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Business, Community & Chamber Leaders Honored at the 127th Annual Meeting

Posted by: Megan Campbell on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Greenville Chamber held its 127th Annual Meeting, presented by TD Bank, on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at TD Convention Center. The event featured a keynote presentation by Beverly Wyse, Vice President and General Manager for Boeing South Carolina.

The event, emceed by The Honorable Merl Code, also featured a special tribute to retiring Chamber President/CEO Ben Haskew and the passing of the gavel from 2015 Board of Directors  Chair Julie Godshall Brown, to 2016 Chair David Lominack, South Carolina Market President at TD Bank.

The meeting featured the presentation of the following 2015 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 2015 award, sponsored by Peace Center for the Performing Arts, was presented to Susan and Tom O’Hanlan and their company Sealevel Systems, Inc. for their long-time commitment to enhancing and strengthening arts organizations in the Upstate.

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 2015 ATHENA Leadership Award®, sponsored by Quality of Life Brand LLC, was presented to Anne Ellefson, Deputy General Counsel for Academics & Community Affairs at Greenville Health System, for serving as a leader for women and our community as a whole throughout her career.

The Buck Mickel Leadership Award, sponsored by AT&T, honors those who have 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 2015 Buck Mickel Leadership Award recognized eight NEXT Entrepreneurs for their time, talents and experiences to launch and nurture NEXT as we know today.    

  • Peter Barth, The Iron Yard
  • Michael Bolick, Selah Genomics
  • Ken Brower, NWN Corporation
  • Matt Gevaert, Kiyatec
  • Andrew Kurtz, Kopis
  • Scott Millwood, Hitachi Solutions (formerly Customer Effective)
  • Jeff Papenfus (posthumously), Northgate Labs
  • Peter Waldschmidt, Gnoso

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 2015 award, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, was presented to CommunityWorks, noting especially their commitment to fostering the financial futures of underserved families through financial education, lending, and investing. Executive Director, Deborah McKetty accepted the award.

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 2015 award was presented to Professional Healthcare Services. With 17 years of healthcare experience, Professional Healthcare Services offers an array of professional, cost-effective healthcare solutions for both large and small companies, industrial workforce, insurance carriers, government and state agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. President and Owner Doris Haley accepted the award.

The 2015 Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, was presented to Worthwhile, a leader of the software development community in Greenville and the southeast region since their founding in 1994. This is the 39th year in which the Chamber has recognized the spirit of entrepreneurship by presenting the Small Business of the Year Award. Worthwhile CEO Dan Rundle accepted the award.

The 2015 Chairman’s Award, sponsored by BB&T, recognized Phillip Kilgore, a shareholder with Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart. Under his leadership as Vice-chair of Business Advocacy, Kilgore helps shape strong business advocacy agendas working towards state infrastructure funding, improved workforce training and a strong business climate. 

The Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a Leadership Greenville Alum who has made outstanding civic and community contributions. This award, sponsored by Michelin North America, was presented to Reid Lehman, a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 15. For 30 years, Reid Lehman served as President/CEO of Miracle Hill Ministries. Now, in his 41st year of service, Reid continues to expand Miracle Hill’s outreach, starting and strengthening Christian homeless shelters and addiction recovery centers in the southeast. 

The Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, P.C., is designed to recognize an individual between the ages of 22 and 39 for his or her involvement in the community. The 2015 award process resulted in a tie, recognizing young professionals Mike Pennington and Dante Russo.

Mike Pennington is an entrepreneur who has been an integral part of Rhino Concessions and FunnelDelicious. Mike was named Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest in 2013. He was 2015 Chair of the Greenville Chamber’s Pulse Young Professionals and serves on Youth Leadership and Opportunity Greenville Committees, and the Board of Advisors.

Dante Russo is Executive Producer and Founding Partner of SC Insurance Brokers, a finalist for the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year in 2012. He was named Greenville Business Magazine’s Best & Brightest in 2009, is a member of the Chamber’s Pulse Young Professionals Advisory Council and Leadership Greenville Alumni Advisory Council, and is a graduate of Leadership Greenville’s Class 38.

The Chamber’s leadership presented retiring President/CEO Ben Haskew with the inaugural F. Ben Haskew Collaboration Award sponsored by Furman University. This award will be presented annually to recognize Upstate leaders who display progressive visions and a partnership approach to responsible growth in the Upstate.

About Ben Haskew
Ben Haskew has served the Greenville Chamber as President/CEO for 12 years and is closing in on a 40 year career in the chamber industry. His forward-thinking mindset and collaborative spirit will impact the Upstate for many years to come.

Haskew was instrumental in attracting the likes of major businesses to the Upstate - BMW, Southwest Airlines and Hubbell Lighting, to name a few. He also played an integral role in significant projects such as Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, USC School of Medicine Greenville, and Carolina Panthers Training Camp.

In 2015, Ben was named the South Carolina Chamber Executive of the Year by the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. This honor recognizes long-term executives who have excelled over a period of years in leading and innovatively building their chamber.

Congratulations to all award winners! We are so appreciative of the amazing work you are doing in our community! Special thanks to everyone who planned, attended, and supported our Annual Meeting. We are proud of the work we accomplished together in 2015, and are excited about all that 2016 has in store!

Let's do something that matters today!

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