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Columbia Business Monthly

2019 Best & Brightest 35 and Under

Sep 11, 2019 01:08PM
Welcome to Columbia Business Monthly’s 2019 Best & Brightest 35 and Under. Now in its fourth year, our annual Best & Brightest 35 and Under issue celebrates the women and men who are rising stars in the business community. You will find all of our 26 winners in the pages ahead. 

Even though they still have many more years in the workplace, these Best & Brightest winners have already made an impact at their places of business and in our community. They are an important component of what makes the Midlands so special, both as a place to do business and live. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to the Columbia area.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, Columbia Business Monthly will honor the Best & Brightest with an awards ceremony at the Palmetto Club, 1231 Sumter St. in Columbia. Tim Pecoraro of Uphill Strategies will be the keynote speaker.


 Laura Bayne
Age 34
Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs | S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

When I was 16, my family doctor asked me what career I wanted to pursue. Upon hearing my preference for non-profit communications, she said, “Well, you’ll get tired of eating ramen noodles eventually.”
 
To this day, I’ve never had a bite of ramen, and I’ve never lost focus on the importance of communication in the public sector. Whether explaining the need for the REAL ID bill to legislators or speaking as a panelist at a town hall meeting, I love to make government more accessible. Every problem is a puzzle, and when I’m called about a constituent issue, I tackle the challenge of assembling all the pieces needed to provide an answer. I’ve been fortunate to have leaders invest in me professionally throughout my career, from the boss who first taught me the ropes at the State House to the boss who hired me for my current job while I was visibly pregnant. Their trust has meant more to me than I can say.
 
While most of my non-work hours are spent with my three daughters (ages 5, 2 and 3 months) and husband, I also enjoy giving back through the Junior League, Eastminster Presbyterian and mentoring programs.


 Gary A. Bethea
Age 35
Owner and Dentist | Bethea Family Dentistry

During my six years as an associate dentist, I would take days off work to go speak to hundreds of students and young adults at various schools and churches around the state about the importance of education and living a purpose-driven life. 

I provided free dental services at Christ Medical Center, Dental Access Day and the WellPartners Children’s Dental Clinic in Richland County. I spent a lot of time with my family and was heavily involved with my church. All these things gave me a sense that I did not need to start my own office. Not having any business experience also played a role in me continuing to remain an associate.

But after overcoming the fear of the unknown and realizing that I had become too comfortable, I took a leap of faith and started the process of opening my own dental office. It was a lot of prayer and hard work, but Bethea Family Dentistry became a reality in May 2018. In just one year, the practice has grown exponentially. 

I continue to speak and volunteer, but now I also inspire many others who see my journey and understand that my mission is deeper than dentistry.

I am honored to be selected for this award. Glory to God.


 Kimberly Snipes
Age 35
Young Lawyers Division & Diversity Coordinator  | South Carolina Bar

I am a proud Claflin University and Columbia College graduate, having obtained my bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership. 

My initial plan was to be the next Oprah Winfrey, but it appears that God has other plans!   

Having spent most of my professional career in nonprofits, I’ve accepted that it’s my destiny. As I’ve grown personally and professionally, so has my love for philanthropy and civic engagement.  For the past almost five years, I’ve worked at the South Carolina Bar Association, where I primarily lead the diversity efforts and oversee the Young Lawyers Division.

Outside of work, I’m a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I’m also actively involved with Family Shelter and serve as a member of the Homeless No More board. Last, but certainly not least, I am a proud wife to my husband Dominique and mother to Noah (5), Isabella (3) and Isaiah (arriving September 20, 2019!).


 Joseph McCall
Age 31
Owner | Three Weekend

I came to Columbia by way of Long Island, N.Y. The younger of two brothers, I come from a line of family values, hard work and leadership. These qualities have given me the tools I’ve needed to survive in the cutthroat industry of nightlife and entertainment. 

I began my career in 2011 as a promoter in Columbia’s party scene. While in this role, I was also a supervisor at a Fortune 500 company where my team was recognized nationally as leading in quality. In 2016, however, I ended my corporate career and went into business for myself. 

After several years of developing and promoting, in 2018 my business partners and I opened The Weekend, a local bar, lounge and restaurant in Columbia’s northeast area. In addition to this venture, I now oversee talent showcases for emerging artists and work closely with promoters, DJs and hosts.  

