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Columbia Business Monthly

Columbia 50 Most Influential

Jan 12, 2023 05:27PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

Columbia Business Monthly celebrates another year of honoring the region's most influential people. The selection of our 50 men and women is a result of staff research and community nominations.

We also are celebrating our sixth year of selecting entrants to our Hall of Fame. This year, we're adding eight new members who have continued to make a lasting difference in the Midlands.



Roslyn Clark Artis, J.D., Ed.D. 


Benedict College

In 2017, Roslyn Clark Artis, J.D., Ed.D., was named the first woman president of Benedict College in Columbia, and she has worked hard help Benedict live up to its potential.

The school received the 2019 American Council on Education Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation, which recognizes institutions that have responded to challenges in innovative ways and brought about dramatic results quickly.

That same year, Benedict was named the 2019 HBCU (Historically Black College and University) of the Year by HBCU Digest.

Artis has been a trailblazer for much of her life. She also was the first woman president of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida.

And her work has been recognized by many organizations. In 2018, Artis was named Female HBCU President of the Year by HBCU Digest, and the following year, she was named one of Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s Top 35 Leading Women in Higher Education. And in 2020, Higher Ed Dive named her President of the Year for her leadership during the challenges of 2020.

Artis serves as chair of the Presidents’ Advisory Board for Title III Administrators, is a member of the Educational Testing Service Presidents’ Advisory Council, and the board of directors for the American Council on Education.

In 2021, she was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State University, a Juris Doctor from the West Virginia University College of Law, and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.


Tod Augsburger 

President and CEO

Lexington Medical Center

Tod Augsburger has served as the president and CEO of Lexington Medical Center since 2015. He has extensive senior experience in health care leadership in the Midlands and around the country. 

In its 51-year history, Lexington Medical Center has had only four CEOs: George Rentz, Ken Shull, Mike Biediger, and Tod Augsburger. Before serving as president and CEO of Lexington Medical Center, Augsburger was the hospital’s senior vice president and chief operating officer for 16 years. Previously, he worked at the Ohio Health System in Columbus, Ohio, as corporate vice president of Integration, vice president of Clinical Ancillary Services, and vice president of Operations.

Tod is an active member of the American Hospital Association’s Southeastern Regional Policy board, the Central Carolina Community Foundation board and the United Way of the Midlands board. He also served as chair of the South Carolina Hospital Association board from 2019 to 2020, and as chair of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce board from 2016 to 2017.

Tod received a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1989 and a Bachelor of Science in finance from Michigan State University in East Lansing in 1985. He is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives and received the “South Carolina Healthcare Executive of the Year” award in 2003 from the South Carolina Hospital Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives.


Michael Crapps  

President and CEO

First Community Bank

Michael C. “Mike” Crapps is a lifelong resident of Lexington County and a 1976 graduate of Lexington High School.  He received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1980 from Clemson University, an MBA degree from the University of South Carolina in 1984 and is a graduate of the LSU Graduate School of Banking of the South.  

He is a founder of First Community Bank and has been its president and chief executive officer, as well as on its board of directors since opening the bank in 1995. First Community Bank focuses its efforts on local businesses and professionals, offering financial solutions in three primary lines of business: commercial banking, residential mortgage banking, and financial planning/investment advisory services. The bank has approximately $1.7 billion in total assets with 22 banking offices in the Midlands, Upstate and Rock Hill areas of South Carolina, as well as Augusta, Ga.  

He has been involved with the South Carolina Bankers Association (SCBA), having been its chairman and on its board of directors. The SCBA selected Crapps as the 1997 Young Banker of the Year. He has served multiple organizations in his community and currently serves as follows:

Business Development Corporation – Board and Executive Committee

Midlands Business Leadership Group – Executive Committee

Midlands Business Leadership Group – Co-Chair of Coordinating Council

Clemson IPTAY Board of Directors.

Additionally, he is past chair of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, the Saluda Shoals Park Foundation, the Navigating from Good to Great (Ng2G) Foundation Board, and the South Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS). Crapps previously served the banking industry as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte Branch Board of Directors.

He is a member of Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church. 


John Folsom

President and CEO

Colliers International | South Carolina

John Folsom is the president and CEO of Colliers International, South Carolina’s largest commercial real estate company with offices in Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg. Colliers annually conducts over $1 billion in sales and leasing transactions for its’ clients, manages over 18 million square feet of industrial, office and retail space and annually provides construction management services of approximately $750 million through its’ affiliate company, LCK. 

Folsom joined Colliers in 1993 as president after serving as the CEO of a statewide publicly traded financial institution. 

He is a 1973 graduate of Washington and Lee University where he served as a member of the Board of Trustees and was president of its National Alumni Association. He also holds an MBA from the University of South Carolina.  

In addition to his professional responsibilities, he serves as a member of the Richland/Lexington Airport Commission, he is the immediate past chair of the Midlands Business Leadership Group (MBLG), he serves as a member of the board of the Certified Development Corporation (CDC) and is a board member of the Jackson Company.

Folsom was a founding board member of Transition and a co-founder of Salute from the Shore, a statewide organization which pays tribute to America’s military and veterans on the Fourth of July. 

He has been recognized as the United Way of the Midlands “Humanitarian of the Year”, the Greater Columbia Chamber’s “Ambassador of the Year,” Washington and Lee’s Distinguished Alumnus, and received the Meritorious Service award from the Central South Carolina Association of Realtors.  


Tim Hardee, Ed.D. 


South Carolina Technical College System

Tim Hardee, Ed.D., has served as president of the South Carolina Technical College System, the largest higher education sector in the state, since November 2016.

Under his leadership, the system has made great strides in ensuring that a quality higher education remains affordable and accessible to South Carolina residents. The system educates and trains over 130,000 South Carolinians each year. With increased tuition support through new programs like SCWINS (SC Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship) and Workforce Scholarships for the Future, a technical college education is more affordable than ever. In addition, the technical colleges across the system have an average placement rate of 90 percent, making it a smart investment for future employment. 

