Spartanburg Northside Initiative to Receive Inaugural Statewide Award from Riley Institute

Katie Quine
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Riley Institute at Furman University




Initiative leaders will share key takeaways about community collaboration at the Building OneSouthCarolina forum on May 10 in Columbia.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Spartanburg Northside Initiative (SNI), one of the nation’s most ambitious neighborhood revitalization efforts, will be presented with the inaugural OneSouthCarolina Partners in Progress Award by Furman University’s Riley Institute. The award recognizes signature landmark achievements that have advanced social and economic progress in South Carolina.

Former United States secretary of education and former South Carolina governor Dick Riley will present the award to the initiative at the first annual Building OneSouthCarolina forum on the morning of Tuesday, May 10. At the forum, SNI principals will offer key takeaways and thoughts on the initiative’s successes and failures, allowing leaders from across the state to gain inspiration and insight relevant to their own communities’ complex challenges.

For more than a decade, SNI has committed itself to increasing the wellbeing and opportunity for residents of Spartanburg’s Northside, a neighborhood long beset by poverty. In bringing together a disparate group of individuals and organizations from both public and private sectors, SNI is working to improve healthcare access, housing and community assets, and educational, social, and economic opportunities for residents without displacing them.

“We hope that by hearing our story people can gain insight they can apply to their work in their own communities,” said Bill Barnet, board chair of Northside Development Group, the backbone organization managing the revitalization, and former mayor of Spartanburg. “We are grateful to The Riley Institute for this recognition, and yet we are not a perfect story. We aren’t home yet.”

Barnet will be one of seven SNI principals to speak at the forum. The speakers are:

  • Bill Barnet, Northside Development Group board chair and former Spartanburg mayor
  • Russell Booker, Spartanburg Academic Movement executive director and former superintendent of Spartanburg School District 7
  • Phil Feisal, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center president
  • Tammie Hoy Hawkins, CommunityWorks CEO and former Northside Development Group project manager
  • Mitch Kennedy, City of Spartanburg assistant city manager
  • Tony Thomas, longtime Northside resident and Northside Development Group community engagement coordinator
  • Michael Williamson, president and CEO, Northside Development Group

“The Spartanburg Northside Initiative is a strong testament to what’s possible when we work together for the good of our communities,” said Dr. Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “There is so much South Carolina leaders can learn from one another, and we’re proud to present the Building OneSouthCarolina forum to help make that happen.”

The Building OneSouthCarolina forum begins with a continental breakfast at 9 a.m. The forum and award presentation follow at 9:30 a.m. and a Q&A session at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased by visiting

For more information, contact Katie Quine at 864.294.3368 or


About the Riley Institute at Furman University

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, hosting expert speakers to broaden perspectives on critical issues, supporting public education, and creating knowledge through community solutions-focused research. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at