My overall goal is to build a legacy through consulting, promoting, digital marketing and ownership. 


 Angela Pillsbury
Age 35
Director, Operational Effectiveness | Colonial Life

I have lived in the Midlands since 2013, when I relocated to Columbia for an opportunity at Colonial Life, a leading provider of workplace benefits. As director of operational effectiveness, I drive transformational initiatives to increase customer satisfaction and retention. In this role I lead cross-functional teams to define opportunities, re-engineer business processes and partner with IT to implement technology solutions. 
 
Strong advocates and mentors have played an influential role in my career. I do my best to pay it forward by mentoring others to help them develop professionally. I have been honored to participate in professional development opportunities myself, including Leadership Columbia in 2017 and Colonial Life’s Women’s Professional Network.
 
Giving back to the community is extremely important to me. I am passionate about enriching our community through live symphonic music, and work with an incredible group of leaders on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Philharmonic. I also serve on the Philharmonic’s Strategic Planning Committee, Tasting Notes Committee and Silent Auction Committee. I am also vice president of the Executive Council. 
 
In my personal life, I enjoy traveling and spending time with my husband Kevin and our daughter Evelyn.


 Vincent Schiano
Age 33
Vice President and Senior Market Supervision Manager | Merrill Lynch

To be honest, I never thought I would end up back in Columbia after college. I’m a native but I attended Clemson University for both undergrad and graduate school, so it’s a bit ironic to be back in Gamecock nation. When I look at my life now, there isn’t any other place I’d rather be. 

I’ve been back in Columbia for four years while continuing my career in finance with Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. While it was the job that brought me back, I met my fiancée here, have become involved in the community and have had opportunities to help people grow and develop their businesses. 

My family has been in the restaurant business with Schiano’s Olde Tyme Pizza Restaurant for nearly 40 years. The business grew as Columbia embraced us, and I learned the power of a strong network at a young age. 

Much of what I’ve been able to accomplish in my life comes from connecting people. I’ve been a living organ donor, a mentor to professional athletes, a business owner, a student of finance and more. Everything I’ve achieved is because of another great person. My network started and continues here in Columbia, and I hope to be a steward of business development in this community for years to come. 


 Taylor Wilks
Age 28
Sales Manager | Experience Columbia SC

As someone who was born and raised in the Lexington area, Columbia has always held a special place in my heart. I love my city and actually accepted my job with Experience Columbia SC in March 2014, two months before I graduated from Clemson—go Tigers!—with my degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. 

Five years in, I consider myself extremely fortunate to live my dream of working for a destination marketing organization, especially in my hometown! Working here has opened so many doors for me as I travel around the country, building relationships with meeting planners and bringing their events to Columbia. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with all of the surrounding chambers, different professional organizations and volunteer for multiple events (like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this past March). I can’t put into words what it means to me to hear tourists walking by and talking about how great Columbia is and all there is to do here.

Lastly, I encourage you all to get out and experience something new in your city. Have a staycation at Hotel Trundle, a rooftop drink at Hendrix and go for a scenic stroll along the Riverwalk. As for me, you can find me playing trivia at a local bar, sipping my favorite Cantina 76 margarita or listening to live music at The Senate.


 Leanna Lee  
Age 35
Director of Sales | Graduate Columbia

Since childhood, my mother has always said that I’ve never met a stranger. After accepting the job as director of sales at the Inn at USC (soon to be Graduate Columbia,) I made it my mission to immerse myself in downtown Columbia life. 

In addition to being the face of the hotel, I am proud to represent other organizations as well; currently, I am the Columbia Chamber Diplomat of the Year. I also enjoy being a part of Meeting Professionals International, Committee of 100 and Columbia Bridal Associates. I am also heavily involved in and very passionate about the Carolinas Chapter of NOAH-the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation.  

When the working day ends, you can find me chasing my two children, Harper (5) and Garrett (4) with my husband Jonathon. When we are not at ballet or soccer, you can bet we are at the Fireflies games, the Riverbanks Zoo or watching Florida Gator sports.


 Ashley Graham
Age 30
Senior Health Physics Specialist | Dominion Energy

It is important to me to continuously learn, be challenged, and actively contribute to the body of science. I’ve traveled the country to research and study chemistry, electrical engineering, medical physics and cancer treatment principles.