In 2018, Hardee combined his love of South Carolina and his commitment to education with his passion for cycling. He toured the state by bike visiting each of the system’s 16 colleges on a 12-day adventure with routes covering the Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry of South Carolina. Tour de Tech spanned 800 miles and was designed to raise much-needed scholarship funds for our students while also increasing the visibility of the system’s 16 technical colleges.

Hardee earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Coastal Carolina University and his master’s and doctorate of education degrees from University South Carolina.

He is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina and the South Carolina Economic Developers Program, and is a recipient of the Coastal Carolina Outstanding Alumni Award.


Virgil Miller


Aflac U.S. 

Effective Jan. 1, 2023, Virgil Miller became president, Aflac U.S. As president, he will be responsible for overseeing and protecting the Aflac brand.

Miller joined Aflac in 2004. His ability to understand and meet the ever-changing customer and market expectations created various promotional opportunities of increasing responsibility throughout his tenure. He has held titles to include vice president of Client Services and Aflac’s Transformation office, senior vice president Chief Administration Officer, Chief Operating Officer Aflac U.S., executive vice president, and President of Aflac Group & Individual Benefits, and deputy president of Aflac U.S. 

With over 30 years of industry experience, he has been recognized with several accolades and business honors to celebrate his leadership and accomplishments. In 2018, Virgil was a recipient of the prestigious Stevie Award by the American Business Association for Executive of the Year in the insurance industry. He was named one of Columbia Business Monthly’s 50 Most Influential Individuals for 2019 and to Savoy’s list of 2020 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. More recently, Virgil was awarded Insurance Executive of the Year by both the 2020 BIG Innovation Awards and Business Intelligence Group’s 2020 Excellence in Customer Service Award. 

Miller served as a U.S. Marine and is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Georgia College, a master’s degree in business management from Wesleyan College, and a doctorate in humane letters from Gammon Theological Seminary. He serves on the board of trustees for PlanSource via Vista Equity Partners, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and Claflin University. He is also the current co-chair of the SEUS-Japan Association.


Jane S. Sosebee 


AT&T South Carolina

Jane S. Sosebee has been president of AT&T South Carolina since October 2018. In this role, she works closely with state and community leaders to help bring new technology and jobs to the state and improve the quality of life for South Carolinians.

Sosebee joined AT&T’s predecessor company, Southern Bell, in 1979, becoming a branch manager in the business marketing group in the Upstate. She moved to the External Affairs organization in 1998 and was appointed Director of External Affairs in 2007. She was subsequently named Director-Legislative Affairs, where she worked directly with members of the S.C. General Assembly on public policy matters.

A native of Laurens, SC., she attended Clemson University, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. She is also an alumna of Leadership South Carolina and Leadership Anderson.

Sosebee’s numerous honors and awards include Clemson University’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest award Alumni Association can bestow and given to those alumni who have devoted their life to professionalism and public service and demonstrated a lifelong dedication to the University. In 2005, she was named Business Person of the Year by Greenville Magazine, and, in 2007, was named a South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development for Greenville County by the governor.

She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Palmetto AgriBusiness Council and a member of the Palmetto Business Forum.

In her faith community, Sosebee is a member of Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, where she is an elder.


Tommy Suggs

President and CEO

Carolinas Region of HUB International

Tommy Suggs leads the Carolinas Region of HUB International, the fifth largest insurance brokerage firm in the world. Suggs manages the company’s 10 offices in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Before joining HUB International, Suggs was president and CEO of KeenanSuggs, the largest independently owned insurance, risk management, and benefits company in the Carolinas, which he purchased in 1996.

Prior to working in the insurance industry, Suggs spent many years in banking, finishing up that phase of his career as executive vice president, chief banking officer, and board member with the South Carolina Federal Savings Bank. He also worked as founding chairman of the First Bank of the Midlands, before selling to SouthState Bank in 1999.

He recently retired from that banks corporate board, executive committee, and trust and wealth management committee.

Suggs serves on Trustmark Insurance Company’s National Advisory Council.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Darla Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina, and is also a graduate of the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University, the National Commercial Lending Graduate School at the University of Oklahoma, and the Wharton School of Business, Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He also has an honorary doctorate from the Darla Moore School of Business.

Suggs, who was a starting quarterback for the USC football team, received the Bill and Paula Bethea 2020 USC Alumni Award, and in 2012, his friends and family honored him by establishing the Tommy Suggs Endowed Quarterback Scholarship.

Now here are Columbia's 50 Most Influential:

Michele Abraham

State Director

South Carolina Small Business Development Center Network

Michele  Abraham has served as the State Director for the South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SCSBDC) since 2010, where she manages a statewide network of advisers and staff who provide business consulting and training to South Carolina’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.

During her tenure, the organization has broken records on economic impact performance and earned two national accreditations with exemplary ratings. She also served on the national America’s SBDC Board of Directors for six years, including two years as the chair. Her formidable business experience includes serving as the state director of the Ohio SBDC as well as sales management, business development, product management, marketing and senior management positions in the private sector.  


Charlie Allen

Chief Executive Officer

Black River Electric Cooperative


Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina

Charlie Allen has more than four decades of experience in the energy field, starting with a long stint at Progress Energy, where he finished up as operations manager.

He has been with Black River Electric Cooperative since 2004, beginning as vice president of engineering before becoming CEO in 2015. Black River serves customers in the rural areas of Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter counties.

Allen also is board chairman of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, the statewide service and trade association for electric cooperatives in the state.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The Citadel. In 2021, he was named Business Person of the Year by the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce.


Michael Amiridis, Ph.D.


University of South Carolina

Michael Amiridis became the 30th president of the University of South Carolina in July 2022. Looking forward to the upcoming year, he plans to focus on the university’s strategic priorities that emphasize access and affordability, improve the student experience, and strengthen the impact of research and operational excellence.

