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Charleston Business

Charleston 50 Most Influential 2023

Jan 17, 2024 03:28PM ● By Donna Walker
Charleston 50 Most Influential 2023

Charleston's Hall of Fame 2023


Mike Carter


eGroup | Enabling Technologies

Mike Carter developed a passion for technology at a young age, and he followed it through to his college years at The Citadel, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Complex Modeling, and Algorithms.

In 1999, he founded eGroup, a provider of IT solutions. The company offers cloud computing, cybersecurity, and managed services. In 2022, under Carter’s leadership, eGroup acquired Enabling Technologies, which builds secure and connected workplaces using Microsoft security, communications, and collaboration solutions.

Over the years, Carter has received nearly 100 industry awards for customer service quality, capability, and expertise, and the company has been recognized for its work by such entities as CRN and Inc. 5000.

Carter also puts a priority on diversity, equity, and inclusivity, regularly investing in socially inclusive initiatives.

His community involvement is wide-ranging, including Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, spotlighting his commitment to regional growth and workforce excellence.

Carter says that one of the things he loves most about South Carolina is “its rich and diverse cultural heritage. This state is a tapestry of history and traditions, blending influences from African, European, and Native American cultures. South Carolina’s cultural richness is showcased in its vibrant music scene, historical landmarks, and numerous festivals celebrating its multifaceted heritage. This melting pot of cultures not only shapes the state’s present identity but also defines its future potential.”


Dr. Patrick Cawley


MUSC Health System

As CEO of MUSC Health System and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs of the Medical University of South Carolina, Dr. Patrick Cawley has oversight of all MUSC clinical matters.

During his 20-year tenure, MUSC has seen a number of expansions, including a regional health network, the development of clinical affiliates, and the creation of a Children’s Hospital. Cawley is also credited with MUSC’s status as a national leader in telehealth and its spot as South Carolina’s No. 1 hospital/health system in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

He is a certified physician executive through the American College of Physician Executives and is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Liberty Fellowship, and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Cawley previously was a managing partner for Carolina Hospitalists and a hospitalist and medical staff leader for Conway Hospital.

He is a past president of the Society of Hospital Medicine and holds leadership roles in the American Hospital Association, Vizient, the South Carolina Hospital Association, and America’s Essential Hospitals.

Cawley earned an undergraduate degree from University of Scranton and his medical degree from Georgetown University. He also holds an MBA from University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

He is board-certified in internal medicine and internal medicine with focused practice in hospital medicine. Cawley is also an associate professor at the College of Medicine.


Darrin Goss Sr.

President and CEO

Coastal Community Foundation

Darrin Goss Sr. has made nonprofit work a focus of his life. A United States Army veteran, Goss joined the Coastal Community Foundation, the largest community foundation in South Carolina, in 2016.

The foundation serves nine counties in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and under Goss’ leadership, it has doubled the assets it has under management, from $221 million in 2016 to more than $440 million in 2023.

During these years, the foundation and its affiliates have provided more than $190 million in grants and scholarships. And Goss has also spearheaded the establishment of a Public Policy Agenda, which aims to leverage the foundation’s social, reputational, and intellectual capital to advocate for policies and investments that will lead to opportunities for more individuals.

Goss’ career has also made stops in the corporate and higher education worlds. He worked as training and development consultant for Sunoco in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and as assistant dean of students and director of career services at Wofford College.

His nonprofit work began in South Carolina’s Upstate, where he served as Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Greenville County.

Goss’ community involvement includes serving as a Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative Felloe and a South Carolina Liberty Fellow. He also is chair-elect of the Philanthropy Southeast Board of Trustees, member of the Charleston Metro Chamber Board, and a member of the Truist Bank National Community Advisory Group.

He is the author of “The Leadership Option: Decision Making Essentials.”


Angela D. Mack

Executive Director

and Chief Curator

Gibbes Museum of Art

Angela D. Mack has spent 37 years at Charleston’s Gibbes Museum of Art, working as Curator of Collections, Chief Curator, and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs before stepping into the executive director role in 2008.

Over the course of her time at Gibbes, Mack has organized more than 300 exhibitions, In 2011, she oversaw a 2½-year, $17 million building renovation of the museum, which reopened to the public in 2016. During that time, she also completed a five-year $14 million capital campaign and a Historic Tax Credit initiative that brought in an additional $2.5 million for the building renovation.

Mack is a contributor to a number of periodicals and has written articles for The Magazine Antiques, Sculpture Magazine, American Art Review, and South Carolina Historical Society Magazine.

Her publications include “Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art” and “Edward Hopper in Charleston,” both published in 2008, as well as “In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860,” published in 1999.

Mack has received the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, Organization in 2019 and the Robert N.S. and Patti Foos Whitelaw Founders Award, presented by the Historic Charleston Foundation, in 2018. She also received the Caropolis Award, presented by the Preservation Society of Charleston, for the restoration of the museum.

She is immediate past chair of the Charleston Heritage Foundation, a former board member of the Charleston Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, and a current member of the city of Charleston’s History Commission.

Charleston's 50 Most Influential


Lane Ballard

Vice President and General Manager

787 Program and Boeing South Carolina

Lane Ballard came to his current role heading up the 787 program in June 2020. In this role, he is responsible for leading the team that designs, builds, and delivers the 787 Dreamliner line of airplanes.

The 787 Dreamliner has been lauded for its fuel efficiency and flexibility of range. In addition to Ballard’s work with the 787 Dreamliner production system, which includes overseeing program priorities and long-term strategy, he also has leadership responsibility for Boeing’s South Carolina facilities in North Charleston.

