22 South Carolinians Chosen to Begin Intense Leadership Program

July 27, 2010

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (July 27, 2010) – Significant community involvement, success in their chosen field and a commitment to improving South Carolina characterize the newest class of Liberty Fellows. Chosen from a pool of 400 candidates spread across the state, these class members represent business, government and nonprofit sectors of South Carolina. 

“The class of 2012 is extremely capable of meeting the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities in the lifetime Fellowship program,” said Hayne Hipp, founder of Liberty Fellowship.  “More important to our state, not one of them is satisfied with the status quo. Each has a deep desire to take action to improve South Carolina.”

The integrity of each Liberty Fellowship class depends largely on the blend of differences and diversity of perspectives of the individual leaders. Finding the right mix is a key focus of the Liberty Fellowship.

“The members of this class span a broad and interesting spectrum. They are established leaders who represent a mosaic of backgrounds, skills and experiences,” said Jennie Johnson, Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship. 

In addition to attending four seminars over the two-year period, including one Aspen Institute global seminar with leaders from around the world, each class member commits to completing a personal project that will have a positive impact on the state.

“The Fellow projects and collaborative leadership approach truly have an impact at the state level,” continued Hipp. “The vision of Liberty Fellowship is to identify leaders who are respectful of other points of view so they can work together to move the state forward.”

Following are the members of the Liberty Fellowship Class of 2012:

Pamela A. (Pam) Baker is a shareholder with the McNair Law Firm, P.A. in Columbia, where she represents clients involved in state and federal environmental enforcement and permitting actions. Prior to attending law school, she worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control in the areas of environmental enforcement and regulatory compliance.  Pamela was appointed by the Governor in 2009 to the South Carolina Commission on Women.  She also serves on the board of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands and is an active member of the Columbia Chapter of The Links, Inc., an international nonprofit organization of professional women of color that is one of the nation’s largest volunteer service organizations. 

Pamela is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina and a newly elected board member. She earned her Juris Doctor cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Law and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Carolina.

Daniel J. (Dan) Ballou is a founding member of Hamilton Martens Ballou & Sipe, LLC, a law firm in Rock Hill. A litigator focused on business and civil cases, he was previously a partner with Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, LLP.

Dan is board member and secretary of Keystone Substance Abuse Services of York County and is vice chair of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Task Force.  He serves on the Lake Wylie Marine Commission, chaired the Rock Hill/York County Martin Luther King Task Force and is a board member of Common Cause of South Carolina.  He previously served on the South Carolina Real Estate Commission and is past president and board member of Pilgrim’s Inn.  He also is past president of the York County Bar Association and a member of the South Carolina Bar House of Delegates and the Bar's Judicial Qualifications Committee.

Dan earned his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University.

Russell W. Booker is Superintendent of Spartanburg County School District Seven. He previously served as superintendent of York School District One. He has worked as a teacher, counselor, coach, principal and district level administrator.

Russell received the Wingate University Outstanding Young Alumnus Award and the Citizen of the Year Award from the Greater York Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 he was recognized as South Carolina’s Superintendent of the Year by the Career and Technology Division. He is a graduate of the Diversity Leaders Initiative through the Riley Institute and the Spartanburg Regional Fellows program. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Rotary International, The Urban League, and the NAACP. He is on the boards of Wingate University, the Urban League of the Upstate, the Boy Scouts of America (Palmetto Council), the Charles Lea Center Foundation and the United Way of the Piedmont. 

Russell received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Wingate University and his M.Ed., Ed.S., and Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina.

John F. Castile became City Manager of Greenville on July 1. He previously served as Deputy City Manager and Assistant City Manager. Prior to his service with the City of Greenville, John was the Executive Director for Within Reach, Inc., a non-profit agency designed to provide coordination of social service delivery in at risk communities. His experience also includes positions with  BI-LO Grocery Stores, The Greenville News and Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources, Inc.