Prior to coming to USC, Dr. Amiridis served as chancellor of the University of Illinois-Chicago. Before that, he taught as a chemical engineering professor at the University of South Carolina, where he also was department chair, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, and the University’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. 

He holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has received many awards as a researcher and professor, including the University of South Carolina’s Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate and Graduate Teaching Awards and the Samuel Litman Distinguished Professor Award. He was also elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012 and a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2015.


Michael Annacone

Vice President of Columbia Fuel Operations

Westinghouse Electric Company

Michael Annacone has been vice president, Columbia fuel operations and manager of the Columbia Plant, Westinghouse Electric Company, in Hopkins, South Carolina, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Annacone joined Westinghouse’s quality organization as part of the 2016 CB&I Stone and Webster acquisition. His lengthy history in the nuclear industry includes work at Crystal River Unit 3 Nuclear Plant, where he supported recovery from a design basis outage and confirmatory order. He also led Brunswick Nuclear Plant’s recovery efforts and was ultimately site vice president. Annacone worked at Duke Energy where he led a training probation recovery effort and then went on to work at CB&I Stone.


Russell Bauknight

Managing Shareholder

Bauknight Pietras & Stormer, P.A.(BPS)

One of the founders of Bauknight Pietras & Stormer, P.A., Russell Bauknight traded a career with a Big Four accounting firm for the opportunity to become an entrepreneurial Certified Public Accountant with two partners and an assistant. Over 30 years, 14 partners and 90-plus employees later, he has built a solid tax, business consulting, trust and estate practice.

In 2018 Bauknight was named to the World Board of Prime-Global, one of the five largest associations of independent accounting firms in the world. He is also a member of the American Institute of CPAs, South Carolina Association of CPAs and has been a board member of the Central Carolina Community Foundation and the Executive Association of Greater Columbia. He looks forward to "expanding BPS' local footprint as well as the services we provide throughout North America" in 2023.    


James Bennett

Mid-South Area Executive

First Citizens Bank

As Mid-South area executive for First Citizens Bank, James Bennett leads branch, business and commercial banking teams to provide outstanding client service. For more than 37 years, Bennett has given his time and talents to the community. He currently serves as chairman of the Midlands Business Leadership Group and chairman of University of South Carolina Educational Foundation.

Among his many achievements, he was the first African American to serve as chairman of the S.C. Bankers Association; he served as chairman of Claflin University Board of Trustees; and he was named the United Way of the Midlands Humanitarian of the Year for 2022.

As a member of the business community, Bennett’s focus for 2023 is to support efforts to make the Midlands an ideal area to live, work and play. He will continue promoting the development of the Midlands as a region which attracts and retains top talent, produces vibrant job offerings, and provides necessary resources to ensure superior livability for all people.


Renee R. Brooks

Chief Operating Officer

South State Corp.

Renee R. Brooks serves as chief operating officer for South State Corp. Her current responsibilities include IT, operations, enterprise project management, service delivery/customer care, corporate services, marketing and communications, and digital strategy.

She has more than 30 years of experience in banking, 26 of which have been with SouthState Bank. Brooks has served in various positions since joining the bank in 1996, including commercial banking manager, head of retail banking, corporate secretary, chief risk officer and chief administrative officer.

A native of Anderson, Brooks earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Clemson University and a Master in Business Administration from Queens University in Charlotte.

Brooks is an active member of the community and serves on the boards of S.C. Student Loan Corp. and South Carolina Bankers Association.

Brooks’ goal is for SouthState to continue to invest in technology to better serve its customers, while also creating a diverse work environment with continued opportunities for career growth and advancement.


Sharon W. Bryant

South Carolina Regional Executive Vice President

First Citizens Bank

In her current role, Bryant, a Columbia native, is responsible for retail, business and commercial banking in South Carolina, Northeast Georgia, Augusta, and Savannah. Previously, she served as director of the bank’s Wealth Advisory Group from 2010 to 2013.

Bryant joined the company in 1999 as executive vice president and director of human resources. She served as executive vice president and division executive from 2001 to 2010. In 2010, she assumed  the dual roles of regional executive vice president for central South Carolina and director of the bank’s Wealth Advisory Group, while continuing to serve as president of First Citizens Securities. In 2012, she was named South Carolina banking executive prior to being named to her current position in 2014.

Bryant is a graduate of the University of the South at Sewanee.

She has received numerous honors from the communities she has served, including being named a 2004 recipient of the Women of Distinction award given by the Girl Scouts of America.


Ethel Bunch

Founder, President, and CEO

Sustain SC

With her organization Sustain SC, Ethel Bunch works to bring together a diverse group of business, economic development, academic, conservation, and state agency leaders with the mission to connect the sustainability goals of business in South Carolina with local solutions that benefit the economy, environment, and people. She aims to see the Sustain SC model put South Carolina on the national and global map as the leader in both commerce and conservation. 

She has over 20 years of fundraising and communications experience bridging the nonprofit and private sectors. Prior to founding Sustain SC, she co-founded Wittering Advisors, a consulting group working with clients to raise the standard for informed decision-making that maximizes South Carolina’s economic growth and strong natural resource-based infrastructure. She has also served as Director of Development and Marketing for EdVenture Children’s Museum, Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina, and Heathwood Hall Episcopal School. 

She serves several organizations, including the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, Lowcountry Land Trust, and Congaree Land Trust. A South Carolina native, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina.  


Tally Parham Casey

CEO and Chair

Wyche P.A.

Tally Parham Casey is the CEO and chair of Wyche P.A. and a litigator with decades of experience. A former F-16 fighter pilot and lieutenant colonel with the South Carolina Air National Guard, Casey focuses on complex matters in commercial, securities and health care litigation, products liability, insurance, and aerospace law.

Casey has represented clients in corporate defense/white collar criminal matters, internal investigations, and before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Casey is a veteran of three combat tours over Iraq. A Liberty Fellow, member of the International Women’s Forum and a former board member of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, she was the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyer of the Year during her early years of practice.