Ballard said in June 2023 that Boeing is producing four new 787s per month.

Prior to his current role, Ballard worked as vice president of Delivery and Paint for Boeing South Carolina and vice president of Production Transformation for the Boeing Commercial Airplanes program office.

A graduate of Virginia Tech University, Ballard holds two master’s degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He serves on the board of directors of the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation.


Axel Bense

President and CEO

Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC

Axel Bense is the president and CEO of the Charleston-based Mercedes-Benz Vans, a role he’s held since April 2022. His extensive career with the company began in 1999 when he worked as a graduate process engineer for the then-DaimlerChrysler AG in Bremen, Germany.

Since then, work with Mercedes has taken him across the globe, from Russia to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After a couple of years at Thailand’s Mercedes Benz, he returned to Charleston to assume the position of president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vans, relieving Arnhelm Mittelbach, who moved from Charleston to the company’s headquarters in Germany.

“With Axel Bense, our van operations management board is completed by another internationally experienced production expert for the challenging task,” Ingo Ettisher, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Operations, said when Bense took the helm in Charleston.


Matt Brewer

President and CEO

Choate Construction Company

As president and CEO of Choate Construction Company, Matt Brewer leads the company’s six offices across the Southeast. In this role, he is responsible for developing and implementing the firm’s strategy, direction, and long-term vision.

A United States Marine Corps veteran, Brewer made it a priority to create Choate’s Veteran’s Employee Resource Group, an internal group of Choate’s military veterans who work to serve other vets in the community.

He is a member of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce board of directors and is its 2024 chair, and he has served on the organization’s executive committee and has chaired its Regional Policy and Business Advocacy’s committees.

Brewer offers this explanation for why community involvement is important to him: “I am blessed to call this amazing community my home, but it's not something that we can take for granted. Serving others is part of who I am and gives me a sense of purpose that can't be replicated.”


George Bullwinkel III

Shareholder, Board of Directors

Maynard Nexsen PC

George J.F. Bullwinkel, III serves as a shareholder and on the board of directors for Maynard Nexsen.

As an attorney, Bullwinkel practices primarily in the areas of real estate acquisition and development, commercial real estate, and economic development and has played an integral role in Charleston’s growth throughout his career.

Bullwinkel has been involved in several large, notable real estate development projects for WestRock Land Development (Nexton, Summers Corner, Spring Grove, and Magnolia - a partnership between WestRock and Magnolia ARC, LLC); Gramling Brothers (Cane Bay, Reverie on the Ashley); and Newland Communities (Nexton).

An active leader in the community, Bullwinkel is closely involved with nonprofits such as the Urban Land Institute and March of Dimes. He has also served on the board of directors for the Hibernian Society, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), Charleston Chamber of Commerce, the Charleston Parks Conservancy Board, and the Wallace F. Pate Foundation Board.


James Byrd

Regional Director of External Affairs


James Byrd is responsible for AT&T’s public policy, economic development, and community engagement initiatives throughout portions of eastern South Carolina and the Lowcountry.

With nearly 20 years of experience, Byrd is a telecommunications industry veteran. Prior to his role in External & Legislative Affairs, the Citadel graduate served in AT&T’s Construction and Engineering organization where he coordinated with internal teams and local municipalities to deploy advanced broadband services and other products throughout the Charleston area.

In addition to his corporate responsibilities for AT&T, Byrd is committed to helping make a difference in South Carolina communities and in the lives of others. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Lowcountry Food Bank, and various mentorship initiatives in the Lowcountry. Byrd also serves on the board of directors for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.


Willis Cantey


Cantey Tech Consulting

Willis Cantey founded Cantey Tech Consulting in 2007 after several years of working for other tech companies.

Cantey Tech Consulting provides IT solutions, cyber security, cloud and storage, and consulting, and the company’s focus is “creating and instilling trust with the client.”

A graduate of The University of the South at Sewanee, Cantey earned an IMBA from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. He has chaired the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and is a board member of the Historic Charleston Foundation.

He is also the CEO of Cantey EDU, a technology support and logistics company that supports standardized academic assessments in 17 states.


Kathleen Cartland

Executive Director

Charleston Area Sports Commission

Kathleen Cartland created the Charleston Area Sports Commission (CASC) as an auxiliary organization of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau in 1999. It was the region's first agency for developing the sports travel industry.

For 24 years, the CASC has achieved much success in attracting and creating new sports events for the economic value they contribute to the region. Its premier events include WTA's Charleston Open, the Medal of Honor All-Star Bowl Game, and NCAA basketball tournaments for the Southern Conference, CAA, and ESPN Events.

In 2013, Cartland helped create the state's first sports development organization, the SC Sports Alliance, and now there are more than 50 members working together to promote the state's resources and destinations to sports events owners. She also gives credit to "the thousands of volunteers that provide their time to over 500 sports events a year in the greater Charleston area."

A graduate of UNC-Greensboro, who received an MBA from The Citadel in 1997, Cartland has followed her own advice to young professionals of "Soak it up! Take in all the knowledge you can regarding your career!"

She also suggests that anyone interested in sporting trends pay attention to pickleball.


Tammy Coghill

Manager, Local Affairs and Economic Development

Dominion Energy

From her start at an Easter Seals Center working with volunteers, Tammy Coghill has made fundraisers and raising community awareness a consistent part of her career. A former special education teacher, she moved to business development and worked in the public and private sectors before joining Dominion Energy in 2019.  Her work centers on communication, strategy, problem solving, coalition building, and facilitating connections.

