Major General Pete Johnson, Commander at Fort Jackson, to talk about Changes in the US Army’s Initial Entry Training Strategies during the Last 60 Years this Friday at the Convention Center at 1:00 PM

Major General John P. “Pete” Johnson is the 50th Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson.  Prior to arriving at Fort Jackson, MG Johnson served as the Director of Training, Headquarters Department of the Army, G-3/5/7 in Washington, D.C.

MG Johnson was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1985.  In addition to a bachelor’s degree he holds a master’s degree in Operational Analysis from the Naval Post Graduate School and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College.  MG Johnson has commanded troops at company, battalion and brigade level and deployed to multiple combat tours including Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM in Afghanistan and Iraq, Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, Iraq and Operation JUST CAUSE, Panama.

Over the past 31 plus years he served in a variety of Army and Joint command and staff positions in the 7th Infantry Division, 75th Ranger Regiment, Southern European Task Force, Joint Special Operations Command, 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, 25th Infantry Division and the Army Staff.

MG Johnson’s command assignments include Deputy Commanding General for Operations, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Combined Joint Task Force CURRAHEE, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Afghanistan; 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, Iraq; C Company, 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Vicenza, Italy.

MG Johnson’s other principal Army and joint staff assignments include Executive Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, United States Army, Washington, DC; Division Chief of Staff, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY and Combined Joint Task Force 101, Afghanistan; Division G-3, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Special Operations Officer, Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg NC.

His awards, decorations and military qualification badges include: Distinguished Service Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster); Legion of Merit (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters); Bronze Star Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters); Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters); Joint Service Commendation Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters); Army Commendation Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster); Army Achievement Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster); Combat Infantryman Badge (with 1 Star); Expert Infantryman Badge; Pathfinder Badge; Ranger Tab; Army Staff Identification Badge; Master Parachutist Badge (with Combat Jump Bronze Star).

Major General Johnson is married to Sheila and they have three children, Justin (18), Sarah (16) and Daniel (13).

Chester DePratter to speak on the Archaeological Findings from the 16th Century Santa Elena Site – Friday at 1 PM at the McCutchen House at USC

Chester DePratter earned his doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in anthropology from the University of Georgia. He has worked on a variety of Native American sites, primarily in South Carolina and Georgia, and has written numerous articles on prehistoric archaeology, exploration routes of Spanish explorers and the early European presence in the southeastern United States. In addition, he is the author of the book “Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Chiefdoms in the Southeastern United States.” Since 1989 he has focused on the 16th century Spanish site of Santa Elena and the search for the French site of Charlesfort.

Dr. Robert Rolfe to speak on Doing Business in Africa Friday March 31, 2017 at Main Street United Methodist

Dr. Rolfe came to USC in 1983 after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma.  He has also been a visiting professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration in Vienna, Austria.  From August 2001 to May 2005, he was Executive Director of the International MBA Program at the Moore School of Business.

His research focuses on foreign investment in Africa.  He has been published in several publications including Advances in International Accounting, the Journal of the American Taxation Association, South African Journal of Economics, Journal of International Business Studies, and the  Journal of African Business .  Dr. Rolfe has received several awards for his research and teaching including the Cramer Fellow of International Taxation, the Alfred G. Smith Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the MIBS Outstanding Professor Award.  He is a member of the Academy of International Business and the African Finance and Economics Association.  He also serves as a board member for the South Carolina Export Consortium and the International Council of African Professionals.   His hobbies include biking, and traveling through Africa with his family.


  • Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 1983
  • B.S., Southern College, 1978

Dirk Brown to Speak on the Importance of Intellectual Property Strategies in Business at 1 PM on March 24th at the Convention Center

Dirk Brown is the director of the Faber Entrepreneurship Center and a faculty member at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. Dr. Brown is a seasoned executive with a strong track record of developing, marketing and licensing disruptive, proprietary technologies. He is the founding CEO of Pandoodle Corporation, a digital media technology company with offices in California, New York and South Carolina. Previously, he was CEO of Neoconix, a venture capital-funded electronics technology company serving Fortune 100 customers with worldwide sales and manufacturing. Earlier in his career, Dr. Brown was executive vice president of operations and marketing at High Connection Density (HCD), with P&L responsibility for all of the company’s product lines, and before that a member of technical staff at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). He holds over 35 patents, has written over 30 technical papers and journal articles, and is an active member in a number of professional societies. Dr. Brown holds an MBA from San Jose State, a Ph.D. (Materials Science) and M.Eng. (Applied Physics) from Cornell University, and a B.Sc. (Eng.) in Applied Physics/Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University in Canada.

