Wyche Lawyer Jo Hackl Receives ATHENA Leadership Award at Greenville Chamber Annual Meeting

The Greenville Chamber Website
February 21, 2013

The Greenville Chamber held its 124th Annual Meeting, presented by TD Bank, on Thursday, February 21, 2013, at TD Convention Center. The event featured keynote speaker David Seaton, Chairman and CEO of Fluor Corporation (see bio below).

Also addressing attendees were Chamber President and CEO Ben Haskew and 2012 Board Chair Mike Riordan, CEO of Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center Mike Riordan, who passed the Chair’s gavel to 2013 Chair Luanne Runge, shareholder with Gallivan, White & Boyd, P.A.

The meeting also featured the presentation of the following annual awards:

  • The Arts Leadership Award was created to recognize exemplary leadership in promoting and advocating the arts on behalf of the Greenville community. The award is presented to an artist, philanthropist, arts executive, volunteer or corporation each year. The 2012 award, sponsored by The Peace Center for the Performing Arts, was presented to CertusBank. (See more information about CertusBank below.)
  • The Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award is given annually to an organization that has shown exemplary efforts toward neighborhood improvement and empowerment. The award is named in honor of former Greenville mayor Max Heller, who spearheaded numerous efforts over the years to improve the quality of life for all citizens of Greenville County. The 2012 award, sponsored by CBRE | The Furman Co., was presented to The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. (See more information about the Kroc Center below.)
  • The Minority Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Bank of America, is presented to a local, independently-, and minority-owned company that has been in business for a minimum of three years. The 2012 award was presented to Flat Fee Recruiting, LLC and presented to founder/owner Ava Smith. (See more information about Flat Fee Recruiting below.)
  • The 2012 Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, was presented to Rush Wilson Ltd. This is the 36th year in which the Chamber has recognized the spirit of entrepreneurship by presenting the Small Business of the Year Award. (See more information about Rush Wilson Ltd. below.)
  • Ambassadors serve as liaisons for the Greenville Chamber by conducting personal visits with members to discuss their business needs and participation in Chamber activities. Mark Basanda was recognized with the Ambassador of the Year Award for the vital link he plays in the Chamber’s critical retention efforts. (See more information about Basanda below.)
  • The ATHENA Leadership Award® honors individuals who assist women in reaching their full leadership potential; demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; and, provide valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community. The ATHENA Leadership Award, sponsored by CertusBank, was presented to Jo Hackl, Xanthene Norris and Nancy Whitworth. (See more information about Wyche lawyer, Jo Hackl, below.)
  • The Buck Mickel Leadership Award, sponsored by AT&T, is given to an individual who has had a dramatic impact on the community by playing a leadership role in solving critical community issues, strengthening the community or providing visionary leadership to a major community development project. The 2012 Buck Mickel Leadership Award recognized Jim DeMint. (See more information about DeMint below.)
  • The annual Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., recognized South Carolina Representative Bruce Bannister. (See more information about Bannister below.)
  • The Special Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of South Carolina, was presented to David Lominack for his significant contributions to the leadership of our community. (See more information about Lominack below.)
  • The Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a Leadership Greenville Alumni who has outstanding civic and community contributions. This award was presented to Greenville Forward Executive Director Russell Stall (see more about Stall below).
  • The Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by BB&T, is designed to recognize an individual between the ages of 22 and 39 for his or her involvement in the community. The 2012 award was presented to Nick Graham. (See more information about Graham below.)

More about the Awards and Winners

CertusBank, 2012 Arts Leadership Award

With the 2011 announcement of CertusBank’s relocation to Greenville, its leaders promised to work to enrich the quality of life for everyone in the community. Quickly, this promise became a reality.  Community involvement is part of the business’ personal and corporate DNA, and they serve the Upstate through their time, skills and gifts, making Greenville a great place to live and work.

Despite the pressures of setting up a headquarters and expanding market share, CertusBank has taken time to support local nonprofits, especially arts organizations. Recognizing the arts’ role in making Greenville a desirable place to work and live, Certus has significantly contributed to Artisphere, the Greenville Museum of Art, Warehouse Theatre and the Peace Center.

At the Peace Center, CertusBank has truly exemplified its promise to Greenville. By investing $1 million in the Center’s renovation, CertusBank has allowed for further community-focused projects to be addressed—notably, jumpstarting the redevelopment of the historic Huguenot Mill by underwriting improvements to create a sophisticated loft space for popular local events.

CertusBank’s leaders also elected to become the title sponsor of the Peace Center’s beloved Broadway series and, in turn, became the Peace Center’s top annual supporter. This year, the Certus Broadway Series will welcome over 80,000 visitors from across the region to Downtown Greenville, making a profound economic impact on local restaurants, hotels, and businesses. 