In 2022, Casey was the Democratic nominee for the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. She and her husband, Matt, live in Columbia with their three children.


Frank Cason


Cason Development Group

Frank Cason has worked in commercial real estate for nearly two decades, beginning with Colliers International, where he spent eight years as a senior brokerage associate and became one of the company’s top producers.

In 2012, Cason joined Cypress Real Estate Partners, where he was the Vice President of Development, focusing on new development projects for the company. He worked with national retailers to expand in the Maryland, Delaware, and Connecticut markets.

He founded Cason Development Group in 2015, focusing on expanding national and local retailers as well as redevelopment projects in the South Carolina market.

Since its inception, Cason Development Group has developed projects for a number of national retailers, including Taco Bell, Burger King, Dollar General, Sherwin Williams, Express Oil, and Golden Corral.

The company also spearheaded new projects, including 5th and Sloan, historic renovations such as 1813, and multiple historic preservation awards in Cottontown, including Warmouth and Indah Coffee.


Tobin Cassels


Southeastern Freight Lines

Tobin Cassels is the third generation of his family to run the Cassels family’s company Southeastern Freight Lines. He became president and COO in 2001.

Cassels began working at Southeastern as a trailer shop mechanic at the age of 13, and became a full-time employee in 1981 after graduating from Washington & Lee University.

Over the years, he has worked in the shop, the warehouse, and as a driver – pickup, delivery, and over-the-road.

The company was founded in 1950 and has grown to 89 service centers located in 13 states and Puerto Rico. With more than 8,800 employees and an annual revenue of $1.8 billion, the company has never had a layoff.


Robert "Bob” Chisholm


M. B. Kahn Construction Company Inc.

Robert “Bob” Chisholm joined M. B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc. in 1994. He was named a senior vice president in 2003 and became the chief financial officer before being promoted to executive vice president in 2014. In 2018, he became president and chief operating officer.

When CFO, Chisholm was responsible for introducing a new, streamlined computer accounting program that integrates project management, contract information and accounting. He also implemented the "Safe Service Appreciation & Recognition Award" program in 2019 to encourage safety. Under his leadership, M.B. Kahn acquired a Virginia Beach, Virginia, construction firm and opened offices in Beaufort, South Carolina, as well as in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2022. A graduate of Bob Jones University in Greenville, Chisholm has served as a deacon and is a member of Grace Baptist Church in West Columbia.


Susan Cohen 

President & CEO, SC Restaurant and Lodging Association

As President and CEO of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, Susan Cohen oversees the association’s programs dedicated to the growth and success of the foodservice and lodging industries in South Carolina through advocacy, education, and innovation. The SCRLA works with more than 2,200 members statewide and strives to represent the best interest of its members on small business issues and hospitality and tourism concerns.

Although she has only been with the SCRLA for a short period of time, Cohen is no stranger to the industry, having more than 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry, both directly and through affiliated organizations.  

A native of Kershaw and a graduate of Clemson University, Cohen began her career as the executive director of the Pee Dee Tourism Commission, one of the state’s 11 tourism regions. Over the course of career, she has worked in numerous executive roles, including the former S.C. Hotel and Motel Association, Underground Atlanta, the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Burroughs and Chapin, Co., Inc., Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce, and, most recently, Charlestowne Hotels

Cohen has also held leadership positions in a number of state and national travel organizations including the South Carolina Association of Tourism Regions, Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association, Atlanta Metro Travel Association, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southeast Tourism Society, Travel Industry Institute, and American Hotel and Lodging Association. She currently serves on the Columbia Chamber’s board of directors and was recently elected to the Council of State Restaurant Associations’ board of directors. 

Returning to lead the association now representing both restaurants and lodging in South Carolina has brought her career full circle.


Brent Downing

Broker/Team Owner

The Downing Group at Keller Williams Columbia

Brent Downing has worked with Keller Williams Columbia since 2017, and over the years, he has specialized in listing and selling homes in the Lake Murray area.

Before joining Keller Williams, Downing worked at Century 21.

In 2015, he closed more than 100 real estate transactions, and Downing has said that more than a third of his business comes from either repeat clients or referrals from satisfied customers.


Bill Ellen

President and CEO

Experience Columbia SC

South Carolina native Bill Ellen has spent the majority of his 39-year career in the Palmetto State, with limited stops in North Carolina and Florida. After spending 30 years in the hotel industry, Ellen made the switch to the destination-marketing and venue-management side. He now serves as president and CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports, and Tourism, where he leads the overall management of the Convention and Visitors Bureau as well the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and Experience Columbia SC Sports.

Ellen’s passion for the hospitality and tourism industries extends to his involvement as a board or committee member for Columbia Hotel Association, South Carolina Hotel Association, South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, Board for Midlands Workforce Development, South Carolina Tourism Alliance, South Carolina Tourism Coalition, and chairman of the board of directors for Experience Columbia SC before stepping down to become president and CEO. 

In his spare time, Ellen enjoys boating and golfing and is a member of Shandon Methodist Church.


Terrance Ford

Director of External and Legislative Affairs


As Director of External and Legislative Affairs, Terrance Ford is AT&T’s primary liaison with state policymakers. He also leads the company’s economic development and community affairs activities in the Midlands.

Before starting as director in 2018, Ford worked for 23 years in the communications industry. He served as the External Affairs Regional Director in the Upstate, leading AT&T’s economic development and community affairs activities. He also was Area Manager for Network Operations and supervised the installation and maintenance of advanced services, such as high-speed broadband, in the Upstate.

A Charleston native, Ford earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Webster University. He lives with his wife and children in Blythewood, where he serves as minister of music at Greenhill Baptist Church. He also serves on several boards, including the SC Chamber of Commerce, the Central SC Alliance, and the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center Board. 


John C. Griggs III

Market Executive


As a 19-year veteran in the banking and financial services, John C. Griggs III has received many  accolades for his efforts to serve the financial needs of the Midlands. The Conway native Joined Synovus in 2021.

