, who has 19 years of experience in accounting and tax preparation, is an authorized IRS e-file provider, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor and a Certified Financial Education Instructor. Sullivan has helped businesses of all sizes, from solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies, including the sixth-largest bank in North America.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

My greatest professional accomplishment to date is being nominated as a Top 100 ProAdvisor by Insightful Accountant for 2022 and 2023. There are over 50,000 QuickBooks ProAdvisors in the world, and to be recognized on that level was a major accomplishment


Meg Terry

DP3 Architects


After almost two decades within the company, Meg Terry now serves as principal and chief marketing officer for DP3 Architects. As CMO, Terry is focused on developing strategic partnerships related to community, higher education, interiors, multi-unit, and restaurant projects. Prior to leading the business development effort, Terry was the interiors and higher education studio leader, building an extensive portfolio of projects in the Upstate.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

I hope that I’m a fun and enjoyable person to be around! I’m still working on understanding and patience.


Rachel Touchet

Sawyer Staffing Inc.

Vice President of Recruiting Operations

Rachel Touchet began her career in the staffing industry in 2015 and quickly advanced to vice president of recruiting operations for a staffing agency. She has worked with many companies across the Upstate of South Carolina for nearly a decade.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

I’ve learned that business (of any kind) is all about relationships. And all solid relationships are built on trust. So, I pride myself on having the tough conversations and being honest. Like the quote says, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”


Tamara Trask

Clear Touch Interactive, Inc.

Chief Operating Officer

Tamara Trask says she came from humble beginnings and was able to work her way up to her position as chief operating officer and co-founder of Clear Touch Interactive, Inc., based in Greenville.

How do you define leadership? 

I define leadership as not being large and in charge dominating over others, but being more of a figurehead who is willing to work with and alongside of one’s team; someone who is not rigid to one way of thinking, but who is willing to listen to the ideas and suggestions of others; someone who mentors and helps take others to the next level so that they can maximize their potential and achieve great things. Leadership is not an easy role, but it is certainly a privilege that can be very rewarding. There is nothing better than to guide someone and watch them grow!


Britt Davis Vergnolle

BDV Solutions

CEO and Co-Founder

Britt Vergnolle is the CEO and co-founder of Greenville-based BDV Solutions, a turnkey provider of labor shortage solutions to U.S. employers and employment-based immigration services to foreign nationals, which she started at her kitchen table more than 10 years ago. She is the recipient of several awards and accolades, including Inc. Magazine’s Female Founders.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Transitioning our small, family-run and -held business to a PE-backed vastly growing company with an aggressive growth path in helping more foreign nationals and more U.S. employers. Starting this company literally from our kitchen table about 10 years ago to where we are now has been a great professional accomplishment for our team and my husband, our co-founder, and me.


Tamika Washington


Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Washington founded ConverSpace in 2018 with the goal of creating a place for business owners to start, grow, and scale their businesses. A graduate of Benedict College, she was elected as a school board commissioner in 2022 to serve her local community, where she advocates for recruiting and retaining teachers, successful student outcomes, and partnerships with local businesses in the community.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

Remember, it’s not selfish to consider yourself through the journey of starting and growing your business and/or career. It is effortless for us to get caught up in the busyness of life that we often forget about ourselves. Schedule time off, create days for downtime, delegate tasks, and celebrate you along the way. There is only one you who can do what you do for those that you serve.


Jenny Wehrs

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Chief Operating Officer

Jenny Wehrs joined Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in 2019 as vice president of operations before being promoted to chief operating officer in 2021.

Prior to arriving in the Greenville market, Wehrs gained leadership experience during her four years as Director of Clinical Services in the Mercy Health – Springfield market. In total, Wehrs has more than 13 years of experience in health care including a background as a registered nurse and Transition Care Specialist.

She holds a master’s degree in health care administration from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, as well as an associate’s degree in nursing from Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio.


