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Charleston Business

2020 Charleston Business Magazine's 50 Most Influential and Hall of Fame

Jan 05, 2021 05:59PM ● By Leigh Savage

Charleston Business Magazine celebrates another year of honoring the region’s most influential people. The selection of our 50 individuals is a result of staff research and community nominations.

Take a look inside to see who made the list. And this year, we’re adding five members to our Hall of Fame who have continued to make a lasting difference in the Lowcountry.


2020 Hall of Fame



Jim Newsome III

President and CEO

South Carolina Ports Authority


Jim Newsome became president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) on Sept. 1, 2009, and is only the fifth leader in the history of the organization. He was previously president of Hapag-Lloyd (America), Inc., which is part of the world’s fifth-largest ocean shipping company. In September 2019, S.C. Ports celebrated 10 years of Newsome’s leadership.

Prior to joining Hapag-Lloyd in 1997, Newsome was with Nedlloyd Lines from 1987 to 1997. He was executive vice president of the Americas for Nedlloyd Lines and president of Nedlloyd Lines (USA) Corp. based in Atlanta. 

In that capacity, he was the first non-Dutch member of the executive committee of Nedlloyd Lines and was responsible for North and Latin America and the transatlantic trade. He held other senior management positions within that company.

Before that, Newsome spent 10 years with Strachan Shipping Company, where he was president of its Hoegh Lines Agencies subsidiary in Jersey City, New Jersey. He held other positions with Strachan in Houston, Texas and New York City.

Newsome has received many prestigious awards and honors including the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Tennessee Knoxville Global Supply Chain Institute; 2020 International Maritime Hall of Fame; Roger Milliken Defender of Manufacturing Award; DC Velocity Logistics Rainmaker Award and Agriculture Transportation Coalition’s Person of the Year


Tim Scott


United States of America

Growing up in a poor, single parent household in North Charleston, a young Tim Scott grew accustomed to moving every few years, as well as the long hours his mom worked to keep a roof over their heads. After failing four classes his freshman year of high school, Scott’s path forward was murky at best.

But thankfully, he had a mom who stuck with him, and met a mentor that showed him the wisdom of conservative principles. Through their belief and his own determination, Scott got his grades back on track, graduated from Charleston Southern University, and eventually built his own successful small business.

Through the lessons taught by his mentor, Scott developed his mission statement: to positively affect the lives of a billion people. That led him to public service, where he was elected to Charleston County Council, the South Carolina House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate 

Since joining the Senate in 2013, Sen. Scott has been a national leader on efforts to bring opportunity to every American family. His signature legislation creating Opportunity Zones was passed as part of the 2017 tax reform package, and has the potential to bring billions of dollars of private investment into distressed communities across the country 

Sen. Scott also plays a critical role in issues regarding workforce development, education and diversity. Whether it’s tackling the skills gap, making sure children have access to the educational environment best suited for them, or working to bring everyone to the table to find solutions, he says he will keep fighting for South Carolinians every single day he serves in the U.S. Senate.




Joseph P. Riley Jr.

Former Mayor



If Charleston were ever renamed, citizens might choose to call it Rileyville in honor of the 10-term mayor who garnered national acclaim in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo. His leadership not only saw the city through the aftermath of the storm, but also drove a downtown development and tourism effort studied by communities across the world.

Although some were skeptical when Riley shared ideas about turning vacant property downtown into a hospitality and retail development, his vision became Charleston Place. Riley, however, did not advocate development for development’s sake. He backed preservationists to bring in a project that would respect the city’s history and aesthetics for posterity. His efforts also extended to low-income housing and public spaces. 

During Riley’s inaugural address in 2000, he proposed a world-class museum to highlight the experiences and contributions of Africans brought to America against their will. In 2022, the International African American Museum will open on a site that was once a disembarkation point for up to 40 percent of America’s slaves. 

In 2009, President Barack Obama presented Riley with the National Medal of the Arts for cultivating Charleston’s historic and cultural resources to enhance public spaces and for revitalizing urban centers throughout the country as the founder of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. The American Architectural Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2010 created the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in City Design in his honor. 

