2023 Women in Business | Greenville Business Magazine

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

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

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

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


Ellyn Alexander

Home Advantage Realty, LLC


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

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

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

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


Ellyn Alexander

Home Advantage Realty, LLC


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

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

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

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


Liz Ashley


CEO and Chief Aligner

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

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

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


Jacque Barr

The Dieter Company

Guest Relations Coordinator

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

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

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


Becky Berube

United Catalyst Corporation

President and Founder

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

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

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


Gina Boulware

Table 301

Director, Marketing and Public Relations

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

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

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


Nancy Brookshire

Plus-Plus USA

Director of Operations

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

How do you define leadership? 

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


Lorelie Brown

Showhomes Charleston

Franchise Owner

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

How do you define leadership? 

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


Elizabeth Wooten Burwell

First National Bank, PA

Senior Vice President

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

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

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

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


Lydia Callahan

The Reading HQ and Palmetto Fortis

Chief Marketing Officer and Founder

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

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

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


Jessica Carter, Ph.D.

Lowcountry Graduate Center


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

How do you define leadership?

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


Mary-Allyson Chauvin

Langston Construction Company of Piedmont, LLC

Human Resources/People Operation Manager

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

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

How do you define leadership?

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


Jennifer S. Cluverius

Maynard Nexsen

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

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

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

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

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


Lia Colabello

Planet+Purpose Solutions, PBC

Managing Principal

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

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

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


Leslie Crickman

Mattress By Appointment

Chief Financial Officer

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

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

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


Rachel Delport

Greenville Humane Society

Chief Executive Officer

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

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

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


Christine DuBose

Wells Fargo

District Manager

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

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

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


Tyler Easterling

The Brandon Agency


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

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

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

How do you define leadership?

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


Joann Elkin

Core4ce, LLC

Vice President and Corporate Controller

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

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

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


Tina Emerson

Maynard Nexsen

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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

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


Pamela Evette

State of South Carolina

Lieutenant Governor

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

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

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

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

How do you define leadership?

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


Jessica Shultz

Turner Padget Graham and Laney, P.A.

Associate Attorney

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Liz Foy

Cottman of Columbia


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

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

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


Lesley Gadson

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Vice President and Merrill Performance Coach

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

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

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


Stacey Gardin

Stacey Gardin Portraits


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

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

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


Becky Gossett

Alma Rose Med Spa

Owner and Master Aesthetician

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

How do you define leadership?

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


Alana Grant

Richland County Public Education Partners

Executive Director and Entrepreneur

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

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

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


Teri Cox Gilstrap

Anderson County Economic Development

Assistant Director

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

How do you define leadership?

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


Victoria Hammond

World Acceptance Corporation

SVP, Marketing

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Angela Hensel

Afaxys Inc.

Executive Director, Afaxys Services

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

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

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

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


Ashley Hunter

MPA Strategies


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

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

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


Kate Iseman


Founder and CEO

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

How do you define leadership? 

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


Stephanie Johnson

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Greenville


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

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

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


Tommi Jones

Clemson University

Lead Senior Project Manager

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

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

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


Megan Kolak

Greenville Triumph and Greenville Liberty

Senior Vice President

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

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

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


Jane Litz

Coastal Community Foundation

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

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

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

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

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


Emily Luther

Parker Poe Adams &
Bernstein LLP

Public Finance Practice Group Partner

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

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

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


Sue Maner

Special Olympics SC

Executive Vice President

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

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

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

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


Jennifer Maxwell


Regional Director of Sales

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

How do you define leadership? 

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


Jessica McDowell


Senior Vice President, Business Development & Security

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

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

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


Laura Beth Medley

Canal Insurance Company

VP, Chief Human Resources & Corporate Communications Officer

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

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

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


Catie Meehan

Steinberg Law Firm


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

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

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


Laura Middleton

The Middleton Group

Co-Founder and Principal Architect

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

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

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


Traci Newkirk

Human Potential Advisors

Founder and President

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

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

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


Kamber Parker

The YoPro Know

Founder and CEO

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

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

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


Nisha Patel

NPatel Communications


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

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

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


Aretha R. Polite-Powers, DHA

Fetter Health Care Network

Chief Executive Officer

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

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

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


Lora Prevatte

Moody & O’Neal CPAs, LLC

Co-Managing Partner

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Barbara Rackes

South Carolina Women in Leadership


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

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

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

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



Rosado Properties /
Palmco Services

Broker in Charge, Owner, and Co-Founder

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Elizabeth Serricchio

Amaryllis Counseling

Founder and CEO

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

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

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


Katie Skoloff 

In Site Designs

Founder and Principal Designer

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Andrea Smith

Senior Action

Executive Director and CEO

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Ava Smith

Flat Fee Recruiting, LLC


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

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

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


Macie Smith, Ed.D.

Diversified Training Consultants Group, LLC

Owner and CEO

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

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

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


Nancy Smith

South Carolina State Fair 

General Manager

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

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

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


Sara Middleton Styles

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

Founder and Owner

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Shonette Sullivan

The Shekinah Group, LLC

CEO and Co-Founder

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

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

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


Meg Terry

DP3 Architects


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

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

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


Rachel Touchet

Sawyer Staffing Inc.

Vice President of Recruiting Operations

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

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

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


Tamara Trask

Clear Touch Interactive, Inc.

Chief Operating Officer

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

How do you define leadership? 

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


Britt Davis Vergnolle

BDV Solutions

CEO and Co-Founder

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

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

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


Tamika Washington


Chief Executive Officer and Founder

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

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

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


Jenny Wehrs

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Chief Operating Officer

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

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

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


Ashley Whisonant

Capital Office Products


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

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

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


Dr. Ashlye Wilkerson

Phenomenal Women Leading, LLC

Leadership Expert, Speaker, Motivator

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

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

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

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


Shannon Williams

Inside Real Estate

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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

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


Sheila Willis

Fisher Phillips, LLP


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

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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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


Ann Wright

Greenville Tech Foundation

Vice President for Advancement

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

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

How do you define leadership?

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


Anne Young

Flare Media Agency

Partner and Co-Founder

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

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

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


Dianne Zukowsky

Flare Media Agency

Co-Founder and Partner

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

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

How do you define leadership?

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


 Ava Ayers

APS Firm, LLC, and South Carolina State University

CEO, Student Services Program Coordinator II, and Adjunct

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

How do you define leadership?

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

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

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


Racquel “Rocky”

Caliber Real Estate


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

the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our

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

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

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


Cristy Fedalei

FR Law Greenville

Vice President of Operations

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

How do you define leadership?

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

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

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


Amanda Grover


Senior Philanthropy Coordinator

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

How do you define leadership?

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

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

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


Catherine Ramirez

Chernoff Newman

Public Relations and Social Media Manager

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

How do you define leadership? 

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

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

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

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