Coghill serves on the boards of Trident Technical College Foundation, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, and Charleston Regional Development Alliance. She is a frequent volunteer with Sea Island Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build as well. A graduate of the College of Charleston, she has also served on the college’s alumni association board. She earned a master’s in public administration from the University of South Carolina.


Bart Daniel


Nelson Mullins

Bart Daniel is a veteran trial attorney and former president of the National Association of Former United States Attorneys. He’s prosecuted myriad commercial and white-collar cases.

In 1989, former President George H.W. Bush nominated Daniel as U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. During his three-year tenure, Daniel served as lead prosecutor of Operation Lost Trust, one of the nation’s most successful federal corruption prosecutions, which resulted in 27 convictions.

Daniel has served as special counsel to the governor, conducting an internal investigation into allegations of corruption and influence in South Carolina government, as well as president of the Charleston County Bar. In 1991, Daniel was awarded the Attorney General’s Flag Award – the highest award for a U.S. Attorney.

Daniel, who believes community involvement is a responsibility to adhere to, formerly served as chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board and Capital Campaign.


Pixie Paula Dezzutti


Local Choice INC

When describing Pixie Paula Dezzutti, the term “Renaissance woman” might be an understatement. The 2023 Forbes 50 Over 50 member is the CEO of five companies: women’s empowerment magazine SKIRT, Striped Pig Distillery, diversity accelerator platform Local Choice Spirits, Ghost Monkey Brewery, and hemp company Sycamore BioPharma.

The mother of nine and grandmother of 10 is an ordained minister and highlights women breaking glass ceilings on her podcast Spiritually Speaking with Pixie Paula. She’s also a published author, real estate development veteran, and NFT pioneer.

She’s a fixture in Charleston’s business community, and the commonality between Dezzutti’s ventures is giving back to the community in a way that’s measurable and impactful. In each of her businesses, Dezzutti always strives to put people first.

“The leading products and services in our fast-paced world will emerge from the people who were meant to be the leaders of the future,” Dezzutti said.


Herbert Drayton III

Managing Partner

HI Mark Capital

Herbert Drayton III is the managing partner of a Charleston-based venture firm where investing and social impact intersect. HI Mark Capital invests in BIPOC- and women-owned tech startups in the Southeast, specializing in the health care, IT, software, and corporate training sectors.

Drayton is passionate about community service and civic leadership across the Lowcountry, chairing the Coastal Community Foundation’s board of directors, which provides nearly $20 million in grants and scholarships annually. The Charleston native also chairs Palmetto Goodwill’s board of directors.

Drayton served in the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps Reserves and serves on boards for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, SCbio, Bright Focus Foundation, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the SEC’s Access to Capital Committee, St. Francis Hospital, and Charleston Southern University’s business school.


Dave Echols

President and General Manager

Charleston RiverDogs

For nearly two decades, Dave Echols has guided Charleston’s minor league baseball team through some of its most successful seasons since being named general manager in 2004, racking up multiple national MiLB awards.

But Echols' impact in the Lowcountry stretches beyond the baseball diamond. He’s a member of the Rotary Club of Charleston, the Executive Association of Greater Charleston, and the boards of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Trident Technical College, MUSC Storm Eye Institute, and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.

The Johns Island resident is a stark supporter of the military and of veteran engagement. Under his leadership, the RiverDogs received the inaugural Patriot Award, given to the minor league team showing outstanding military and veteran support, along with other awards. He was a founding member and vice president of the Palmetto Military Support and currently serves as an Air Mobility Command Civic Leader.


John Fortson

President and Chief Executive Officer

Ingevity Corp.

John Fortson took over as president and chief executive officer of publicly traded Ingevity Corp. in 2020. Prior to that, he’d spent nearly five years as chief financial officer of the company, which provides specialty chemicals, high-performance carbon materials, and engineered polymers.

Since Fortson joined Ingevity, the company has completed three acquisitions – two in the United States and one in the United Kingdom. The North Charleston-headquartered firm operates from 31 countries around the world and employs approximately 1,900 people.

Fortson is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a retired U.S. Army Ranger. Prior to joining Ingevity, he served as chief financial officer and treasurer of AAR Corp., a publicly traded aerospace and defense company outside Chicago.

After his military service Fortson spent nearly 15 years with Merrill Lynch, rising to managing director of investment banking and working in the firm’s New York, London and Chicago offices.

He is a member of the board of directors of the American Chemistry Council.


Chad Frampton

President and CEO

Frampton Construction

Under Chad Frampton’s leadership, Frampton Construction has been named to ENR (Engineering News-Record) Southeast’s list of Top Contractors for four consecutive years and is regularly featured on lists of fast-growing companies. Additionally, both the Charleston and Charlotte offices of the company have been recognized as “Best Places to Work” for the last three years, the firm expanding into Florida with the opening of a Tampa office in 2023. 

A Charleston native, Frampton is the second generation to lead the company and has a B.A. in business administration from Newberry College. Named the Lowcountry Man of the Year in 2017 by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Frampton raised $214,000 toward the fight against blood cancer. He is also an active member of Young President’s Organization, a global network for young chief executives. 


Chris Fraser

Managing Director

Avison Young

As managing director of global real estate firm Avison Young’s South Carolina (Greenville and Charleston) and Savannah, Georgia, offices, Chris Fraser has decades of office leasing, development, and management experience. An early adopter of technology tools, he uses data and analytics to enhance his team’s success. He holds volunteer leadership roles in education, arts and economic development throughout the Charleston area and is a member of Avison Young’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council and the U.S. Business Continuity Committee.