In a short time, CertusBank has endeared itself to arts organizations in Greenville. And, in doing so, has become a leader in promoting the arts as a valuable tool for community enrichment.

Flat Fee Recruiting, LLC/Ava Smith, 2012 Minority Business of the Year Award

The 2012 Minority Business of the Year recipient stands out among that group and is a well-established and respected woman and minority-owned company in the recruiting field.  Ava Smith, of Flat Fee Recruiting, LLC takes pride in serving people in the Upstate. Ava is the owner and operator of this permanent placement agency that assists companies with finding quality employees at affordable fees. Flat Fee Recruiting services clients on a local, national and international level for all industries and business sizes.

Rush Wilson Ltd., 2012 Small Business of the Year Award

Rush Wilson Limited is a family-run, upscale menswear clothing store located in Downtown Greenville specializing in Classic American Style since 1959.  A Chamber member since January 1960, Rush Wilson has served the Upstate with the same goal -- to offer their customers exceptional service and an unparalleled shopping experience.  Building relationships with their customers has been the basis for their success.  They have been privileged to serve some families for four generations.

The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 2012 Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award

The Kroc Center opened its doors in October 2011. This new LEED certified facility not only improved the physical appearance of the West Greenville community but it provided a place for human development. It was designed to provide facilities, programs and services that encourage positive life-changing experiences for children and adults. 

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club now calls this center home, providing a safe and secure environment for the children afterschool and during the summer. In all aspects of the planning, the aesthetics of the facility, improvement to the neighborhood and the opportunity for personal growth for the community were considered. 

The center also shares the campus with AJ Whittenberg School of Engineering. Last year approximately 15,000 visited this facility for various events and programs. Life has now returned to a part of town that was once avoided by most Greenville residents.

2012 ATHENA Leadership Award® Winners

Jo Hackl

Jo Hackl, a corporate and securities attorney with Wyche Law Firm, gives to others because she understands the impact mentors can have on those they support. Hackl, a first generation college graduate, benefited from the experience of those who took the time to mentor her and she tries to return that gift to those who are following in her footsteps.

Hackl serves as a mentor for students at her alma mater, Yale Law School, for members of the Pacesetters program and for members of the current Liberty Fellowship class. She is also actively involved in Emrys Foundation and serves on the boards of Camperdown Academy, the United Way and the Greenville Area Development Corp.

Xanthene Norris

Greenville County Council member Xanthene Norris is passionate about education and she has dedicated much of her life to helping others have access to their educational goals. Though she is a retired educator with Greenville County Schools, Norris hasn’t slowed down. Instead, she has expanded her reach through political office, playing an important role in the county’s adoption of a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2006.

Norris has focused on the preservation of Upstate history through her work in obtaining historical markers commemorating Sterling High School and memorializing the lynching of Willie Earle. Norris is also involved in promoting the restoration of Lincoln Cemetery. In addition, Norris spearheaded efforts that resulted in raising more than a million dollars in college scholarships through projects of the Upstate United Negro College Fund, the Palmetto Associates and the A.J. Whittenberg Scholarship Program.

Nancy Whitworth

Nancy Whitworth is the director of economic development for the City of Greenville and is responsible for commercial and neighborhood revitalization, downtown development, business recruitment and retention, planning and zoning and building codes. A native South Carolinian, she has been in Greenville for over thirty years and has been fortunate to witness first hand Greenville’s transformation.

She received Master of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Clemson University.  She is a member of the American Institute for Certified Planners, the International Council of Shopping Centers, serving as Alliance Chair for South Carolina, and Urban Land Institute.  Nancy is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, member of Rotary Club of Greenville, University Center Board of Visitors, Greenville Professional Women’s Forum and First Presbyterian Church.  Throughout the years she has been involved in leadership roles in various community organizations.

She has been recognized as Greenville Magazine Business Person of the Year, a Women Making History honoree, March of Dimes Real Estate Award honoree, and as recipient of both the Chamber’s Buck Mickel Community Leadership Award and the Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award.

South Carolina Representative Bruce Bannister, 2012 Chairman’s Award

Admitted to the practice of law in South Carolina in 1998, Bannister was elected as the S.C. House District 24 Representative, 2005-2014. Mr. Bannister was elected by his peers to serve as the South Carolina House Majority Leader. Elected to this position this past December, Representative Bruce Bannister is the first majority leader from Greenville in 20 years.  He serves on the Judiciary Committee and is Chairman of the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee.  An active member of the community, Bruce is a graduate of Leadership Greenville and a member of Liberty Fellowship’s Class of 2014.

