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Columbia Business Monthly

S.C Women in Business 2021

Tenacity. Drive. Ambition. Empathy. Authenticity.

These thirty-five women have it all and more, and their passion for their work has led them to top positions in a variety of fields, from technology to law, art conservation to accounting. Many have taken the entrepreneurial leap, pushing out of their comfort zones to create something of their own.  

Covid-19 presented challenges, but these women persevered, and some even managed to create growth during 2020 and into 2021.

After reviewing a stellar group of nominees, Integrated Media Publishing is proud to honor these women - 29 Women in Business winners and six Women to Watch, who are just beginning to make their mark. Their stories offer lessons and motivation as we all consider what’s next.

Annie Andrews

Civil Rights and Personal Injury Trial Attorney

Steinberg Law Firm

Annie Andrews spent seven years as a trial attorney for the Charleston County Public Defender’s Office before stepping into her current role at Steinberg Law Firm, where she specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect, civil rights, police brutality and personal injury.

“When you see a problem, instead of asking why no one has addressed it, ask yourself how you can.”

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

When setting goals, do not think small. Do not limit your goals to what others think is attainable for you. Your goal should be big enough to scare you a little - and should excite you, motivate you, bring meaning to your life.

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

In 2017, I represented youth charged with criminal offenses. My kids, as I called them, were often jailed within the Charleston County Juvenile Detention Center, a dank, dilapidated jail built in the ‘60s and never renovated. Walking into juvie felt like traveling to a third world country. … Children were confined to squalid cells 18-24 hours each day, sometimes for months, often forced to sleep on the floor due to overcrowding. I recall with absolute clarity a 14-year-old boy charged with running away who looked me in the eyes, begging that I free him from those deplorable conditions. “This place should be shut down,” he said. “No one should be treated like this.” He was right; we had to do better for kids, though for decades no one had demanded it. Last year, I filed a civil rights lawsuit with Nelson Mullins challenging the inhumane conditions. Within days, the facility shut its doors, ending decades of inhumane treatment for kids.

Jennifer Belshe


Novus Advisors

Jennifer Belshe co-founded Novus Advisors in 2011, and serves as a principal, investment advisor, and a member of the firm’s investment committees.

“I have learned the importance of adaptability. A great leader is not afraid of change, and those leaders who adapt well have a competitive edge.”

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is a combination of recognizing the strengths in others and inspiring a group of individuals to work toward a shared purpose.

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

As a female in the largely male-dominated investment management world, I faced many hurdles. I reached a point in corporate America where I was told I could not go any higher in my company – my glass ceiling – so I took that “no” and made it my catalyst for success. I left the stability of my corporate job to pursue my dreams. I joined a small independent investment firm, a 100% commission job, and worked incredibly hard in building my business. Less than two years later, I launched an investment firm, Novus Advisors, that celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2021.

Dorothea Bernique

Founder/Executive Director

Increasing H.O.P.E. Financial Training Center

Since 2003, Increasing H.O.P.E (Helping Others Prosper Economically) has provided financial training educational opportunities to the local community. The nonprofit financial training center staff is passionate about helping individuals and families become educated, enriched and empowered in the area of personal finance.

“I define leadership as the opportunity to serve others. Leadership is not so much about yourself as it is about how you impact others through service to them.”

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

I see life as an adventure, so I manage fear by doing adventurous things like jumping from airplanes, skydiving, and zip lining. If I had to name a greatest fear … it would be the fear of not fulfilling my purpose. I’m fortunate enough to know exactly what I’ve been put here to do … Increase HOPE in others. Serving others through Increasing HOPE is a privilege and an honor. I’m humbled every day to have been entrusted with the care of others through service. I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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

Hope is an anchor. There is always hope and I will hope continually and praise Him more and more. Faith and doing the work go hand in hand. You must be willing to do the work while you walk out your dreams by faith!

Hayley Bowers

Vice President

M.B. Kahn Construction

M. B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc. provides a variety of construction services to all market sectors across the Southeast.

“I’ve learned to listen well because people truly want to be heard and supported, whether it be for a small project, a major goal, or just in our daily lives.”

What makes you an effective leader?

I think my greatest strength is my persistence and determination with complicated tasks, which can seem impossible at first; I came from a family of sharecroppers and mill workers, so hard work is in my DNA.

Dr. Kendria Cartledge


Vista Vision Optometric Center

Cartledge, a Columbia native, earned her Doctorate of Optometry from Southern College of Optometry in 2010. She purchased Vista Vision, offering eye examinations, optical and contact fittings and preventative care and treatment, in 2019.

“The one thing that I have learned over the years that has served me well is to work hard and stay humble … I have never forgotten my roots, always remembered the sacrifices others made for me, and I have always paid it forward by giving back to the community which has given so much to me.”