As an executive board member of the Galliard Management Corporation (2014-2021), Fraser was integral to the startup and opening operations for the then-new 1,800-seat performance space in Charleston. Fraser has also served as chairman of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (2014) as well other community boards and is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Charleston Industry Roundtable.  


Tim Grow


Elliott Davis

As a shareholder and consulting practice leader at accounting firm Elliott Davis, Tim Grow utilizes over 25 years’ experience in business consulting to customers in real estate, manufacturing, construction, and government. Prior to his time with Elliott Davis, Grow served in the United States Army.

He holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in accounting from the University of South Carolina and is a Certified Public Accountant. He serves as a board member of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and East Cooper Community Outreach, and is also a member of the Charleston CEO Council, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. His past community involvement includes serving as a board member for the Lowcountry Red Cross and as treasurer for the South Carolina Charter School Association.


David Hamilton

Senior Vice president/Commercial Relationship Manager

Huntington Bank

In November 2023, David Hamilton added a new chapter to his successful banking career when he accepted the role of senior vice president as a commercial relationship manager for Huntington Bank’s emergent Carolinas region.

Huntington, a top-20 U.S. bank by asset size, is expanding its commercial banking services in the Carolinas, and Hamilton is responsible for leading its business-development efforts in coastal South Carolina and building the bank’s brand and footprint in the region.

Hamilton began his career with BB&T in 2003. During his 20-plus year career at BB&T, Hamilton was successful in multiple positions across the bank’s footprint.

A native of Pawleys Island, Hamilton graduated from N.C. State University with a bachelor’s in business management with a concentration in finance.

Hamilton and his wife, Lauren, live on James Island and are the parents of two boys and two girls.


Will Haynie


Town of Mount Pleasant

First elected in 2017, Mayor Will Haynie was re-elected in 2021. Under his leadership, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina’s fourth-largest municipality, achieved All American City status in 2018 and 2023. Haynie is a graduate of the Citadel where he rose to the highest cadet rank of regimental commander, earning a degree in business administration.

Haynie moved to Mount Pleasant as a 5-year-old, returning after college and working in the North Carolina mountains as a newspaper columnist and press secretary for U.S. Representative Charles Taylor, (N.C. 11th District). He has also served as the executive director of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust and as a sailing columnist for the Post and Courier.

Haynie also serves on the boards of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Charleston County Aviation Authority (International Airport), Patriots Point, Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), and Mount Pleasant Waterworks.


Andrew Hsu


College of Charleston

Since becoming president of the College of Charleston in 2019, Andrew Hsu launched a 10-year strategic plan to transform the university. The college has since launched three new engineering majors and its first doctorate program (2023). Philanthropy and admissions numbers have reached record levels during Hsu’s tenure, and the college welcomed the largest incoming class in its history for fall 2023.

Born in China, Hsu came to the U.S. to earn his Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering at Georgia Tech. After more than 10 years working for private companies, he transitioned to academia, moving from tenured faculty to leadership positions.

He serves as chair of the board of governors for Rocket Innovation and has served on the Leadership Council of Cal Charge (a California nonprofit), the board of governors of Edison Material Technology Center (Dayton, Ohio), the board of governors of the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio and was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels as chair of the Indiana Bioproduct Commission. 


Faith Rivers James

Executive Director

Coastal Conservation League

Faith Rivers James, a Mount Pleasant native, grew up in the historic Four Mile community east of the Cooper River. She’s felt a connection to the landscape of the Lowcountry all her life, part of the reason she was ideally suited to be named executive director of the Coastal Conservation League in 2022.

Over the years Rivers James has seen firsthand the changes brought about by unbridled growth and development, and the impact it can have on the environment. She is regularly reminded of the importance of the environment and how protecting and conserving resources can positively impact everyone.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Rivers James devotes her energy, expertise and legal acumen to bolstering conservation efforts in pragmatic and entrepreneurial ways. Not long after finishing her education, Rivers James began a legal career in Washington, D.C., and within four years was negotiating the federal budget as senior counsel to the House Majority Leader in Congress.

After she returned to South Carolina and served as executive director of the South Carolina Bar Foundation, she was able to work in partnership with the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina to launch the Heirs’ Property Preservation Project to protect Black-owned property in the state. Later, she taught at both Vermont Law School and Elon University School of Law, and she strengthened environmental law programs at both institutions.


Natasha Lee

Co-Founder and CEO

Floyd Lee Locums

Natasha Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Floyd Lee Locums, a concierge healthcare staffing firm focused on offering physicians and advanced practice providers a stress-free job search and placement experience.

This year, Floyd Lee Locums debuted on Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work list as the winner of the “Vendor/Supplier” category, along with the “Healthiest Employer” and “Best Place to Work in Healthcare for Millennials.”

From 2020-2023, Floyd Lee Locums was named a Best Staffing Firms to Temp For by SIA.

Lee has been recognized on Staffing Industry Analysts' (SIA) Global Power 150 Women in Staffing.

Lee is “passionate about upholding the core values we established when we started Floyd Lee Locums.”

“My goal is to revolutionize healthcare staffing and connect clinicians to purposeful work so they can lead balanced, rewarding lives that lead to better patient care,” Lee said.


Marc Marchant

Chief Executive Officer


When asked what advice he would pass on to young professionals, Marc Marchant recommends being proactive: “Don’t wait for something to happen, but rather create opportunities in everything that you do.”

Marchant has spent much of his life creating opportunities. He’s CEO of LS3P, a firm offering architecture, interiors, and planning services from 12 Southeastern offices. Marchant approaches design solutions with a deep understanding of aesthetics, function, and building performance.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in design and a Master of Architecture, both from Clemson University. During his quarter-century with LS3P, Marchant’s leadership skills have been instrumental in a number of roles within the 480-employee company, including contributing significant expertise in process design and understanding the complexities of healthcare environments.

