Meghan Hughes Hickman serves as the Executive Director for EngenuitySC, a nonprofit focused on regional competitiveness. In her role as Executive Director, Meghan leads the organization’s efforts to make
Columbia and the Midlands of South Carolina more economically competitive and prosperous.
As Executive Director, Meghan oversees EngenuitySC’s ongoing economic development initiatives including building local industry clusters; managing regional collaborations; and producing regional marketing, research and analysis tools.
Prior to joining EngenuitySC, Meghan spent nearly six years working for United States Senator Lindsey
Graham (R-SC). During that time she sharpened her skills in campaign finance, event management and served two years as his press secretary on Capitol Hill. Following that, she entered the private sector with Stratacomm, a Fleishman-Hillard Company, and managed full-service, national public relations campaigns for clients ranging from federal government agencies to large coalitions and associations. Meghan, a self-proclaimed news junkie, is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina Honors College (a proud Gamecock!). She’s also a proud aunt and enjoys visiting her seven nephews and three nieces every chance she gets.
Ted Creech is Director of External Affairs for AT&T in South Carolina. Ted directs the economic development, local government, and external and community relations activities for the company in South Carolina.
Ted previously served as AT&T’s Legislative Affairs director at the S.C. General Assembly, and before being promoted to that position, he was Regional Director for AT&T in the Lowcountry where he managed the company’s economic development and external affairs in the Charleston region.
Ted graduated from the University of South Carolina with honors in 1981. He worked in television and radio news early in his career and won several state and national reporting awards.
During his career with BellSouth before the company merged with AT&T, Ted gained a thorough knowledge of telecommunications technology and regulation while working on several landmark regulatory initiatives in the 1990s. While in Atlanta, he directed the corporate-wide marketing communications for BellSouth’s then-emerging Internet business in the late ‘90s and helped lead the initial corporate launch of broadband DSL.
Ted is currently Vice Chair of the Board of the Central SC Alliance, and he is a past Chairman of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance Board and Summerville-Dorchester Chamber Board. He also currently serves on the Boards of the Columbia Urban League, SC Council on Competitiveness, the Columbia Chamber, and the Palmetto Health Foundation. Ted is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Claflin University.
Ted and his wife, Rosa, live in Columbia and have three sons and one granddaughter.
Valerie has lived in Columbia since 1976 and is currently the President of the Gills Watershed Association (GCWA) board of directors.
In the 1990s, the GCWA was formed as an informal working group by members of several of the lake associations within the Gills Creek Watershed. In the late 1990’s, the GCWA became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Within the last 10 years, the GCWA in collaboration with numerous partners developed long-term strategies for watershed restoration, stream mitigation, and other watershed management policies.
Valerie got her masters degree in Anthropology from USC and worked for many years as an archaeologist, with her longest stint in the State Historic Preservation Office at the SC Department of Archives and History. Until last year she was a member of the City of Columbia’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), which shepherded the development of the Walk Bike Columbia Master Plan.
Lori Bassett, MS, is a certified genetic counselor and serves as Head of Communications for the Greenwood Genetic Center. She earned a BS in Biology from Furman University followed by a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. She worked as a prenatal genetic counselor at Emory Genetics Laboratory in Atlanta and at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge before returning to her hometown of Greenwood. Lori joined the Greenwood Genetic Center in 2007 as a laboratory counselor and became Head of Communications in 2010. Her roles include promoting the Center through press releases, tours, the Center’s website and social media pages, and she handles all branding and communications pieces. She also serves as the Center’s HIPAA Compliance Officer. Lori is married to Dr. Jonathan Bassett, a professor of psychology at Lander University and they have two children, Lucas, 14 and Ella, 11.
