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Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville's 50 Most Influential 2023

Jan 15, 2024 05:28PM ● By Donna Walker
Greenville's 50 Most Influential 2023

Greenville's 2023 Hall of Fame

William W. Brown


Legacy Advancement

William Brown’s passion is for education, especially for helping children from under-resourced communities realize their dreams of success.

That passion was the driving force in creating Legacy Early College, the school that Brown founded in 2009. The charter school, which educates students from pre-K through college, serves 1,700 students with an educational model based on “academic excellence, physical education, and superior nutrition.”

Legacy Early College is the largest Title I school in Greenville County.

Brown spent much of his career as a CPA and in the field of investment management before making his mark in the educational world of the Upstate.

He says he believes that every child can succeed, and he has helped the school to shape its dedication to educating the whole child, an approach that melds social, emotional, and relationship skills with academic excellence. The ultimate goal is to see each student through college.

In addition to serving as Legacy Early College’s board chair, Brown is the president of Legacy Advancement, which is the central management organization for Legacy Early College.

Brown’s community involvement has included terms serving on the boards of the Peace Center, Greenville Tech Foundation, Greenville Symphony, and Artisphere.

A graduate of The Citadel, Brown says his proudest accomplishment is “seeing young people earn their college education because I know how much it will dramatically increase their quality of life.”

Matt Dunbar

Co-Founder and

Managing Director


Matt Dunbar is a co-founder of VentureSouth, an investment firm that works with entrepreneurs in the Southeast, providing capital and sharing expertise in the early stages of the process.

The firm was launched in 2008 when Dunbar helped to create the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN), which has since become one of the Southeast’s largest and most active investment organizations. The network boasts more than 500 investors in the region.

VentureSouth has been recognized many times as a top 10 angel group in North America and has distributed more than $82 million over 110 countries.

Prior to his work with VentureSouth and UCAN, Dunbar worked as a project leader with the Boston Consulting Group in Atlanta.

A Rock Hill native, Dunbar holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Clemson University and an MBS in education from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He began his career as an engineer with Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Community involvement is important to Dunbar, who serves as a deacon at Downtown Presbyterian Church. He also serves on many corporate boards, including Entegra Bank, Cirtemo, and Zylo Therapeutics.

Dunbar says the secret to his success is, “Embrace a growth mindset, learn continuously, treat people well, and work diligently.”

The accomplishment he is most proud of is “raising three great kids with my lovely wife Katherine.”


Jonathan “Jon” Good


NAI Earle Furman

Jonathan Good has worked in commercial real estate for more than two decades, and he has watched Greenville’s phenomenal growth in recent years.

As CEO of NAI Earle Furman, Good oversees six offices in North Carolina, and his responsibilities include executing the firm’s strategic plan, along with individual and division goal setting and implementation, along with managing shareholder accountability.

Since coming to NAI Earle Furman, Good has led the firm through many mergers and acquisitions of other firms in the Southeast. His experience extends to industrial sales and leasing, development, and investment sales. His deep knowledge of the Southeastern real estate market has helped him to complete more than $500 million in transactions over the past decade.

Good is also a director for Appian Investments, a private equity real estate platform managed by NAI Earle Furman. Since 2017, Appian Investments has completed more than $650 million in transactions.

He’s a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, a global network of young chief executives which has more than 20,000 members in over 130 countries. He is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Liberty Fellowship Class of 2020 and serves as secretary and member of the investment committee for the Community Foundation of Greenville.

His community involvement is wide-ranging and includes serving as past chairman of the food rescue program Loaves and Fishes and as a past board member of the Greenville Housing Authority.

Good says the secret to his success is “to always see the best in people,” and his proudest accomplishment is his three children. 


S. Richard Hagins


US&S, Inc.

Rich Hagins has served his country in the armed forces and continues to serve the business world and his community through his work with US&S.

Hagins spent 23 years in the United States Navy, achieving the rank of commander before retiring in 2000. He settled in Greenville after his retirement, and in 2003, he founded US&S, a facility maintenance and support service provider. The company specializes in operations and maintenance, repairs, renovation, grounds maintenance, and janitorial service.

While Hagins has made an indelible impact on the Upstate’s business community, he also strives to make a difference in the community as a whole. His commitment to service, Hagins has said, was a family trait passed down from his grandfather.

His community involvement is wide-ranging. Hagins has served on the boards of Upstate Warrior Solutions, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville, Medical University of South Carolina, the Blood Connection, and more.

In 2014, he was named South Carolina Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and in 2019, Hagins was named Entrepreneur of the Year Southeast by Ernst & Young.

He currently serves on the board of directors for Prisma Health and the Board of Advisors for United Community and is board chairman for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

A graduate of Savannah State College, Hagins holds a master’s degree in business management from Webster University and recently completed the Executive Education program at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University.


Bob Stegner

Senior Vice President

of Marketing, North America


Bob Stegner has been with SYNNEX since September 2007, but he has more than 30 years of marketing and sales management experience.

In his current role, Stegner is responsible for all marketing efforts in the United States and Canada, and since December 2021, after the company’s merger with Tech Data, Stegner has overseen North American marketing for the combined companies.

Over the past 15 years, SYNNEX has enjoyed phenomenal growth and has leapt more than 250 spots – to No. 109 – on the Fortune 500 list. During his tenure, Stegner has implemented new programs to help the company address the changing needs of its partners.

Stegner, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Ohio State University, was inducted into the CompTIA Hall of Fame in 2020 in recognition of his impact on the IT industry.

The recent growth of Greenville has made Stegner proud, and he says he especially enjoys showcasing the city to visitors from around the world.

After three decades in marketing, Stegner has developed a keen sense for how to get the best results. He says the secret to his success is, “Recruit the brightest minds. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do. Define transparent expectations. Trust in their capabilities to deliver results. Acknowledge that errors are inevitable yet view each as an opportunity for growth and enhancement. Invest your time in aiding their professional development and career growth. Cultivate a team that supports one another by fostering a culture of hard work and collaboration.”