Marchant is committed to community involvement, and he currently serves on the Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals, Clemson Architectural Foundation and Trident CEO Council. Marchant received the American Institute of Architects SC Presidential Citation in 2013.


Tonya M. Matthews, Ph.D.

President and CEO

International African American Museum

As president and CEO of Charleston’s International African American Museum, Tonya M. Matthews oversaw the 2023 opening of the second-largest African American Museum in the United States. Matthews has said that one of her goals with the museum is to tell the many stories – both sad and joyful – that are woven through the African American experience.

She has a background as both poet and engineer, and she works closely with many community- and economic-development projects.

Matthews has been honored as Trailblazer by Career Mastered Magazine (2017). She is a former member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education and was appointed by both Democratic and Republican administrations to the National Assessment Governing Board.

She earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelor of Science in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University, alongside a certificate in African/African American studies.


Bernie Mazyck

President and CEO

South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development

Bernie Mazyck has served as the president and CEO of the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development since 1998.

SCACED strives to improve the quality of life for low-wealth families and communities through community-based organizations, attracting public and private capital to local community economic-development organizations, as well as influencing the public-policy process that benefits poor and marginalized individuals.

Under Mazyck’s leadership, SCACED has expanded from four organizations to 200 and has helped create more than 6,000 jobs and developed projects valued at over $150 million.

Mazyck is the recipient of numerous awards, including 2016 SC African American History Calendar Honor, 2020 Community Development Association Leadership Award from the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, and 2021 Servant Leadership Award from the SC Commission for Minority Affairs.



Tracy McKee

Chief Innovation Officer

City of Charleston

As Charleston’s first chief innovation officer, Tracy McKee finds places where the city can improve its organizational and operational efficiency. Her role is complex but can be described simply: helping city staff make their wildest dreams a reality. 

“When the mayor had the opportunity to create this position and reached out to me. I really saw it as an amazing opportunity to come back and do something special in the place that I consider home,” McKee told the trade publication Government Technology after a stint as Baltimore’s chief data officer.

The Lowcountry native isn’t a newcomer to city government either – she previously served as Charleston’s GIS director from 1999 to 2018. But beyond being a self-described GIS geek and data nerd, McKee is also a triathlon enthusiast. She and her husband lead the Charleston-based coaching company Ad Astra Endurance Project.


Brooks Melton

President and CEO

Beacon Community Bank

Brooks Melton was present for the creation of Beacon Community Bank in 2018 and has served as its president and CEO since the beginning.

He has worked in banking for nearly three decades, honing his skills at large and small financial institutions, and that experience helped inspire him to create a new kind of bank, one that has relationship banking at its heart.

Since its inception, Beacon Community Bank has experienced steady growth, opening six new locations in as many years.

A Davidson College graduate, Melton says that community involvement has always been a priority, thanks to the example set by his mother. He is the recent recipient of the Circle of Excellence award at the CREW Gala in Charleston, a lifetime achievement award for individuals who champion diversity and who demonstrate innovation and integrity.

Melton said the advice he would give to a young colleague is: “Hard work always works.”


Barbara Melvin

President and CEO

South Carolina Ports

Barbara Melvin is the first woman to lead a top 10 U.S. operating container port. As the president and CEO of South Carolina Ports, Melvin has guided many of the port’s significant achievements, including deepening the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, making it the East Coast’s deepest harbor.

Melvin has held numerous leadership positions during her 25 years with SC Ports. What began as a career in government relations and external affairs, advanced to port operations and being named the S. C. Ports’ chief operating officer in 2018, before becoming CEO in 2022.

Since taking the helm, she has been recognized as a 2023 Leading Woman by S. C. Women in Leadership, a 2023 Rainmaker by DC Velocity, and was unanimously selected to receive the Outstanding Women in Supply Chain Award from supply chain management students at the University of Tennessee.


Kevin Mills

President and CEO

South Carolina Aquarium

Kevin Mills believes in the ability of aquariums and zoos to inspire future generations of environmental stewards and conservationists. It’s an ethic that has guided him in his 18 years as head of the South Carolina Aquarium, and throughout the preceding decade with the Saint Louis Zoo.

Under his watch, the aquarium has emerged as a global leader in sea turtle care and protection. The aquarium has forged new pathways to STEM careers, reaching children across the state and around the world through in-class experiences, digital encounters, and up-close visits and field trips. In 2024 it will debut the Boeing Learning Lab at the Charleston Maritime Center. 

Mills’ resume begins at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is followed by 15 years in the travel, publishing, and advertising industries.  He is a past board member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


Dominique Milton

President and Chief Engagement Officer

Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council

As president and chief engagement officer of the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (CVMSDC), Dominique Milton works as an “intentional connector,” trying to close the wealth gap by certifying, developing, connecting, and advocating for ethnic minority-owned businesses (MBEs).

The council serves minority business owners and corporate partners in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, and is the largest certifying agency for MBEs in the nation.

Milton specializes in new business development and has received many awards for retail performance, business growth, and product expansions, and serves on many boards in North Carolina and South Carolina.

 She holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and an MBA from Penn State University.

Milton said that the advice she would give to a young colleague is, “Do something outside of your comfort zone daily to grow.”


Rick Mixson


Landmark Construction

Rick Mixson's journey at Landmark Construction began 25 years ago when he worked alongside his father, learning leadership skills through hands-on work. The company, founded in 1965 by Fredrick and Ann Mixson, has become one of South Carolina's leading civil site work construction companies.