Holding a bachelor's in physics and a master's in transportation from South Carolina State University, I began my professional journey in 2013 as a project manager with an environmental agency. 

Columbia became my home in 2014, and as a senior health physics specialist, I have the unique opportunity to promote excellence and creativity through the application of radiation protection and supporting procurement and budgetary needs. My specialty is the proper management and shipment of radioactive waste, and ensuring regulatory compliance and safety.

The significance of serving others was instilled in me as a core value and remains a part of my moral compass. I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and a recent graduate of Leadership Columbia, where I serve on the Alumni Association Board. I blaze my own trail by doing the work. 

My passion is forging pathways for young women in STEM fields and instructing young scholars as they prepare for graduate school and their professional domains. As a former Miss SCSU, I am a pageant consultant, coach and workshop facilitator within my community.


 Kevin Cupree
Age 19
Entrepreneur, Model, Actor

After realizing my passion and love for animals, it led me to create my first business, K-9 IFIND at age 8. K-9 IFIND is a business that locates specific dog breeds for clients. In 2012, the Auntie Karen Foundation named me its Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2016, I was a finalist in South Carolina’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. I have been encouraged to fulfill my dream in veterinary medicine as I now attend Newberry College.

I was discovered via Instagram, which led to my modeling and acting career as I have traveled around the world chasing that dream. I have often said; I believe the future belongs to those that believe in the creativity of their wildest dreams. In June 2019, Hot 103.9 named me a future leader of South Carolina. My biggest project is yet to come but can be expected in October 2019.

I am a member of St. Peter Baptist Church in Irmo. I have strong faith and a very supportive family. I know that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me.


 Benjamin Gooding
Age 32
Associate | Robinson Gray Stepp & Laffitte, LLC

I grew up in Evans, Ga., just outside of Augusta. I attended the University of Georgia for my undergraduate degree and the University of South Carolina School of Law for my law degree.  After graduation, I was blessed to serve as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable H. Bruce Williams at the S.C. Court of Appeals, and after two years at the court, I began work at my current firm.

As a senior associate attorney at Robinson Gray, my practice focuses on appellate advocacy, professional negligence and commercial litigation. I am thankful to work at a firm that has given me so many tremendous opportunities to work on complex legal issues and mentored me through the start of my legal career.
 
My wife and I got married in Columbia in 2013, and our family has called it home ever since. I currently serve on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia and the S.C. Wildlife Federation. I also serve as council member of the S.C. Bar Association’s Trial and Appellate Advocacy Section and actively participate in the Young Lawyers Division.


 Shonda N. Davis
Age 35
CEO | Davis & Co.

Shonda N. Davis is a 35-year-old mother of two boys and a native of Columbia. Her upbringing in Soda City is a vibrant and unique one. As a child, she lived on the Benedict College campus as her single mother worked full-time as a resident dorm director while pursuing her master’s of social work at the University of South Carolina. This exposure at a young age taught Davis the importance of hard work, dedication and perseverance despite all odds.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Davis enrolled in college but quickly learned it wasn’t her desired path. She relocated to Miami, Fla., and there she worked in sales and nightlife at local businesses in the downtown district and South Beach areas. It was then she realized entrepreneurship was something she wished to accomplish.

In 2012 after returning to Columbia, Davis along with partner Cierra L. Thomas founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DACS, Inc. This organization focused its efforts on empowering women while meeting the needs of underserved communities. In 2014 after the success of DACS, Inc., Davis was inspired to launch her own public relations and marketing company, PR by Davis & Co., now known as Davis & Co. Davis represents a client roster of night clubs, DJ’s, promoters, models, personalities and other local business owners, from lawyers to realtors. She specializes in public relations, marketing, major event logistics, brand development and management. 

Davis later developed The Good Group Company. These companies, together with partners and clients, have developed and managed trailblazing projects while employing black students and young professionals.


 Erin Curtis
Age 34
Operations Director | Soda City

Columbia is a friendly city for people with great ideas and a strong work ethic. If you can dream it and execute it, you can find success. This is the quality that has attracted me back to Columbia on more than one occasion and why the city continues to engage my creative senses.

Soda City Market was and is a great idea, modeling one of our city’s best executions of new localism. I find my work incredibly fulfilling, as it allows me to acquire new skills and solve unique challenges, while also caring about the whole of people’s lives and moving our city forward.