Bruce White

Chairman and CEO

Bank of Travelers Rest

Bruce White has spent his whole career – more than 50 years – with the bank that his father founded in 1946. He has worked in virtually every banking role from teller to the C-suite.

White joined the bank in 1972 and worked alongside his father John before taking over as president in 1977. He retired as president in 2015, but he continues at the bank in the roles of chairman and CEO.

Under White’s leadership, Bank of Travelers Rest has expanded in size and scope, from creating an online system for checking and savings records in 1983 to launching a mobile app in 2015 to its expansion to 10 locations in recent years. It is the ninth-largest bank in South Carolina.

White has attributed the bank’s longstanding success to its employees and to the people in its hometown of Travelers Rest.

A graduate of Clemson University, White has served on the advisory board for the university’s College of Business and Behavioral Science and on the board of the Greenville Area Development Corporation.

His community involvement also includes working with Boy Scouts of America, Prisma Health, Public Education Partners, and Mental Health America of Greenville County.

In 2005, White was named Business Person of the Year by the Greater Travelers Rest Chamber of Commerce.



Michael Allen

Founder and CEO

MOA Architecture Inc.

In 2019, Michael Allen founded MOA Architecture Inc., a full-service architecture, interior design, and planning firm in Greenville. With 22 years of experience in architectural design, business development and project management, Allen and his firm collaborate with individuals and organizations to create functional, inclusive and sustainable built environments.

He has deep knowledge of LEED and Green Globe Sustainability projects as well as a variety of project scales and budgets. His work has included leadership on higher education, K-12 education, civic, cultural, commercial and sports and recreation projects. In the community, Allen serves on the boards of several organizations, including Liberty Fellowship, Spartanburg Methodist College, and the State Chamber of Commerce Diversity Council.

Allen played football at Clemson University and was awarded the 2019 Brian Dawkins Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received the American Institute of Architects South Carolina Chapter 2021 Social Justice Award.


Gail Awan, Ph.D.

President and CEO

Urban League of the Upstate

Since September 2021, Gail Awan has served as president and CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate, an organization that works to empower the African American community and other underserved individuals throughout the region. The organization has been serving the Upstate for more than 50 years and is affiliated with the National Urban League, a nonpartisan historic civil rights organization.

Since leading ULUS, Awan has participated in leadership programs including the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative, Prisma Health’s Medical Scholars, and Leadership Spartanburg.

She serves on SC New Play Festival, REEM Greenville Board, and in 2023 was appointed to serve as a commissioner for the South Carolina Commission on National and Community Service

Awan previously worked with AmeriCorps City Year program in Columbia, South Carolina. She says the secret to her success is found in her organization’s partnerships.


Randall Bentley

President and managing principal

Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services

Specializing in commercial real estate development projects, acquisitions, dispositions and leasing assignments, Randall Bentley has earned acclaim as an industrial CRE broker in the Upstate. His influence extends far beyond regional boundaries, evident in his 25-year tenure in the SIOR and CCIM organizations.

Throughout his career, Bentley has cultivated lasting relationships with numerous companies, property owners and developers, fostering a devoted clientele.

Bentley’s vision for introducing a higher-class industrial product to the market is exemplified by his involvement in helping develop the Interstate 85 and Pelham Road interchange with Class A buildings from the late 1990s to the early 21st century.

A native of Greenville County, Bentley has a passion for the local real estate market. He has used his talents to help shape the Upstate industrial market, setting the stage for its ongoing success into the future.


Kevin Bryant

Managing Director, U.S. Public Entity Practice Leader


Kevin Bryant is a managing director and U.S. public entity leader at Marsh, the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser.

With 32 years of experience, Bryant helps public entities and other clients manage their risks and employee benefits strategies.

A graduate of Furman University, Bryant began his career with Mass Mutual. He joined Marsh in 1997 to establish its first South Carolina-based employee benefits practice. After a stint at Aon, he returned to Marsh in 2021 to lead its U.S. public entity practice.

Bryant is a member of the Marsh McLennan Advantage Global Public Entity Steering Committee and Marsh’s U.S. Inclusion & Diversity Council.

A trustee at Furman and Meharry Medical College, Bryant serves as the executive sponsor for Marsh McLennan’s African Heritage Colleague Resource Group and as a business adviser for Marsh McLennan’s Equity Equals Possibility.

Bryant is a recipient of Furman’s Wayne and Rubye Reid Career Service Award.


Matthew Caldwell

Market President

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Matthew Caldwell came to Bon Secours in Greenville after serving as president of Mercy Health in Springfield and, while he’s held leadership roles in hospital systems across the country, his roots are in nursing. He has experience in critical care, recovery room, orthopedic post-operative care, and as a case manager.

Caldwell says he’s had the privilege of running many hospitals in many states but calls the staff in Greenville the difference maker.

“They keep us true to who we are – welcoming everyone, regardless of faith, creed, ethnicity or beliefs, and knowing that quality care is just the baseline,” Caldwell says. “We are the healthcare system that will sit with you, hold your hand, pray with you, and call you by name, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that.”


Mike Callahan


Duke Energy South Carolina

As president of Duke Energy South Carolina, Mike Callahan is focused on creating a 21st-century electric grid in the Palmetto State.

He oversees $7.6 billion in annual economic impact across the state, and he also manages Duke Energy’s energy transition in South Carolina, with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions for electricity generation by 2050.

Callahan is excited to help drive the path to cleaner energy, which is further enabling companies in South Carolina to grow and encouraging others to locate in the state.

He joined Duke Energy in 2002 as a senior consultant in the audit services group. Prior to being named president in 2019, Callahan served in multiple leadership positions, including as Duke Energy’s vice president of investor relations.