As president, Rick Mixson is actively involved in the company's day-to-day operations, putting his time into embodying values of honesty and integrity as fundamental to the company's enduring success.

Mixson's long-term goals are to drive Landmark Construction to new heights through innovational and sustainable practices. But the company also will continue to be a vehicle for positive community impact – "giving back is integral," by contributing to the well-being of the broader community.


Mark Munn


Bank of America Private Bank

Mark Munn works as a managing director and private client adviser for Bank of America Private Bank in Charleston. He also serves as president of the Charleston/Hilton Head market for Bank of America.

His work includes helping privately held companies develop succession plans, working with foundations to manage their assets, and helping high-net-worth families simplify their financial lives.

Throughout his career, Munn has taken on a number of leadership roles for Bank of America and its predecessor banks, working in retail banking, professional and executive banking, and premier banking.

Munn joined the Private Bank, formerly known as U.S. Trust, in 2000, which he was market leader for professional and executive banking in Beaufort County, where he managed personal and business banking relationships for corporate executives, attorneys, physicians, and other professionals.

A Citadel graduate, Munn serves on the boards of directors of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Cradle to Career, Gibbes Museum of Art, and Spoleto USA.


Samuel Mylrea



Co-founder of Gigpro, Samuel Mylrea is the only CEO to reach the No. 1 spot in South Carolina's Fastest Growing Companies awards for two distinct businesses over two decades.

Gigpro is an on-demand labor marketplace app that is hyper-focused on the hospitality industry. Restaurant owners post their open shifts on the app with details about the work, and a vetted network of "pros" apply to work the shift if they are ready.

Mylrea used his passion for empowering small business through technology to guide Gigpro since its launch in 2021 in Charleston. Within two years, the platform grew to 20 markets and addresses labor challenges in the Southeastern U.S. and beyond. The company has facilitated 2.5 million hours of labor.

The Charlestonian enjoys spending time with his family of four – including two preschoolers – walking in historic downtown Charleston, visiting the Chubby Fish restaurant, and being involved in the local community.

While working hard to position Gigpro as a driving force in reshaping the labor landscape within the hospitality sector, Mylrea also believes it's important to get "off the grid for 24 hours each week."


Steve Palmer

Founder and CVO

The Indigo Road Hospitality Group

Steve Palmer is a best-selling author, TedX speaker, James Beard Award semifinalist, industry leader, and mental health advocate.

He is also the founder, managing partner and chief vision officer of the nationally recognized Indigo Road Hospitality Group (IRHG).      

The Charleston-based hospitality company has grown from one restaurant to more than 20 throughout the country, along with a growing portfolio of independent hotels.

Palmer attributes the company’s growth to his loyal and dedicated team. He maintains the philosophy that great service starts with well-cared for employees.

Beginning as a dishwasher at the age of 13, Palmer has seen his hospitality career progress from the kitchens of Atlanta to F&B director roles, to consulting in award-winning destinations, and more.

With numerous wins under his belt, Palmer launched what would become his proudest accomplishment in 2016, when he co-founded the organization Ben’s Friends, a support group for service industry professionals seeking sobriety, with friend Mickey Bakst.


Sunju Patel

Co-founder and Managing Partner

TMGOC Ventures

Sunju Patel is a seasoned entrepreneur and real estate leader with more than 20 years of experience in investments, acquisitions, dispositions, and development. His deep knowledge of the hospitality industry led him to co-found TMGOC Ventures to better serve investors, capital markets, and debt partners. As a co-founder and managing member, Patel brings creativity and street-smart sensibility to deal-making and new construction projects.

Prior to TMGOC Ventures, Patel co-founded real estate investment firm and developer The Montford Group. in 2017, where he led all investment opportunities and strategic efforts. Under his leadership, The Montford Group. built offices, retail space and hotels across the Southeast, including new hotel developments with Marriott and Hyatt.

An industry expert, Patel is a member of the board of governors at the College of Charleston School of Business and serves on the Accommodation Tax Committee for the City of Charleston.


Derek Robbins

President and CEO

Robbins Construction Group

Fueled by the desire to own a construction business and disillusioned by unfulfilled promises of ownership, Derek Robbins founded Robbins Construction Group (RCG) in 2019.

It’s a company that aims to exceed expectations, with an inherently client-focused approach.

“Our unique approach aims to improve the construction process, identify industry challenges, and introduce innovative methods to address them,” said Robbins, an alumnus of Appalachian State University.

RCG’s key projects include the redevelopment of Park Circle, various Floor & Décor locations, and the re-branding of Stokes Mazda in North Charleston.

RCG has been the recipient of several notable awards and participates in various philanthropic activities.

The company’s strategic vision for future growth involves the establishment of a new office in Greensboro, North Carolina, as part of its corporate plan.

“While expanding our presence in North Carolina, we remain committed to maintaining and enhancing our project footprint across the Southeast,” Robbins said.


Scott Sharp

Regional Vice President, Commercial Banking, Coastal Carolinas

TD Bank

Scott Sharp has worked in the financial services industry since 1995, holding positions at The Industrial Bank of Japan, Regions Bank, and Woodlands Bank. At TD Bank, one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., he has held leadership positions in the Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston markets since 2009. In his current role as regional vice president, his primary responsibility is managing the commercial and small business team for coastal South Carolina.

Currently serving on the boards of Operation Home and The Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Sharp also has a passion for lacrosse. He started the first high school lacrosse program in South Carolina for Hilton Head High School (1998) and is a founding member of the S.C. Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse Board of Directors and the founder of Team Palmetto Lacrosse Club.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the State University of New York at Cortland and a Master of Education in Mathematics from Converse College.