Griggs has been honored as an Outstanding Young Banker by the South Carolina Bankers Association and as Young Professional of the Year in 2017 by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he received a Bachelor of Science in business administration. He has also received certifications from the South Carolina Bankers School and the LSU Graduate School of Banking.

Griggs has a long history of working to improve his community. He’s the immediate past chair of the City Center Partnership; chairman of the board of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; a member of the board of trustees of the Midlands Technical College Foundation; treasurer and Finance and Audit Committee chair for the Prisma Health Midlands Foundation; and past chair of the SC Bankers School.


Mike Gula

Executive Director

Columbia Metropolitan Airport

In 2018, Mike Gula was promoted to the position of executive director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) after a national recruitment initiative. Gula previously served as director of operations, planning, and facilities at CAE. He is responsible for the overall business operations, administration, human resources, financing, marketing, community relations, air-service development, maintenance, safety, security, and planning and development of the Richland-Lexington Airport District and the related airport facilities.

Gula has gained significant knowledge and airport administrative experience while serving four commercial-service airports over 22 years. He previously served as director of operations at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport; operations manager at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky; and as the manager of operations and cargo development at Toledo Express Airport, Ohio.

Gula maintains an Accredited Airport Executive certification from the American Association of Airport Executives, and in 2016 was named by Airport Business News as a top 40 under 40 recipient. He received his Bachelor of Science in aviation management and operations from Bowling Green State University.


Jim and Keith Hudson

Hudson Automotive Group

Jim Hudson Automotive Group has been serving the Midlands of South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, since 1980 with a strong commitment to the community.

Over the course of 11 years, the Hudsons have donated 10,000,000 meals to the Harvest Hope Food Bank through their annual Jim Hudson 2,000 Event. The Automotive Group also provides shelter, food, clothing and counseling to homeless women and children by donating to the Oliver Gospel Mission for their new construction of Toby’s Place facility. Jim Hudson has also contributed over $200,000 to the American Red Cross and donates regularly to other local charities including

Jim Hudson, founder and principal of Jim Hudson Automotive Group, was presented with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina, by former Gov. Nikki R. Haley. 


Robert Hughes III


Hughes Development Corp.

Robert Hughes III is president of Hughes Development Corp., a 73-year-old, family-owned real estate development firm based in Greenville. HDC has developed and owned a variety of projects across the Southeast. 

HDC currently serves as master developer of the BullStreet District in Columbia, known as the largest development in a city center east of the Mississippi River. At completion, BullStreet will be home to up to 3.3 million square feet of commercial development and 3,558 residential units, with Segra Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies, as the centerpiece.

Hughes is a graduate of Duke University and Columbia Business School. He is involved with a number of community organizations, including serving on Greenville’s Racial Equality and Economic Mobility Commission, the Millennial Debt Commission, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Palmetto Business Forum, and is a member of the 2020 Class of Liberty Fellowship. Hughes and his wife, Scottie, have a 1-year-old son and are expecting a daughter in early 2023. 


Charles B. Jackson Sr., D.Div.

Senior Pastor

Brookland Baptist Church

A West Columbia native, Charles B. Jackson Sr. began preaching at the age of 9, was ordained at age 12, and by 18, he was installed as pastor of Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, where he remains more than 50 years later.

The church offers more than 60 ministries, including a full-service credit union, the Brookland Center for Community Economic Change, the Brookland-West Columbia Community Housing Development Corporation, and the Brookland Community Pediatric Center, a partnership with the Eau Claire Cooperative. 

In 2008, the Lexington II District School Board awarded Brookland the former Lakeview/Northside School, which has been converted to the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. In 2020, the site received a state marker, the first historically segregated African American school in Lexington County to receive such a marker.

Jackson earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Benedict College, a Master of Divinity from Morehouse School of Religion, and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Morris College. He is former president of the South Carolina Baptist Congress of Christian Education and the Gethsemane Baptist Congress of Christian Education, and has served on the boards of the Capital City Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lexington County Health Services District, and the Board of Visitors for the University of South Carolina.


Ray Jones

Managing Partner

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP

Ray Jones is the Managing Partner of the Columbia office of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, where he has worked as a public finance and economic development attorney since 1999. He has been recognized for the past decade by The Best Lawyers in America in Public Finance Law and Economic Development Law. 

Jones has served as board chair of the Saluda Shoals Foundation and the March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter. He has also served on the board of directors for the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the South Carolina Baptist Foundation. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina Honors College and a Master’s of International Business Studies and Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina. 


Sid Kenyon

General Manager

Colonial Life Arena, University of South Carolina Athletics

Sid Kenyon serves as general manager for Colonial Life Arena which has held the highest ranking in South Carolina for the Carolinas Top Stops (Venues Now magazine). He also serves as the director of the Carolina Coliseum and is an adjunct professor in Sport and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina, where he began working in 1977.

As the arena celebrates 20 years of providing sports and entertainment to the Midlands, Kenyon and his staff look forward to bringing major acts to the facility including Reba McEntire, Journey, and Cody Johnson. From an economic development standpoint, the arena looks to continue to provide boosts to tourism and increased business for local restaurants and lodging in 2023. 



Dominion Energy South Carolina

W. Keller Kissam is president of Dominion Energy South Carolina, where he oversees the regulated utility that serves about 1.1 million electric and gas customer accounts. In 2023, his goals for the company include being the safest, most reliable provider of energy and to serve the community through employee engagement and meaningful, focused philanthropy. 

Before beginning his current position in 2022, he held many positions in both electric and gas operations. He joined SCANA in 1988 as a new utility professional, and he has served as President-Electric Operations, President and Chief Operating Officer at SC&G, and President-SCE&G Electric Operations. 

He is a board member and past president of the Southeastern Exchange and past president of the South Carolina Independent Schools Association. He also serves as chairman of the board of The Central South Carolina Economic Development Alliance. He holds a bachelor’s degree and honorary Doctorate of Business from The Citadel, and he is a member of The Citadel’s Hall of Fame. 