Governor Brooks has been a member of the Hilton Head Island Rotary Club for 16 years. She is a Past Assistant Governor, Past President and an RLI Facilitator. She has received the Presidential Citation Award, Distinguished Service Award, The Rotary Foundation District Service Award and Four Avenues of Service Citation. She and Mike are Major Donors, Bequest Society and Benefactors and a Paul Harris Society Member. Sandee moved to Hilton Head Island in 1999 after retiring from Ameritech the telephone company in the upper mid-west. Sandee presently works at Volunteers In Medicine a free clinic providing IT support for the electronic medical records system. She is married to Mike Rambo and has a daughter Jessica in Michigan with 2 granddaughters and two step-daughters, one in Fairbanks, Ak. and one in New Zealand.
Justin Strickland is the President of Southern First Bank and has over 31 years of banking experience. From 1985 until 1993, Mr. Strickland held various positions with The Citizens & Southern National Bank of South Carolina. From 1993 until November 2006, he was with Carolina First Bank. From 1999 until November 2006, he held the position of South Carolina Midlands Market President.
Mr. Strickland is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in finance and the LSU Graduate School of Banking of the South in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1996.
He currently serves as Board Member of Lexington County Medical Foundation, and Board Member and Finance Committee Chairman of Navigating from Good to Great Foundation, Mr. Strickland served as past Chairman of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce; past Chairman of the SC Bankers Association and past Chairman of the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. He formerly held the position of Treasurer with the Saluda Shoal Foundation and is a past Board Member of Columbia Urban League, Palmetto Health Foundation (past Chairman), Junior Achievement (past Chairman), the SC Bankers School (past Chairman), and the Boy Scouts Indian Water Council. He is an active member of Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church. He was a prior Chairman of the SC Bankers Association/Young Bankers Division where he received the SC Outstanding Young Bankers Award in 1999. He has been a member in the past with the Rotary Club, Sertoma Club, Business Association of Columbia, Salvation Army, and the United Way.
Mr. Strickland and his wife Rhonda have been married 29 years and have two sons, Justin, II (25) and Chance (22).
Mr. Jaco is the Director of Utilities and Engineering for the City of Columbia. In this position he is responsible for the overall management of the Engineering and Utilities divisions at the City of Columbia including water, wastewater, engineering, real estate, and administration divisions. Previously he worked for B.P. Barber and Associates, Inc. as a Senior Project Engineer responsible for design and project management in all areas of civil engineering with emphasis on water distribution planning and design, sewer system planning and design, structural analysis and design, and construction administration. He is a professional engineer in the state of South Carolina. He graduated with a bachelor of science in engineering degree and master of engineering degree from the University of South Carolina.
Mr. Jaco will talk to the Five Points Rotary about the aftermath of the flood that ravaged Columbia in October 2015.
John is a Columbia native who holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English and history and a Masters of Arts in English from Clemson University, a Masters in Public History from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in museum management from McKissick Museum. Continuing education has involved a summer program with the Museum of Southern Decorative Arts and a certificate from the Southeastern Museum Conference’s Jekyll Island Management Institute.
John’s museum experience includes stints at Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the National Trust’s Drayton Hall Plantation, Old York Historical Society in York, Maine and Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Since 1996, he has served Historic Columbia in a variety of curatorial and administrative capacities. Currently he is its Director of Cultural Resources. Professional service has included work with the South Carolina Federation of Museums, for which he is a past president, the Southeastern Museum Conference and the Association for State and Local History. John was a member of the Leadership Columbia Class of 2014 and recently held an ex officio position on the board of the Columbia Design League.
This fall he is pleased to have been very busy offering book signings of Remembering Columbia, which was published in September and chronicles the capital city from its earliest years through the late 1970s.
Friday, Sherrer will talk to the Five Points Rotary Club about Columbia during Reconstruction.
Robert Henry Cox is Professor, Chair of the Department, and Director of the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Cox specializes in European politics and also serves as Co-Editor for the journal Governance.
Dr. Cox’ research examines public policy issues in advanced industrialized societies. Many of his publications have examined the politics of welfare reform in European countries. His recent research focuses on the role of the European Union in promoting sustainability programs among its member states.
On Friday, Dr. Cox will talk speak on the impact of Brexit and the future of the European Union.
Meeting Place: The Convention Center – Carolina Room
Meeting Time: 1:00 PM