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Charleston Business

Greenville Best and Brightest 2023

Sep 15, 2023 05:18PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

2023 Greenville Business Magazine Best and Brightest video

Welcome to Greenville Business Magazine’s 2023 Best & Brightest 35 and Under! This is our 29th year of recognizing the business and community leaders who are making an impact in our state.

These men and women are young, but they’re committed to making a difference in their communities and the business world. They are attorneys, medical professionals, architects, CEOs, nonprofit leaders, artists, bankers, and more.

We salute these young leaders, and we look forward to seeing the contributions they will make in the years to come. Each person is unique, and it is our privilege to tell their stories.

We will be celebrating these honorees at an event in Greenville during the month of September. Congratulations to all!


1. Jay Benton

Age 30

Vice President

Innovative Manufacturing & Design

A South Carolina native, I received a B.A. in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina. While continuing to grow my engineering skill set in the workplace, I realized I had more of an interest in the management of business systems. I decided to pursue an MBA with the intention of growing my business knowledge and furthering my career in the manufacturing world.

In my current role as vice president of Innovative Manufacturing & Design, I have found a position that caters to my love of creating and my passion for business leadership. Creating business plans, strategizing on corporate agreements, and overseeing manufacturing teams are some of the things that excite me every day.

I hope to continue to learn and grow as a leader at Innovative Manufacturing. I have high hopes for our future as a key provider of manufactured goods for large OEMs. My goal is to drive year-over-year growth, utilizing strong customer relationships with a fun, talented, driven team of employees.

I have a passion for the outdoors as well as giving back to the community. I currently serve as a committee member for the Greenville Ducks Unlimited. With an MBA degree in my rearview, I hope to continue to grow my involvement in the community, as well as in the business world.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Before you do something special, just do something.” – John Krasinski

A lot of people are focused on trying to land the next big job title or have the next big idea. The more you keep going and keep trying to better yourself each day, the more doors and opportunities start to show themselves. Success comes in small steps.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

Being in a leadership role, there are days when many decisions must be made. The decisions could be the right ones and move our company in a positive direction, or it could be wrong set us back. Great leaders don’t shy away from making a decision. It’s how they respond and learn from the wrong ones that defines their future.


2. Britton Briley

Age 29

Founder and Owner

Ghost Brands

As the middle child of a middle-class family, I was always a rebel and if you see me you would know for sure. I am a T-shirt, jeans, and not your typical idea of an entrepreneur with two full tattoo sleeves. As my wife would say, you would know when I walk in a room because I don’t quite fit in with the image of an agency owner. I am a young, energetic, and passionate individual that wears my heart on my shoulder.

Yet with only being 29, I would consider that I have accomplished a lot in my career from holding high corporate positions and being one of the youngest executives in these companies’ history. My greatest accomplishment was founding Ghost Brands and allowing the passion of marketing and branding come to life through it while having the opportunity to hire amazing people.

Growing up in Greenville, giving back means impacting this amazing city and helping those who are trying to do that same thing. Whether it is helping with nonprofits, being a mentor to other business owners, sponsoring high schools, or just being an advocate for entrepreneurship, giving back means dedicating time, energy, and money to helping us grow as a city, community, and culture.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

Everyone will have a different viewpoint on this, yet I always am taken back to the illustration of the wolf pack. The leader is not out front leading the pack, it is in the back to ensure that everyone can get to the destination.

A successful leader in my opinion is a person that pushes those around them to be better, helps them to think outside the box and allows people to make mistakes. … A successful leader in the trenches with their team, helping wade through the muck, the hard times, and being that person that can see the end and helps everyone reach the goal.

Too many entrepreneurs start a business, grow, and hire talent, then lose the drive and passion that they started with. They start focusing too much on the cash flow and not enough on the people that have made the company what it is. … So, to make a long definition short, a successful leader is one who pushes their team through leading by example and not thinking of themselves as too good for any job.

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

I would tell myself to trust the process, learn to be okay with failure from time to time, and never lose the passion to love on others.


3. Racquel Collier

Age 28


Caliber Real Estate

I was born and raised in Mayesville, South Carolina, and I am driven by a passion for creating spaces that inspire and uplift people. While studying English with an emphasis on Writing and Publication Studies at Clemson University, I began my journey as an entrepreneurial DJ. However, my true calling became apparent when I earned my master's degree in real estate development.

I am dedicated to crafting a life where work and passion intertwine seamlessly, and giving back to the community has become a vital part of my purpose. I achieve this by building strong relationships and actively serving on boards to make a positive impact.

Developing spaces that foster vibrant communities energizes me. By studying the past and embracing meaningful concepts, I have achieved significant career milestones. My long-term goal is to be known as a people-oriented developer. As I continue on this path, I strive to leave a legacy of audacity, support, and compassion, building meaningful connections that endure.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Don’t ever forget the moment you began to doubt transitioning from fitting in to standing out.” – Aubrey “Drake” Graham

While blending in with the status quo may be comforting, doing so can cause us to lose sight of our unique potential and what we can contribute to the world. This quote reminds me that I don't have to follow the crowd to achieve success or happiness.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader has the gift of influencing and making people feel valued. They create an environment of trust, growth, and results. By doing so, they can adapt to changing circumstances, leverage the strengths of their team members, and lead by example. This multifaceted approach sets a truly great leader apart from the rest.


4. Clay Counts

Age 30

Eastern Regional Sales

Sealevel Systems, Inc.

As a lifelong resident of Pickens County, I have always had a passion for this community. I became involved in community issues at a young age establishing a local news website with friends at Liberty High School. I began managing local and state political campaigns around that same time and continue that business today. I’m lucky enough to work in this same great community at Sealevel Systems in Liberty covering eastern regional sales.

I try to serve the community in a wide range of areas. I’ve served as the president of the Liberty Lions Club since 2018. I currently serve on the Pickens County Planning Commission and as the chairman of the Pickens County Republican Club. I also love staying involved at my church, Pickens First Baptist, where I am a member with my wife Krista.

I want to continue growing in my role at Sealevel helping the organization grow and reach our goals as a team. I also have had a longtime goal of entering public service because I can’t think of a better way to positively impact my community.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is someone who is able to help others reach their full potential working towards a common goal. No matter how great someone is as an individual, they are still one person. Bringing out the best in others is key to success.

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

Take everything one day at a time and enjoy the moment as best you can every step of the way.


5. Justus Cox

Age 30

Assistant Principal/Executive Director

Legacy Early College/Young Brothers Academy

I am a husband, father, educator, motivational speaker, and mentor. I am a graduate of Anderson University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and just recently my master’s in administration and supervision. I am now the middle school assistant principal at Legacy Early College and executive director for Young Brothers Academy.