John’s community involvement includes Rotary Club of Greenville, 100 Black Men of Greenville and Greenville County Schools Shining Star Teacher Recruitment Initiative. He has served on the boards of Main Street Events, Greenville Urban League and Bridges to Augusta.  He is a graduate of Leadership Greenville and has served on its Board of Regents.

John earned his Master of Public Administration from Walden University and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Furman University.

James S. (Jamie) Fulmer, Jr. is the Vice President of Public Affairs for Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc. in Spartanburg, a NYSE traded company.  Prior to joining Advance America, he served in several managerial roles with Collins & Aikman Products in Charlotte.

Jamie serves on the board of the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg where he is the immediate past chair and is on the Board of Governors of the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce and the Advisory Board of the Urban League of the Upstate. He is a graduate of Leadership Spartanburg and formerly served on the Spartanburg Methodist College Board of Trustees, Wofford College Terrier Club Board, Converse College Board of Visitors, City of Spartanburg Planning Commission, Spartanburg Little Theatre Board and The Piedmont Interstate Fair Board.

Jamie earned his Bachelor of Arts in Government from Wofford College.

Richard J. (Rich) Gaton is the Co-founder and President of BDI Pharma, Inc., a national distributor of specialty biopharmaceuticals established in 1995 and headquartered in Columbia.  His business focuses on the specialty pharmaceutical class of therapies inclusive of biotherapeutics, chemotherapies, vaccines, plasma protein therapies and injectables. 

Rich is on the board of HDMA, a national association representing primary, full service healthcare distributors.  He also supports patient-based associations including National Hemophilia Foundation and Save One Life, both related to his line of business.  He is on the board of Heathwood Hall and has previously served on the board of the Salvation Army in Columbia.

Rich earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Tanya A. Gee is the Clerk of Court for the South Carolina Court of Appeals.  She began her career as a Law Clerk for the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and then moved on to be the Chief Staff Attorney, supervising ten staff attorneys.

Tanya helped author the appellate guidebook for self-represented litigants and organized a project to help indigents prepare wills.  Her community service also includes being a Guardian Ad Litem and tutor at a local elementary school.  She also has worked on the Kids ID project. She was recently named one of the “Top 20 Under 40” by The State newspaper and is the recipient of the 2009 Silver Compleat Lawyer award.

Tanya earned her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Winthrop University.

Mary H. Hipp is a community activist.  She was campaign manager for both David Childs and Hayne Hipp in their races for Greenville County Council.  Her career also includes Data Quality positions with Instill Corporation, a supply chain management company, and Chef/Instructor at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. 

Mary is the chair of the Friends of the Zoo board and serves on the boards of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Friends of Brookgreen Gardens, Greenville Women Giving and Metropolitan Arts Council (incoming chair).  She is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina, the Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative and Leadership Greenville.  She formerly served on the boards of the Greenville Humane Society, Greenville Chamber Board of Regents and Project Host.

Mary earned a Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Washington and Lee University and a Certificate in Culinary Arts from Tante Marie’s Cooking School.

J. Blanding (Blan) Holman IV is a Senior Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and co-founder of SELC's Charleston office.  He also teaches environmental law at the Charleston School of Law.  Prior to joining SELC, Blan practiced with a law firm in Washington D.C. and served as a law clerk to United States Judge Lacy Thornburg in Asheville. 

Blan is a founding board member for the Conservation Voters of South Carolina. He has published articles in national and local magazines as well as law journals.  He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from the University of North Carolina, Phi Beta Kappa.  He is a Harry S. Truman Scholar and visited Harvard Law School as a 2010 Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow.

R. Michael (Mikee) Johnson is CEO and President of Cox Industries, a privately owned business specializing in manufacturing and global distribution of pressure-treated wood. Previously, he was an Associate Vice President with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc.

Mikee is chair of the Orangeburg Chamber of Commerce and on the executive committee of the Indian Waters Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is state membership chair for the Young Presidents’ Organization and was recently named one of the “Top 20 Under 40” by The State newspaper.  He served on the Downtown Revitalization Association board, has been a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and served as chairman for the Orangeburg County March of Dimes.