Ashley Whisonant

Capital Office Products


Ashley Whisonant, formerly an elementary school teacher, has been with Capital Office Products since 2014, first as an office manager then as chief financial officer. Her vision is to uphold the second-generation family business values started by her parents.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

I think my team would agree that my greatest strength is my positive disposition. We encounter challenges, but having a positive outlook helps keep focus and the drive to push forward. By leading with positivity, people are more confident to take chances and keep our customers’ needs in mind. I work to give grace when mistakes are made because we are all human. One of my biggest areas I am still working on is separating work from my family time. It is a daily struggle, but I need to remember I cannot pour from an empty cup.


Dr. Ashlye Wilkerson

Phenomenal Women Leading, LLC

Leadership Expert, Speaker, Motivator

Ashlye V. Wilkerson, Ph.D., is a community leader with a background in early childhood education and child psychology. Hired as the inaugural professor for the Women in Leadership in South Carolina course at Columbia College, Wilkerson developed a course that celebrated women from across the state, “Women Lead SC.”

She is the founder and thought-leader of the Phenomenal Women Leading – Women’s Empowerment community network.

Is there a mentor who has meant a lot to you in your career?

For over a decade, I’ve been fortunate to have a personal board of directors. This group is comprised of people who represent various aspects of my career and professional goals. They provide mentorship, guidance, wisdom, and trusted expertise. This group includes my parents, former teachers/administrators, pastors, community leaders, political figures, industry peers/colleagues, working moms, and other people who continue to serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for me. I’m grateful for their continued love, support, care, nurture, and encouragement.


Shannon Williams

Inside Real Estate

Chief Marketing Officer

Shannon Williams is Inside Real Estate’s chief marketing officer, and her leadership journey encompasses previous roles as SVP of Sales & Marketing at BoomTown, Sales & Marketing Leader at Amazon, Senior Director of Marketing and Sales Enablement at Blackbaud, VP at Marketing Analytics Inc., and Senior Director of Strategic Marketing for Lennar. Having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 enterprises to startups, she understands the day-to-day demands of delivering exceptional experiences across the customer journey.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

Just say yes! When given an opportunity to lead an initiative, take on a new role, or expand your role, use it as an opportunity to learn, don't think you need to already be the expert. You were thought of for a reason so trust your intuition, be curious, and learn something new.


Sheila Willis

Fisher Phillips, LLP


Sheila Willis is a partner at Fisher Phillips, LLP, where she represents employers in all types of employment law matters, federal contractor compliance, and Title IX compliance. She is president-elect of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations and serves on the South Carolina Bar Board of Governors.

Willis is also co-chair of the Firm’s Affirmative Action and Federal Contractor Compliance Practice group. She is a former president of both the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association and the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers’ Division.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The best advice I have received in business is, “Nothing great was ever achieved without great enthusiasm.” This quote reminds me to be passionate and excited about work and projects and to approach new opportunities with a positive attitude, no matter the task.


Ann Wright

Greenville Tech Foundation

Vice President for Advancement

Ann Wright joined the Red Cross in 1984 as the Director of Disaster Services. She continued her work over the next 32 years serving as Director of Emergency Services, Director of Volunteers, Assistant Chapter Manager, and as executive director for the Upstate of South Carolina.

In 2014, she was named chief operating officer for the Palmetto SC Region, providing leadership and oversight to the state of South Carolina chapter operations. In 2017, she was hired to lead the Greenville Tech Foundation as Vice President for Advancement. The foundation is a nonprofit that exists to support the students and Greenville Technical College.

How do you define leadership?

Inspiring others to act on certain goals or aspirations.  The ability to motivate others.  Excellent communication skills and the ability to delegate responsibility and authority by empowering people to act on their own.  Be open, honest, fair, and tolerant.


Anne Young

Flare Media Agency

Partner and Co-Founder

With over 20 years of experience in advertising, Anne Young has spent the last 10 years working in her own company and in partnerships that eventually led to the founding of Flare Media Agency, based in Greenville, South Carolina. Within her career, she’s had the opportunity to develop large-scale and modest media plans and strategies for hundreds of clients including University of South Carolina, Michelin, Verizon Wireless, Furman University, Bassmaster Elite Series Events, and others.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

It has always been important to me for those around me to feel like they matter and bring value to situations as well. To make sure that all ideas are heard and that those who have the courage to speak up are heard and their contributions are worth listening to. I’ve always enjoyed training and teaching and sharing my passion for our business with others. And watching others find success around me. 


