The YPs: Young & Professional in Spartanburg

The YPs is an initiative launched by Spartanburg Young Professionals in an effort to enhance the visibility of young professionals’ contributions. The ten individuals listed below, age 21-40, are making an impact on Spartanburg through work or service in various industries. Community members submitted more than 300 nominations for the 2019 YPs. SYP’s board of directors identified the top three candidates in each category, and more than 700 community members ranked the finalists to select the awardees.

2019 Young & Professional in Art

Maggie MacDonald | Artist and co-owner of The Kindred Spirits

Artist and co-owner of The Kindred Spirits, has created a unique business in Downtown Spartanburg dedicated to providing space for her and other artisans to sell their creations. Maggie has led efforts to further incorporate murals and public art into more vibrant downtown.

"I love being an artist because it allows me to be both a creative force and a businesswoman at the same time."


2019 Young & Professional in BUSINESS

Hootie Solesbee | Director - Harper Construction Co.

Hootie brings more than a decade of experience to Harper Construction Co.. The director of the company’s Spartanburg office, Hootie has taken the lead on healthcare, sports, commercial and industrial projects. Hootie is a member of several nonprofit boards countywide, and he aims to carry the legacy of his grandfather, who started the JM Solesbee Construction firm in 1936.

"What excites me most about Spartanburg is the people. They are what makes Spartanburg a truly special and unique place to live, work and play."


2019 Young & Professional in EDUCATION

Marquice Clark | Assistant Principal, Cleveland Academy of Leadership

Marquice is the assistant principal at the Cleveland Academy of Leadership, a distinguished Leader in Me Lighthouse School. He is a Leadership Spartanburg graduate who works to develop and bring encouragement to students at the year-round District 7 school.

"I have the privilege of planting seeds of dignity, hope and respect in children, and inspiring them to cultivate those seeds to produce a crop of unprecedented success."


2019 Young & Professional in Entrepreneurship

Ben Hall | Owner, Big Ben's Desserts

A former star football player at Clemson, Ben Hall, owner of Big Ben’s Desserts in Lyman, didn’t hang his head when his football career ended. Instead, he tapped into his baking prowess and has used his cupcake artistry to give back to the community. Ben also mentors youth and volunteers at various community organizations regularly.

"Opening my first store was a major milestone, and being able to attend schools regularly and give back and pour my knowledge back out into youth has made me most proud. "


2019 Young & Professional in Health

Dr. Derek Brenda | Doctor, Pelham Medical Center

Derek began as the only full-time general surgeon at Pelham Medical Center. Specializing in robotic and minimally invasive surgery, he is one of three general surgeons in the Upstate to perform single incision gallbladder surgery, and performed the first robotic colon resections at Spartanburg Regional.

  "Stay focused on your goals and dreams. Set forth a plan and stick to it, even if it takes longer than you think." 


2019 Young & Professional in Hospitality

Sarah Petty | Owner, Hub City Delivery

Sarah built Hub City Delivery from the ground up and has grown the business from a one-woman setup to a countywide delivery service. Her hard work and vision for excellence have been pivotal in creating a delivery service you’d expect from a big city right here in Spartanburg.

"The current and potential talent here in our city is renowned, and I’m proud to live, invest, and raise my family here."


2019 Young & Professional in COMMUNICATIONS

Lanie Whitaker & Jamie Woodruff | Owners, Arrowhead Design Co.

The co-owners of Arrowhead Design Co. are the creative force behind the popular “BURG” and “Spartanburger” gear and several other designs promoting community pride in Spartanburg County. The duo also provides branding, design, and marketing services to local businesses.

"Own your business and be confident in what you're doing. Have a plan, network and build a name for yourself!"


2019 Young & Professional in Innovation

Jenni Russell | Research & Development Specialist, Contec

Jenni is always working to find the next new patentable idea at Contec. As a Research & Development Specialist, she works closely with chemists, microbiologists, and engineers to design new products as well as improve existing ones. Her “whatever it takes” attitude makes her a valuable member of the Contec team. Jenni graduated from Converse College with a B.S. in Chemistry and was most recently part of the 2018 Leadership Spartanburg class.

"I feel empowered to further develop my skills and learn more every day about the industries we serve, all while I am assured that my responsibilities are significant contributions key to the success of the company."


2019 Young & Professional in NONPROFIT

Marisa Cecil | Director of Development, Children's Cancer Partners of the Carolinas

Director of Development at Children’s Cancer Partners of the Carolinas, Marisa shows great passion in her role. Whether it’s advocacy, fundraising or event planning, Marisa brings fresh, creative ideas to the organization. She helped launch Docs Who Rock and Kids in Lids to benefit the families of children who are battling cancer.

"It excites me to see the viality I feel when I walk around Downtown Spartanburg or attend an event with more and more young people making this their home."


2019 Young & Professional in SERVICE

Sundra Proctor-Smith | Special Education Teacher, Mabry Middle

Sundra is a dedicated educator and community advocate. In her professional life, she is a special education teacher at Mabry Middle and serves the SIC, Autism Awareness Committee, Mix It Up at Lunch program, advises the Step Team, and formerly served as the Special Education Department Chair. She continues her passion for youth mentorship throughout the community by serving in leadership roles for several non-profits. Sundra is the Spartanburg Chapter President for the the SC Alliance of Black School Educators and won the 2019 Presidential Award for her work.

"I am most proud of seeing students graduate. Knowing that I played a part in the academic success of that student is very rewarding to me."

Past YPs winners

Young & Professional in Art Chris "CeeJ" Jefferson, Founder, B.A.R.S. Academy

Young & Professional in Business Geordy Johnson, President - Johnson Management; CEO - Johnson Development

Young & Professional in Education Erin Black, Director, Spartanburg County Adult Education

Young & Professional in Entrepreneurship Landon Cohen, President, LIGHT TRANSPORTATION COMPANY

Young & Professional in Health Cameron Harris, Occupational Therapist (OTR/L), Spartanburg Regional Pediatric Rehabilitation

Young & Professional in Hospitality Chef William Cribb, Hub City Hospitality

YP & Professional in Industry Diana Rubiano, Shop Quality Obtention Manager - Michelin

Young & Professional in Innovation Kelli Coons, Instructional Technologist, Spartanburg District One

Young & Professional in Nonprofit Laura Ringo, Executive Director - Partners for Active Living

Young & Professional in Service Jalitha L. Moore, Strategic Implementation Coordinator, OneSpartanburg

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