Callahan earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He serves on the board of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.


Carey Ann Campbell


Southern Tide

Carey Ann Campbell's roots run deep in South Carolina, beginning in Beaufort, where she was raised in the coastal lifestyle. Later, she developed an affinity for fashion while studying at the College of Charleston.

Campbell embraces the philosophy that success can be achieved while "remaining true to one's values and making a positive impact on the world."

Her long career in retail management includes working for Belk and Macy's before she joined Southern Tide in 2020 as the Vice President of Direct to Consumer. Campbell's strategic vision and leadership prowess quickly propelled her to the forefront, leading to her appointment as interim CEO in 2021. A little later, she was appointed to the role of CEO.

Campbell spearheaded the company's digital transformation, enhanced its e-commerce platform, and expanded its omnichannel capabilities. Customer engagement surged and helped boost revenue.


Heather Carlton

Dealer Principal

Carlton Mercades-Benz


Halsey Cook

President and CEO

Milliken & Company

As president and CEO of Spartanburg-headquartered Milliken & Company, Halsey Cook leads a team of 8,000 associates in 70 plants and offices.

Milliken & Company is a global manufacturing leader focusing on materials science with customers in 135 countries around the world.

Prior to joining Milliken in 2018, Cook was president and CEO of Sonepar USA, president of Legrand Electrical, and president of Carrier Corporation’s Residential and Light Commercial division.

He previously held leadership roles in manufacturing, distribution, product marketing and development based in France, Italy, the U.K., and the U.S.

Cook graduated from the University of The South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and earned an MBA from the University of Virginia.

He serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Palmetto Business Forum, and the Belle W. Baruch Foundation.


Mark H. Cooter


Cherry Bekaert Advisory LLC

Mark Cooter says his secret to success is to enjoy working with people and the relationships created through business. As a tax partner with more than 30 years of experience, he leads the Real Estate, Construction and Hospitality Industry Group at Cherry Bekaert, a regional full-service accounting firm based in Greenville.

Responsible for executing the industry growth and branding strategy across the firm, Cooter focuses his practice on the tax, consulting, and growth needs of real estate and construction companies. In addition, he works with both private, closely held and large, publicly traded middle market companies across the Southeast on a variety of issues including complex tax matters, due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, and growth advisory.

Before joining Cherry Bekaert, Cooter was a shareholder with a regional CPA firm where he served as real estate practice leader and spent four years with an international accounting firm.


Mark Cothran

CEO and president, Cothran Properties

CEO, Cothran Homes

In the decades since founding Cothran Properties and Cothran Homes, Mark Cothran has overseen the completion of more than 40 major commercial and residential projects across the Palmetto State.

The Greenville native has developed a diverse product portfolio, including income properties, residential communities, townhome projects, industrial and retail shopping centers, apartments, flex space, and industrial.

Cothran Properties acquires property for Class-A industrial and spec buildings for single- and multi-tenant occupants. The company also purchases redevelopment property for Cothran Homes, which Cothran started in 2012 to develop single-family and townhome developments and subdivisions, primarily in the Upstate.

Cothran received a BS in banking and finance from the University of South Carolina and is an organizer and board member of Southern First Bank. One of his proudest accomplishments is the development of Southern First Banks’ Greenville headquarters. He is also an active member of the NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.


Ashley Prickett Cuttino

Office Managing Shareholder

Ogletree Deakins

Working for one of the nation’s largest labor and employment law firms, Ashley Prickett Cuttino is a litigator representing employers in single and multi-plaintiff actions.

Cuttino is on the firm’s Trial Practice Group and is the co-chair of the Ogletree Covid-19 Litigation Practice Group. She’s previously worked in employment litigation, personal injury litigation, medical malpractice defense, asbestos defense, complex tort defense, and “bet the company” cases.

Cuttino is a member of the Greenville Chamber Board of Directors, the former chair and co-founder of the Ogletree Women’s Initiative, past president of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association, and is a former member of the Clemson University Board of Visitors.

She says she is most proud of her mentorship to young lawyers entering the profession and to women lawyers in both her firm and the larger South Carolina legal community.


Tushar Desai

General Manager Heavy Duty Plant Engineering

GE Vernova – Gas Power

As the senior executive for Heavy Duty Plant Engineering in Gas Power at GE Vernova, Tushar Desai holds a wide range of responsibilities, including the design, technical proposals, and power plant performance guarantees for the key equipment that makes up the power plant.

Desai began his career with GER as a rotor design engineer in 2004. Since then, he has worked his way through key engineering and product management jobs in India and the United States, and along the way has played important roles in the introduction of nearly every new gas turbine product.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from University of Pune, India, and has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Desai says his goals for the next three years including working on “cutting-edge solutions to decarbonize the world,” and on a personal level, “contributing to education right here in our community, especially around STEM careers.”


Jessica Donan

Greenville Office Managing Partner and U.S. Central Mobility Assurance Market Segment Leader

Ernst & Young

As managing partner for Ernst & Young’s Greenville office, Jessica Donan develops and maintains relationships with clients around South Carolina on behalf of EY.

Donan’s roles including making sure that her colleagues have all the tools they need to provide the best service to their clients. She also oversees EY’s lines of service in the areas of assurance, consulting, tax, and strategy and transaction services for South Carolina.

Donan has more than two decades of experience in the world of accounting, and over the years she has worked as a coordinating partner for public and private companies in such areas as media and technology, telecommunications, and health care.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Memphis and a master’s in accounting from UNC-Kenan Flagler Business School.

Donan is chair-elect of the board of directors for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce; she will begin serving in this volunteer leadership role in 2024.


Stephen Edgerton

President and CEO

The Caine Companies

Stephen Edgerton has spent 15 years helping the 90-year-old real estate company evolve and grow its portfolio of real estate, property management, and insurance divisions. His tenure with the Caine Companies began as chief operating officer.