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is an acquired skill in which an individual has the ability to motivate and inspire people to achieve a common goal. In business, an effective leader should display several characteristics such as: self-confidence, level-headedness, strong communication and management skills, and perseverance. Leadership involves the ability to delegate tasks, but also knowing the processes within your organization and having the willingness to assist as needed. In business an effective leader not only cares about their employees as it relates to work, but wants their employees to develop and flourish in all aspects of their life.

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

My greatest professional accomplishment to date is the purchase of my private practice Vista Vision Optometric Center in October 2019. Purchasing the practice took a leap of faith to give up the guaranteed weekly income I was receiving as an independent contractor optometrist. Five months after the purchase of my practice, the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, which forced me to essentially close my office for two months. Being able to successfully navigate my practice through a pandemic has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience that has caused me to further develop my business acumen.

Lindsay Caulder

Senior Vice President of Human Resources

World Acceptance Corporation

Founded in 1962, Greenville-based World Acceptance Corporation is a people-focused finance company that provides personal installment loan solutions and personal tax preparation and filing services to over 1 million customers each year. 

“Learning to be flexible allows me to be a key team member and embrace a culture that is exciting and nimble.”

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

A former boss paved the way for my career in human resources. He was an excellent motivator who talked a lot about identifying talent in others, embracing new and different experiences, and pushing people in the right way to be their best selves. I started at that company as a corporate recruiter and spent the next 11 years developing the HR leadership skills and experience that prepared me to now lead the efforts at World Finance and oversee more than 3,500 team members across 16 states. I strive to embody these same qualities in my current role.

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

I think HR often has the reputation of being a naysayer or closed-minded, but flexibility has been instrumental to success in my role. It has allowed me to really connect with people in a way that is not only personally rewarding but also helps me understand what is important to everyone at the company. Building these relationships in a way that establishes trust helps foster new ideas that can benefit the team and the business.

Shennice Cleckley


Smart Cookie

Cleckley focuses on helping Christian female entrepreneurs find success in the “sweet spot’’- owning a business, being present with family and serving.  

“The best advice I have received is there is no such thing as a self-made person. Somewhere at some time, there was somebody who helped you. If you are at the top and you’re lonely, then you didn’t do your job correctly. We cannot function as an island. Help someone else on your rise to the top so you can be there together.”

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

My greatest fear is failure to launch. I don’t want to be at the end of my life or, heck, in the present time of my life and say, “I wish I would have...” I manage fear with three simple steps: acknowledging the feeling, praying for strength from God, then do it scared.

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

I’ve learned that setting and following core values will keep you authentic. As you grow and scale in business, it is easy to become misguided due to a lack of clarity in your mission. When you establish core values, you protect your integrity and authenticity.

Olivia Cooley


Olivia Cooley Group at Keller Williams Realty

Olivia Cooley Group opened in 2015 as a single agent, and has since grown to 15 full-time employees. Since its founding, the group has sold more than $113 million in real estate.

“The one thing that I have learned that has served me best over the years is that consistency beats talent. I have seen many of my competitors have the talent to succeed, but lack the consistency to succeed long term.”

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

The best advice that I have received in business is that what you focus on expands. For example, when I started reading five-star Google reviews at my team meetings, we began to get more five-star Google reviews. Another example is when I started focusing heavily on the culture of our company, we began to attract higher quality candidates for positions. This rule applies to my mindset as well. When I focus on positivity I am more positive and perceive things (even challenges) in a positive light. What happens if I focus on negativity?

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

My greatest professional accomplishment was doubling my business in 2020 during a pandemic. I also had my first child and took an 8 week maternity leave during this time. I realized in 2020 that anything is possible, and that I truly can create my life by design. Now, in 2021 we are on track to increase our business again and serve 350 families in our community. I am leading this multimillion-dollar real estate business while wearing my infant to work almost every day. It is very empowering, and I believe women can do it all!

Marion Crawford

Founder & CEO


Crawford is a woman-owned full-service marketing and branding agency in Greenville. Marion Crawford, who founded the company in 2010, has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and communications.

“I am on a continual quest for knowledge, and I believe this hunger for learning has served me well throughout my life. We must constantly look ahead and create forward momentum.”

How do you define leadership?

A leader is defined as someone who has followers. To keep those followers, a leader must cultivate themselves, continually working to be their best. They must be committed to their team, ensuring they have the tools to thrive and maximize their potential. A leader must communicate a vision for the future and inspire the team to commit their time and talent to achieving that vision. We all want to be a part of something significant. Leaders help their teams understand the significance of their work so that they will persevere, despite the inevitable challenges along the way.

