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Columbia Business Monthly

Columbia Chamber Honors Michael Brenan at Annual Gala

Oct 08, 2021 02:07PM ● By David Dykes

(Pictured: Michael Brenan. Photo courtesy of Columbia Chamber.) 

By Kevin Dietrich

Associate Editor

Veteran South Carolina banker Mike Brenan was honored as the Columbia Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador of the Year Thursday evening at Central Energy in Columbia.

Brenan, regional president for Truist, the banking company formed by the merger of BB&T and SunTrust in 2019, came to Columbia in 1999 and has served on a wide array of boards over the years. 

Brenan has received numerous accolades over the years, including being named the S.C. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Leader of the Year, the United Way of the Midlands’ Humanitarian of the Year and being honored with the University of South Carolina’s Distinguished Service award.

Brenan urged Chamber members to focus on pulling together for the good of the community and the region.

“It seems to me that over the past 18 to 24 months we as a nation, as a state here in South Carolina and even as a city here in Columbia, are more interested in what we’re against rather than what we’re for,” he said. “We need to be more interested in what works for all of us and working together as a community.”

Brenan has long been a positive influence within Columbia’s business and civic communities, Columbia Chamber President and CEO Carl Blackstone said in a news release.

“There are very few that have had as much influence in our area as Mike Brenan,” he said. “A dedicated steward of the Midlands, Mike recognizes the importance of being a good public servant. Mike makes sure that he, personally and through his work with Truist, tirelessly puts the advancement of the Midlands first.” 

Brenan was one of several honored during the Columbia chamber’s 118th annual gala, which was attended by more than 250 people. The Ambassador of the Year Award was sponsored by Colonial Life, 

Also recognized by the Chamber were: Frank Cason of Cason Development Group, Young Professional of the Year; Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, Public Servant of the Year; Assistant Director of Community and Government Services for Richland County Bryant Davis, Diplomat of the Year; and USO South Carolina, Military Advocate of the Year. Joanie Thresher, executive director of USO South Carolina, received the award on behalf of her organization.

Jean Cecil Frick of NP Strategy was recognized as the incoming chair of the Chamber, while Tim Arnold of Colonial Life was honored as outgoing chair. In addition, Bank of America’s Kim Wilkerson was recognized for her service as Chamber chair during 2019-‘20. Wilkerson was unable to be publicly honored last year as the Chamber’s annual gala was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brenan began his banking career in 1975. He became chairman, president and CEO of MainStreet Financial Corp. in 1994. MainStreet was acquired by BB&T Corp. in 1998, and the following year Brenan moved to the Palmetto State, where he was named regional president in South Carolina. He continued in that role following the creation of Truist Financial Corp. two years ago.

“Mike’s tireless advocacy for our community and focus on the betterment of the region is tremendous,” Arnold said in a Chamber release. “His passion for our community is evident in his leadership and involvement in so many causes, including education, housing, healthcare and commerce.”