Beyond Soda City, I strive to maintain my community involvement through volunteerism. I’m the co-event director for the Gervais Street Bridge Dinner, an annual fundraising event supporting five local charities. I volunteer at Transitions homeless shelter with Midtown Fellowship, and in the Prisma Health NICU as part of their new baby “hugger” program sponsored by Huggies. You’ll also spot me in Midtown’s production booth on Sundays where I serve as a sound engineer.


 Patrick Olson
Age 31
Senior Product Owner | Colonial Life 

Born and raised in South Carolina, and having called the Midlands home since 2012, I am extremely grateful for the business community and young professionals that are moving our city forward.  

After graduating from Clemson University—go Tigers!—I spent several years with Bank of America in various project management and technology roles. In 2016 I completed my masters of business administration from the University of South Carolina and joined Colonial Life. In my current role as a senior product owner, I am responsible for understanding our customers’ needs and delivering innovative technology solutions to improve their experiences with our company. 

Outside of work, I serve as the chair for United Way of the Midlands’ Financial Stability Council, help lead our City Year Team Champion’s program and volunteer with Radius Church in Lexington. I am also a proud graduate of the Leadership Columbia Class of 2018. Most importantly, I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my wife Andrea and our almost two-year-old daughter Margaret. 


 Kiosha Boyles
Age 31
Marketing Coordinator | Richland School District One

A Columbia native, I am a proud Richland One graduate and Columbia College alumna. I received my master’s degree in mass communication from the University of South Carolina. While at UofSC, I created a blog on digital marketing that led businesses to seek my expertise on building their digital presence. This began my career as a marketing consultant. Over 75 nonprofits, colleges, businesses and influencers have benefited from my marketing strategies or management.

Fast forward to 2017, when I began my role as the marketing coordinator for Richland One. One of my biggest accomplishments to date has been leading the district’s rebranding initiative which included establishing comprehensive brand identity across 52 schools and centers and over 60 administrative departments. As marketing coordinator, I develop and execute strategic marketing campaigns to help tell the district’s story and promote the many opportunities available for students and staff in Richland One. 

In the Columbia community, I have served on the boards of Leadership Columbia, American Advertising Federation of the Midlands, Columbia Museum of Art’s Friends of African-American Art and Culture and the Midlands Housing Trust Fund, among others. My most important role in life is being a wife to my husband Darryl and mom to our son Grayson. We enjoy witnessing and supporting our city’s growth, and we are proud to call Columbia home.


 Alex Grant
Age 25
Producer, New and Creative Media | University of South Carolina Athletics

When I was a freshman in high school, I made my first real video. It was a tribute to my grandfather, the late Rev. Willie J. Nelson. It wasn’t much, but it helped me process what was happening. To my surprise, it also gave others some comfort and even closure. I had no idea what God had in store. 

A few years later I came to the University of South Carolina, where I was met by people who were ready to invest in me and teach me the skills I needed to reach my fullest potential. The last six seasons with the Gamecocks have been an absolute blast. College football, Final Fours, national championships—it never gets old. It's an awesome privilege to live these moments with the people on the other side of the lens. My goal every day is to continue to master the art of sharing moments that are worth never forgetting. 

Having someone document your career on and off the playing field is never easy. I’m very thankful to the coaches and athletes who have allowed me in on their journeys. I do my best to never betray that trust. To the incredibly talented group of content creators I work with every day, thank you for always pushing me to be better. Lastly to my family, friends and mentors— thank you for your unwavering support. 

I’m extremely honored and grateful to receive this recognition from Columbia Business Monthly. I recognize that everything I’ve been able to do is because of God and the village he’s placed around me. 


 Michael Jackson
Age 32
Research/Budget Analyst | S.C. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee

Growing up in a rural town, I established strong core values early on which were taught to me by my community. The most influential value was that life is not always what you are able to accomplish each day, but is more about the impact you can make in the long run.

My first professional opportunity to make a true impact was through the South Carolina GEAR UP grant, where I served as program manager at the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. During my time as program manager, I was able to humbly provide academic support services to more than 3,000 students in underrepresented areas across the state. This position allowed me to view and value a child’s education as a fundamental solution to ending generational poverty. 

In December 2018 I was blessed with the opportunity to work for the S.C. House of Representatives as a research/budget analyst for the Ways and Means Committee. With this position, my passion for change and long-term community impact continues to grow.