Victoria Smalls

President and CEO

Smalls Cultural Resources

Gullah Geechee native Victoria Smalls is a cultural heritage preservationist, serving as president and CEO of Smalls Cultural Resources. In her 15-year career, Smalls has served as federal commissioner on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission and in roles at the International African American Museum and the National Park Service, among others.

A President’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for completing more than 4,000 volunteer service hours, Smalls is dedicated to her community and heritage. As a community advocate emphasizing cultural preservation, she strives to expand cultural awareness, foster inclusivity and ensure Gullah Geechee traditions endure.

Hailing from St. Helena Island, Smalls is also the recipient of the Black History USA Community Award and has fostered her mission at the Penn Center and Zinn Education Project.


Alyssa Smith

Executive Director

Charleston Wine + Food

Alyssa Maute Smith's passion for South Carolina's beauty, local culture, and community has helped her with shaping Charleston Wine + Food Festival as the nonprofit event approaches its 20th year. The most recent festival welcomed more than 38,000 guests to the Charleston area and generated an economic impact of nearly $32 million within five days.

The James Island native grew up boating, harvesting oysters, and catching blue crab with just a chicken neck and string.

Smith served as interim director prior to being named executive director in January 2023. Under her leadership, the festival launched a talent/chef stipend program, which aims to support the local culinary and hospitality community by decreasing barriers to participation in the festival and diversifying the voices the festival amplifies.

She also helped create a robust high school extern program that is designed to improve workplace readiness in the culinary industry.

Smith is a graduate of Clemson University and earned a master's degree from the College of Charleston. She worked in public relations in the Charleston area and was a former Washington Fellow in U.S. Rep James Clyburn's Majority Whip office, prior to working for Charleston Wine + Food.


Michael Smith

Executive Director

Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Michael Smith is passionate about the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) becoming the benchmark for how a modern symphony serves its community through powerful performances and impactful educational programs.

Smith began his tenure with CSO as a musician in the orchestra. He won an audition for second trumpet in 2006 and was appointed to principal trumpet in 2009.

In 2009, after a national search, he was named CSO’s executive director.

Under his leadership, CSO finished each year leading up to the pandemic with positive operating results. The CSO became one of the only orchestras in the U.S. to continue to safely perform symphony music for live audiences without a pause.

On the heels of the pandemic, Smith secured a $2 million lead gift that ultimately led to the CSO’s first endowment campaign.

He also rallied the board, staff and musicians together to raise over $15 million in 18 months, securing the organization’s future.


David Stenström

Vice President, Manufacturing Americas/Plant Manager

Volvo Cars Charleston

David Stenström serves as vice president, manufacturing and plant manager at Volvo’s Charleston plant, a position he has held since January 2021. He joined Volvo Cars in 1995, and most recently served as the general manager for the Daqing plant in China (2018). He has held various management positions in manufacturing and manufacturing engineering.

During his tenure the company has made substantial changes in manufacturing electric vehicles, introducing the Volvo EX90 in 2022. The move will eventually bring 1,300 new team members to the company’s Ridgeville plant, located in Berkeley County.

Stenström holds a Master of Science degree in Applied Mechanics from Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.



J. Elliott Summey

CEO and Executive Director

Charleston County Aviation Authority

J. Elliott Summey has long been a Lowcountry leader, and in 2020 he joined the Charleston County Aviation Authority as executive director and CEO. Summey had previously served multiple terms on the CCAA board of directors during a period of record-setting growth in air-service development, passenger volume, and financial performance.

Prior to that, the lifelong Lowcountry resident served three terms on Charleston County Council. During his tenure, Summey took on several leadership roles, including chairman and vice chairman.

A College of Charleston graduate, Summey is also an active volunteer in the community. He has served in leadership roles on various boards including the International African American Museum, South Carolina Board of Juvenile Parole, Charleston Museum, Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, Charleston Area Transportation Study Committee, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Regional Development Alliance, and Explore Charleston.


John Thomas


Palmetto Moon

As CEO of Palmetto Moon, John Thomas leads the South Carolina retailer that now boasts 43 locations across seven states. The longtime retail executive had many years of experience in retail before he took the CEO position at Palmetto Moon in 2019. Thomas and the Palmetto Moon team have guided the local retailer expansion across the Southeast from their origins in Charleston, growing from 22 stores in 2019 to the current 43-store footprint.

During Thomas’ tenure, Palmetto Moon has opened stores in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.  Additionally, the company will be opening two new stores this spring and adding focus to a growing ecommerce platform,

The company’s focus is on the customer, and “as an organization, we take great pride and responsibility to listen to the voice of our customer,” Thomas told Greenville Business Magazine.  “We believe that there are additional opportunities to fill in our core footprint as well as expansion to new states.  State pride, localization and unique fashion and gifts drive our customer experience.”

Thomas attended Washington University in St. Louis, obtaining a degree from the John M. Olin School of Business. 


Brian Turner

President and CEO

Preservation Society of Charleston

Brian Turner is leading the effort to preserve Charleston’s distinctive character, quality of life, and diverse neighborhoods. As president and CEO of the Preservation Society of Charleston, Turner oversees the organization’s fundraising, advocacy, and education.

Turner holds a J.D. from Vermont Law School and began his career as an intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2008 he joined the Trust’s San Francisco field office, where he worked as an attorney for more than a decade.

Through his work, Turner has seen firsthand the impact community can have when it bands together, enhancing stewardship of Charleston’s cultural and national heritage.