Under his leadership as president and CEO, the company has cemented its reputation as an organization known for its innovative business practices, its top-performing real estate professionals, and its focus on ensuring the Upstate is a thriving home to exceptional arts, education, and health.

Edgerton is past chair of the Coldwell Banker Large Office Group and past chairman of the board for Metro Greenville YMCA. Currently, he serves on the boards of Artisphere and The United Way of Greenville County.

His work for the community is also hands-on, including his long-time volunteer route with Meals on Wheels.


Ford S. Elliott

CEO and Co-Chairman

Contender® Development and Blackstream

Ford S. Elliott has built a successful career as a real estate developer and entrepreneur on a foundation of corporate partnerships with firms including Marriott, DR Horton, Lennar, NVR, Ford, Chevrolet, and Christie’s International Real Estate.

Elliott is a veteran real estate developer and entrepreneur with over 18 years of experience in development, construction, acquisitions and running multiple operating businesses. At Contender®, Elliott has led the team to over $1.25 billion in active real estate developments in different stages.

He founded Blackstream, which sells over $550 million worth of real estate annually and has over 350 team members in the Contender/Blackstream family of businesses. He has earned the Christie’s Affiliate of the Year Award, finishing as a Top 10 SVN office for five consecutive years, and won the RealTrends Emerging Leaders Award for which he was nominated by Christie’s International Real Estate.

Elliott attended Clemson University and is an advisory board member of Synovus Bank.  


Robert Engelhorn, Ph.D

President and CEO

BMW Manufacturing Co.

Robert Engelhorn became president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing in 2021, and in that role he heads up the BMW Group Plant Spartanburg, the world’s largest BMW Group Plant.

Since his arrival, Engelhorn has helped the auto manufacturer deepen its impact on the economy in the Upstate and in South Carolinas as a whole. In 2022, BMW announced $1.7 billion of investment in the manufacture of electric batteries in South Carolina.

That sum includes $1 billion to prepare the Spartanburg plant for the production of fully electric vehicles, and another $700 million to build a high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff.

Engelhorn, who joined BMW in 2011 and spent much of his career at facilities in China and Germany, said in 2023 that Plant Woodruff will be a major part of BMW’s legacy, and “it will play an important role for the future of electric mobility at Plant Spartanburg and in the United States.”


Chris Fincher

Regional Vice President, Commercial Banking, Upstate

TD Bank

Chris Fincher is regional vice president of commercial banking for TD Bank in the Upstate. TD Bank is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9 million customers with a full range of retail, small-business and commercial-banking products and services at more than 1,200 locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida.

Fincher joined TD Bank in 2019, and he currently leads a team of talented bankers who provide a full range of financial services to operating companies and commercial real estate investors.

Fincher serves on the board of directors for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Metropolitan Arts Council, TreesUpstate, and Artisphere.


Alexis Garcin

President and CEO

Michelin North America

Alexis Garcin is responsible for coordinating all activities of Michelin in North America, which encompasses more than $9.1 billion in sales and approximately 23,000 employees across Canada and the United States.

Garcin joined Michelin in 2002 and has held numerous positions in France, Switzerland, Germany, and now in the U.S.

He began his Michelin career as sales director of the car dealer channel in France.

From 2011 to 2017, Garcin served as Michelin’s worldwide strategic marketing director for the truck and bus division and most recently led the global long-distance transportation business line.

As a leader, Garcin is guided by purpose, humility, boldness, and authenticity. He prioritizes people, ensuring they always come first. He relentlessly pushes for progress by challenging the status quo, learning and applying best practices and meeting regularly with people — employees, customers, industry professionals and the community — who he finds to be a great source of inspiration.



Chris Gatling

Water Design Center Manager, PE


When engineering firm Garver decided to open a new Water Design Center in Greenville, Arkansas native Chris Gatling was tapped as project manager, a key part of the company’s continued East Coast expansion.

With 13 years’ experience as a licensed professional engineer, Gatling was promoted to lead the company’s site civil design group for water and wastewater projects. In 2022 Gatling was elevated to firm partner and was chosen to open Garver’s third WDC in Greenville.

Gatling’s goal is to continue to grow Garver’s capabilities in the Upstate and ensure the firm plays a major role in helping to maintain the area’s natural resources and provide safe drinking water to the region.

Gatlingearned his Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Engineering in geotechnics from Missouri University of Science and Technology. He and his family live in Simpsonville and are members of Renovation Church.


Latorrie Geer



CommunityWorks is a Community Development Financial Institution focused on building brighter futures for underserved families and communities across South Carolina.

With Latorrie Geer at its helm, CommunityWorks has grown into a $30 million institution. Geer is committed to building solid networks of partner agencies, organizations, and individuals to work toward sustainable community growth.

Before assuming the role of CEO, she served as CommunityWorks’ director of operations and later as chief operating officer.

She previously worked as executive vice president and director of operations at SENIOR Solutions.

Geer graduated from the University of South Carolina and is a proud Gamecock. She holds board seats with Generation4, Greater Good Greenville, AIM, the SC Fair Lending Alliance Steering Committee, Self-Help Credit Union, South Carolina Capital Alliance, and the Business Development Corporation.

Her advice for startups is to trust the process, but remain adaptable — be willing to pivot, evolve, and embrace change as you progress.


Dan Hamilton

Operating Principal

Keller Williams Greenville Upstate

Dan Hamilton is co-founder and operating principal of Keller Williams Greenville Upstate.

Founded in 2003, it is the first Keller Williams office in South Carolina, and now one of the single largest and most productive real estate brokerage offices in the Upstate.

Additionally, Hamilton is the founder of Hamilton & Co., a real estate team that consistently ranks as one of the top real estate teams in the state.