In 2013, I was awarded the Roy Jones Director Award for my work, dedication, and service during an internship with the Call Me MISTER program. In 2016, I was awarded the Upstate Diversity Leadership Award for Outstanding College Student by the Riley Institute. I also received The Emerging Leader Community Award from the Anderson County United Way African American Leadership Society. In 2018, I was recognized as The Block’s “Black History Maker” for the month of February.

In 2018, I was blessed with an opportunity to spend a month in Ghana, West Africa, on a Fulbright Hays Scholarship studying the connection between Ghanaian and African American history, culture, and language.

I am passionate about serving the community that served me because I know I would not be as far as I am today without my village.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

This is my favorite quote because it reflects my life’s mission. Growing up I was faced with many challenges, but I had many people to see the greatness in me before I was able to see it in myself. I want to be the person who sees the greatness in our youth until they can see it for themselves.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader has the ability to be self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses and be able to identify the same in the people they lead, putting them in positions to be successful. Successful leaders allow people to operate in their strengths while supporting them in their weaknesses.


6. Ally Cutter

Age 34

Co-Founder & Partner

Flare Media

I moved to the Upstate from Tennessee in 2011 to launch my career in advertising. Just three years into my first job, I had the opportunity to freelance full-time alongside a former colleague and friend. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and was fortunate to have met people early on who helped fuel this desire. I took the leap into self-employment at 26 years old. The opportunity quickly evolved into a seven-figure company where I served as partner for five years. The growth of this company led to our merger with another local agency in 2019, and Flare Media was born.

As co-founder and partner of Flare Media, I utilize my skills in process creation and passion for storytelling by overseeing client engagement. My goal is to help women elevate their businesses by encouraging them to rethink media and leverage the power of advertising to share their story, expand their community, and grow their revenue. Contributing to the growth and development of the Upstate brings me joy as I know I am creating a strong foundation for future generations by helping people fulfill their dreams.

Your favorite quote and why:

It changes regularly! But one can never go wrong quoting Dolly Parton. “Find out who you are. And do it on purpose.” The road to self-discovery is never ending. Take the personality tests, do the energy healing, hire a life coach … all the things! There is infinite value in understanding yourself – your fears, your desires, your motivations. If you ever feel stuck in life, you can reflect on these things you’ve learned about yourself. Finding a solution will be significantly easier as a result.

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

Dare to be different. Trying to fit within the confines of what you think life should be based on those around you will only hold you back. Seek inspiration from the accomplishments of others but trust your own instincts on how to achieve success.


7. Larkin Dalpiaz

Age 27

Realtor Associate

Wilson Associates Real Estate

As an entrepreneur from an early age, I have always had a love for creating and connecting people. For as long as I can remember, I have pursued opportunities to learn and lead wherever I felt called. I was born in Columbia, South Carolina, and moved to the Upstate in 2014 when I pursued my degree at Clemson University. In 2018, I moved to downtown Greenville with my husband and began my love story with the city and my own pursuit of making it home. Since joining Wilson Associates in 2020, I have had the honor of helping others make Greenville their home. My desire to help make Greenville home for others goes beyond the finding of their physical home. It brings me great joy to be a part of connecting individuals to the Greenville community. In all my endeavors, my ultimate goal is to love and serve others well – and that is how I hope to spend the rest of my days.

Your favorite quote and why:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I believe that the Lord created me with a calling to love and serve others as he did. While people may not remember the calls you made, the letters you wrote or the deals you negotiated, they will remember if they felt loved and cared for, and that’s the legacy I want to leave.

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

You do not have to have the rest of your life figured out at 18. It is a great thing to have goals and ambition, but don’t be afraid to hold them all with open hands.


8. Rachel Fleck

Age 33

Director of Healthcare Services, RN

Interim Healthcare

Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, I graduated from Clemson University in 2010 with my B.S. in Health Sciences, then from the University of South Carolina Upstate, in 2013 with my B.S.N. I began my nursing career in the emergency department, then transferred to home health with Interim Healthcare, which has led to a rewarding career helping our community’s most vulnerable.

In the last five years with Interim, I have had the pleasure of working as a field RN assisting patients, a clinical manager supervising healthcare professionals, and currently as a director of healthcare services collaborating with management team members. These roles have allowed me to make a difference in the lives of Upstate community members – either through direct patient care, or through guidance and education to clinicians and managers to ensure that care is being provided at an exceptional level.

My hope is to continue to make a positive impact on the Upstate through home health care as Interim strives to keep our community members where they want to be – at home!

Your favorite quote and why:

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill

The way we express ourselves and handle situations can influence those around us. By remaining upbeat during the stressful times, we can promote positive growth and adaptivity.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is someone who listens effectively, encourages others to grow in their careers, and celebrates the successes of people around them.


9. Augusta Fox

Age 29

Media Planner/Buyer

Hughes Agency

As a media planner and buyer for Hughes Agency, I am responsible for media research, plan implementation and reporting for national, regional, and local multi-media initiatives for both consumer and B2B clients. I have more than four years’ experience in media research, strategy and analysis for print, broadcast, online, out-of-home, and SEM programs.

I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in psychology and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business with a professional certificate in digital marketing, and I am certified in Google Analytics, Google Ads Search, content marketing, social media, and SEO.

Outside of work, I also serve on the board of directors for Carolina Ballet Theatre as the marketing chair, and I am actively involved in animal rescue in my home city of Greenville. Above that, I am an avid reader and enjoy spending time with my family.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” – Theodore Roosevelt

There will be times in life when you just have to make it work. Even when you don’t have all the tools and you don't know how it's going to turn out, you just have to try and make the best of a situation.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is someone who knows when to take a step back and listen to their people. Having your voice heard and acknowledged can go a long way.


10. Parker Howard

Age 29

Assistant Superintendent

Brasfield & Gorrie

Born, raised, and now living in Greenville, I’ve always heard about how much Greenville has “grown up” in the last 20 years. As soon as I started my time at Clemson, in construction science and management, I realized that I was going to have the unique opportunity to add to that growth for the coming years and put my own mark on my hometown. My position as superintendent at Brasfield & Gorrie allows me to do just that. I’ve worked on large developments in Greenville, Columbia, and Clemson at this point in my career. My position gives me the chance to be involved with every aspect of the construction process: interacting with our owners and architects, self-performing parts of our projects, managing our subcontractors in the field, and guiding our projects to a successful completion. Every day in construction brings a new challenge and the opportunity to learn and work together as a team to provide our clients with exceptional products (think about Clemson Football’s new videoboard).