Jim Lehman

Managing Partner

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Jim Lehman is the managing partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, a law firm with over 1,000 lawyers and government relations professionals in 31 offices across the United States. He practices in the areas of business litigation, white collar investigations and professional liability.

Lehman has served in senior executive management positions and has been on the board of Claflin University since 2011, serving as chair since 2018.  He also has served on the Columbia Urban League board since 2018 and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was editor of the South Carolina Law Review. Lehman has been admitted to the bar in federal and regional courts including South Carolina and the District of Columbia.


Harry M. Lightsey III

Secretary of Commerce

S.C. Department of Commerce

Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III is in his second year of leading state economic development efforts. Lightsey’s experience in executive leadership roles provides valuable insight for attracting industry to South Carolina while creating opportunities for all South Carolinians.

Previously, Lightsey served as president of BellSouth Telecommunications for South Carolina and president for AT&T’s Southeast Region. The Columbia native also worked for the General Motors Corp., directing the automaker’s federal government affairs operation, and as a principal with Hawksbill Advisors.

Lightsey also has served as a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Virginia.

He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of South Carolina School of Law


Nelson Lindsay

President and CEO

Central S.C. Alliance

Nelson Lindsay joined the Central S.C. Alliance as president and CEO in 2021. He oversees the organization in its mission to recruit capital investment and jobs to central South Carolina. The CSCA is a public-private partnership that nurtures and encourages economic development growth in a nine-member region encompassing eight counties and Columbia.

A state-certified economic developer, Lindsay most recently served as the director of global business development at the state Department of Commerce from 2015 to 2021. In this capacity, Lindsay led the team responsible for all project management activity and for the recruitment of new industry to South Carolina. He also worked with existing industry to assist in its growth.

Prior to working for the Commerce Department, Lindsay served at two of the central S.C. region’s longtime member counties, Richland and Kershaw.

Lindsay holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Wofford College and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of South Carolina. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.


Curtis M. Loftis Jr.

State Treasurer

Office of the State Treasurer

First elected in 2010, Curtis Loftis will soon begin his fourth term as state treasurer, where he serves as the “state’s banker” – managing, investing and retaining custody of more than $60 billion in public funds and ensuring South Carolina maintains its credit ratings.

The Lexington County native fights for accountability, transparency and fiduciary responsibility. In recent months, Loftis has taken a lead role nationally in questioning environmental, social, and governance investing and its impact on the state’s investments, small businesses, and average residents.

The USC graduate also serves as the administrator of the state’s Future Scholar College Savings Plan and the Palmetto ABLE Savings Program, a 529-A plan that provides individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save and invest money.

Loftis is chairman of the State Board of Financial Institutions and vice chairman of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, the South Carolina Education Authority, and the South Carolina Tobacco Authority. An advocate of financial literacy, Loftis is also a member of the South Carolina Financial Literacy Board of Trustees


Leighton Lord


Nexsen Pruet

Leighton Lord practices in the areas of economic development, corporate, partnership and real estate law. His legal practice has a special emphasis on siting economic development projects, real estate transactions, real estate financing, general business law, and formation and opinions on Delaware entities.

Lord is the current chairman of the firm and also serves as chairman of Nexsen Pruet's communications affiliate, NP Strategy, LLC. Lord's legal experience includes having clerked for the Delaware Chancery Court before practicing corporate litigation in Wilmington, Delaware. He served for three years as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and formally served on South Carolina's Coordinating Council for Economic Development and is the former Chairman of Santee Cooper, South Carolina's electric and water utility. Lord earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware, and his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. He is admitted to practice in South Carolina and Delaware.    


James T. McLawhorn Jr.

President and CEO

Columbia Urban League Inc.

James McLawhorn Jr. has led the Columbia Urban League since 1979. He has received national recognition for his work in race and community relations.

McLawhorn has received many awards, including South Carolina’s Order of the Palmetto and the National Urban League’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Race Relations Award, and he has been inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame.

In 1985, he founded the National Black Family Summit, an action forum on family issues with emphasis on the African American community.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from North Carolina A&T University and master’s degrees from University of Miami at Coral Gables and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an honorary doctorate from College of Charleston.


Ernest McNealey, Ph.D.


Allen University

Ernest McNealey, Ph.D., came to the job of Allen University president in the spring of 2017 after a stint as interim president that began the previous fall.

In his nearly six years as president, McNealey has overseen big changes, including reaffirmation of accreditation, the inception of a Master of Divinity program, approval to offer associate degrees and online degree programs.

In addition, the school has added new undergraduate programs in such subjects as sports management, criminal justice, and elementary education. And McNealey’s tenure has also seen the return of college football, softball, and marching band, along with the launch of women’s soccer.

McNealey serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; is vice chair of the Council of Presidents, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association; and serves on the U.S. Department of Education’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Accreditation and Innovation.

Prior to joining Allen University, McNealey was principal officer of the McNealey Group, a consulting firm specializing in accreditation, planning, financial modeling, and NCAA compliance. 


Heather Mitchell



As an architect and the president of BOUDREAUX, Heather Mitchell is working on several projects that aim to energize Columbia, including University of South Carolina Campus Village, State Credit Union, and MTC’s Center for Business and Information Technologies. BOUDREAUX has also been selected as part of the team to develop, design, and construct the University of South Carolina’s Health Sciences Campus.

Mitchell is vice chair of Columbia’s Main Street District and was a founding and 11-year board member of One Columbia for Arts and Culture. She is also a Columbia Chamber Board Member. She launched the Riley Mayors Design Fellowship as a Liberty Fellow to educate mayors on community planning. She also helped start Capture Columbia as part of the Midlands Business Leadership Group. 


Tem Miles


City of West Columbia

A native of Lake City, Tem Miles began his working career at Southeastern Freight Lines, where he worked until he started law school.