Csilla Farkas to speak on Cyber Warfare from a Technical and Societal Perspective on Friday March 17th at the Convention Center at 1:00 PM

farkas-newCsilla Farkas is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Director of the Center for Information Assurance Engineering at the University of South Carolina.   Her research interests include information security, data inference problems, financial and legal analyses of cyber crime, and cyber-physical systems security.  Dr. Farkas is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Career award.  The topic of her award is “Semantic Web: Interoperation vs. Security – A New Paradigm of Confidentiality Threats.”  Dr. Farkas actively participates in international scientific communities as program committee member and reviewer.

Our society is increasingly dependent on computing technologies.  At the same time, cyber attacks are becoming more-and-more intrusive and devastating.  There is a diminishing separation between cyber and physical systems.  In this talk she will present the changing landscape of today’s cyber threats and the challenges faced by individuals, corporations, and nations. I will provide an overview of promising approaches that bring together technical, human, business, and legal experts to identify and implement the most suitable cybersecurity strategies.

Bill Reynolds, owner of Beaufort Tours to provide Tour of Beaufort History on Friday at the Convention Center

Bill ReynoldsBill Reynolds has owned Beaufort Tours LLC since 2012.  The company provides walking and Van Tours of the Historic District and Antebellum Homes and Locations used in movies like Prince of Tides, The Big Chill, The Great Santini and Forrest Gump. Plantation and Gullah Tours, Civil War and Reconstruction Tours. Website:

In addition to Beaufort Tours, Bill is also the proprietor for Groomingdales – a dog grooming services, including bathing, haircuts, nail clipping and doggie daycare and CEO and Founder for ManagedPrint Inc. ManagedPrint is a reseller for Hewlett Packard Laser Printers and Warranties with offices in Columbia, SC, Charlotte, NC; Charleston, SC and Greenville/Spartanburg, SC.

Bill received his Master of International Business Studies (MIBS), University of South Carolina in 1985, and his Bachelor of Arts, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Class of 1982; majoring in Political Science and French

Bill actively participates in the planning committee for the International Film Festival and has also served on the MIBS Alumni Board from 1994-2003 and served as President of the same Board from 1994-1998.  Bill is a member and Past President of the Rotary Club of Five Point’s and was actively involved as a Foundation Advocate, in the Group Study Exchange, with the Gift for Life Committee and he chaired the Centennial Celebration.

On Friday, Bill will provide the club a tour of Beaufort’s History.


Jeff Ruble to speak on Economic Development Trends in Richland County on Friday @ 1:00 PM at the Convention Center

Jeff Ruble 2 photo 1 14 14 (002)Jeff Ruble is Director of Economic Development for Richland County, where he oversees a project team responsible for recruiting and sustaining business and industry.

Previously he served as Senior Vice President for Global Business Development with the South Carolina Power Team, which represents the economic development interests for 20 electric cooperatives across South Carolina and Santee Cooper. In two years in that role, his team recorded the two most successful years in the organization’s history, including landing Volvo Cars North America.

Before joining the SC Power Team, Mr. Ruble spent 12 years recruiting companies to the Columbia region for the Central SC Alliance and its predecessors promoting first a four-county and then a 12-county region. While there, he worked with companies investing more than $8 billion and creating more than 50,000 jobs.

Jeff  is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute and one of several nationally-accredited Certified Economic Developers in South Carolina. He’s completed post-graduate work at the University of South Florida, Georgia Tech and the University of South Carolina.

He serves as the immediate past president of the South Carolina Economic Developers Association, and serves on the boards of Accelerate SC and the Columbia USC Incubator. He is also a member of the International Economic Development Council and the Southern Economic Development Council. He has published articles on regional economic development strategies and energy policy.

Venkat Lakshmi to speak on Hydrology from Space this Friday @ 1:00 PM at the Convention Center

Venkat_LakshmiVenkat graduated from University of Roorkee in 1987 with a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering and a Doctorate in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1996 from Princeton. He worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 1996-1999 as a research scientist in the Laboratory for the Atmospheres. His areas of interest are catchment hydrology, satellite data validation and assimilation, field experiments, land-atmosphere interactions, satellite data downscaling, vadose zone and water resources. He is the Carolina Trustee Professor and former Chair of the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of South Carolina and has over 60 peer-reviewed articles and 200 presentations and thesis supervisor for 20 graduate students. He is currently is serving as Associate Editor of Journal of Hydrology and editor for Vadose Zone Journal and former chairman of the Chapman Conference committee for AGU.