Outside of the job site I have been involved with multiple local organizations in the greater Greenville area including: GirlUp GVL, Rebuild Upstate, Poe Mill Achievement Center, Clemson Life, Grace Church Downtown, and Miracle Hill Ministries. All of these organizations have provided me with the opportunity to learn more about myself and develop lasting relationships with the local community. Miracle Hill specifically gives myself and my wife the opportunity to serve the community through opening our home for respite foster care for children and teens.

Through my work and personal life, I have the opportunity to live out my goal of trying to have a positive impact on everyone that I interact with and spreading the love of Jesus Christ.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Do common things in an uncommon way” – Dabo Swinney

This Dabo quote helps remind myself not to fall into the daily grind and just simply check things off a list. Constantly striving to do things in an uncommon and efficient way allows me to lead in a strong manner.

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

Ask as many questions as possible to those who have experience in the things you are currently working through. Always be open to receiving criticism, it only is going to help you grow.


11. Chip Hughes

Age 35

Assistant General Manager

Greenville Country Club

After graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, my first club management position came at Thornblade Club in Greer.

Next, I spent three years at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, as assistant clubhouse manager. I continue to be invited back to work the Masters Tournament each year.

I have spent the last five years at Greenville Country Club as the assistant general manager, overseeing 100+ employees in food and beverage, housekeeping, facilities, and pool operations. My relentless dedication to training and professional development was amplified when I earned my Certified Club Management designation in 2021, a prestigious designation held by approximately 1,500 club managers. I currently serve on the board of Carolinas Club Management Association of America.

Greenville Country Club has always been recognized as one of the top private clubs in the Southeast. To be a part of this organization and the community it serves is invaluable to me and my wife, Mary Margaret, and our three children, Cooper, Heddy, and Charlie.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A leader is someone that is able to get other people to believe in themselves, so that they can be better than they were yesterday.

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

At 18, I would tell myself to be sure to enjoy and focus on the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.


12. Meagan Ingersoll

Age 30

Marketing Director

Palmetto Fortis & Genesis Marketing

I strive to inspire people and move ideas forward through creative communication. I received a BA in theatre and MA in communication from Bob Jones University where both degrees have been foundational to marketing.

My career path has taken a few turns along the way. I was the director of alumni at BJU and then a conference manager at SYNNEX. Today, I’m building roots as the director of marketing at Palmetto Fortis & Genesis Marketing where I’ve doubled our size and scope.

My passion for my work is equal to my efforts in the community where I partner with nonprofits and serve on a Greenville County commission.

I’ve learned if you see a need, solve it, and develop your successor. I founded the largest and most active county club for young Republicans in the state and have built bridges between community service and policy.

I believe it is God who works in me to will and do of his good pleasure. I plan to continue in his strength and serve my community, wherever I am.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

The best success a leader can have is developing the next generation to not only take their place, but to lead further and farther beyond what they could do themselves.

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

You’ve been given your talents for a reason. God gave you a sound mind and a strong instinct – when you use them, you will face roadblocks. Don’t be afraid – keep going. People resist what they don’t understand. Don’t let the opinions of others discourage you. And when you get on the other side, you’re going to see just how wonderful it is


13. Breylon Jones

Age 30

Dean of Scholars/Chief Operating Officer

Legacy Early College/Young Brothers Academy

I was born and raised in Greenville. I am the happy husband to Barbara Bennett Jones of Greenville and the loving father to Bellami Jones. I graduated from South Carolina State University where I received a Bachelor of Arts in broadcasting communications in 2015. After graduation, I served as a promotional assistant at Summit Media, where I then worked my way up to on-air personality on 107.3 JAMZ and Hot 98.1. Currently, I serve as the dean of scholars for fifth grade at Legacy Early College.

Along with co-founders Justus Cox and Andre Sullivan, we founded the Young Brothers Academy (YBA), a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to mold the minds of young leaders in our community through education, empowerment, and exposure. In my personal life, I am a freelance videographer within my community where I perform videography for weddings, parties, showers, sports highlights, and more.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is someone who creates other successful leaders. Be such a good leader that those that follow you can lead others. A good leader is someone who can and will get in the trenches with everyone he works with. A good leader is also a good follower because, “to become a chief you must first be an Indian.”

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

I’d tell myself to do what makes you happy and feel fulfilled. Trust your God given gifts. You are a change maker so don’t let others’ opinions sway you from the things you love. God will use your gifts to make room for you. Spend time with your loved ones because they won’t be here forever.


14. Max Kinser

Age 29

Vice President

McCoy Wright Inc.

Originally from Marietta, Georgia, I came to the Upstate via Clemson University and fell in love with all that South Carolina has to offer. I stepped into commercial real estate brokerage in my early 20s and was immediately hooked by the thrill and challenge. Since beginning my career with McCoy Wright Inc., I’ve actively participated in over $100 million of commercial brokerage, leasing, and development, and I’ve helped hundreds of business owners, investors, and individuals through their transactions and projects. One of the most rewarding parts of my position as vice president has been teaching and mentoring all of our new agents as they navigate the beginning of their careers, and I’ve been so thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow alongside them.

My sweet wife, Hannah, and our adorable baby girl, Eva, and I now live in Pendleton on a small farm with our two golden doodles, Beau and Boomer. Hannah and I are expecting the blessing of a second daughter at the end of 2023, and in my free time I enjoy hunting, fishing, and working outside on my farm.

Your favorite quote and why:

“For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

This statement has always resonated with my personal outlook. It leads to constant striving, keeps success in the forefront of my mind, and makes me motivated to do more, be more, and continually improve.

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

Be patient. The success will come if you put the work in, continue to learn, and capitalize on the opportunities that present themselves. Don't fall victim to the trap of imposter syndrome, and pursue excellence in all that you do!


15. Emily Kodat

Age 32

Crisis Ministry Coordinator

Buncombe Street Methodist Church

I’m a Greenville transplant from the Washington, D.C. area. I graduated with my bachelor’s from Furman University in 2013 and my Master of Business Administration from Clemson University in 2017. My faith and passion for people has guided my 10-year career in human services.

I currently work on the front lines of poverty alleviation by providing case management to those experiencing crisis in Greenville. I’m dedicated to affecting change in our local community through collaborative and innovative efforts that address root causes to the increasing number of unhoused individuals and families in the Upstate.

I serve on the Greenville Homeless Alliance’s Educate Work Group and chair the Circles USA Service Committee. In recent years, I’ve also served on the advisory council for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Group, completed Greenlink’s Citizens Transit Academy, and proudly continue to support Furman University as an alumni ambassador.