Riley retired in 2016 after nearly 40 years in the mayor’s office. He is a professor of American government and public policy at The Citadel where he graduated in 1964. Charleston hasn’t changed its name, but in 2015, its city council approved a resolution to put Riley’s on its famous waterfront park, renaming it Riley Waterfront Park as a symbol of Riley’s “dedication to the pursuit of excellence and beauty” and “untiring zeal to achieve both for the heritage and enjoyment of all.”





Mary Thornley


Trident Technical College


Beginning her career at Trident Technical College as an adjunct instructor in 1973, Dr. Mary Thornley became an integral part of the institution’s leadership and has made the college a more vital part of the community and its economic success.

Since Thornley became president in 1991, enrollment has grown to nearly 12,000 students, and plans are in the works to open a fifth campus in 2021. The expansion of the college has coincided with changes in the local economy, and Thornley has worked hand-in-hand with business leaders to ensure employers have a capable workforce. When Johnson & Wales University left the area, Thornley was part of the effort to develop the Culinary Institute of Charleston to meet the needs of the hospitality industry. Recognizing the demand for workers with advanced manufacturing skills, she pressed for the S.C. Aeronautical Training Center, which opened on the college’s North Charleston campus in 2019. She has expressed her strong belief in the community college’s role in making communities stronger, more adaptable and better able to face challenges. 

Thornley’s administration has been characterized by program completion and equity in enrollment, among other factors. In 2020, the Order of the Palmetto capped a long list of honors she has received including the Joseph P. Riley Leadership Award from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, a special award recognizing 10 years of economic development leadership from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, the Service and Leadership Award for Promoting Access and Equity in Higher Education from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, the Septima P. Clark Charleston Branch NAACP Education Award and the Association of Community College Trustees Charles Kennedy National Equity Award.



 Anita Zucker

Chair and CEO

The InterTech Group Inc.


Anita Zucker is one of South Carolina’s leading philanthropists and a tireless advocate for education. A former elementary school teacher, she now holds honorary doctorates from numerous universities and supports many with her contributions of time, financial resources and leadership.

Zucker is the chair and CEO of The InterTech Group Inc., founded in 1982 by her late husband. Among her countless awards are the Order of the Palmetto, the Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor 

One of the early-childhood education initiatives Zucker champions is the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC), an organization she founded and currently chairs. She also serves as a trustee on the Trident Technical College Area Commission and acts as vice chair of the University of Florida Foundation Board. She is a director emeritus of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Foundation Board and the Citizens Advisory Council for the Hollings Cancer Center and currently chairs the MUSC Neurosciences Advisory Board 

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Zucker has been a benefactor of the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, a Jewish Federations of North America initiative to support aging survivors across the country. She became the first female trustee of the Saul Alexander Foundation and The Jewish Endowment Fund and served on the board of Jewish Studies Inc., which built the Jewish Studies Building at the College of Charleston.

Zucker’s tireless efforts show that she lives her personal motto tikkun olam - Hebrew for “repair of the world.”



2020 50 Most Influential



Marcus Amaker

Poet Laureate


Amaker was named Charleston’s first poet laureate in 2016, and since then, he’s continued creating beautiful rhythms through his writing and his music while acting as a mentor to hundreds of students. His poetry has been presented by The Kennedy Center, studied in classrooms around the world and interpreted for ballet, jazz, modern dance, opera and theater. “The Birth of All Things,” a collection of poetry inspired by his daughter, is his eighth book, and his latest LP is “subversive.” 


 Ernest G. Andrade

Founder & Director

Charleston Digital Corridor

With Andrade at the helm, the Charleston Digital Corridor (CDC) has grown from 18 to 450+ companies and is recognized as a model for high-wage, tech-focused economic development. In addition to providing office space for startups and growing tech companies, the CDC helps integrate businesses into the community. In October 2020, the organization awarded a project in the new Charleston Tech Center to Musselman Construction, and by December, 70 percent of the space was already leased.



 Lane Ballard

VP and General Manager

787 Program and Boeing South Carolina,

Boeing Commercial Airplanes


In June 2020, Ballard was named vice president and general manager of the 787 Program and Boeing South Carolina (BSC) site leader, meaning he leads the team that designs, builds and delivers the 787 Dreamliner family of airplanes, among other duties. BSC is the only site in the world that contains the full cycle of Dreamliner production – from freezer to flight. Last year, Boeing supported 21 South Carolina nonprofit organizations by providing $3.7 million in grants. Combined with its 2020 sponsorships, Boeing will invest over six million dollars in the community to fund programs through 2021 and beyond.



