June 15, 2018

Leadership Columbia Graduates 55 Midlands Leaders

On Thursday, June 14, 2018 at the 701 Whaley, the Columbia Chamber and the Leadership Columbia Advisory Board (LCAB) honored 55 graduates of the Leadership Columbia program. The Class of 2018 completed ten class days, an orientation, a retreat, and a class project with Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc. (MIRCI). Since its inception in 1972, Leadership Columbia has graduated over 2,000 leaders across the Midlands.

“Leadership Columbia has provided the Midlands with a group of dedicated and passionate servant leaders for the past 45 years,” said Carl Blackstone, President and CEO of the Columbia Chamber, “The work the Class of 2018 has done for MIRCI will greatly affect the lives of many in our community for years to come.”

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2018:

Lakia Bass | BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

William B. Beaman | Colliers International

Elizabeth Black | Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

Caleb Bryant | Central Electric Power Cooperative

Laura Burns | Seed Architecture, LLC

Janet Carlson | Midlands Orthopedics

Demetria Carswell | SCDHHS

Alexandra Cebry | Columbia City Ballet

Russell Comeaux | Aflac Incorporated

Bethany Dadisman | Colonial Life

Melissa Dunn | United Way of the Midlands

Margaret Deans Fawcett | Camp Cole

Robin Free | Palmetto GBA

Nicholas Galante | The Animal Mission of Midlands

Susan Gilfillan | BlueCross BlueShield of SC

Hall Gladden | Colite International, LTD

Michael Glenn | TD Bank

Hunter Gordy | Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Brennon D. Graham | Growing Home Southeast

Heyward Harvin | The City of Columbia

Mary Dell Hayes | Sexual Trauma Services

Chase Heatherly | Free Times

Jon Hethcox | Aflac

Elizabeth Hutton | SCANA Corporation

Ashley Jaillette | Association of Technical College Commissioners

Erika Johnson | EDENS

Merrell D. Johnson | SC Judicial Department


Janie Kerzan | University of South Carolina

Lee Ann Kornegay | 701 Whaley

Adam Lee | The CFO Project

Jesica Mackey | HDR

Lisa Mathew | BlueCross BlueShield of SC

Shayla Merrit | Stevens & Wilkinson

Sam Monroe |BlueCross BlueShield of SC

Matthew Nichols |Founders Federal Credit Union

Patrick Olson | Colonial Life

Connelly-Anne Ragley | Denny Public Affairs

Mal Reeder | Midlands Technical College

Rachel Robinson | SCANA Corporation

Aubrey Lynne Sejuit | Lenoir-Rhyne University

Bradley Shell | Peach Properties

Betsy Sippel | LTC Health Solutions

Samantha Skeeter | SC Department of Revenue

Shawn Skillman | BlueCross BlueShield of SC

Lauren Smith | Holder Properties

Robert C. Squirewell | Rescare / SC Works

Selia Straus | Sagacious Partners

Daniella Surginer | Army Reserve

Angel E. Sweeting | BlueCross BlueShield of SC

Justine Tate | Adams and Reese LLP

Samantha Vasknetz | Wolfe Solutions

Kimberly Wilson | Estates Management

Lara Winburn | WREN

Becky Wych  | United Way of the Midlands

Emily Zackon | Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein

“The Class of 2018 is a group of incredible change agents,” said Marshall Minton, 2017-2018 Leadership Columbia Advisory Board Chair, “These trailblazers have truly made a lasting impact on our region.”

In addition to presenting each graduate with a commemorative plaque, the Columbia Chamber and LCAB honored Laura Burns with the Glenn Jacobus Award, an award given each year to a class member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the class project and truly embodied the role of a servant leader.

“The Leadership Columbia Alumni Association (LCAA) focuses on continuing and enhancing the skills created during the class year,” said Ryan Newton, 2017-2018 Leadership Columbia Alumni Association Chair, “The graduates from this year’s class will join 2,000 distinguished alumni serving our community.”

In July, the Columbia Chamber will announce the Leadership Columbia Class of 2018.

“Year after year I continue to be impressed with the outstanding group of leaders within the program,” said incoming 2018-2019 LCAB Chair, Hilary Dyer Brannon, “We are proud of the legacy created by the graduates of the Class of 2018, and look forward to the upcoming year with the Class of 2019.”

About Leadership Columbia
Founded by the Columbia Chamber in 1972, Leadership Columbia strives to provide the community with an enduring source of diverse leaders who are prepared to serve their region. The 10-month skills-building program, aims to identify and motivate emerging community leaders; provide an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness; and challenge participants to apply their talents within their community while providing an opportunity to become involved. The program focuses on showing the candidates an in-depth look at critical issues facing the Midlands.

For more information on Leadership Columbia, visit or contact Charlotte Bian-Lingle at

About Columbia Chamber
The Columbia Chamber is a private, non-profit, Partner-driven organization comprised of 1,500 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals in Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties. The Columbia Chamber serves as the voice of its Partners and the business community at large on matters of economic, educational, social, cultural and political concern, as well as supports and promotes the success of its Partners through networking, professional development, advocacy and leadership. The organization has represented the interests of the local business community since 1902.

To become a Partner or to learn more about the Columbia Chamber, as well as its events, programs and initiatives, visit

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