I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to contribute my talents to this community and look forward to all that’s in store!

Your favorite quote and why:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” – Mary Ann Radmacher

Courage may look like a small step one day and a giant leap another day. Both are equally important to forward movement.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader has the ability to see areas of opportunity in its organization and untapped potential in its employees, and then the ability to communicate and mobilize that vision.



16. Steven Krozer

Age 30

Founder, CEO, and PMHNP-BC

iTrust Wellness Group

After biking the TransAmerica route from Virginia to Oregon, I moved from Connecticut to Greenville. I worked at the Greenville Mental Health Center, treating adult, child/adolescent, and chronically mentally ill patients. Simultaneously, I served as a full-time attending provider at Springbrook Behavioral Health’s adult inpatient psychiatry unit. Recognizing the community’s significant need for mental health services, I founded a private mental health company. I believed that my treatment approach, focusing on the provider-patient relationship, evidence-based clinical decision making, and holistic methodologies, would lead to better symptom response. Later, my wife Ashley, with a marketing and business background, joined me. Together, we engaged in grassroots efforts to integrate our services in the Greenville community. Our dedication paid off, as we became the fourth-fastest growing company in South Carolina and a Top Workplace. Currently, we’re expanding our infrastructure to support providers and maintain clinical excellence alongside our growth. Our goal is to establish more office locations and telehealth presence across the Southeast region, addressing the rising demand for accessible and affordable high-quality mental health services.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is an inspiring visionary who guides a team towards shared goals. They possess integrity, effective communication, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Empowering their team, successful leaders foster collaboration, embrace innovation, and navigate challenges. With a clear vision and strategic thinking, they drive progress, motivate others, and create a supportive environment for growth.

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

Embrace uncertainty and take risks. Don’t fear failure; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Invest in personal growth, explore diverse interests, and nurture relationships. Trust your instincts and follow your passions, even if they diverge from conventional paths. Surround yourself with supportive and inspiring people. Prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Remember that success is subjective; define it on your own terms. Be patient and kind to yourself. The journey may be challenging, but every experience will shape you into the remarkable person you are destined to become.



17. Carsen Landreth

Age 26

Project Quality Manager

Fluor Corporation

As a project quality manager at Fluor Corporation, I am ultimately responsible for compliance with our corporation’s and client’s quality requirements on designated EPC projects. I am based out of our Greenville office and provide quality support to team members across the globe. Through utilizing my understanding of project execution and Q&CPI, I have effectively supported global initiatives that built upon the successful foundations of our quality organization.

I am currently an MBA candidate at Clemson University in their corporate program MBA Program. Pursuing my MBA has broadened my understanding of project management and furthered my leadership development.

Passionate about uplifting the Greenville community, I am a chairperson for the 2024 Golf for Greenville campaign for Fluor. Golf for Greenville was developed and founded by Fluor employee volunteers over 30 years ago. Since its inception, this initiative has had a long-lasting impact on the Greenville community. Seeing the countless hours of preparation evolve into impactful capital projects for the community is what drives my commitment to the organization.

As a Greenville native, my goal is to be able to look back at my efforts over the years and see the impacts I was able to make in my community.

Your favorite quote and why:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Gandhi

I believe that one of the most important steps in self-discovery is to consider the needs of others. Through serving our community, I have found my purpose, defined my values, and have found my passion for helping others.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

My definition of a successful leader is someone who embodies humility, focus, and compassion. The most successful leaders are those who are able to realize their teams’ potentials and build upon their skillsets to better the organization. Having foresight on the strategic goal allows a leader to focus their team to clear objectives with quantifiable results. A leader that is compassionate inspires others and instills this value in their team to then pay it forward.


18. Meredith Ledford

Age 35

Senior Manager of Product Development


I was born and raised in Greenville and after graduating from Coastal Carolina in 2010, I moved back to the area. I received my degree in elementary education, graduating at a time when the economy was not great. Finding a career that would allow me to grow was challenging, so I knew I had to broaden my horizons. My parents have taught me the hustle in life, and to adapt in times of uncertainty. Therefore, I had to leave my comfort zone, and with a little luck and the help of my network, I found myself at Southern Tide, starting my career in the fashion industry. This is where I began to learn the business world and strived to find my place within it.

I found my home at Marleylilly in 2018, where we personalize custom-developed merchandise. I have had the opportunity to help build the merchandising and development teams, while working with dozens of international vendors. It has been so rewarding to feed my passion for building and maintaining relationships throughout my 13-year career. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my husband and stepkids, going to Carolina games, and volunteering with GirlUp GVL.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A great leader is one who stands behind their team. Everyone on the team has their own strengths and so it is OK to let them shine and sparkle in their spotlight. Be a listening ear and provide constructive feedback to help them continue to grow and become successful. I also believe a great leader is not afraid to do everything and anything that is within the scope of their department and/or company and get their hands dirty at times!

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

Don’t let it get you down when things don’t go as planned. Everything happens for a reason, and it all leads you down a path of where you are meant to be!


19. David McNease

Age 34


Greenville Transitions Recovery Center

I was born in a small town in South Georgia and raised by a loving family. Despite seemingly “having it all,” addiction still found its way into my life. I ran from my problems with drugs and alcohol for nearly 10 years before I knew that I needed to make a change. In 2012 I accepted treatment and though resistant at first, I was lucky enough to have the encouragement and community needed to help me through. Getting sober was the hardest thing I have ever done and most likely will ever do. However, it is also the most rewarding. Now, soon to be 11 years sober, I still pinch myself when I get to say that I am the CEO of my own business. Early on in my recovery journey, I knew I wanted to give back to others the same way my mentors had given to me. In 2017, I opened Greenville Transitions here in the Upstate and am thankful every day to be able to provide recovery services to our community.

Your favorite quote and why:

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.” – Frank A. Clark

The journey someone takes to address mental health and/or substance use disorder is extremely tough. That’s why I love this quote that happens to be etched into our sidewalk in downtown Greenville.

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

The amount of energy that you are channeling into unhealthy outlets such as drugs and alcohol is almost a super power. Keep the same energy but channel it towards something healthy and more rewarding. Stay focused!


20. Andrew Merline

Age 34

Attorney and Shareholder

Merline & Meacham, P.A.