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

Crawford’s 10th anniversary in 2020 was a significant milestone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65 percent of businesses fail during the first 10 years. The fact that we are growing and thriving after 10 years is a testament to the talented team we have built, the amazing clients we have and the meaningful work we do every day. Our ability to help organizations like Michelin, United Community Bank, Prisma Health and University of West Georgia (just to name a few) achieve their very important goals is an accomplishment of which I am extremely proud.

Ronda Dean

President & CEO

Afaxys Pharma

Afaxys Pharma, based in Charleston, is the No. 1 provider of oral and emergency contraceptives to U.S. clinics. She joined Afaxys in 2008 after more than 20 years of experience in leadership of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the health care industry.

“Leadership is about using your experience and position to empower others to achieve their potential.”

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

While he wasn’t my mentor, I had the privilege of interviewing Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion on Roe v. Wade. During our discussion he shared that what influenced his opinion was that his experience had shown him that women – unfairly – were not given the same right to privacy about health care decisions as men. His perspective has inspired how I view contraceptive access and the work I’ve done since. I founded Afaxys because I believe that access to sexual and reproductive health care should be a right, not a privilege. Ultimately, ensuring access to care is about patients’ ability to make private decisions about their own destiny.

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

Afaxys was founded to solve a public health crisis and because I have experienced firsthand the importance of community health centers, I understood the consequences of failure. More than 30 million Americans depend on community health care providers every year, and many struggle to access contraceptives because of unpredictable pricing or supply. Without affordable and reliable access to these products, providers are not able to serve their patients, or they have to change a patient’s chosen method of birth control if it becomes too expensive. All of this is disruptive for the patient and could result in an unintended pregnancy. I’m humbled that my company has been able to make a difference for countless patients by making access to affordable contraception possible for all patients, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic capability.

Heather Eason


SELECT Power Systems

Heather Eason is the CEO of SELECT Power Systems, which helps utilities and engineering firms work to keep power systems sustainable, secure, reliable and affordable.

“I carry the weight of knowing that my decisions can affect my employees. If I make a bad strategic move, I can not only put my employees’ jobs on the line, but their ability to provide for their families. I take that very seriously, and it keeps me up at night. I manage that fear by knowing that I have evaluated all possibilities, analyzed the different outcomes, obtained advice and counsel, and try to make the best possible decisions based on that.”

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

I remember when a younger colleague told me that I was an inspiration to her. That made me realize that I’m not just doing it for me, but I’m doing it for them. From that day forward, I’ve focused on free coaching and mentoring other women in STEM. I always look for ways to support others, lay the groundwork for them, or pull them up behind me. I even started a blog,, to give pieces of wisdom or guidance as I have time.

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

The most important words in any relationship are, “Let it go!” Don’t burn a relationship or die on a hill that is not worth it.

Tiffany Jules Glenn

Human Resources Manager

Husqvarna Group

Husqvarna Group is a global leading producer of outdoor power products for forest, park and garden care. Sustainability is integrated into the business. 

“Webster’s online dictionary defines leadership as the activity of leading. My definition of leadership is more about positive influence than authority. A good leader knows how and when to let others shine, eagerly delegate and share responsibilities. Leadership involves developing beneficial relationships that allow you to use open, honest communication and integrity.”

What makes you an effective leader?

My ability to reach individuals in all walks of life makes me an effective leader. I possess and use daily active listening, empathy, positivity, reliability, patience and team building. This allows me to develop an individualized relationship and enables others to express the desire to willingly participate in both personal and organizational growth.

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

One thing that I have learned that has served me well over the years is to always maintain my strong personal foundation. Always being true to myself - my what, my who and my how. My strong personal foundation is the platform of my life where everything is able to develop and grow - a foundation built on morals, ethics and just being a good person. Remaining consistent with a strong personal foundation has equipped me with resilience, strength, ethics and prosperity.

Dr. Toneka Green

Owner/Educational Consultant

4Green Educational Consulting

Dr. Toneka Green founded 4Green Educational Consulting in 2016 with the aim of working with schools, school districts, early childhood centers, and individual educators to advance student achievement.

“I have been blessed to have several dynamic mentors throughout my career, but the mentor that has been the most influential to my professional career is my mom. My mom has greatly inspired me and helped to shape my professional life. My mom did not achieve the level of education that she desired, due to life circumstances, but she continuously stressed to my sisters and me the importance of a great education. My mom instilled in me the value of hard work, and I have carried this with me throughout my career.”

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

My greatest professional accomplishment is the success of the students and educators that I have served over the years. Watching my former students achieve their academic goals, go off to college, and enter the workforce is so rewarding. My career has also afforded me many opportunities to support other educators. It has been a great pleasure mentoring, coaching, and training other educators in the pursuit of professional growth and advancement.