Award-Winning Author
  Cinelle Barnes

Her writing has been published or featured in the “New York Times” and “Garden & Gun” among other publications, and her work has been supported through fellowships and grants from VONA, Kundiman, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant and Capita. Barnes is a memoirist, essayist and educator from Manila, Philippines, and the author of “Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir,” which was nominated for the 2018 Reading Women Nonfiction Award. Additionally, she is the editor of the “New York Times” New & Noteworthy book, “A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South” (Hub City Press, 2020). She currently is working on a nonfiction narrative book on climate justice and the Philippine water crisis.


 Steve Bedard

President & CEO

The Gaillard Center


When Bedard’s upcoming retirement was announced in 2020, Charles Way Jr., chairman of Gaillard Management, the nonprofit organization that manages the Gaillard Center, said Bedard accepted the position when the center’s finances were not in good shape, but he “fixed that and put the organization on a path of steady improvement.” One of Charleston’s most impressive spaces, the Charleston Gaillard Center is a 501c3 nonprofit that offers a world-class performance hall, venue space and a plethora of educational opportunities. Over the past few years, the Education and Community Program has provided arts-enhanced education programs to 130+ schools, assumed the cost of transportation for 757 buses and touched over 67,000 students in the tri-county region.


 Dr. Thaddeus Bell


Roper St. Francis Healthcare

A family medicine doctor in North Charleston, Bell is the founder of Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc. (CGHC), a nonprofit organization created to decrease health disparities by providing health education for African-Americans and other underserved populations. Bell shares health tips through a newsletter, radio programs, a TV show and public speaking engagements, reaching thousands each week. Retiring from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2010, he left a lasting imprint after serving as associate dean of minority affairs. Bell started the acclaimed Lowcountry Jazz Festival as the primary fundraiser for a scholarship fund that bears his name and is managed by the Coastal Community Foundation. 



 LaVanda Brown

Executive Director

YWCA Greater Charleston 

Over a three-decade career, from her early years as a case aid to her current position, Brown has dedicated her life to helping the underprivileged, combating racism and uplifting women. Through her work with the YWCA and as a private consultant, she has continued to guide others and provide them with the resources needed to succeed. As the executive director of the YWCA, she will now work with the Coastal Community Foundation to allocate part of a Facebook grant for $1 million to further improve the lives of African-American residents in the community. 


 Frank Bullard 

Charleston Market President

First Reliance Bank

As market president of First Reliance Bank, a position he came out of retirement to accept in March 2020, Bullard helps underscore the values of First Reliance as a community bank that strives for best-in-class personal service. With nearly four decades of banking experience, his knowledge of the industry and respect for South Carolinians has facilitated connections between First Reliance and the community.



 Elizabeth Burwell

Senior Vice President and

Commercial Banking Team Leader

First National Bank


As senior vice president and Commercial Banking Team Leader for First National Bank, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB), Burwell has played a major role in FNB’s growth in the Charleston area. FNB today operates retail branches on Meeting Street and in Mt. Pleasant, in addition to its downtown regional hub and extensive commercial banking presence, and has plans for continued expansion– all while maintaining its reputation as a bank that puts the community first. 

Burwell joined FNB in April 2019 after 16 years with Wells Fargo. Sharing her organization’s steadfast commitment to its communities, she has dedicated herself to helping improve the Charleston area through her work and community involvement. In 2020 this has included her contributions to FNB’s significant efforts to protect and support its customers, communities and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Charleston native, Burwell also currently serves on the executive committee for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trustees for Porter Gaud School and is President of the Ashley Hall School Alumnae Association.



 Emory Campbell


Gullah Heritage Consulting Services 

Campbell has remained an important figure in the preservation of the Gullah culture of lower South Carolina for decades. He was instrumental in both the Gullah Reunion of 1988 and the Gullah Homecoming of the following year, both of which helped people from his community reconnect their family histories with the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Campbell has authored books, notably “Gullah Cultural Legacies,” and through Gullah Cultural Heritage Services and Gullah Heritage Trail Tours (suspended as of press time due to Covid-19), he continues to educate the area on the unique culture and its ties to African languages and traditions.