He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar Association in 2006, and worked as a law clerk to the Hon. Paul E. Short Jr. at the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

Miles then served as staff counsel in the South Carolina Senate’s Office of Senate Research. In 2010 he entered private practice with The McKay Firm of Columbia, practiced civil litigation, and became a partner. In 2020, he started The Miles Firm, LLC, where he continues to practice civil litigation throughout the state in all levels of state court, federal court and before the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission. 

In 2013, Tem was elected as a write-in candidate to serve on the West Columbia City Council to represent District 4. In 2019, he was elected mayor of West Columbia.


Michael Mizeur

President and CEO

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

Michael J. Mizeur is president and CEO of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the health care company that has served Palmetto State residents for more than 75 years.

Mizeur leads more than 20 companies, with over 15,000 employees, involved in health insurance services, the U.S. Department of Defense health program, and Medicare contracts, Medicaid plans, and a philanthropic foundation that funds programs to improve health care and access to health care for South Carolinians.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in business administration from Duke.


Dominik Mjartan

President and CEO

Optus Bank

Dominik Mjartan is President and CEO of Optus Bank, a U.S. Treasury-certified  Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and an FDIC recognized Minority Depository Institution. He helped to grow the 101-year-old Black-owned bank into an innovative digital institution delivering financial services to entrepreneurs.

Under his leadership, Optus Bank increased shareholder equity from $4 million to more than $100 million and total assets from $47 million to $385 million while helping thousands of underserved businesses and people access capital and opportunities to build wealth. 

Mjartan is a past chair of the CDFI Coalition and a current director of the Community Development Bankers Association and the National Bankers Association, both DC-based advocacy organizations. He is also finance chair of Midlands Arts Conservatory and serves on the finance committee of Women’s Rights & Empowerment Network, board of directors of the S.C. Association for Community Economic Development, The Opportunity Center and The South Carolina Bankers Association. In 2022 he was appointed to serve on the FDIC Community Bank Advisory Board.


Bob Morgan

President and CEO

South Carolina Chamber of Commerce

Bob Morgan was named president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the leading voice for business in South Carolina, in April 2021. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce aims to make South Carolina’s economy the most vibrant in the United States, creating opportunity and prosperity for all.

Prior to joining the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Morgan worked as the public affairs director at Robinson and Bradshaw from 2018-2021 and led the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce as president and CEO from 2005-2018.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He and his wife Meg, a Gamecock, live in Columbia and are the parents of two adult sons.


Brenda Murphy


South Carolina NAACP State Conference

Brenda Murphy is a lifetime member of the NAACP, having joined more than 40 years ago. She was the first ever woman elected president of the South Carolina conference.

Prior to becoming president of the State Conference, she served as the State Conference Health Committee Chairperson and Youth and College Division Adviser.

Murphy is an advocate for justice and equality for all people. She has received many honors, including the National NAACP Juanita Jackson Mitchell Award for Legal Activism for her past and current efforts of the South Carolina State Conference for voting rights, redistricting, and housing advocacy efforts. She also received the 2022 Columbia Urban League Equity Leadership Honor Roll Award and the Racial Justice Network Triumph Award. 

She also served 17 years as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves Nurse Corps, obtaining rank of major.

Murphy received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of South Carolina. 


Kristian Niemi


Bourbon/Black Rooster/The Dragon Room/Honey River Catering/F2T Productions

Columbia restaurateur Kristian Niemi has opened some of the city’s most influential restaurants over the past 28 years. Starting with Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe, he went on to open Gervais & Vine, Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar, Rosso Trattoria, Bourbon and Black Rooster, and is working on The Dragon Room.

Niemi founded the Great American Whiskey Fair, which has become the Southeast’s largest celebration of American whiskey, with more than 300 bottlers and distillers represented.

In addition, Niemi is a partner in Farm 2 Table Productions, which works with farmers, artisans, and local chefs to produce food-centric events.

He serves on the board of Slow Food Columbia and is the city’s local leader for the Chef Collaborative.


Doug Quackenbush


Quackenbush Architects + Planners

Doug Quackenbush formed Quackenbush Architects + Planners in 2004 with a focus on educational, workplace, and community projects. Having practiced architecture in South Carolina for nearly 30 years, he has more than 400 state-wide projects and 50+ design awards to his name, and his work has been the subject of both regional and national publications. 

He currently serves as a member of the board of directors and Preservation Committee Chair for Historic Columbia, as a member of the board of directors for the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, as a co-chair for the S.C. Architectural Foundation, and as Regional Governor for the Southeast Region of the Association for Learning Environments.

Quackenbush is a past president of the American Institute of Architects of South Carolina Chapter and has recently served as chair for the S.C. Center for Architecture Steering Committee. He has also served on design award juries for both chapters of the American Institute of Architects and Historic Columbia. He is a graduate of Clemson University.  


Sandy Reeser



Sandy Reeser joined VC3, which provides cloud hosting, managed IT services, and other tech-related services, in 1998 as vice president of system services. Over the years has risen to CEO, and the company’s services have expanded to include technology assessments, security audits, disaster recovery services, K-12 academic services, and E-government.

Prior to VC3, Reeser worked as a manager for NCR Corp.

Reeser has served on the University of South Carolina Partnership Board and is the recipient of a Community Service Award from the city of Conyers, Georgia.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer and electrical engineering from University of South Carolina.


Daniel Rickenmann


City of Columbia

Since being elected mayor of Columbia in 2021, Daniel Rickenmann has brought his motto for the city —“We are Open” — to life by prioritizing making Columbia open for business, open and transparent, and open to new ideas. In his first year in office, he has championed improving customer service, upgrading the city’s infrastructure, promoting public safety, and finishing projects. 

Prior to becoming mayor, Rickenmann was an owner and partner in several local restaurants, including Birds on a Wire and the Filling Station.

Rickenmann served on Columbia City Council prior to being elected mayor. He was both an at-large member, representing the whole city, and the member from District 4. He has received numerous awards, including being named Top 20 Under 40 by The State newspaper and being selected as one of six Green Leaders in Red State by Fortune Magazine. 