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

My career in education has taught me so many professional and life lessons. The one thing that I have learned over the years that has served me the most is to place God first in all that I do. As I continue to make God the center of my life, including my career, I am then able to inspire and serve others.

Iris Griffin

VP Power Generation

Dominion Energy

Iris Griffin is vice president of power generation for Dominion Energy, which provides energy to customers in 16 states.

“Leadership isn’t a position. It’s a set of skills and traits. Leaders can be found at all levels of organizations and within our community. They are the humble, honest, empathetic people who seek to help others become their best selves. They use their influence to work with others to achieve results that impact their organizations and communities in a positive manner. The best leaders, in my opinion, are the ones who aim to be servant leaders. They are the people who seek to find ways to develop those around them and create teams with diverse perspectives so that everyone has a voice, and ultimately the best outcomes are achieved.”

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

Never forget your mission. As you move into positions and work on projects within your business, there will be competing decision points where you’ll have to choose a path. If you maintain your focus on the core mission of your business, you’ll have a guiding set of principles that help you select the best option.

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

Be flexible. When I graduated from college, I planned to be a partner in a public accounting firm. Now, I’m vice president of power generation for a utility company. There have been many times during my career where I have been asked to take on projects that were outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully, I had mentors and encouragers along the way who helped me to be confident enough to take on those challenges and to stretch myself. Those opportunities have allowed me to continue to grow and learn new things.

Christy A. Hall

Secretary of Transportation

S.C. Department of Transportation

Hall, an engineer, was confirmed as Secretary of Transportation in 2016 after more than 20 years with the S.C. Department of Transportation. She had previously served as Deputy Secretary for Engineering and Acting Secretary.

“Relationships matter. Working cooperatively to resolve very complex and difficult issues will serve you well in the future.”

How do you define leadership?

I once read that a good leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. I completely agree with that assessment. In my opinion, it is incredibly important that the leader understands their enterprise inside and out, conducts business everyday and in every way to the highest standards and harnesses the power of high performing organizations by providing a clear roadmap for success.

What makes you an effective leader?

The strength, commitment and dedication of the SCDOT staff to the mission of the agency is without a doubt the main reason that I am successful. I am continually impressed and humbled by the SCDOT Team and am incredibly grateful to serve as their Secretary of Transportation.

Additionally, I am blessed to have been able to gain a wide array of experience in the transportation and civil engineering field over the years with SCDOT. This diverse background, coupled with leadership development opportunities and growing up in a family that valued hard work, loyalty and caring for one another, has shaped me into the person I am today.

Heather Hudson


9Round Franchising

Heather Hudson is the co-founder and COO of 9Round Fitness, a full-body kickboxing program headquartered in Simpsonville. It was founded in 2009 and features more than 700 locations in 17 countries.

“I am so much stronger than I often choose to notice. I look back at things I’ve overcome as proof of this when I need it sometimes. I can do this hard thing now because I’ve done something just as hard or harder before. Whenever I feel truly and absolutely overwhelmed, I try to remember this, and it pulls up my britches pretty quickly.”

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

Work on yourself as your first assignment. Any problem you’re having in business starts with an internal one within you. If you’re making poor business choices, it’s likely because you’re not listening to your gut. Why not? What happened to your confidence and self-esteem? You’ll quickly see how all problems start inside your own mind, so work on that first, and you won’t bring those issues to the boardroom. You’ll bring your best self to that table, giving your business its best chance at success. This will be the most tempting thing to NOT do, and make sure you don’t give in to that temptation.

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

I am humbled to know that hundreds of people currently own their own business because of the 9Round name. This to me is the ultimate professional accomplishment, giving that opportunity to others.

Dr. Marjorie Jenkins


University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville

Dr. Marjorie Jenkins is dean of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and chief academic officer for Prisma Health-Upstate.

“In organizations, there is a right leader for the right time for the right reason. If these three factors align, the season during which we lead can be enormously beautiful and bountiful, and we leave an organization better than we found it.”

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

Leadership is a privilege and, at times, a burden. As a mission-driven leader, my greatest fear would be epic failure to do what is needed for my organization to fulfill its mission. I first lean into the fear, acknowledge it, and manage it through my faith. If something needs change and I have influence, I change it. If something is out of my control, I’ll try to mitigate its impact, and if I can do absolutely nothing to impact an outcome, I accept that and support others through the change.

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

One of my favorite quotes is not from a traditional business leader. Instead, it is from David Bowie. “Tomorrow belongs to those who hear it coming.” The business leaders I admire most have the ability to see what is around the next corner or beyond, whether it is opportunity or threat, and prepare for it. It has instilled in me an intuitive ability to appreciate the past, manage the present, and design the future.