 Laura Cantral 

Executive Director

S.C. Coastal Conservation League

As executive director of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League since 2018, Cantral has continuously campaigned for policies and worked to reverse threats to the environment of the coastal regions of South Carolina. She brought years of experience working with Congress and environmental organizations, including her time as the director for governance for the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, to the position and has helped stop seismic blasting, among other harmful practices, near the coastal region. Cantral’s dedication to protecting the wildlife and natural splendor of South Carolina is matched by her dedication to the community, which she hopes will be able to enjoy the beauty of the area for generations to come. 


 Mike Carter



Carter is the founder and CEO of eGroup, a technology consulting firm based in Mount Pleasant. He says his team’s goal is to allow business owners to focus on what makes their businesses successful while they align technology initiatives with solutions, services and support. eGroup’s Modern Office solution for Small Office or Enterprise organizations is an “as a service” offering that frees companies from all, or part, of managing the entirety of IT, using the best of the cloud “tipping point” to deliver faster, better and less expensive solutions. eGroup provides innovative IT solutions to businesses across the nation, and for the eighth year in a row, they were included on the 2020 Solutions Provider 500 list, which serves as the industry’s benchmark for recognizing top-performing technology integrators, strategic service providers and IT consultants.


 David J. Cole, M.D.


Medical University of South Carolina

As president of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), physician and oncologist David Cole has overseen the innovation and demonstrated the compassion that led “U.S. News and World Report” to rank his hospital as South Carolina’s best for five consecutive years. With his guidance, MUSC has also contributed to medical research through record-breaking fundraising and expanded to include the Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. During the Covid pandemic, Cole and MUSC have provided mobile testing sites, further proving the dedication of the university and its president to protecting the health and well-being of South Carolina residents.


 John Darby    

President and CEO

The Beach Company

Darby, a native of Charleston, says that passion for the area has helped his real estate development company maintain respect within the community it has served for the past 75 years. Active in the company since the development of Majestic Square, he has provided leadership that is forward-thinking while showing respect for the traditions and landscapes of his hometown. During the Covid pandemic, Darby ensured his employees could stay employed by preparing them to work remotely, displaying a compassion and preparedness that has helped the company adapt and survive in a difficult environment.



 Bryan Derreberry

President & CEO

Charleston Metro Chamber 

Derreberry was named president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber in 2016. Since then, his exceptional leadership has resulted in various accolades, including a selection as Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). Derreberry was selected by that association as a Chamber Award Member in 2020. Committed to expanding the membership of the Metro Chamber, he has tackled challenges head-on to ensure Charleston-based businesses and community members have the opportunity to thrive.    


 Pixie Paula Dezzutti   


Local Choice Spirits 

With drink offerings that include Monkey Cinnamon-Flavored Tequila and Gold Star Vodka for Veterans, Local Choice Spirits has become one of Charleston’s more innovative and awarded producers of alcoholic beverages; Boone’s Bourbon recently ranked among the world’s top six bourbons in the 2020 New York International Spirits Competition. Much of this is due to founder Dezzutti, better known as “Pixie.” Able to balance celebrity endorsements with a desire to give back locally, notably with her popular “Sip and Share” deals, Dezzutti is establishing a Georgia distillery, set to be the biggest in the United States, to bring her acclaimed spirits to an even wider base of thirsty customers.


 Dr. Jeffrey DiLisi

President and CEO

Roper St. Francis Healthcare

As the son of a family physician, DiLisi has been around the field of medicine his entire life. This makes it appropriate that, following years of service, he was the first physician to be appointed president and CEO of Roper St. Francis Healthcare. With the knowledge of a well-trained doctor and compassion for the residents of his community, DiLisi has shown his dedication to providing affordable, quality healthcare while setting a strong, personal example of a healthy lifestyle for the patients under his care.


 Chris Fraser

Principal & Managing Director

Avison Young

As one of the Charleston area’s top lease/development specialists, Fraser has leased several hundred thousand square feet of office space throughout the region and has developed office, hospitality, retail and sports facilities. Like his colleagues at Avison Young, Fraser asserts that commercial real estate is about more than buildings, square footage and occupancies; at its best, it’s about spaces and places that improve lives and help businesses thrive.