Mikee earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and his Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from Furman University. Additionally, he has a Masters in the field of Family Business from Kennesaw State and is pursuing a DBA in the same field.

Amy E. Love is Deputy Executive Director of New Carolina – South Carolina's Council on Competitiveness. She was part of the start-up team that launched New Carolina in 2004. Before joining New Carolina, Amy worked in Europe for German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom.

During graduate school, Amy developed and ran the public information program for USDA Rural Development in South Carolina. She has a Masters in Public Relations from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Furman University. She studied German at Middlebury College and the Goethe Institute in Bonn, Germany.

Amy is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the South Carolina Economic Developers Association and the Leadership South Carolina Board of Trustees. She is a Richard W. Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) graduate and serves on the DLI Emerging Leaders Advisory Committee.

Nicolas D. (Nick) Muzin is Senior Vice President of Legal & Government Affairs for The InterTech Group, a private equity conglomerate in Charleston. He also is a physician at the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic.  Prior to joining InterTech, Nick worked at the law firm Williams & Connally in Washington D.C.  He also has worked on policy issues for the Food and Drug Administration and as a physician at Westchester Medical Center in New York.

Nick worked in the Counsel’s Office of the Republican National Committee during the 2004 election, served as senior medical advisor for the McCain for President campaign and was the finance chairman for the South Carolina Republican Party Commission on Debates. He earned his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his Bachelor of Arts from Yeshiva University.

Susan D. Newman is Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and College of Graduate Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina.  She previously worked as a staff nurse at Roper Rehabilitation Hospital in Charleston. Today, her career is focused on community-based rehabilitation and health promotion intervention research with people with spinal cord injuries.

Susan volunteers with groups such as Anchors Away/Adaptive Water Sports and Achieving Wheelchair Equality.  She partners with the disAbility Resource Center, a Center for Independent Living, both in helping people with disabilities and in conducting her research.

Susan earned her PhD and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Clemson University. She is a Registered Nurse.

Scott E. Porter is Section Chief of the Division of Orthopaedic Oncology at Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center and holds an Adjunct Assistant Professorship in the Department of Bioengineering at Clemson University.  He is one of only two orthopaedic oncologists in the state of South Carolina. Additionally, he has been actively engaged in understanding South Carolina’s political landscape.

Scott earned his MD from the Yale University School of Medicine and his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Morehouse College. He is pursuing an MBA at the Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University.

Patricia S. (Tricia) Ravenhorst is the Director and Immigration Attorney of the South Carolina Immigrant Victim Network, a program of the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network.   She remains Of Counsel at the law firm of Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, which she joined out of law school.   Her prior work experience includes internships with the South African Secretariat for Safety and Security in Pretoria, South Africa and clerkships at several law firms.

Tricia is on the boards of La Alianza para la Colaboración con la Comunidad Hispana and the Center for Developmental Services and is a former board member of Safe Harbor (chair) and Leadership Greenville Development Board.  She is a graduate of Leadership Greenville.

Tricia earned her Juris Doctor and Master of Arts in Political Science with a Certification in Latin American Studies from Duke University and her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Florida State University.

Vaidehi A. Shah is a founder of Velocitas Partners, Inc., an advisory firm partnering with social investors including venture capitalists, foundations, pension funds, family offices, individuals and other socially-motivated investors.  Her prior experience includes positions with Eton Park Capital Management, The Carlyle Group, The World Bank and Goldman Sachs.

Vaidehi earned her Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and her Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Mathematics and Economics from Wellesley College.

James E. Smith, Jr. received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law, began his legal career with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP and is currently the principle of James E. Smith, Jr., P.A. Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996, James has served as Assistant Minority Leader, Chief Minority Whip and House Minority Leader.   
After serving eight years as a JAG officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard, James resigned his commission, re-enlisted and became an Infantry Officer.  As a Captain, he served in Afghanistan’s Zabul and Khandahar Provinces where he earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star and Purple Heart Medals. 
James serves on the boards of the Alston Wilkes Society, Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority, Congaree Riverkeepers and United Way and is a former board member of the South Carolina First Steps and Prevent Child Abuse.  James was recently awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award by the University of South Carolina College of Art and Sciences.