Mary Zealy Jenkins

Vice President, Retail Market Manager

TD Bank

Mary Zealy Jenkins manages 12 retail stores for TD Bank in the Columbia and Rock Hill markets.

“I have … learned the importance of ‘paying it forward’ when it comes to mentoring. I encourage more women in leadership roles to serve as mentors to help their younger counterparts navigate challenges in the quest for leadership. It’s key to the success of women in the workplace.”

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

I have been fortunate throughout my career to have strong mentors who have helped guide me in understanding corporate culture and realizing my full potential. Two who stand out are Bobby Blankenship and Michael Kapp. Bobby offered me the opportunity to begin my career in banking in 1985. He taught me that commitment and performing well in your current position would help prepare for future opportunities. Later in my banking career, Michael taught me how to navigate and excel in retail banking.

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

I have learned that leading with humility, honesty, and empathy toward others is key to building stronger relationships and earning the trust of those I work with.

Kristen Jerome

Senior Manager

Bauknight Pietras & Stormer

Bauknight Pietras & Stormer PA is one of the Southeast’s largest accounting and consulting firms, serving corporations, privately held companies, health care providers, startups, nonprofits and individuals. Jerome joined the team in 2010, and focuses on business advisory services and assurance engagements.

“Leading with authenticity has taken me down a path where I find myself doing fulfilling work with people I really enjoy being around. If I can keep that up over the rest of my career, I’ll consider myself a real success.”

What makes you an effective leader? What are you still working on?

Authenticity. I think leadership boils down to relationships and how you influence the people around you. Good relationships start with trust and showing people who you really are. People don’t want to see only the most polished version of you every day - it’s insincere. It’s okay to show you’re passionate about not only your work, but also your family and your hobbies. It’s okay to talk about your strengths AND your struggles. You can bring a quirky sense of humor or offbeat sense of style. Not everyone will like me or get me, but over time I’ve learned I don’t have to impress every single person to find success.

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

Without a doubt, my marriage. I know that isn’t technically a professional accomplishment, but bear with me … my career and anything I have accomplished as an adult are possible because of the partner I have in Brent. He supports and encourages me. His expertise in education and behavior and people in general translates directly to some of the challenges I deal with at work. The weight he carries at home allows me to prioritize my career and our children. The best advice I can give to any young woman is to pick the right partner. Then, don’t bore them with too much accounting talk.

Natalia Johnson

Principal Scientist

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions

Natalia Johnson works at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, a Fluor partnership with Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell. SRNS manages the Savannah River Site, located in south-central South Carolina.

“The idea of ‘To whom much is given, much will be required’ is that we are held responsible to do great things and to do more with what we have been given. If we are blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we use these well to benefit others. I live by this mantra, and my leadership journey is fueled by my commitment to never stop growing and to always stretch myself to do the things that make me most uncomfortable.”

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is definitely a calling and a purpose. It’s being a visionary. It’s the ability to influence, empower, and inspire others. It also takes a certain level of confidence, emotional intelligence, and empathy to be effective. Leadership is being a change agent and pushing past the status quo. It is selfless, and it’s a service to those you lead.

What makes you an effective leader? What are you still working on?

Leadership is my purpose. I’m effective because I understand that every experience in my life was preparing me for this, and I work on it daily, and I seek opportunities that enhance my leadership skills. The ability to lead is a gift, and it should be used to benefit or serve others. I embrace it and immerse myself into my personal development as a servant leader in my organization, in my family, and in my community. … I consistently set professional and personal goals so that I never get comfortable, and I’m passionate about growth and inspiring others to reach their goals. I’m still working on work-life balance. I can tend to be so career-focused and driven that I undervalue the importance of time away to reflect, recharge, and rest.

Tammy Johnson


High Spirits Hospitality

High Spirits Hospitality is the parent company to Liquid Catering, The Old Cigar Warehouse, Bravo1 Protection, and High Spirits Events. Tammy Johnson founded Liquid Catering in 2011, and by 2017 had expanded the company’s hospitality and catering footprint to four companies, including the event security business Bravo1 Protection.

“Leadership is about taking responsibility for a lot of people’s actions, but training them and giving them the power to make sure they wield that responsibility to the best of their ability.”

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

Listening and understanding are two different skills. It’s one thing to listen to what someone is trying to say, but it is more important, and tougher, to understand it. Because by understanding, you are making a decision on how to react.”

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

I think I just faced it with Covid-19. I’m in an industry that relies on events and hiring people to make those events work. I’ve always feared what a disruption of events would look like. In 2020, I saw it.

Sonya Kosta Di Nova

President and CEO

Transcon Trading Co. Inc.