 Mary Garcia

Regional President Coastal Region

Pinnacle Financial Partners

Pinnacle Financial Partners named Garcia as its regional president for the South Carolina coast in 2019. Rick Callicutt, Pinnacle’s chairman for the Carolinas and Virginia, called her a “unifying force” for their teams up and down the coast and dubbed her a “super banker.” Garcia has spent her entire career in the Charleston area, making her a natural choice as Pinnacle moved toward its 20th anniversary in 2020. Callicutt credited Garcia’s work in Charleston as being instrumental in the company’s growth.



 Michael Gianoni

President & CEO


As President & CEO of Blackbaud, Gianoni focuses on delivering unmatched value and cloud innovation to organizations that make the world a better place. Under his leadership as a top 50 SaaS CEO, Blackbaud is now the 18th largest vendor worldwide in SaaS applications revenue, as ranked by IDC, and is building a new legacy that reaches beyond its position as the leading cloud software company powering social good. In December 2020, Blackbaud announced several corporate social responsibility initiatives the company sponsored to support virtual volunteering and community relief in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. An experienced IT services executive, Gianoni is an advocate for corporate cultures that encourage employees to thrive professionally and personally while accomplishing strong top-line growth. He is a first-generation American with a passion for veterans’ initiatives and animal welfare (especially dogs).


 David T. Ginn

President & CEO

Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Ginn has been with the CRDA since its inception, serving as the organization’s executive vice president and project director before being named president and CEO in 2000. A Certified Economic Development Professional, he maintains a comprehensive awareness of current issues in economic development, thanks in part to affiliations with the International Economic Development Council and service as past president of the S.C. Economic Developers’ Association. CRDA exists to help businesses and entrepreneurs locate and expand in the greater Charleston area, streamlining the site selection process and assisting with issues such as buildings, sites, financing and workforce training. In April 2020, Mayor Tecklenburg asked the CRDA to lead the effort to guide the region through the pandemic. The “One Region” initiative to promote value-based regional competitiveness was already in place, so that framework was used to help build confidence in the local economy again. The One Region Ready website has resources to help businesses reopen safely. Last fall, Ginn reported over 120 visits in 100 days from companies interested in the region, and the CRDA continues to promote while helping the region open safely again.


 Kristin Graziano


Charleston County

Before being elected sheriff in 2020, Graziano served for 32 years, her duties ranging from walking a community beat to leading SWAT teams. Her campaign for the office had a “marathon finish” as she literally planned to run around the community – one mile in 26 different precincts across Charleston County in the final days leading up to Election Day. Due to Covid-19, she and her team cautiously chose to make some of the Marathon Finish runs virtual, but that did not stop her from becoming the first female sheriff in South Carolina. Highlights of her career include designing and implementing a uniform response code for active shooter scenarios for Charleston County schools that was later used as a model for the rest of the state.


 John Hagerty


Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough

A partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, Hagerty’s client-based approach has made him a valuable consultant to start-up businesses in the Charleston area. Well-versed in both real estate and corporate law, he has also given back to the community through his pro-bono work, building strong relationships with clients that make him an asset to the firm and community as a whole.           


 Jamee Haley

Executive Director,

Lowcountry Local First

In the hands of Founding Executive Director Haley, an idea about shopping local became a movement. After nearly 15 years with Lowcountry Local First (LLF), she retired at the end of December, saying she is looking forward to what today’s LLF proponents will do, “particularly during a time of heightened understanding of the value that local businesses bring to our community and the need to create an inclusive economy.” Haley and the LLF team have helped strengthen small businesses, increase the number of farmers in the region and prioritize minority-owned businesses. LLF will continue to be a think tank for the best ideas and practices for growing and sustaining a thriving local economy.



 William “Will” S. Helmly

President & CEO

Home Telecom

For two years in a row, Home Telecom has been recognized by BroadbandNow as one of the fastest internet providers in South Carolina. Helmly, who has been with the company for 18 years, has played a large role in shaping it through his commitment to maintaining a team of skilled managers and technicians. Under his leadership, Home Telecom has provided internet for millions of homes and businesses, ensuring they can remain connected at a time when many have switched to remote environments and, therefore, helping to maintain the stability of Charleston’s economy.


 Deborah Herbert

Multiplastics, a division of Curd Enterprises, Inc.    