Dianne Zukowsky

Flare Media Agency

Co-Founder and Partner

Dianne Zukowsky is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Flare Media Agency, a digital advertising agency. Zukowsky played a pivotal role in building Flare Media Agency into a thriving business, known for delivering top-level paid media solutions to its clients.

Drawing on 15 years of experience in advertising, Dianne brings a wealth of expertise to Flare. Her strategic thinking, leadership skills, and ability to foster strong partnerships have been instrumental in driving Flare’s growth and success.

How do you define leadership?

I define leadership as the ability to inspire, influence and guide individuals towards a common vision. It involves setting a positive example and uplifting others. Leadership is taking initiative, making informed decisions, and providing direction to empower others to reach their full potential.


 Ava Ayers

APS Firm, LLC, and South Carolina State University

CEO, Student Services Program Coordinator II, and Adjunct Professor

Ava Ayers received her BMus from Norfolk State University, M.Ed. from Liberty University, and just received her Ed.D. from Liberty this June. As a CEO and an award-winning teacher and professor in South Carolina and Virginia, she is dedicated to cultivating student success and next generation leaders.

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is understanding your value: knowing that it's not what you produce but it is who you are.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

I'm really proud of the way I've been able to adapt to multiple areas and levels of the education sector. I truly believe that the diversity of my experiences are my strength and greatest accomplishments.


Racquel “Rocky” Collier

Caliber Real Estate


Racquel Collier, a Clemson graduate, heads Caliber Real Estate, whose current projects include developing 40 acres of land into a residential subdivision in Woodruff, South Carolina, and overseeing the development of a multifamily community at Unity Park in Greenville. Collier also serves as vice chair of the Greenville Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and is also on the boards of the Fine Arts Center of Greenville and Ten at the Top.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whether it's advice, resources, or a fresh perspective, some people are willing to lend a helping hand. It may only take one question to unlock a solution you never would have thought of.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

Time is my greatest asset and the currency of life. So, I strive to spend it in a way that my 18-year-old and 80-year-old selves would both be proud of.


Cristy Fedalei

FR Law Greenville

Vice President of Operations

Cristy Fedalei, a Honduran immigrant who came to the US at the age of 26, embodies the narrative of resilience, determination, and commitment to social and criminal justice on all fronts within her work.

How do you define leadership?

Empowerment and support of our team members. It is not about authority; it is about inspiring and influencing others to reach their full potential.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

I'm here to serve others. I understand and empathize with the needs, concerns, and perspectives of our team members and our community.


Amanda Grover


Senior Philanthropy Coordinator

Amanda Grover, a graduate of the College of Charleston who spent much of her free time there working in service-learning projects, joined Aflac Columbia in 2010. Now working as their Senior Philanthropy Coordinator, she has a greater reach thanks to the company’s commitment to social responsibility and giving back to the community.

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is about establishing trust with others to influence them to work toward a common goal. I have had many wonderful leaders throughout my career, and it has never been just about a title or position. I believe anyone can be a leader.

What makes you an effective leader? (Your greatest strength). What are you still working on?

The thing that makes me an effective leader is my ability to actively listen to others. When you not only hear, but absorb from those around you, you become a more effective leader.


Catherine Ramirez

Chernoff Newman

Public Relations and Social Media Manager

After working as a news producer, Ramirez pivoted into a career in communications. Building on her experience in media and communications management, she transitioned into a career in marketing and communications by joining integrated communications firm Chernoff Newman.

How do you define leadership? 

Leadership is the ability to inspire and move others toward a shared vision, while promoting resilience and collaboration. Leadership entails communication skills, active listening, and supportive relationships, enabling others to create positive change, overcome challenges and shatter barriers. A leader embodies strength, determination, and a deep commitment to empowering others and making a profound impact on the workplace, the community and in life.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well over the years?

A leader’s success is not only about their own accomplishments, but also extends to the success and growth of their team members. Great leaders empower their team and foster an environment that encourages learning and support.