Transcon is an export management company founded in 1979. The company mission is to help U.S. manufacturers open international markets while helping international customers import and distribute U.S.-made products. Kosta Di Nova has extensive experience in international business and is a graduate of the Moore School of Business at UofSC, as well as an adjunct professor.

“Never get complacent! Work relentlessly to bring innovation and improvement in policies, procedures, organizational structures, anywhere you can leave a footprint.”

How do you define leadership?

Having a vision and a strategy to achieve it. Establishing a structure and foundation that you and others can build upon. Taking on the right projects and bringing on the right people. Motivating them, identifying their strengths and nurturing their development. Having courage to take on seemingly impossible tasks, energy to achieve them, passion to bring on others to the journey, and love for what you do and the people with whom you do it.

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

Money comes and goes. It helps but it is truly not the most important thing. People are. Empathy is. Desire, focus, and drive to achieve things bigger than yourself is. To help others is. To have dreams is. To picture the future is. To stay positive is. To be courageous is. To work hard is. To strive to be better is. To have integrity is. To be responsible and reliable is. To believe in yourself and others is!

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

The fact that I was able to transfer some of the knowledge and experience I have accumulated through studies and work to many of the international business major students at the Moore School of Business at UofSC in my 14 years of teaching the intricacies of international trade in its most fundamental functions of exporting and importing, the foundation of international business.

Marie Monroe

Attorney at Law

Merline & Meacham, PA

Marie Monroe provides Merline & Meacham with expertise in estate planning, estate administration, ERISA, welfare plans and non-profit law.

“Never stop learning and always treat people like you want to be treated.”

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

I had the great honor to work with Dave Merline for close to 13 years before his death in 2015. He was a consummate gentleman who loved his job and treated everyone he met with utmost respect. He taught me so much about how to treat people and how to strive for excellence in everything you do.

Ginny Newell

Owner and Lead Conservator

ReNewell Inc. Fine Art Conservation

Since 1983, ReNewell has been offering conservation and restoration of fine art on paper and oil on canvas. The company works with private collectors and museums including Columbia Museum of Art, McKissick Museum and The Johnson Collection.

“I am eternally indebted to my father, C. Morris Newell, who always asked ‘Is that the best you can do?’”

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

The best advice I ever got was from my father, who told me to never take a partner in business. He was a wise and successful man, so I heeded his advice. I started establishing ReNewell, Inc. by following the other advice of, “Promise to deliver and then deliver more than you promised.” And, never let them see you sweat!

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

In 2017 I was asked by the Columbia Museum of Art to restore a 1710 pastel portrait by Henrietta Dering Johnston. She is considered America’s first female artist (1674-1729). The piece had severe and unknown stains on very brittle paper, and was feared a total loss. My treatment was highly successful and the piece now holds a distinguished spot in the CMA’s permanent collection galleries. The curator wrote an article about the piece and to me, he emailed, “Absolutely beautiful. I am impressed.”

Erika Shuff

Reliability 360 Operations Support Manager

Continuous Improvement Manager

Advanced Technology Services Inc.

Advanced Technology Services Inc. helps companies lower manufacturing costs through improved performance and productivity. Shuff, formerly a quality specialist engineer, helps manufacturers optimize factory and asset performance.

“A leader eliminates distractions for the team and always provides recognition and servant leadership. A leader is willing to sacrifice their time and provide their talent to those in need.”

What makes you an effective leader?

Leading by example, allowing my team to innovate without restrictions or boundaries. I zero in on tasks that need completed, delegate or pitch in to help the team out. I work daily to remove roadblocks for my team to be as effective and productive as possible.

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

A book that has inspired me to lead with integrity is the book “The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived” by Admiral William H. McRaven. “I will use my unique talents to inspire others and give them hope that tomorrow will be a better day.”

Sandi Stambaugh

Vice President, Product Management

SYNNEX Corporation

Founded in 1980, SYNNEX Corporation (NYSE: SNX) is an industry leader in IT distribution, providing comprehensive logistics, integration services, and technology solutions to help customers and business partners grow and enhance their customer-engagement strategies.

“One thing I have learned that has served me well over the years is that being an effective leader is not about acting the part and positioning yourself. Being an effective leader is about being authentically yourself and positioning others to succeed.”

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

I am a big believer in the philosophy of doing the things that scare you! Fear is a natural and healthy response to the expanded responsibilities associated with leading a team and a business. Feeling the weight of the decisions we make and the impact they can have on not just the business but on our team (their families, etc.), is a critical part of being an effective and mindful leader. Drawing from that fear and pushing myself outside my comfort zone has helped me grow as a leader and as a person!