In the 1970s, Bob Curd metalized clear acrylic domes for the first time and helped revolutionize the security industry. Herbert, Curd’s daughter, took over as president of his company in 1992 and proved she had her father’s flair for innovation; under her guidance, the first water containment system was developed for bridges to protect the marshlands of Mount Pleasant from the runoff of gas and oil. Most recently, during the pandemic, Herbert’s company produced face shields and barriers to help communities reduce the spread of the virus, furthering her reputation as a shrewd businesswoman who has helped keep South Carolina residents safe and the environment protected for decades.


 Lilyn Hester

Head of Southeast Public Affairs


Hester is aware of her status as the public face, locally, of one of the world’s largest tech giants. She has represented Google and herself well by going above and beyond to give back to the local community. One remarkable example was the Rolling Hotspot initiative; Google partnered with Berkeley County Schools to equip a series of buses with Wi-Fi capabilities, ensuring students of the community would have hot spots while attending classes remotely and that their education would not be interrupted.



 J. Mac Holladay

Founder and CEO

Market Street Services

Holladay has been in the community and economic development field since 1972. He served three chambers of commerce over a 13-year period and is the only individual to head state-level economic development organizations in three different states.​ In 1997, he founded Market Street Services, a firm that helps communities shape their futures; he says tomorrow’s great communities challenge today’s status quo. Over the past 20+ years, his team has worked in more than 165 communities in 34 states and abroad with the goal of improving the lives of all individuals through economic development. In 2015, “Southern Business and Development” magazine named him one of ten economic development leaders who made a difference.



 Dr. Andrew Hsu


College of Charleston

Growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, Hsu’s education was frequently interrupted. From that, he developed a thirst for knowledge, and at the College of Charleston, he said he has found kindred spirits who truly fulfill the college’s motto, “Wisdom itself is liberty.” He earned his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and worked in industry for 11 years with Sverdrup/NASA and Rolls-Royce before joining academia in 1997. During his teaching career, he maintained a continuously funded research lab for 15 years and published 98 refereed journal and conference articles. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Hsu has been a positive force for students, faculty and staff, and he is looking forward to continued efforts to place the oldest college in the state in the national spotlight. In his 2019 inaugural address, he said, “If our first 250 years were primarily about physical growth in facilities as well as growing our student, faculty and staff populations, then our next 250 years must be about something far bigger.”



 Mary Jackson


Artist Mary Jackson has a studio in Charleston where she works with materials harvested by her husband, and she now teaches her daughter and granddaughter how to weave baskets from dried sweet grass as her mother taught her. She is known for creating sculptural patterns using traditional materials and ensuring that every piece she creates functions as a basket. As a child in Georgetown, she didn’t have a TV, a phone or electricity and has laughed about making baskets because there was little else to do. From the time she began displaying her baskets decades ago, in the Charleston City Market, she wanted them to be perceived as art. Jackson is a founding member of the Mount Pleasant Sweetgrass Basket Makers Association, a group that addresses the effects of development on the availability of natural grasses. 


 Anna Lewin

Chief Executive Officer

South Carolina Community Loan Fund 

Lewin’s background in the nonprofit realm and work related to healthy food access and affordable housing serve her well as she serves the community around her. Since 2013, she has held the title of COO, strategic initiative director and program manager and strived for social and economic justice for all. The Loan Fund is a community development financial institution providing equitable access to capital and financing projects and small businesses that build healthy, resilient South Carolina communities. Its Feeding Innovation program supports S.C. entrepreneurs who are interested in developing or expanding healthy food businesses in food deserts or underserved populations.




Nancy Mace


U.S. Congress

Mace was the first woman to graduate from the Corps of Cadets program at The Citadel, and in 2020, she became the first Republican woman to be elected to Congress from South Carolina. Since 2018, she has represented District 99 in the South Carolina House of Representatives. She is the author of “In the Company of Men: A Woman at the Citadel.” A native of Goose Creek, she earned a reputation for fiscal conservatism in the General Assembly, along with a 100 percent rating from conservation voters.