He is a 1992 graduate of the University of South Carolina.


Jeff Ruble


Richland County Economic Development

As Director of Economic Development for Richland County, Jeff Ruble leads an office responsible for recruiting and growing business and industry for the area, which includes Columbia. Over the past 30 years he has served at regional and state-wide economic development groups, where he recruited companies that invested more than $15 billion and created more than 50,000 jobs.

Ruble is nationally accredited and has completed post-graduate work at the University of South Carolina and Harvard, among other institutions. He has served as chairman of the South Carolina Economic Developers Association and serves on the executive committees of Central South Carolina Alliance, the I-77 Economic Development Alliance, and the Columbia USC Incubator.   


Sen. John L. Scott Jr.

State Senator

South Carolina Legislature

Sen. John L. Scott Jr., a Democrat who represents District 19 (Richland County), was elected to his position in 2008. Scott, who owns J.L. Scott Realty Company Inc. and C&S Consulting Group, serves on several committees, including Banking and Insurance, Finance, Education, and Labor, Commerce, and Industry.

Among the bills that he has sponsored in the South Carolina State Legislature are a bill that would establish a recruitment and retention programs for teachers in the state and another that exempt military veterans from paying sales tax on Veterans Day.

Scott graduated from South Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1975.


Justin Strickland


First Reliance Bank

Justin Strickland was named president of First Reliance Bank in January 2021. He oversees the bank’s commercial platform as it continues to expand in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Before coming to First Reliance, Strickland served as president of Southern First Bank from 2006 to 2020 and as Midlands market president for Carolina First Bank from 1993 to 2006.

He serves on many regional and statewide boards in South Carolina, including as committee chairman of the Board of Financial Institutions and on the executive committee of the Lexington Medical Foundation.

A Walterboro native, Strickland graduated from the University of South Carolina and the Banking School of the South at Louisiana State University.


Joe E. Taylor Jr.

Managing member

Park and Washington LLC


Columbia City Council

A Columbia native, Joe E. Taylor Jr. co-founded Southland Log Homes with his father while still a student at Wofford College. At 25, he became president and CEO, and eventually built the company into the largest producer of pre-cut log buildings in North America. He sold the company in 2005.

Taylor was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford to chair the South Carolina Jobs Economic Development Authority in 2003. In 2006, Sanford appointed him Secretary of Commerce. Taylor led the team that recruited the largest economic development project in state history and the national economic development deal of the year in 2009, The Boeing Co., and the national economic development deal of the year in 2010, First Quality Tissue in Anderson.

Taylor served as councilman for Columbia City Council District 4. Additionally, he was a partner in several real estate ventures, a ready-mix concrete company, and other businesses in the Southeast.

Joe Taylor died in late December 2022 at the age of 64. His death was confirmed after Columbia Business Monthly, Greenville Business Magazine, and Charleston Business Magazine had gone to press.


Nate Terracio


Koger Center for the Arts

A native of Columbia, Nate Terracio moved back to the Palmetto State in 2016 to be the assistant director of the Koger Center for the Arts; he became director in 2018. Prior to the Koger Center, he worked as a production manager for jazz at Lincoln Center and the technical director for the off-Broadway Lynn Redgrave Theater. He also worked in New York City with Lincoln Center Festival, the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, Elizabeth Streb’s STREB Extreme Action Company, Spiegelworld, Cuartetango Music and Dance, and the Aquila Theatre Company.

Terracio’s goals for 2023 are to continue to improve the audience experience at the Koger Center while supporting local artists and providing a wide variety of art and cultural experiences so that there is something for everyone in South Carolina at the Koger Center for the Arts.


Overture Walker


Richland County Council

Overture Walker was elected to Richland County Council in November 2020. As Richland County Councilman and Council Chair, he represents District 8. Since his election, he has focused on renewing citizens’ confidence in county government and advocating for a more synergistic relationship between business and government that fosters economic growth while improving Richland residents’ quality of life. 

Walker has 17 years of legal experience, and he has served as a municipal court judge, city prosecutor, and assistant city attorney for the City of Columbia. He is also the co-founder and co-owner of Stoney & Walker LLC, which has law offices in Columbia and Charleston. 

He has been a resident of Richland County for over 30 years. He serves on the boards of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center and the Columbia Housing Development Corps. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina School of Law. 


Brad Wright


Burr & Forman LLC

Brad Wright serves as the Columbia Office Manager Partner for Burr & Forman LLP, representing clients with legislative and regulatory issues before the South Carolina General Assembly, the Office of the Governor, and state agencies. He also drafts legislation and amendments for consideration by the South Carolina General Assembly. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America. 

Prior to joining Burr & Forman, he served in several roles for the South Carolina House of Representatives. He also was legal counsel to the Judicial Merit Selection Commission, the House Rules Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee. 

Wright serves on the board of directors for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and he is a member of the Midlands Business Leadership Group. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and earned his law degree at the University of South Carolina. 


Ernie Yarborough

Founding Owner

Yarborough Insurance Agency, A Relation Company

Ernie Yarborough started his agency in 2000 as a Nationwide Insurance agent. In 2020 he transitioned into an independent agency and recently merged with Relation Insurance Services. He has received numerous sales awards through the years, including being named the Nationwide Insurance National Community Service Award winner. 

Yarborough recently received the Nationwide Insurance National Community Service Award. He was also previously named the SC Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man of the Year. Ernie is a member of the St Andrews-Columbia Rotary Club where he is a past president and recipient of the Rotary District Service Award. He is a 1993 graduate of The Citadel and was recently inducted into The Citadel Summerall Society and The Order of the Tartan.

Ernie’s passion is helping kids fight cancer. He serves on the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital - Midlands Board, volunteers weekly at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, serves on the CAMP KEMO Programs Committee, and is a volunteer activities counselor at CAMP KEMO. He is also a board member for Camp Rivers Edge Retreat and is a previous leadership committee member for the SC Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.