I married my wonderful wife Hilary (Moore) Jackson in April 2014. We have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter named Norah and currently live in the Forest Acres area.


Billy Hogge
Age 30
Vice President | Screwmatics of S.C., Inc.

I live in Pageland, a small town located on the state line of South and North Carolina. After attaining a bachelor of science degree from Wingate University, I became the business development manager of Screwmatics and later took on the role of vice president. Screwmatics is a family-owned and -operated business that manufactures machined component parts for various industries. 

In addition to my professional work, I serve as vice-chair for the Pageland Chamber of Commerce and vice chair for the Chesterfield County Board of Economic Development. My 12 years of experience as a private pilot has allowed me to volunteer on the Pageland Airport Advisory Board, where I serve as chairman.

I also sing for various churches and retreats across the state. I look forward to continuing the commitment I have to family, business and the community. 


 Amanda Grover
Age 34
Philanthropy Coordinator | AFLAC

In 2007, I graduated from the College of Charleston. While attending I found my passion for giving back to the community and fell in love with the idea of being a change agent. Since moving to Columbia in 2009, I have become involved in many great organizations. Currently I serve on the advisory board for Habitat and on the LRADAC Foundation Board.

I began my career with Aflac in 2010, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work for a company that cares so much about its people and also our community. Connecting with our community and working to make a difference is extremely important to me. Fortunately for me, I can do this through my work and also by volunteering.  

Outside of work, I can be found exploring outdoors with my husband Don, son Arlo and my golden doodle Wells.

I am honored and humbled to be recognized by Columbia Business Monthly along with so many of my peers in the Midlands. 


 Ashley Johnson
Age 31
Attorney | Robinson Gray Stepp & Laffitte, LLC

While I was in undergrad, I had the good fortune to secure a work-study job at the University of South Carolina School of Law as a student assistant. During my freshman year, Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court presided over a moot court competition, which I was blessed with the opportunity to observe. That experience solidified my desire to attend law school.
 
After graduating from law school, I had the honor of serving as a judicial clerk for the Honorable DeAndrea Benjamin. I presently work at Robinson Gray, where I defend employers, insurance carriers and third-party administrators in workers’ compensation claims throughout South Carolina.
 
Columbia is my home. I have been afforded the opportunity to serve on the City of Columbia’s Development Design Review Commission. I am a member of the Junior League of Columbia, and also volunteer with Junior Achievement, where I relish the opportunity to spend time with Columbia’s future. I also serve on the board of the Whitmore School, which is an online high school that provides a creative opportunity for students who desire an alternative to a traditional brick-and-mortar school. 

Lastly, through the Young Lawyers Division of the South Carolina Bar Association, I co-chair the Community Law Week Committee, which strives to expose the practice of law to the community at large and provides opportunities for lawyers to get involved in their community.
 
In my downtime, I enjoy spending time with my husband Sam and our puppy Bates, a goldendoodle.


 Mark Scriven
Age 31
Senior Manager | Elliott Davis

After growing up in Irmo and attending Dutch Fork High School, I moved with my family to Pittsburgh, where I attended college and began my career as a CPA with PricewaterhouseCoopers. After spending a number of years with PwC, my wife Whitney and I were excited to return to Columbia. I transitioned to Elliott Davis where I am currently a senior manager in our financial services practice. I am fortunate to work with clients throughout the Southeast, which allows me to see a lot of the great state of South Carolina.
 
Since returning to Columbia, I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with friends and becoming more involved in the community. I am a recent graduate of Leadership Columbia (Class of 2019—best class ever), a member of the Board of Directors at The Cooperative Ministry and involved with United Way’s Young Leaders Society. While Whitney and I love to travel and spend time at the beach, we have been excited to stay close to home this summer and spend time with our 5-month-old son.


 Madison McLemore
Age 32
Senior Prosthetist | Columbia Hanger Clinic

A native of Columbia, I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2008 and went to graduate school at California State University Dominguez Hills Orthotic and Prosthetic Education Program in 2010. I attained my orthotics certification in 2018.  

I’ve been practicing at the clinic for nine years, and I also attend Veterans Affairs and vocational rehabilitation clinics in order to collaborate with other local prosthetic and orthotic vendors to make customized solutions for our patients. I enjoy working for the largest prosthetics and orthotics company in the nation, as it allows for access to the most innovative technologies and experienced clinicians to improve the lives of my patients. 