I’m a Greenville native and a 2011 graduate of Clemson University. After graduating from the University of South Carolina Law School in 2015, I began my law career at Merline & Meacham, P.A. While working full-time as an associate attorney, I earned my LL.M in Tax from Boston University. In 2023, I was selected to become a shareholder in the firm. My primary practice areas include mergers and acquisitions, business and transactional law, estate planning, and taxation. It is rewarding to help individuals implement estate plans that provide for their families, as well as navigating difficult business issues and succession plans. I have had the privilege to not only work alongside my father, but some of Greenville’s most talented attorneys as well. I am thankful for their guidance over the years.

Currently, I am engaged in the Young Lawyers Division, the South Carolina Bar, and the Greenville Bar. I also have the privilege of serving as the chair of the Tax Section of the SC Bar and the vice chair of the Probate and Estate Section of the S.C. Bar. These roles allow me to help influence legislation and coordinate continuing legal education.

I am passionate about serving my local community and am an active member of Buncombe Street Methodist Church. I am a member and avid supporter of the YMCA and other local nonprofit organizations, such as The Greenville Humane Society, United Way, and the Julie Valentine Center. I believe that it is vital to give back to the community that I grew up in.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord who is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17 

This is a reminder that as an individual, my abilities are limited, and I cannot accomplish everything on my own.

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

Surround yourself with positive influences, be persistent and willing to fail, don't be afraid to ask for help, and always keep your word.


21. Bryana Mistretta

Age 29

Research and Marketing Manager

Greenville Area Development Cooperation

I am 29 with an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and geography, as well as a Master of Business Administration from Clemson University. My background is in market research for private and public agencies where I actively contribute to economic development initiatives across the state.

In my role as research and marketing manager for the Greenville Area Development Corporation, I strategically focus on initiatives that enhance the quality of life for Greenville’s residents. To achieve this, I leverage our pro-business climate and local demographics, not only to recruit new and diverse companies to the area but to retain our strong network of existing industry.

One of my key strengths is optimizing processes and systems for greater efficiency. I am an innovative resource, using creative problem-solving to craft complex proposals that foster the best solution for all stakeholders.

As a leader, I prioritize my continued growth through continuous learning, effective communication, active listening, and empathy. I gauge my success not only by my personal achievements, but by the advancements and opportunities I can afford for those I lead.

Your favorite quote and why:

 “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – John F. Kennedy

This quote is succinct but powerful. I believe that strong leaders continue to push themselves to have new experiences and continue to learn well beyond the classroom. Without leadership, there would be no learning, and the same can be said in reverse.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is someone who inspires and motivates individuals and teams, accepts their own limits, and is humble enough to admit them. Successful leaders instill trust in their teams through active listening, effective communication, and empathy. Beyond that, they are continuously learning to be better leaders and mentors to those around them.


22. Sarah Moore

Age 33

Marketing Communications Manager

Elliott Davis

I am a Greenville native who is proud to call this city home. In my career, I have led public relations initiatives, social media strategy, and content creation across a variety of organizations, including Complete Public Relations, Prisma Health, and my current role at Elliott Davis. While my day-to-day responsibilities have looked very different in each role, the common thread has been telling the stories of organizations that are committed to growing Greenville as a great place to live, work, and do business. As an English and government major at Wofford College, I never imagined working in healthcare or accounting, and I’m grateful for the daily opportunities I have to learn about new industries and stretch my skills.

One of my favorite things about this community is how collaborative and service-oriented it is. I enjoy volunteering alongside friends and colleagues through the Junior League of Greenville and our company-wide service initiative, Elliott Davis Cares. Outside of work, I love exploring both near and far with family and friends.

Your favorite quote and why:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I love this quote because it reminds me that if you lead with kindness, empathy, and a genuine spirit, the rest will follow.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

I believe that a successful leader is first a great listener. They take time to evaluate the strengths of their team, learn their pain points, and ask their input. A great leader will empower others around them to make a difference!


23. Kim Mogan

Age 34

Founder and Executive Director

GirlUp GVL

I’m proud to call myself a Greenville native with a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector. In 2019, I founded GirlUp GVL, a life-enrichment program empowering young girls to reach their full potential. Last year, we served over 100 girls, and I’m committed to further developing the organization to meet community needs.

Witnessing the growth of the girls I mentor is incredibly rewarding. My long-term goals include educating myself and advocating for our community’s deepest needs. In my free time, I enjoy staying active, spending quality time with my husband, exploring downtown Greenville’s dining scene, and watching true crime docuseries. Founding GirlUp GVL has been a significant accomplishment, and I’m excited to continue supporting these girls on their journey. I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a lasting impact and look forward to the future growth of GirlUp GVL.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Excellence in all we do”.

This is my family motto. My husband and I strive to do our best every day, in everything we do. We desire to be intentional and present, putting our best selves forward. We also recognize that at times, our “excellence” may look different than the day before.

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

My advice to my 18-year-old self would be to spend time learning who you truly are and find ways to develop personal confidence – you matter. You have worth. You have value. You are loved.


24. Gina O’Donnell

Age 30

Social Team Manager

Infinity Marketing

My greatest joy in my work is through building relationships, my focus on this allows me to develop my team and understand my clients’ priorities. Over the last few years, I worked with Infinity’s leaders to grow our social media team’s capabilities, which led to better service for our existing clients and our service line’s overall growth.

Throughout my professional journey, I have also focused on improving my skills. A Toastmasters club (Metro Toastmasters) and the Greenville Chamber Young Professionals Pacesetters program both significantly guided my growth.

Locally, I’ve volunteered with Cancer Survivors Park and the American Cancer Society to support each organization’s mission to provide resources to those fighting a cancer diagnosis. I’m also a member of the South Carolina Native Plant Society’s Upstate Chapter and volunteer in their spring native plant sale.

Between my work and personal endeavors, I hope to positively impact my community for its long-term success.

Outside of work, my husband, Peter, and I enjoy gardening, riding bikes on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, and traveling.

Your favorite quote and why:

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

It reminds me that others may not see my value right away or what my goals are, and I also may not always see those things in others. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

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

Trust the process, and don't be afraid to speak up. Keep your energy high but focus on targeting it towards being more effective rather than “doing the most.”


25. Michael Oliver II

Age 28

PR/Social Media Coordinator


As a Greenville native, I’m proud to be able to give back and be a part of a beautiful community. In 2019 I graduated from Greenville Technical College with my Associate of Applied Science in marketing. While at Greenville Technical College I had the opportunity to help market for nonprofits, small local businesses, and Denny’s Corporation. I’m thankful for my family, church, managers, professors, and everyone who has impacted my life and been there to help me along my journey.

Your favorite quote and why:

“What is meant for you, won’t pass you by.”

I genuinely believe that what’s meant for you will come to you in the right season. It may be a process; however, if you come up with a plan, position yourself for what’s yours, and execute when the opportunity comes, it will not pass you by.