“I love the natural and cultural landscapes of the Lowcountry,” Turner said. “It is a thrill to explore the remnants of the ancient swampland in places like the Francis Beidler Forest, see the wildlife, and imagine the lives of the generations that came before us.”


Rebecca Ufkes


UEC Electronics, LLC

Rebecca Ufkes is the president of UEC Electronics, a woman-owned small business in Charleston that specializes in engineering, design, prototyping, and manufacturing. The 2010 SBA South Carolina Small Business Person of the Year’s work has been recognized for its growth in various prestigious awards. In early 2012, the White House recognized her as a “champion of change” in innovation and manufacturing.

Ufkes holds a master’s degree from The Citadel and previously worked for Karman Aerospace and Sikorsky Aircraft. She’s a supporter of STEM initiatives in Charleston’s school system, serving on the board of a program incorporating engineering curriculums into public high schools.

Ufkes also serves on the boards of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and Palmetto Partners.


General Glenn Walters


The Citadel

Retired Marine Gen. Glenn M. Walters is serving as the 20th president of The Citadel, which is also his alma mater. He previously served 39 years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising to the second-highest ranking officer in the corps, the 34th Assistant Commandant. In this role he oversaw more than 200,000 Marines and a $42 billion budget.

In his role as Citadel president, Walters is focused on developing future principled leaders in the military, private sector and public institutions. His administration is slated to oversee the largest capital improvement plan for the college.

Walters is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal among other prestigious military awards. He and his wife Gail, a marketing and communications professional, have been together for more than two decades.


Stuart Whiteside

Principal in Charge


Stuart Whiteside, who co-founded SeamonWhiteside with Kenny Seamon in 1985, has managed the firm through notable regional projects including include I'on, Mount Pleasant Towne Centre, Credit One Tennis Stadium, and the Nexton community. Providing civil engineering, landscape architecture, land planning and surveying, under his leadership SeamonWhiteside has grown to five offices in the Carolinas and to nearly 200 employees, recently adding water resources engineering to their list of services. The firm plans to expand its footprint to additional cities and states in the Southeast in the next few years.

Whiteside graduated from Clemson University in 1978 with a degree in civil engineering followed by a master’s degree in 1979. He is a past Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Chairman and remains active on the Trident Tech Foundation Board, CRDA Board and the Trident CEO Council. 


Scott Woods

President and CEO

South Carolina Federal Credit Union

Scott Woods has been at the helm of South Carolina Federal Credit Union for 20 years.

Before joining South Carolina Federal and becoming its president and CEO, Woods served as a senior financial institution auditor with KPMG Peat Marwick, CPAs; the chief financial officer of S.C. Telco Federal Credit Union; and the chief financial officer of SRP Federal Credit Union.

Woods holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and finance from the College of Charleston, an MBA in finance from Auburn University, and certified public accountant and certified internal auditor certificates.

A native South Carolinian, Woods has chaired the board of directors of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Southern University, and the Lowcountry S. C. Chapter of the American Red Cross.

He is active in his church and a passionate supporter of Susan G. Komen, Water Mission, and One80 Place.


Robert Woodul

Broker In Charge

Carolina One Real Estate

Robert Woodul has consistently led his real estate team to achieve top-ranking status and is committed to increasing professionalism through education, development, and by serving as a voice in the public and legislative arenas.

Named Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Realtor of the year for 2014, Woodul has been quoted as an expert in the area’s real estate market in publications including The Washington Post and The New York Times.

He has served as a volunteer leader with Realtor Associations for over 25 years. Currently President for the South Carolina Realtors, Woodul has also served as president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR) in 2011 and the CHS Regional MLS in 2015. A graduate of the University of Louisiana, Monroe, he gives his time to many local nonprofits including MS Society, Susan G. Komen, and the Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals. He is also a member of the Mardi Gras Krewe of Endymion, which provides funding for New Orleans-area church charities.


Dixon Woodward

State President, South Carolina and Coastal Georgia

United Community

Dixon Woodward serves as United Community’s state president for South Carolina and Coastal Georgia. He joined United Community in 2015, and he has more than two decades of banking experience, much of it along the South Carolina coast.

Woodward has been actively involved in United Community’s recent growth spurt. Since Woodward joined the bank, it has expanded into three new markets: Charleston, Greenville, and Myrtle Beach.

He has served in multiple roles during his banking career, including a stint as a coastal market president for Carolina First Bank. He continued with TD Bank after it acquired Carolina First before joining United Community as regional president. He took over as state president for South Carolina and coastal Georgia in 2019.

Woodward is deeply involved in the Charleston community, and he has served on the boards of the South Carolina Arts Commission Foundation and the South Carolina Aquarium. He is a former board member of the College of Charleston Foundation and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.

Dixon said community involvement is important to him.

“We all have an obligation to commit ourselves to improving the communities that have allowed us to achieve success,” he said.


Stephanie Yarbrough


King & Spalding

With more than 20 years of experience in law, Stephanie Yarbrough serves as an active member of both the North Carolina and South Carolina Bar Associations.

Yarbrough takes pride in being involved in a community like Charleston. “I especially love how our community shows up in a spirit of acceptance and respect in a time of need,” Yarbrough said while reflecting on the local support for the Mother Emanuel AME Church following the deadly shooting in 2015. “This community stands against hate and shows the entire world what love looks like. Our people are strong, and they love fiercely.”

She also serves as a board member for MUSC Children’s Hospital, South Carolina Aquarium, SC Economic Developers Association, Upstate Alliance, SCbio, Darkness to Light, Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, South Carolina Venture Capital Board, the College of Charleston Alumni Association, and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.