Robin B. Stilwell is a State Circuit Court Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. Prior to being elected judge, he was a shareholder in Hunter Tomaszek & Stilwell, P.A. He also has served as Chief Judge, Mauldin Municipal Court, and Associate Judge, Greer Municipal Court.  His experience includes founding his own law firm and serving as Associate Attorney at Anderson Fayssoux & Chasteen and The Stilwell Law Firm. Additionally, he represented indigent defendants as an Indigent Defense contract attorney for the County of Greenville.

Robin served on the boards of the Greenville Literacy Association, Eastside YMCA, Mental Health Association of South Carolina and Greenville Hospital System Patewood Advisory Board. He has been an Infantry Officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard for over 20 years and was deployed to Afghanistan where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and a Bronze Star.

Robin received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts in English from The Citadel.

Gustavo A. (Gus) Suárez is an Associate Attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., where he practices immigration compliance law, employment law and product litigation.  He also teaches Immigration Law at Greenville Technical College.

Gus serves on the boards of Pendleton Place Children’s Home and the International Center for the Upstate and on the Greenville Technical College Multicultural Advisory Council.  Recently, he completed the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Program.

Gus earned his Juris Doctor magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in Political Science and History from Furman University.

Laura G. Varn is Vice President of Corporate Communications and Media Relations for Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s largest provider of electricity with more than two million customers.  Under her leadership, Santee Cooper was named the utility with the best communications of all utilities in the nation in 2009. Prior to joining Santee Cooper, she served in media relations and corporate communications roles with Southern Company, Delta Air Lines and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, all based in Atlanta.

Laura is on the Executive Committee of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, leading their ThinkTEC Innovation Division.  She is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina, Diversity Leadership Initiative and Leadership Berkeley County.  She formerly served on the Youth Communication, Metro Atlanta board and Georgia 100 Mentoring Association as well as the Habitat for Humanity board in Atlanta.

Laura earned her Bachelor of Science summa cum laude in Journalism from Ohio University.

Peter B. Waldschmidt is Founder and CEO of Gnoso, Inc., a software product design and development company.  Prior to founding Gnoso, he co-founded TetraData which built the market-leading data warehousing and analysis solution for U.S. school districts and state education departments.  In 2006 this company was acquired by Follett Software.

Peter is Co-Chair of the NEXT Innovation Center Initiative and was a driving force behind this successful incubator for entrepreneurs.  He also serves on the board of the Greenville Local Development Corporation and was chairman of the TEDxGreenville Conference held for the first time this spring. He is a founding member of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network.

Peter is pursuing his Master of Business Administration from Clemson University and earned a Bachelor of Science magna cum laude in Electrical Engineering from Bob Jones University.

Thad H. Westbrook is a Partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, where his practice is focused on business litigation, class action defense, and consumer finance litigation. Previously he was as law clerk to U.S. District Judge G. Ross Anderson, Jr.

Thad is on the Board of Trustees and is former vice chair of the Board of Visitors at the University of South Carolina.  He is immediate past board chair for Lexington Medical Center and now serves on the Lexington Medical Center Foundation Board.  He is a former member of the Board of Visitors for the Medical University of South Carolina and is on the South Carolina Supreme Court's Committee on Character and Fitness. He was named one of the “top 20 under 40” by The State newspaper in 2009.

Thad earned his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Political Science from the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina.

About Liberty Fellowship
Liberty Fellowship is a statewide leadership initiative founded by Hayne Hipp, Wofford College and The Aspen Institute. The program seeks to inspire outstanding leadership in South Carolina, empowering the state’s leaders to realize their full potential. Fostering a values-based approach, Liberty Fellowship exposes rising leaders, ages 30-45, to diverse perspectives, critical thinking, and intellectual and personal development through an intense two-year program.  For more information: www.libertyfellowshipsc.org.