 Angela Mack

Executive Director & Chief Curator

Gibbes Museum of Art 

Mack is executive director and chief curator of the Gibbes Museum of Art, which is recognized as one of the oldest arts organizations in the country. Her publications include “Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art” and “In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860,” and she has contributed to numerous periodicals such as “American Art Review.” Covid safety measures have been adopted at Gibbes, and the museum’s revised schedule focuses on the regional treasures through special private collections and featured artists. When the museum began to welcome guests again last summer, after a Covid-related closure, Mack emphasized the healing power of art and said she hoped the museum would be a respite during uncertain times.


 Otha Meadows


Charleston Trident Urban League

Meadows has a long history of serving his communities through the Urban League, an organization that assists African-Americans and all other underserved groups in achieving social equality and economic self-sufficiency. Through unique programming, combined with public policy, CTUL has assisted thousands of individuals and families in the Charleston community. The organization also assumes an advocacy role that addresses essential elements in the community such as promoting understanding and greater racial harmony.


 Joseph McGill


The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc.

As founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, McGill has worked to provide a more inclusive view of history. With years of experience at various institutions, including South Carolina’s own Penn Center, he founded the project to provide knowledge of both tangible and intangible aspects of African heritage. While in-person activities for the Slave Dwelling Project have been suspended due to the pandemic, McGill continues to provide educational experiences remotely for classes through his Facebook group.          

 Executive Director Ron Mitchum

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester

Council of Governments

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments is committed to helping local governments develop plans for success while providing them with the technical resources needed to do so. Mitchum’s leadership has facilitated many decisions that aided with the economic development of the region. As the tri-county area continues to grow, he has stated that the Council of Governments will continue to expand its scope.


 JA Moore

State Representative

State of South Carolina 

Moore has provided leadership for House District 15 that proves his commitment to the communities that have elected him. The son of James A. Moore, one of the first African- American Marines, he has balanced his legislative responsibilities with his status as a business owner. As the proprietor of a catering business, Moore understands the difficulties facing restaurants during the pandemic and has fought for a stimulus package that will help local businesses survive during difficult times.


 Scott Newitt


Firefly Distillery

Firefly Distillery, best known for its Sweet Tea Vodka, moved from Wadmalaw Island to a 16-acre complex on Spruill Avenue in February 2020, doubling its production space and quadrupling volume. Newly instituted, popular tours, along with tastings and events, ceased in March due to the pandemic, but Newitt and his team continued to serve customers by quickly turning an Airstream on the property into a retail shop where people could purchase up to three bottles of Firefly’s spirits, as well as mixers and hand sanitizer. Soon, distiller Jay Macmurphy and Newitt began working to meet demand for the latter with equipment at the facility. This meant establishing new supply chains and acquiring licenses and formulas approved by the FDA. Using liquor bottles as containers, they had products available by mid-April and initially distributed about 900 bottles to medical offices and first responders. Firefly has reopened, and visitors appreciate the outdoor spaces that allow for social distancing. Meanwhile, the company will keep making sanitizer for as long as it’s needed.



 Steve Palmer 

Managing Partner

Indigo Road Hospitality Group

From his modest beginnings as a dishwasher, Palmer has grown into one of the shining stars of the hospitality industry. Now the managing partner of Indigo Road Hospitality Group, he has used his years of managerial experience to expand Indigo Road to various states throughout the Southeast. While having his work recognized by publications such as “Esquire” and “The New York Times,” he has been applauded for his charitable work with initiatives such as Charleston’s Feed the Need, as much as for the mark he has left on numerous restaurants.


 Bernard E. Powers

Interim CEO

International African American Museum

The International African American Museum is dedicated to educating visitors on aspects of the African American experience from the era of slavery to the present day. As a board member since the inception of the museum, Powers has helped shape the exhibits and installations of the establishment to provide an educational and interactive experience for visitors. As president and interim CEO, he continued to offer leadership to ensure important documents and artifacts would be preserved and used to inform guests of the long and varied history found within the walls of the museum.



 Robert “Bob” Quinn

Executive Director

South Carolina Research Authority

As executive director, Quinn leads an organization that fuels South Carolina’s innovation economy by accelerating technology-enabled growth in research, academia, entrepreneurship and industry. One of its programs provides start-ups with mentoring, access to business experts, grants, and potential investments from SCRA’s affiliate, SC Launch Inc. This year, the organization supported several companies, providing Covid-19 solutions for students, medical professionals and others. Published reports in 2019 put SCRA’s impact on the state’s economy at an average of $688 million annually.