Mark Basanda, 2012 Ambassador of the Year Award

Mark Basanda is President & Owner Utility Audit Solutions, LLC as well as a dedicated Greenville Chamber Ambassador. The driving force of the Upstate’s economy is small business. Nearly 87 percent of the Chamber’s members are small businesses. It is for this reason that the Chamber’s Ambassador Team plays such a vital role in the Chamber’s retention efforts. Ambassadors serve as liaisons by conducting personal visits with members to discuss their business needs and participation in Chamber activities.

Jim DeMint, 2012 Buck Mickel Leadership Award

Jim DeMint got his start in advertising and ran his own company for fifteen years. During that time he went through Leadership Greenville and served on the Chamber and United Way Boards. In 2009, he was awarded the Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award. In 1998 he won a seat in Congress and after six years in the House was elected as South Carolina’s 55th U.S. Senator. He served on important committees including Commerce, Banking and Foreign Relations. Upon his retirement last month from the Senate, Jim DeMint became president of the Heritage Foundation, a public policy think tank.

Nick Graham, 2012 Young Professional of the Year Award

Nick Graham exhibits a generosity of spirit amidst significant work demands and responsibilities that enhance the community in which he lives. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Mechanical Engineering and went on to pursue a Masters Degree at Georgia Institute of Technology.

After a year and a half in GE Energy’s exclusive Edison Engineering Development Program, he assumed a leadership role where he founded a new engineering team and led it to numerous successes over the past two years. He has received multiple GE management awards for gas turbine design and cost reduction. He holds two utility patents and has four being evaluated by the USPTO.

He is actively involved in the community through a number of organizations. In addition to being engaged in the Greenville Chamber’s PULSE group, he serves through GE Volunteer and Community groups including the Humane Society, Greer Soup Kitchen, Junior Achievement, Red Shoe Society and Downtown Symphony Club. He is an advisory board member of Building Dreams and an active mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister organization. He is a Division Governor for Toastmasters and has worked to found a new Toastmasters club at Greenville Hospital System, organizing leadership training events for more than 120 members.

David Lominack, 2012 Special Chairman’s Award

David Lominack is market president in the Upstate/Midlands region of South Carolina for TD Bank, N.A. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the financial services industry.

In his role as market president, David is responsible for four regional vice presidents, whose primary focus is the management of day-to-day commercial banking operations. In addition, he facilitates partnerships with the bank’s various lines of business – including 50 retail stores – to deliver all of the bank’s products and services to its customers.

David serves on numerous community boards including the Greenville Chamber; Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina; South Carolina Bankers Association; American Heart Association; Ten at the Top; and United Way.

Russell Stall, 2012 Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award

Russell Stall has roots in Greenville and has actively pursued his desire to make Greenville a better place to live, work, and play. He serves as Executive Director of Greenville Forward, where he is the primary shepherd, facilitator and catalyst for the fulfillment of Vision 2025 – a long-term, community-wide vision for Greenville County.

Stall has served as Chair of Leadership Greenville, on the Board of Trustees for the St. Francis Foundation, and Board of Directors for Ten at the Top. He has also served on the Chamber’s Board of Governors as well as boards for The American Heart Association, Project Host, The Greenville Zoo and The Metropolitan Arts Council, to name a few. Russell has been listed three times as one of Greenville’s Most Influential Business Leaders by Greenville Business Magazine and is not only a graduate of Leadership Greenville, but also the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Initiative.

For over 10 years, Stall has dedicated countless hours to the Leadership Greenville program, promoting it in the community and working with graduates to connect them further in the Upstate. He actively supports other LEAD programs of the Chamber and serves as a mentor to young professionals as part of the PULSE PaceSetters initiative.

About the Greenville Chamber’s 124th Annual Meeting

The Greenville Chamber’s 124th Annual Meeting was held on Thursday, February 21st, 2013 at TD Convention Center from 5:30 to 9:00 pm.

The Chamber’s Annual Meeting is a celebration of the past year’s successes and a look at what’s to come in the new year. This event, one of the largest business meetings in South Carolina, brings together approximately 1300 business leaders, community leaders and elected officials. The 2013 Annual Meeting kicked off the Chamber’s 125th year of operations.

The event included a networking reception, dinner, keynote speaker, Chamber updates, and awards presentations to a selected group of deserving individuals and businesses.

About the Greenville Chamber

The Greenville Chamber, now in its 125th year of operation, is the largest business organization in the Upstate. The Chamber's vision is to build one of the premier business communities in the world by driving economic growth and prosperity, serving as an advocate for business interests, training future leaders and facilitating the workforce of tomorrow. For more information, visit www.greenvillechamber.org or call 864-242-1050.