Furman alums honored at Greenville Chamber event
Three Furman University alumni were honored with special awards at the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting Jan. 31 at the TD Convention Center.
Furman President Elizabeth Davis was also in attendance to present the F. Ben Askew Collaboration Award to Hollingsworth Funds, which has distributed more than $62 million to a number of organizations in Greenville County. The award, which is sponsored by Furman, recognizes leaders whose visions promote responsible growth in the Upstate.
Richard Riley, a 1954 Furman graduate who served as both Governor of South Carolina and U.S. Secretary of Education under President Clinton, was awarded the Buck Mickel Leadership Award for his “passionate leadership, vision and service.” The award honors those who’ve made a dramatic impact on the community through their leadership.
James Childress, a 1968 graduate who serves as executive director of Genesis Homes in Greenville, received the Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award for his organization’s efforts to provide affordable housing in the Upstate. The award, given to an organization that has shown exemplary efforts toward neighborhood improvement and empowerment, is named in honor of the late Max Heller, who served as Greenville’s mayor and was a member of Furman’s Board of Trustees.
Kimberly Witherspoon, a 2006 graduate who is a shareholder in the Greenville office of the law firm of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, received the Young Professional of the Year Award. The award recognizes individuals between the ages of 22 and 39 for their involvement in the community.
Here is more information about the Furman award winners that was included in the Chamber program.
The Buck Mickel Leadership Award 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. As the 111th Governor of South Carolina, Richard W. Riley increased support and funding for education in the Greenville area and across the entire state. He spearheaded comprehensive reform by bringing together coalitions of business people, educators and parents, among others, who agreed that better education would enhance opportunity for students and families, as well as bring economic development to our communities and state. As a result of Governor Riley’s highly-successful reform package, South Carolina saw significant improvement in teaching and learning by every measure of student achievement and, indeed, greater economic development occurred. Dick Riley served as U. S. Secretary of Education for all of President Bill Clinton’s two terms from 1993 until 2001. Secretary Riley helped launch historic national initiatives to raise academic standards; to improve instruction for the poor and disadvantaged; to expand grants and loan programs to help more people go to college and prepare for the workforce; and to improve teaching. Riley is a senior partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and its affiliate, EducationCounsel, and he is the namesake of the Riley Institute at Furman University.
Genesis Homes exemplifies the essence of the Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award by facilitating neighborhood revitalization efforts in low-to–moderate income areas in the Upstate of South Carolina through the development of affordable housing for home ownership or home rental. In 2015, Genesis Homes and the City of Greenville entered a public-private partnership to address the housing conditions and the public infrastructure in the Greenline-Spartanburg neighborhood. The result has been the construction of 19 new homes and the replacement and construction of over a quarter-mile of public infrastructure that will pave the way for an additional 20 homes in the future. These new homes have allowed long-time residents to improve their housing conditions and have also permitted new families to come into the neighborhood. Led by Jim Childress, Genesis Homes not only builds housing but puts many Greenline-Spartanburg families on the road to greater independence and lifetime success.
The Young Professional of the Year Award is presented to a young professional who exemplifies leadership, excellence, creativity and initiative in their profession, as well as service and engagement in our community. Kimberly Witherspoon is a shareholder in Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s Greenville office where she practices in the public finance area. She serves as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, borrower’s counsel and corporate counsel in various financing structures. Her clients include colleges and universities, foundations, healthcare institutions, continuing care retirement communities, and nonprofit organizations. Kimberly also advises government entities on financing structures for various capital and operational needs. Kimberly received her juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, and has been recognized as a “Rising Star” in Government Finance by South Carolina Super Lawyers. She is a Board Member for the Junior League of Greenville, the United Way of Greenville County and Pendleton Place. She is a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 40 and was named one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest (35 and under) in 2013.