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

Don’t be afraid to fail! My definition of FAIL is the First Attempt In Learning. Also, begin serving in the community to understand what adding value represents. Network with people, but also take what you learn and apply it to your life. Build those positive relationships because they’re key for your foundation.


26. Krut Patel

Age 28

Chief Executive Officer

The Divine Group

Above all, being a husband to my beautiful wife and a devoted father to our two wonderful children brings me immense joy. Alongside these cherished roles, I have the honor of serving as the CEO and principal at The Divine Group. As an entrepreneur, my journey to establish this remarkable company has been shaped by challenges, successes, and failures. Today, as CEO, my focus remains on translating dreams into reality, ensuring our company truly makes a positive impact.

As CEO, my daily responsibilities include overseeing commercial and residential developments, managing our real estate brokerage firm with 11 agents, and managing accounting for all our subsidiaries and investments.

In the community, I had the privilege of founding a new nonprofit, Dāna Foundation with my wife. Our mission is to provide for needy children through school supplies, tuition, and subsidized camps. Additionally, I had the privilege of leading the India Day celebration in 2022 for The Indian Association of Greenville. For me, giving back to the community is a profound commitment, enhancing the meaning I find in both my personal and professional life.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is a leader that can guide their team through any storm but can also be in the storm with every one of them. Most “bosses” would not qualify as good leaders to me because there's a sense of superiority in titles. For a leader, there should never be a task “too inferior” if it helps the team reach their goal.

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

Surround yourself with inspiring people, not just the coolest ones. Being around those who have the mindset you aspire to will fast-track your own growth.


27. Jauntavia Prather

Age 26

Government Affairs Associate

BDV Solutions

I am a government affairs and military professional with over 13 years of combined experience in both sectors. Throughout my career, I've developed a deep understanding of policy issues and a strong commitment to serving my country and community. My military career has allowed me to hold diverse leadership roles, including my current position as a drill sergeant, and receive recognition for exemplary service, such as various Army awards and being chosen as the “Face of the National Guard” in a national media campaign.

Currently working as a government affairs associate at BDV Solutions, I manage state and federal immigration policy and advocacy. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Coastal Carolina University, and my long-term goals include pursuing a master's in public policy and establishing a nonprofit focused on civic education for young adults.

Engaging with my community is paramount to me, and I volunteer with local organizations centered on political engagement and youth leadership. My aim is to amplify minority voices and promote equitable opportunities for all. For me, community engagement goes beyond helping others; it's about nurturing the next generation of thinkers and doers.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” – John Lewis

I love this quote because it speaks to my deep-rooted passion for advocacy and activism. I'm not afraid to drive uncomfortable conversations or make a seat at the table for underrepresented demographics if it means I'm helping the greater good.

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

I would tell my 18-year-old self to use my voice boldly and loudly, even if it shakes. My thoughts and ideas are worth hearing and one day it'll be used to amplify the voices of others that look to me for guidance.


28. Tyler Prescott

Age 29

Co-Founder and CEO

Upstate SC LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce

For a vast portion of my career, my commitment has been toward empowering LGBTQ+ voices in the workplace. After graduating from Anderson University, I developed a passion for fostering authentic self-expression and inclusivity within the workplace by chairing a local LGBT+ Business Resource Group. I’ve helped found the LGBT+ Chamber with one goal in mind: to help build an Upstate where everyone can thrive economically regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

In my role as the CEO of the Upstate SC LGBT Chamber of Commerce, I work to empower LGBTQ and allied businesses and professionals through networking, advocacy, and business education. Through this work, I am also able to empower the local LGBT community to connect to affirming and accepting business resources and employment opportunities.

I am a seasoned professional with a talent for multitasking. In addition to my role at the chamber, I serve as director of operations for Kiona Technologies, and executive producer for Alchemy Comedy Theater. I am also an improviser and stand-up comedian, often performing at venues throughout the Southeast.

Your favorite quote and why:

“After a while, you learn to ignore the names people call you and just trust who you are.” – Shrek

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader embraces and celebrates intersectional diversity, creating an inclusive and affirming environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. They inspire through their authentic self-expression, champion equality and acceptance, and empower their team to thrive and show up as their true, vibrant selves.


29. Alex Reid

Age 30

Founding Partner

Fedalei and Reid Law, LLC

Though I was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, I was raised in Rome, Georgia. After leaving Rome, I received my Bachelor of Arts in political science from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Following college, I longed for a way to serve my community and give a voice to those who experience injustice. This ultimately led me to Charleston, where I received my JD from Charleston Law and eventually started my practice as a public defender in both Colleton and Charleston counties.

Those years as a public defender shaped me as an attorney and made me see that I could make a direct impact not only in my community, but many others. Now, I am a partner at FR Law, LLC, where I focus on criminal law to help defend people in Greenville and throughout Upstate South Carolina.

Outside of work, I have had the honor to work with the Big Brother Big Sister organization, mentoring young men of color. It has been an honor to serve as a mentor to these students and I look forward to continuing to serve this great community.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

I have dealt with a great deal of adversity in my life and at times those failures were hard to grasp. I had to come to the reality that without adversity, there can be no growth. Although it seemed impossible while I was going through it, confronting and overcoming that adversity made me so much stronger.

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

You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not, just to gain the acceptance of your peers. Just be who you are.


30. Sam Rogers

Age 31

Chief Accounting Officer

Marsh Bell Construction

From an early age, I was interested in math and problem-solving, so it was no surprise when I became a CPA and auditor in public accounting to start my career. I attended College of Charleston for undergrad before getting a job at Cherry Bekaert here in the Upstate. After four years in public accounting, it was time for something new, so I took a position at Hubbell, traveling the world, visiting their different facilities, and working with local operations on their processes and procedures.

With our first son on the way, I started to look for a local company in which I could help grow and was lucky enough to find my current role as chief accounting officer at Marsh Bell Construction. Over the past three years at Marsh Bell, myself and the new team in place have made major changes to the operations, systems, processes, and procedures. Prior to Paul Westberry buying the company in 2021, Marsh Bell was very old school in its way of doing business, so it has been a great experience getting to place my imprint on a local, fast-growing organization.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader puts personal agendas aside and does what is best for the group as a whole. This means lifting up those around you and assisting with their growth. As leaders, we can usually figure out an answer quickly on our own or handle a task ourselves, but this will not assist with the development of the team and organization.

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

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Learn to appreciate your mistakes and understand that each mistake or setback will transform you into the person you are meant to be.