Hamilton’s wide-ranging real estate experience includes starting and running a brokerage, land development and construction, property management and investment properties. He and his companies have sold over $1 billion in real estate sales and assisted thousands of families throughout his career.

Hamilton is a former South Carolina state representative. He has also served as chairman of the Greenville Housing Fund, director of the S. C. REALTORS Association, and as a director of Pinnacle Bank of South Carolina.

Hamilton serves on the board for Renewable Water Resources.


Bennie Harris, Ph.D.


USC Upstate

Bennie Harris, Ph.D. began serving as University of South Carolina Upstate’s fifth chancellor in July 2021. Serving about 5,000 students, the school has a more than $500 million annual impact on South Carolina.

Harris believes higher education offers uniquely transformative opportunities for students to experience possibilities and fulfill their dreams.

Harris is elevating USC Upstate’s profile in the region through a rebranding campaign encouraging the Upstate community to “Reach Greater Heights.” The campaign captures the aspirational nature of learning at USC Upstate and encourages students, faculty, and staff to pursue innovative ideas and excellence.

He’s previously worked at Washington State University, UAB, DePaul, Lipscomb, and at Morehouse School of Medicine.

He says he’s most proud of how his university community navigated the challenges of Covid-19 and maintained status as a competitive institution during one of the most challenging times in higher education.


Sean Hartness


Hartness Development

Sean Hartness is CEO of Hartness Construction and Hartness Development. His current projects include Hartness, an innovative, mixed-use urban community featuring homes, restaurants, office space, specialty retail, work-live spaces, and more. Since its launch, the award-winning urban community has welcomed many families and introduced a new offering to Greenville’s flourishing Eastside, including Hotel Hartness which opened in 2023.

Hartness is also embarking on an additional project, Crescent Startup Community, which is poised to continue the revitalization of the Poinsett Corridor and transform it into a large-scale destination for innovation and the exchange of entrepreneurial ideas.

Additionally, Hartness is an Emeritus trustee at Furman University and currently serves on the Furman University Real Estate Board and the Triple Tree Board. The Hartness community also continues to be the host site of TD SYNNEX Share the Magic, which raises critical funds for local children's charities.


Justin Hawkins

Region bank executive, South Carolina and Greater Georgia

Wells Fargo & Co.

Justin Hawkins leads a team of 1,044 Wells Fargo employees in 122 bank branches. Wells Fargo Bank holds the No. 1 market-share position in South Carolina at $21.4 billion.

A 20-year company veteran, Hawkins previously served as the area president of the Upstate market. Prior to that role, he held multiple leadership positions with Wells Fargo, including financial center manager, service leader, district manager, and regional sales and marketing manager for South Carolina.

Hawkins graduated from Furman University’s Riley Institute of Diversity in 2010 as a Diversity Fellow. He is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in his personal and professional lives.

Based in Greenville, Hawkins is an active community leader. He most recently served on the executive board of directors for the South Carolina Bankers Association as well as the Federal Legislative Committee.

Hawkins is responsible for representing Wells Fargo in all aspects of the community, including philanthropic giving.


Jackson Hughes

Owner and CEO

Hughes Commercial Properties

Jackson Hughes has been the owner and CEO of Hughes Commercial Properties since 1996.

During his decades in the industry, Hughes has developed countless commercial properties – including industrial, office and retail space – throughout the country.

He sets the tone and culture for the company and with him in charge, that means a culture of collegiality, respect, high standards, and even higher ethics.

Those standards and the company’s success were recognized in 2011 when Hughes was named Real Estate Person of the Year.

Additionally, Hughes is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and past president of the Carolina’s Golf Association. He previously served on the Advancement Board for the master’s in real estate development at Clemson University.

His future goals include repositioning the building his company owns at 300 E. McBee Ave. as an active hub of stores, restaurants, and offices anchoring the emerging North of Broad District.


Cal Hurst


Southern First Bank

With 16 total years of experience in banking throughout South Carolina, Cal Hurst has served as president of Southern First since 2022.

Hurst is passionate about making a positive impact on everyone possible. He says he loves Greenville and is proud to serve various organizations through volunteerism, financial support, and Board leadership.

He has been chair of the Greenville Chamber Board, serves on the board for United Way, and is a past chairman of the United Way’s Greenville County Campaign.  He also serves at First Presbyterian Church and Furman University.

In his own words, Hurst is a proud son of public educators, brother of two fine men, father of two extraordinary and precious children, and husband to the most wonderful woman he has ever met.

His secrets to success are relationships, trustworthiness, and hard work; three things for which Hurst says there are no substitutes or shortcuts.


Will Huss

Chief Executive Officer


Since 2007, Will Huss has led Trehel through its transformation into one of the Southeast’s premier general contractors.

Huss has more than 30 years of experience in construction and design. He began working with Trehel in 1997 after starting his career in commercial and residential architecture and project management.

In addition to his work with Trehel, Huss has served as chairman of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Foundation and is on the board of United Ministries in Greenville.

Huss is a member of Liberty Fellowship. He serves as the national coordinator for Reformed University Fellowship, and as a Ruling Elder at Clemson Presbyterian Church. Huss also serves on the board of the Greater Area Parkinsons Society.

Huss says the secret to success is to love and develop people well; seek and give accountability; and focus on purpose and “why.” And to look to serve others.


Randy Jackson

Executive director

First Merchant Services LLC and Phillis Wheatley Community Center

As president of First Merchant Service in Greenville, Randy Jackson provides processing and payment support to businesses across the continent, including Canada and Mexico.

An alumnus of the Phillis Wheatley Community Center himself, Jackson joined the center as executive director in March 2019 and currently serves residents and families in Greenville County with a special focus on individuals from underserved and underdeveloped communities. Jackson works to provide the center’s clients with the resources and tools to achieve upward mobility and sustainability.