 Jennet Robinson Alterman

President and CEO

J. Robinson Alterman LLC 

Robinson Alterman’s consulting company, founded in 2013, assists organizations in developing leadership and entrepreneurial programs for women. She has worked in television broadcasting, state and federal government and the nonprofit sector, and she has an extensive background in international development. From 2001 to 2013, she was executive director of the Center for Women, then the largest women’s development center in South Carolina. She chairs the Charleston Commission on Women and is the founding chair of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network.


 Darius Rucker

Singer, Songwriter 

Darius Rucker, born and raised in Charleston, was named an official South Carolina tourism ambassador in 2020. He started with the Grammy-winning band Hootie & the Blowfish before making his mark in country music as a solo artist. He co-hosted the Country Music Association Awards in November 2020, and his song “Beers and Sunshine” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard chart.



 Michael Scarafile


Carolina One Real Estate

With more than 50 years of experience, Carolina One Real Estate combines its national resources and reputation with comprehensive knowledge of the Charleston real estate market. Scarafile leads 12 offices and more than 900 sales associates throughout the Lowcountry. Through its Carolina One Cares project, the company makes charitable contributions, awards scholarships and becomes closely involved with community events and fundraisers.



 J. Elliott Summey

CEO and Executive Director

Charleston County Aviation Authority


In 2020, Summey was named CEO after 10 years of service on the CCAA’s board of directors. He said he planned to create and implement a plan to grow the Charleston International Airport as well as East Cooper and John’s Island airports. He was elected to Charleston County Council in 2008 and served until January 2021, when his term expired, and he didn’t seek reelection. He was chairman of the finance committee and also worked on planning, public works and economic development, among other initiatives. His career has included land planning and economic development, including corporate relocation.



 Steve Swad

President and CEO

Benefitfocus, Inc.

Swad was named president and CEO in August of 2020. Formerly the CFO and a member of the board of directors, he has more than 35 years of executive and finance leadership experience. Benefitfocus is a benefits technology platform that simplifies benefits administration for employers, health plans and brokers. The company has expanded its Resource Center to provide relevant information during Covid-19, including government data, communication tactics and tools and access to third-party sources.



 Owen Tyler

Partner, Managing Broker

The Cassina Group

After a successful career as a general real estate broker, Tyler took on a new role as managing broker and broker-in-charge at the Cassina Group. He is experienced in residential and commercial real estate and has served on a variety of local, state and national boards, including serving as 2020 president of South Carolina REALTORS, which has more than 20,000 members. He is also on the board of directors of One80 Place, an organization dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness.



 John Tecklenburg


City of Charleston

As mayor, Tecklenburg’s priorities have included protecting citizens from the impact of flooding, increasing affordable and workforce housing, enhancing transportation infrastructure, maintaining public safety and protecting livability and quality of life in Charleston. He appointed the city’s first director of emergency management and resilience and began implementing the Sea Level Rise Strategy designed to help the city withstand effects of natural disasters and changing weather. Since he was elected in 2016, Tent City, a sprawling homeless encampment closed, and the Mayors’ Council on Homelessness and Affordable Housing has worked to develop a long-term regional approach to the associated challenges. Tecklenburg has also supported Plan West Ashley and the West Ashley Revitalization Commission’s efforts to engage citizens in creating a master plan to guide the area’s development for years to come.


 General Glenn M. Walters


The Citadel

General Glenn M. Walters, USMC (retired), returned to his alma mater after serving 39 years as an officer in the Marine Corps to become the 20th president of The Citadel in 2018. He focuses on The Citadel’s mission to educate and develop principled leaders for the military, private enterprise and public institutions. The Citadel is in the midst of a six-year strategic plan that includes the largest capital improvement era of the college in decades. A new research center dedicated to studying climate change was announced in September 2020.



 Dr. Kai Woerner

VP and Technical Plant Manager

Robert Bosch LLC 

Bosch is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, with 375,000 associates in 60 countries. The Charleston-area operation, the largest Bosch facility in the U.S., has been expanded six times since 1973 and manufactures diesel and gasoline fuel injection systems, ESP/ABS brake systems and exhaust gas treatment systems. This year, Woerner spoke at the virtual S.C. Manufacturing Conference & Expo on advanced automation and the factory of the future.