31. Shannon Stack

Age 31

Director, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions & Devices SMB


A Greenville native, I began my career in business development and program management at TD SYNNEX in 2015. Prior to my current role, I managed a team of product managers responsible for an extensive portfolio of cloud, mobility, software and IoT vendors. As director of the Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group & Devices SMB businesses, I manage a team of 28 individuals responsible for business development, product, and program management.

I was responsible for leading the business to unprecedented growth in revenue, profit, and share while leading the development and execution of several exemplary Vendor Partner Marketing, Enablement, and Rebate programs, managing the company’s largest summer internship program, and leading merger and integration initiatives. My goal is to continue growing personally and professionally as a leader of people, strategy, and execution.

My husband and I love the community we live in and feel so fortunate to raise our son here. We are passionate about giving back to our community through TD SYNNEX Share the Magic organization, Operation Santa, and the Greenville Humane Society.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Women need to shift from thinking, ‘I’m not ready to do that’, to thinking, ‘I want to do that, and I’ll learn by doing it.’” – Sheryl Sandberg

With a degree in biology, every opportunity I’ve taken within the IT industry has been uncharted territory for me. I attribute much of my success so far in my career to remaining adaptable and capitalizing on new opportunities when they present – especially when the opportunities seemed insurmountable. This quote has pushed me to take a fearless approach to change and to appreciate when my leaders have recognized my capabilities before I have recognized them myself.


32. John Stathakis

Age 29

Senior Associate

NAI Earle Furman

My first-ever job was working in my family’s restaurant, The Sugar N Spice Drive-in, in Spartanburg. I learned the lessons of providing personal service, establishing relationships, and having a positive attitude. This early restaurant opportunity helped me understand that I enjoy working with people and making connections.

I took my customer service skills from my restaurant days and began my career post-college in commercial real estate with NAI Earle Furman. As a senior associate with NAI Earle Furman, I assist my clients with complex real estate transactions in leasing and sales. The relationship part of commercial real estate is my favorite aspect as I get to walk in my clients’ shoes and help evaluate the best path forward in a transaction.

Being active in the community is something I am passionate about. I currently serve a vice-chair of Meals on Wheels GYP, volunteer with the Spartanburg and Greenville Greek Festivals, serve on the committee for Greenville Ducks Unlimited, am a member of the Greenville Gamecock Club board, and in the Greenville Chamber YP Pacesetters Class of 2023.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston S. Churchill

When life throws curveballs, the most important thing to do is persevere and continue working towards your goals.

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

Think big and embrace failure! Too many times we do not realize what we are capable of. Chasing a crazy goal and learning from failure will provide incredible results.


33. Michelle Strong

Age 33

Clinical Lead of Practice and Research – Addiction Medicine Center

Prisma Health

As a certified nurse practitioner with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, specializing in Executive Health Systems Leadership, I’m dedicated to transforming health care for individuals with substance use disorders. My professional focus has been helping build and develop the Addiction Medicine Center at Prisma Health. My role as clinical lead includes the development, launch, and oversight of the Inpatient Addiction Medicine Consult Team and the Addiction Medicine Center’s Research division.

Under the guidance of Dr. Alain Litwin, I collaborate on clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies, bridging research and clinical practice to drive the delivery of evidence-based, compassionate care for individuals experiencing substance use.

Through collaboration with executive leadership, we continue to elevate the center’s prominence and establish Prisma Health as a regional hub for excellence in addiction care. My passion is serving underserved populations, believing that everyone deserves equitable access to high-quality medical care, regardless of their circumstances. My ultimate goal is to bolster the clinical and research infrastructure, fostering an environment where innovative research and models of care for patients with substance use disorders thrive.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

I think that a successful leader is one who leads a team from within; able to sit with their team in both shared successes and failures. Successful leaders can be deeply introspective in both giving and receiving feedback and are open to conversations about continuous growth and development. They admit when they do not have all the answers; however, they commit to continuing to listen, ask questions, and to find solutions.

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

Trust yourself. Stand strong in your convictions. Be kind. Surround yourself with the people who help you find and sustain your fire. And have a little bit of fun along the way.


34. Trey Thomas

Age 35


Hill Electric

I began my career at Hill Electric Company, Inc. in 2006 as a summer intern. Little did I know at that time that one summer would turn into multiple summers, until I eventually accepted a full-time position upon graduating from Clemson University.

I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 2010 and started a full-time job at Hill as an estimator/project manager role. In 2015, I became a partner and vice president, and in 2021, I was promoted to president and COO.

My roles include managing 80+ employees, estimating and managing projects from start to finish, electrical design, and working directly with operations and project managers for installations.

I am involved in the community through some local organizations. I serve on the Leadership Anderson Board of Regents, the JLA Advisory Board, the Salvation Army of Anderson Board, Anderson YMCA Board, and AnMed Foundation Board.

I am married to my beautiful wife Caleigh. We have two children, Brock and Anna Cate, whom we enjoy taking to the mountains and the beach. We attend First Presbyterian Church in Anderson, where I have served as an elder.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda

Everything in life, you should put your full effort into or be courteous to the other person/company/etc and let them know you are able to. Always put your best foot forward.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is a person that isn't afraid to get down in the trenches and get the work done when needed.  This gains the respect and trust of the team.


35. David Thompson

Age 31

Associate Attorney

Thomas, Fisher & Edwards, P.A.

Upon graduation from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, I practiced law briefly in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Greenville in 2018. Shortly thereafter, I began my practice with Thomas, Fisher & Edwards, P.A., and obtained my LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Alabama School of Law. My legal practice focuses on estate planning, estate and trust administration, and business advising, all with an emphasis in taxation. I am licensed in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. As such, I am able to advise clients in these states and implement sophisticated tax and trust strategies in Tennessee for our clients. My long-term goals include growing my clientele and advancing TF&E’s practice, reach, and legal offerings in the Upstate and beyond.

I serve my community as a director of Joyful Blessings Foundation, which provides funds to other charitable organizations focusing primarily on wellness and education, and as a member of Buncombe Street Methodist Church. I spend my free time with my wife, my daughter, and our three golden retrievers. I enjoy visiting local breweries and playing golf.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Virtue is not always amiable.” – John Adams

This quote highlights the notion that an individual’s virtue alone does not guarantee such individual’s approval or likeability.  In other words, acting virtuously may require making difficult decisions or making decisions that others may find challenging or disagreeable.  This quote reminds me of the duties that I owe my clients and the high standards that I am required to uphold as an attorney.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is an individual who is able to clearly and decisively articulate a goal or objective, and inspire, guide, delegate, or collaborate, as the case may be, with a team in order to achieve such goal or objective.