During Covid-19’s onset, he added a client advocate outreach coordinator, emergency food services, and other programming in a virtual format so participants could stay healthy and engaged.

Jackson is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.


Marjorie Jenkins, M.D.


University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville

Since arriving in Greenville in 2019, Dr. Marjorie Jenkins has brought transformational leadership to the USC School of Medicine Greenville (SOMG). Record-setting, the school received the first eight-year national accreditation and has had a record number of applicants -- more than 4,750. It also had the largest number – 440 –of medical students enrolled in a given year.

The school had a $450 million economic impact in the Upstate during its first 10 years, 2012-2022.

Jenkins, who also is chief academic officer for Prisma Health Upstate, is an author/editor and national speaker on medical education innovation, women's health equity, and personalized medicine. Jenkins received an honor in 2021 from Women We Admire as one of the Top Women Leaders in Medicine, and she received the Education Spirit Award from the Community Foundation of Greenville.

Her community service extends to local boards, including the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Artisphere, Greenville Chamber, SCbio, and the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health.


Scott Johnston

Founding Principal

Johnston Design Group

Scott Johnston is the founding principal of Johnston Design Group, an architectural, planning and interior design studio.

Johnston Design Group focuses on creating a restorative built environment that values wellness, economic resilience, and connecting people to each other and to nature.

The studio creates urban mixed-use, hospitality, commercial, cultural, and custom residential buildings, as well as community-led master plans throughout the Southeastern United States.

The studio has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Green Building Council, the American Institute of Architects, and the National Urban League for leadership in these restorative design principals.

When not in the studio, Johnston serves as board chair for the Urban League of the Upstate and as guest faculty at Clemson University, Anderson University, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities, and the American College of Building Arts.


James Jordon

CEO and President

Jordon Construction Company and Jordon Development Company

James Jordon, an entrepreneur and community leader, is the founder of Jordon Development Company (JDC) and Jordon Construction Company (JCC).

Under his leadership, JDC has significantly contributed to Greenville's real estate development by focusing on housing. They have successfully renovated and managed multiple residential properties, collaborating with the Greenville Housing Authority and Community Works.

JCC is a certified minority-owned business that specializes in commercial and facilities support services. The company’s notable clients include the Department of Defense and Coca-Cola.

This year, Jordon Construction was ranked as the 13th fastest-growing company in the state and the fastest in revenue growth.

Known for his commitment to the Greenville community, Jordon is passionate about mentoring youth.

His honors include being selected for the March of Dimes Person of the Year Award

in Real Estate and Economic Development and the Business of the Year Award from the MEDC.


Tony Kouskolekas


Pelham Medical Center

Tony Kouskolekas has served as president of Pelham Medical Center, part of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, since 2012.

Pelham Medical Center is a 48-bed acute care hospital. The Pelham campus also includes Gibbs Cancer Center and a medical office building with physician specialties and primary care.

Pelham Medical Center is the first hospital in the Carolinas to become an Orthopedic Center of Excellence – a DNV designation that recognizes an organization as a demonstrated leader in the safe delivery of orthopedic services.

This year, the hospital achieved the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award for the third year in a row and was named among the top 5 percent in the nation for outstanding patient experience.

Kouskolekas’ community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Greer Development Corporation, Greer Middle College Charter High School, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society GA/SC Chapter.


Brian McKay

President and CEO

Spero Financial

Brian McKay began his career with Spero Financial (formerly SC Telco Federal Credit Union) Greenville in 2004. Since 2007, he has been a part of the executive leadership team and, in April 2020, was named president and CEO. The first six of his almost 25 years in banking were spent at First Citizens Bank in Columbia, where he held many different positions.

In addition to his role as president/CEO of Spero Financial, he is actively involved in the community as chair of the Langston Charter Middle School board of directors; trustee, Anderson University board of trustees; vice chairman and board member of the Carolinas Credit Union League; and an active member at Rocky Creek Church.

The Columbia native graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications. He currently lives in Simpsonville with his wife and two teenage daughters.


Patrick Michaels

President and CEO

Goodwill Industries Upstate/Midlands of South Carolina

Patrick Michaels has worked with Goodwill for a quarter-century, which has allowed him to see the “Power of Work” for thousands of people whose lives are impacted by Goodwill.

Michaels says he is motivated by seeing individuals build their skills, make progress toward goals, and boost their self-esteem, as they work toward financial independence for themselves and their families through employment.

A graduate of Central Washington University, Michaels served in the United States Army, working as assistant operations officer, company executive officer, and company commander. His military experiences helped prepare him for his career with Goodwill.

During his tenure, Goodwill Industries Upstate/Midlands of South Carolina has launched a number of new initiatives, including programs to help military veterans and young people find employment.

In addition to his work with Goodwill, Michaels serves on the South Carolina Workforce Development Board, the Greenville County Workforce Development Board, and the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce Review Committee.


Mark O’Halla

President and Chief Executive Officer

Prisma Health

Prisma Health President and CEO Mark O’Halla says his primary goal over the next few years is to support Prisma Health’s physicians and team members in providing exceptional patient care as the health care system navigates challenging terrain.

O’Halla plans to deepen the system’s community and business partnerships, and Prisma Health will continue to move the needle on health care transformation by leveraging the benefits of academics, research, and innovative practice to make health care more affordable and accessible.

Prisma Health is South Carolina’s largest health system, with 18 acute care and specialty hospitals across a 21-county service area.

O’Halla, who has more than 30 years of health care experience in senior executive roles, joined Prisma Health as president and CEO in 2019. He lists his greatest career accomplishment as navigating Prisma, with nearly 30,000 employees, through the COVID pandemic.

“I could not be prouder of our nearly 30,000 Prisma Health team members who stepped up to the challenge of serving our state and our patients during the pandemic,” he said. “Beyond the pandemic, I am filled with incredible pride in all Prisma Health has accomplished.”