I attribute my success to having an open ear for my patients and working with an extensive team on each case. I have a passion for my rewarding profession and enjoy improving the lives of those in need of my services throughout the Midlands. When I am not “fixing arms and legs” as my daughter would say, I am a wife and mother to two beautiful girls. Being from Columbia, I love to watch my girls grow up in our wonderful city!


 Stephan Riley
Age 34
Audit Director | Barb & Company, P.A.

Although my career has occasionally taken me away from Columbia, this city has called me back time and time again. After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 2007, I began my career in public accounting in Charleston. I moved back to Columbia in 2009 to work for a local firm, but soon ventured to Washington D.C. to work for a Big 4 accounting firm from 2010-2014. At that point I felt a need to return to Columbia, and have been here ever since.

It is important to me to remain involved in the community I care so much about, and since 2015 I have served as board treasurer for a local not-for-profit organization called Turning Pages. The mission of Turning Pages is to change the lives of Midlands residents by improving their skills in reading, math and English language proficiency.
 
Barb & Company, P.A., is a full-service accounting firm, offering financial statement audit and assurance services, as well as tax return preparation and consulting for individuals and businesses alike. It is vital for business owners to have a reputable firm to stand behind their financial statements, and we relish the opportunity to offer sound advice to enable our clients to reach their business goals.
 
My wife Jessie and my son Connor are my inspiration to be the best CPA I can be for this community. 


Chynna Phillips, MSW, MPH 
Age 29
Research and Policy Manager | Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina

In my role as research and policy manager, I help to advance the Sisters of Charity Foundation’s public policy and advocacy work, bringing awareness to systems-level poverty drivers. 

Currently, I lead the South Carolina Statewide Kinship Care Council, which raises awareness for kinship caregivers, and offers both policy and practice recommendations to state elected officials and community leaders. I also serve the community as an advisory board member for the S.C. Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation, national advisory group member for Generations United and a member of the Columbia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I was also appointed by Mayor Steve Benjamin to chair of the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee for the City of Columbia.

I am a proud graduate of Xavier University, where I received my bachelor of arts in sociology, and the University of South Carolina where I obtained my master of public health with an emphasis on health service, policy and management and master of social work. I am nurtured by my amazing husband, sustained by my village and motivated by my son. It is an honor to be included among such accomplished and deserving individuals by Columbia Business Monthly’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under. To my village, I say that this recognition is a win for all of us, Ubuntu: “I am because we are.”


Jamie Barton 
Age 29
Project Manager | Dominion Energy

I grew up in Lexington and from an early age I was interested in building things and finding out how things worked. I inherited an aptitude for all things mechanical from my father and grandfather. That interest led me to seek a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina. Upon graduation, I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity in the energy industry, working for Carolina Gas Transmission.

While working in energy, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the development and construction of major growth projects across the East Coast, including the largest construction projects in the company’s history in South Carolina and West Virginia, totaling almost $900 million. These projects have provided critical energy sources allowing communities and businesses to grow and thrive.

In our community, I have helped develop, and am chairman of, USC’s School of Engineering Young Alumni Board. Additionally, I’m proud to help contribute as a member of the American Red Cross Board of Directors for Central S.C.


Ashley Powell
Age 33
Assistant County Administrator  | Richland County Government

I was sketching on La Rambla del Raval in Barcelona, when I first came to understand my passion for people and place. After studying Urban Design at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, I knew I wanted incorruptible leadership and the cultivation of place to be the cornerstones of my work. Since coming to Richland County in 2014, I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to realize these desires. 
 
I‘ve served the capital county in many capacities and have been at the forefront of many critical initiatives from disaster recovery to Richland Renaissance. While I am proud of my work, the greatest reward is in utilizing these positions as a means to effect change. Now, as assistant county administrator, I am grateful to lead at this level and to oversee and deploy resources in ways that improve the quality of life for more than 411,000 citizens. 
 
I owe this honor, in large part, to my fantastic tribe, comprising family, friends and mentors—too many to be named—who believe in, encourage and keep me accountable to my commitment to leading with integrity. Their guidance allows me to remain focused, keeping in mind that I am a public servant and that it is the work of moving people, places and systems toward excellence to which I am called.