36. Hayden Turlington

Age 27

Wealth Adviser

Wagner Wealth Management

Born and raised in Greenville, I attended Furman University where I majored in music while on the pre-med track. After graduating, I came to the realization that medicine was not the right fit for me. Going back to the drawing board, I knew I wanted a career in which I could help people solve problems and meet goals, and that’s exactly what I get to do every day with my AAMS as a wealth adviser for Wagner Wealth Management.

Outside of work, being active in the local community is very important to me. I serve on the Advisory Council of Greenville Chamber Young Professionals where I was recently honored to have been named Greenville Chamber’s Young Professional of the Year, the board of Young Greenville as chairwoman, as well as Christian Learning Center’s Charisma YP Club. Additionally, I enjoy performing the violin all over the Upstate.

My husband and I are very excited to embark on our next big adventure of becoming parents to a beautiful baby girl next January.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

A successful leader is someone who is a good steward over what he or she has been given responsibility, as well as someone who practices servant leadership in everything he or she does.

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

Never eat lunch alone, prioritize having discipline over motivation, set others up for success, take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to embrace your femininity.


Taylor Vick

Founder, Principal and Managing Director

Blue Ridge Asset Management

Age 36

Born in Spartanburg and raised in Greenville, SC - Taylor has pursued a passionate commitment to the real estate investment community in and around the upstate for decades. Obtaining his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation, Taylor continued to drive his passion for real estate investing at a high level pursuing the most advanced training, traveling the globe attending industry-leading conferences and continues to stay at the leading edge of the investment world each and every day. His tenacity for reaching industry-leading milestones for Blue Ridge has shown year after year, including an increasingly growing total of $150+ million in real estate funds managed.

As Principal, Managing Director, Taylor has a wide range of industry expertise and involvement including private company investments, acquisitions, commercial loans, agency debt, insurance company loans, non-recourse financings, 1031 exchanges, leases with purchase options, originating mortgage notes to buyers, receiving mortgage notes from sellers, contract assessments and equity cash-out refinancing among a variety of strategies that lead the industry in both performance and success.

Taylor's success is not only driven by the impressive numbers, tenacity and the hunger to lead the industry, but in the relational side of Blue Ridge as well. With an investor-first mindset, Taylor prioritizes investor relationships as the foundation of Blue Ridge's advancement in the industry and the ever-growing investor client list is proof of his unwavering relational commitment.

You can also find Taylor involved heavily in supporting local community missions, organizations and events as his local roots remain strong in supporting the upstate's growth surge sustainably.


37. Bethani Williams

Age 33

Vice President of Marketing

Spero Financial

As a native of the Upstate and Clemson alumna, my marketing career began in Columbia, where I worked for a regional bank. Several years later, I transitioned to a large financial institution – being part of a 200-person marketing team. While both roles were drastically different, they each equipped me for the role I have today.

As VP of marketing for Spero Financial, I get the privilege of overseeing the strategic brand management of the credit union, encompassing brand awareness, advertising, community relations, and financial wellness. Needless to say, each day is a new adventure in the best way! Plus, it comes with the best team of people – many that have become family.

I can also credit the role with bringing my husband and me back to Greenville. We’ve enjoyed being close to family and making memories with our girls! In the community, I have the wonderful opportunity to serve Habitat for Humanity, South Carolina JumpStart Coalition, Meals on Wheels, Harvest Edge Children’s Home, United Way, and my local church.

What is your definition of a successful leader?

I must give credit to our CEO Brian McKay for this response as I believe it is a great illustration of the balance a successful leader must encompass daily. Confident Humility, having confidence in our own abilities but understanding we can't do it on our own. Courageous Empathy, having courage to make the hard decisions but always weighing how those decisions will impact others. Self-Disciplined Coachability, having the discipline to pursue self-growth but willingness to continuously learn from others. Patient Hustle, having patience in the long-term vision while hustling through the daily execution to make that vision a reality.

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

While many stand by the notion that contentment means you aren’t growing, I would say the opposite. Ambition was my driver early in my career. Ambition is not bad; however, when not balanced, it can often shift your focus to constantly looking for the next best thing rather than savoring the here and now. I’ve found that contentment allows me to nestle my roots deeper into the present, to be creative in finding new ways to do the old things, to celebrate the parts I love about my job, and to be intentional in interacting with the people around me. Through contentment, I’m no longer chasing my career, I’m now living it!


38. Molly Willette-Green

Age 34

Director of Web Services


I was born and raised in rural, beautiful Northern Michigan, and graduated with a B.S. in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan. I was involved in various student organization leadership positions and learned about the Ronald McDonald House. It was there that I found a passion for cooking for the families in times of trouble, and I continued to lead cooking groups at RMH in each of the cities I’ve lived in: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; and now here in Greenville. Supporting my communities in this way not only gives back to those families who need it most in a difficult time of their lives but allows me to put my own struggles into perspective and feel connected to others in our shared community.

I spent six years working as a project manager for Epic, a medical record software company, and was introduced to Greenville. After years of commuting back and forth, I made Greenville my home and started working for Engenius, where I still work today. I moved from project manager to director of production to director of web srvices and am excited to see where the future takes me as I continue to grow my team in an ever-evolving industry.

Your favorite quote and why:

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I find that when I can accomplish something I was afraid of doing, that makes me a stronger person and more equipped to tackle that problem in the future. Sometimes I need the extra little nudge or reminder to do so.

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

Be kind to yourself – work hard and push yourself, but make sure to have fun and develop relationships along the way. Be willing to walk through doors that open for you, but don’t be afraid to seek out those doors to see what’s behind them.


39. Courtney Wright

Age 35

Director of Risk Management

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

I am a proud native of Greenville and 11-year healthcare professional. I began my career at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, starting out in microbiology/infection prevention and presently the director of risk management. I have a passion for continued learning, holding three advanced degrees and three certifications, most recently obtaining a Master of Business Administration from Anderson University. I currently serve on the Anderson University Alumni Board and SC ASHRM+AHQ Board for Risk Professionals.

I coordinate delivery routes and volunteer alongside fellow St. Francis colleagues to deliver meals to our homebound neighbors through Meals on Wheels. I have the pleasure of serving as personnel chair and children’s Sunday school teacher at my home church of Pelham Road Baptist. I really enjoy giving back to our beautiful community through acts of service and education. I look forward to what the future holds personally and professionally!

Your favorite quote and why:

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

My foundation is built on faith to see my way through any task or challenging situation.

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

Create short-term and long-term goals and celebrate your achievements. Keep excitement and passion in your career!