Krish Patel


KVP Inc.

Krish Patel has been involved in the business world since childhood, when he worked the drive-through window at his parents’ dry-cleaning business. In college, he opened a Verizon Wireless store in Greenville after he was assigned to write a business plan for a class at USC Upstate.

He financed that store by putting up his home as collateral for the loan.

Patel grew that one store into 50, employing 300 people, before selling his stores in recent years.

These days, Patel concentrates much of his energy on KVP Inc., the private equity management and real estate development firm that he founded. The company’s work can be seen at Unity Park and on Woodruff Road, among other areas of the Upstate.

Patel also owns yoga studios in Simpsonville and in Austin, Texas, and storage facilities in South Carolina. In his free time, Patel enjoys cycling, and two years ago completed the 275-mile Alzheimer’s Ride to Remember to support a friend whose mother died of the disease.


Beth Paul

General manager

Bon Secours Wellness Arena

With more than 20 years of experience in arena and venue management, Beth Paul serves as general manager of Bon Secours Wellness Arena, where she oversees the arena’s vision and execution of strategies leading to operational and financial performance. Paul continues to increase the arena’s operating revenues and profits as well as its number of annual events, which has led to numerous awards and accolades both locally and on the industry level.

Paul’s leadership extends beyond the arena’s walls through her dedication to the venue’s community-outreach program designed to bridge the power of live entertainment with the critical needs of Upstate South Carolina. Today, Paul simultaneously manages the Greenville Arena District’s 30-year Capital Improvement Plan and long-term financial obligations and sits on the on the board of directors for VisitGreenvilleSC, where she holds an officer position, as well as holding a board position for Habitat for Humanity of Greenville.


Chad Prashad

President and Chief Executive Officer

World Acceptance Corp.

A Greenville-native, Chad Prashad is active in the business, nonprofit, and education communities to improve life in South Carolina. 

Prashad and his wife have been active foster parents for 12 years and he serves on the board of directors of nonprofits Build Carolina, Fostering Great Ideas, The Family Effect, National CASA/GAL Association, American Financial Services Association, and Presbyterian College. 

Prashad also operates a charitable foundation, CHAM Innovation Fund, which has partnered with Presbyterian College (PC) to offer two innovative programs. Starting with 16 freshmen in August 2023, Jacobs Scholars offers a full-scholarship and wrap-around support in what has become the largest program of its kind in the U.S. for college students who experienced foster care. 

In 2022, Prashad and PC launched what is now the largest Service Entrepreneurship Case Competition in the nation for high-school students (including scholarships, mentoring, and start-up capital) to help mold South Carolina’s next generation of community leaders. He leads Greenville-based World Acceptance Corporation, parent company of World Finance, which is one of the largest small-loan consumer finance companies in the nation. He has been with World since 2014 and has been instrumental in developing a successful business strategy. 


Michelle Seaver

President for Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties

United Community

Michelle Seaver believes in treating people the way she likes to be treated. “I have always tried to treat everyone I meet equally, no matter how varied our backgrounds or experiences might be,” says Seaver, who leads United Community’s banking operations in Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.

Passionate about family, customers and community, she is a graduate in accounting from the University of South Carolina and a graduate of the S.C. Bankers School.

She has served on boards or held leadership positions with organizations including Prisma Health Board of Directors, Greenville Health System board of trustees, South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Charity Ball Board of Greenville, South Carolina Bankers School, Community Foundation of Greenville, and Artisphere.


Allen Smith

President and CEO

OneSpartanburg, Inc.

A native of Greenville, North Carolina, Allen Smith honed his community development skills through work with the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, he was named president and CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

Those experiences prepared Smith well when he led the 2020 effort to consolidate the chamber, economic development, and tourism. 

Under his leadership, OneSpartanburg Inc. and its community partners have recruited $5.9 billion in new investment, creating 5,454 new jobs through 90 new projects continuing the streak of leading South Carolina in new investment and job creation.

Smith says the secret to his success is found in the people of OneSpartanburg Inc. “It's been said if you give good people possibility, great things happen. We have the best team in and outside the building and historic things are happening in Spartanburg.”


Steve Smith

Managing Director


Steve Smith is a South Carolina native and College of Charleston graduate. He focuses on integrating CBRE’s service lines, including property leasing, management, project management and investment sales, to help clients across the state. Smith has a passion for connecting the right people and the right skills on every opportunity.

Smith spent the first nine years of his commercial real estate career in Charleston before moving to Greenville in 1993 when he joined the Furman Co. In 1997, he was named vice president of the Office Group and in 2000 he became a principal in the firm and was named vice president. By 2008 Smith had taken over as executive vice president and managing principal.

In 2014, CBRE acquired the commercial real estate brokerage, investment property sales and property management services business of The Furman Co. and Smith took over as managing director of CBRE in South Carolina. In his role, Smith has executive oversight over all company operations in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville-Spartanburg.

Smith sits on the boards of several entities, including the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and the Greenville Tech Foundation.


G.T. “Toby” Stansell


Cargo, LLC

As the CEO of Cargo LLC, a Greenville-based business strategy and marketing consultancy, G.T. “Toby” Stansell guides his team in collaborations with some of the world’s largest brands to more effectively market and sell to small- to medium-size enterprises.

Over the past four decades, Stansell has taken on a variety of leadership roles in the community. In 2020, he completed an 11-year stint as co-chair of Accelerate!, the Greenville Chamber’s economic development initiative, and he continues to serve on Prisma Health’s Medical Experience Academy’s Steering Committee.

Stansell is also the author of the recently released Forbes book, “The Winding Road to Excellence,” in which he recounts some of the challenges he faced in his career and the leadership principles and practices he learned from those experiences.

Among Stansell’s community awards are the Buck Mickel Award and the Greenville/Clemson University Small Business Development Center Small Business Ally of the Year.