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

The best leadership advice I have received in business is to cater to strengths versus weaknesses and to be tough on situations, not people. Applying this to our business and to the way we lead our teams has made a significant difference in our success and to the culture of our organization! I love seeing my team thrive when their business objectives align with their strengths and passions!

Kiara Streater


Extraordinary Headhunters LLC

Extraordinary Headhunters LLC is the fastest growing minority- and woman-owned staffing company in South Carolina. 

“One thing I have learned: your performance and work ethic will determine your destiny in both your professional and personal life.”

How do you define leadership? 

It’s quite simple. I define leadership as an individual who leads by example, and consistently provides coaching and opportunities for all connected to me. Personal integrity and Hall of Fame work ethic is the best definition for my leadership.

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

My greatest fear is overworking and not seizing the moment; this happens far too often in my industry. We are so laser-focused on serving everyone from our family, employees, and clients and we don’t stop to say, “Wow, I set a goal and actually exceeded what I could have ever imagined.” You have to enjoy life and all the benefits that come with working hard and being successful.

Kimberly Tissot

President & CEO

Able South Carolina

Able South Carolina is an organization built on the central concept of self-empowerment. It’s a consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability nonprofit that provides an array of independent living services.

“The best advice someone gave me is simple: Keep your eyes on the goal! I guard our mission and vision greatly which has contributed to our success.”

What makes you an effective leader? What are you still working on?

I’m fortunate to be a person with a disability and represent the same community that I fight so hard for which is my greatest strength. I have a deeper understanding of the barriers that impact the disability community which gives me the ability to develop innovative solutions that will make the lives of all people with disabilities better. I am an ambitious leader and something I continue to work on is patience. I just want to fix everything right now!

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

This is a tough question, but, besides snakes, my greatest fear is uncertainty. I like to know what is going to happen next. I manage this fear in business by making sure I am ahead of what could possibly happen by developing multiple plans for an idea or possible outcomes. If I don’t have a plan for a particular situation, I learn through it by trial and error or by studying the situation greatly to develop a plan.

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

I have a few including: the growth of our organization in the last 11 years (we went from six employees to 53), the positive impact of our work; and our legislative footprint. In particular, in 2017, we led the efforts of passing progressive disability rights legislation, the Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act, which protects the rights of disabled parents.

Susan Zitnick

Director of Operations

Atlas Technologies, Inc.

Atlas Technologies, Inc. is an innovative provider of information technology (IT) solutions to government and industry partners with an expertise in network integration, cybersecurity, software development, engineering, and management. 

“One of my mentors in passing at a meeting said, ‘If you’re stressed, or are feeling the pressure from something looming, or a looming task, you need to DO something. It doesn’t have to be right, but if you don’t do anything, nothing will change. So DO something. Take action.’ I have NEVER forgotten that, and it drives me every day.”

How do you define leadership? 

Leadership is providing direction based on informed decisions, ensuring alignment with team goals, and maintaining commitment to the greater goals and good. I view my role as a servant leader. I remove barriers to those I lead in order to empower them, and to make them successful in their role contributing to our common goals. I have had team members introduce me to people as a “boss” and “above them,” but I don’t view it that way - ever. The way I explain it to them is that we all just have different roles on our team. I can’t do their job, and they may or may not be able to do mine. Sounds like a happy marriage to me!

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

When I entered the defense contracting industry 21 years ago, the thought that I was a woman in a male-dominated industry never crossed my mind. Sure, I suppose it did cross my mind when there wasn’t a line at my bathroom during meeting breaks, but you get the point. I have always simply focused on doing the best job I could. This was instilled in me by every mentor I have had, both female and male, who instilled that leadership, technical skills, and performance alone were the “secret sauce” to success. And what is “success?” To me, “success” is having purpose, in my case equipping our military with the technology they need to succeed, and at the end of the day being able to look into the mirror and feel that you have given your all to that cause.


Pamela Bynoe-Reed

Director of Marketing & Community Affairs/Public Information Officer

Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET)

Bynoe-Reed is responsible for marketing, outreach, governmental relations, third-party members and more for The COMET, which provides local transit service in Richland and Lexington counties. A proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., she was previously manager of marketing and public information for the organization.

“Leadership is producing a legacy; a continued spirit of excellence embodied in people whose lives you’ve touched.”

How do you define leadership?

Leadership sets an example on how to elevate others by being an ebullient “power behind the throne.” Leadership is leveraging the influence of being a servant-leader vs. being an enforcer issuing demands from a bully pulpit. It is not only having the ability to execute, but also having the trust of your team and others who choose to follow your example. Leadership includes listening intently, operating intentionally, and finding that path which enables people to rise to their best and championing them while they do so.

What makes you an effective leader?