David Stefanich

Founder and CEO


David Stefanich is founder and CEO of Rymedi, a digital health company focused on improving patient access and quality of care through its data automation and workflow platform.

Prior to Rymedi, Stefanich was at the forefront of automating global quality management and logistics across the automotive industry. He later helped streamline pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Across all he does, Stefanich is most passionate about enabling others to achieve their potential, live healthier and more fulfilling lives, and pay their blessings forward.

Stefanich also serves as board chairman at SCbio and is an active member of the Clemson University Industry Advisory Board. He also advises various entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives.

His advice for anyone with a new startup is to “be true to yourself. Don't change who you are; believing it is what the market expects. The market can sense your passion, honesty, and focus.”


Betty Temple

Chair and CEO

Womble Bond Dickinson (U.S.) LLP

As chair and CEO of Womble Bond Dickinson, Betty Temple led the 2017 combination of US firm Womble Carlyle with U.K. firm Bond Dickinson to create the trans-Atlantic law firm of Womble Bond Dickinson. The combined firm has more than 1,000 attorneys and 32 offices in the U.S. and the U.K., including an office in Greenville.

Temple's career at Womble began in 1989, right after she received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. A practicing corporate and securities lawyer, Temple twice received BTI Consulting Group's Client Service All Star Award – an honor that speaks to how much global companies trust her work.

Temple also spearheaded the firm's expansion into the new markets of Boston, Denver, Houston, Nashville, New York, and Southern California.

She also championed Womble Bond Dickinson's participation in the Mansfield Rule Pilot Project, which has the goal of improving diversity within the legal profession.


Jeff Tennyson

President and CEO

Lima One Capital

Jeff Tennyson is President and CEO of Lima One Capital, and since joining the company in 2018, he has led Lima One to exponential growth, as well as recognition by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies on the Inc. 5000 list, and as a Top Workplace and Best Place to Work.

In 2021, Tennyson led Lima One’s acquisition by MFA Financial Inc., ensuring a consistent source of growth capital and further cementing Lima One as America’s premier lender for real estate investors.

In 2023, Lima One announced its new 65,000-square-foot U.S. headquarters as the anchor tenant in Greenville, South Carolina’s new County Square development to support its 300+ current employees and future growth plans.

Lima One also led the financing for The McDaniel, a new $28 million luxury townhome community at the intersection of East McBee and McDaniel avenues in downtown Greenville.


Erik Weir


WCM Global Wealth LLC

Erik Weir's investment career path has included his producing award-winning and multi-billion-dollar films, including "Unbroken: Path to Redemption," "Surprised by Oxford," "[Mister Rogers] Won't You Be My Neighbor," and the Erwin Brothers' film, "I Can Only Imagine."

Weir's investments include five Topgolf locations in the U.S. and partnering to develop 20 locations in Europe.

The Georgia State University and Harvard University graduate believes in persistence and applying it with "mentorship, daily strategic planning, and the realization that success is the journey not the destination."

Weir overcame a debilitating stutter that developed when he had a traumatic brain injury as a child. After 30 years of working to speak without a stutter, he now talks to large audiences, inspiring them to embrace their limitations and persevere.

"I like to ask my mentors a simple question, 'Knowing what you now know, what would you do today if you were starting over?'"

A martial artist and 25-year pilot, Weir also wrote the Amazon best-seller, "Who's Eating Your Pie? Essential Financial Advice That Will Transform Your Life."


Evans P. Whitaker, Ph.D.


Anderson University

Evans Whitaker has served as Anderson University’s 12th president since 2002. During his tenure, Anderson University, the state’s largest private university, has seen unprecedented growth.

One major change is Anderson’s jump in enrollment – a 164 percent increase from 1,600 to more than 4,000 students. Related to the increase in the number of students is the growth in the size of the campus, from 68 acres to 400.

A native of Shelby, North Carolina, Whitaker earned an undergraduate degree from Gardner-Webb University, a Master of Education from George Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt.

Whitaker has taken on numerous leadership roles. Among them are serving as a trustee for AnMed Health and the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board, chairing the Presidents’ Council of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities and the Presidents’ Council of the South Atlantic Conference, and serving on the boards of trustees for Brookgreen Gardens and the University Center of Greenville.


Will Whitley

Director of State, Local Government, and Community Relations

Michelin North America

Will Whitley is the liaison for Michelin's state and local government affairs activity, encouraging employee involvement where Michelin can have the greatest impact in the areas of education and workforce development, protecting the environment, and boosting local economic growth.

Whitley's career with Michelin began in 2008. He worked in various engineering, maintenance, and other technical leadership positions, before transitioning into the Corporate Recruiting Department. His current role began in 2019.

As part of Whitley's personal and professional interest in community and business leadership, he serves as the 2023-‘24 Chairman of Executive Committee for the South Carolina State Chamber and is a member of the Kentucky and Oklahoma State Chambers, County Chambers of Greater Greenville and Anderson County, and a South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance Board Member.

His championing for diversity initiatives has led him to be an inaugural member of the REEM Commission (Racial Equity and Economic Mobility) of Greenville County.

Whitley is also a graduate of the Riley Institute of Diversity Leaders Initiative of Furman University.


Tony Williams


Infinity Marketing

After being the driving force behind Infinity Marketing, the company he opened three decades ago, Tony Williams has stepped back from running the business, naming Bo Rogers as Infinity’s new president.

The Greenville native’s roots run deep in the Upstate. He grew up in the Overbrook neighborhood and attended St. Mary’s Catholic School on a hardship scholarship. He also served in the Army and earned a degree from Greenville Technical College.

Infinity now includes more than 75 marketing professionals who have earned the agency around 300 honors, awards, and accolades. Williams himself has also received an array of professional honors during his career. In 2016 he received the American Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal Award, an award established in 1959 to recognize men and women who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering the industry.