I trust my team to work using methods which best help them succeed. Each person’s process is different. Ensuring that my team has all the resources required to be efficient, I empower them to make projects their own and allow them to shine so they feel like they belong. This creates confident, creative team members who are committed to achieving meaningful goals because a powerful human need for them has been satisfied - belonging. When it comes to correction, I work hard on not breaking a person’s spirit during those crucial conversations. I prefer to create teachable moments vs. hurtful ones.

Jennifer Diaby

Founder & CEO

Growth Women’s Prayer Ministry

Growth Women’s Prayer Ministry is an online ministry created to encourage and uplift people on Facebook to spread the gospel.

“What makes me an effective leader is when I see potential in others and help them accomplish their goals to reach a successful outcome.”

How do you define leadership?

I define leadership as one who serves and leads others to bring forth success in their gifts and talents. A person who is a mentor and assists others to accomplish their goals and supports them to fulfill their purpose in life. Leadership is to make a positive impact in our communities and society as a whole.

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

My greatest professional accomplishment is becoming a published author and writing books along with journals to encourage, inspire, and uplift others. I am a bestselling author and I have received several award nominations for my books.

Akira Johnson


Akira Lash Studio

Akira Lash Studio offers a variety of eyelash extensions and other services. Johnson has been an eyelash extensions expert since 2013 and has been licensed with the S.C. Board of Cosmetology since 2010.

“To be a leader you have to guide. The best way to guide is by always doing what’s right even when no one is looking!”

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

Yes, my mother! Not only has she been nurturing and loving my entire life, she taught me the ropes in business. She taught me how to organize my thoughts and turn them into an action plan. She always reminded me to always work with my head up, with a smile!

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

My greatest fear is not leaving a legacy for my three children, Paris, Jason and Shakira. I manage that fear by putting God first, working hard and being consistent!

Cameron Kendrick


Good To Go GVL

Good To Go GVL offers a rotating menu of appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts, with delivery to the metro Greenville area. The business also offers heat-and-serve meals, catering, meal prep and will soon offer grab-and-go options from a brick-and-mortar location.

“Treat people the way that you want to be treated - staff and customers. It is the backbone of what I do!

What makes you an effective leader? What are you still working on?

I try my best to be in tune with each member of my team, knowing their strengths and weaknesses, as well as being in tune with my customers and what they need. Keeping my pulse on my team and the business is a constant exercise that I believe is to the betterment of everyone involved. I am still working on conflict resolution.

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

My mom for sure! She was and is a respected entrepreneur who has never cared what others thought and blazed her own trail. Her confidence is one of many, many qualities that I admire, and her keen business sense is unmatched. She’s a rebel in the best way, and there is no one like her!

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

Look at the business as its own separate person and make decisions about it based on that. What is best for Good To Go? Do that. Is that going to help move the business forward? If not, don’t do that...even if it means hurting someone’s feelings or making you uncomfortable.

Brittany Koester


Azalea Coffee Bar

Koester, who started out with a mobile coffee and cocktail bar, created Azalea Coffee Bar on Devine Street to support women, only sourcing coffee from female-owned producers. The shop offers coffee, tea and signature lattes inspired by influential women.

“You cannot be everything to everyone.”

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

In my first business, I wanted to do it all and to please everyone, but you can’t. You have to define what your business is and focus on that - get really good at that. Your customers/clients are always going to want more from you, but if you pull yourself in too many different directions, you will begin to offer a lot of mediocre services rather than one really amazing service. Know your business.

What one thing have you learned that has served you well?

If you have an idea for a business, you just have to go for it. You can wait your entire life for the “right time” but it will likely never come. I’ve missed so many opportunities because the timing wasn’t perfect, and if you continue to wait, someone else will open that business that you’ve planned in your head for so long. The people that are successful in business are the ones that just do it.

Kathryn Rawdan

Owner/Medical Director

Keowee Aesthetics LLC

Keowee Aesthetics in Clemson is a physician-led aesthetic medical practice that specializes in reducing the signs of aging and elevating the natural beauty of the face.

“I have been fortunate to have had experience in many different professional careers. Accountability, empathy, and effective communication skills have allowed me to be more effective in leadership roles. I am still working on my organization skills and taking time for greater introspection.”

How do you define leadership?

I define leadership as a collection of attributes and behaviors that allow for effective collaboration, creating a shared purpose and driving productivity toward a common goal.

I used to believe leadership was the sole responsibility of a business owner or a role of the “boss” within an organization. I thought it was more about management; however, leadership empowers all members of a team to do their best work at every level. It’s more about people and good collaboration.

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

Opening a successful business and becoming profitable in less than a year during the Covid-19 pandemic is my greatest professional accomplishment to date.