Media gallery

Tuesdays: July 22, July 29, August 5 and August 12, 2014

Presented in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Furman

Session 1 | Who in South Carolina Gets to Live the American Dream?


  • Jessica Hennessey, Ph.D., Furman University assistant professor of economics, opened our series with a historical and a current perspective on the definitions and measures of those who are poor or near poor and how South Carolina compares to the rest of the nation.  She also looked briefly at three federal policies that have a tangible impact on the group of people we refer to as the “working poor.”
  • South Carolina State Representatives Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-District 66) and Kenny Bingham (R-District 89) joined Mark Quinn for a conversation about the role of state government in improving the plight of the working poor.

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Session 2 | Questioning the American Dream: Families and Neighbors Living on the Brink


  • Kyle Longest, Ph.D., Furman University assistant professor of sociology led an interactive session looking at the bills, dollars and pennies of a family who is “barely getting by in South Carolina.”
  • Danny Avula, M.D., deputy director of the Richmond City Health Department, presented what he has discovered during the last decade as his family has lived in intentional community with neighbors very different from themselves.

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Session 3 | Chasing the American Dream: What Does It Take to Climb the Income Ladder?


  • Sarah Sattelmeyer, senior associate, Financial Security and Mobility, Pew Charitable Trusts, gave an overview of the state of economic mobility in the U.S. and describe what Pew’s research indicates are the drivers behind it.
  • Tammi Hart, executive assistant, Day and Zimmerman, and Dawn Dowden, vice-president of operations, Homes of Hope, shared their real life experiences of poverty and economic mobility.

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Session 4 | Revitalizing the American Dream


  • Carol Naughton, senior vice-president, Purpose Built Communities, spoke about the importance of community development and revitalization in building up the working poor. Curt McPhail, project manager, Northside Development Group presented an overview of Spartanburg’s transformative Northside Initiative.
  • Mark Quinn hosted a roundtable discussion with Carol Naughton; Curt McPhail, Russell Booker, Superintendent of Education, Spartanburg District 7Phil Feisal, president, Spartanburg Medical CenterTony Thomas, president of the Northside Neighborhood Association, and David Wood, Ph.D. Senior Vice President for Development, Wofford College on the collective vision and committed partnership that is revitalizing Spartanburg’s Northside, one that brings together the resources and ideas of government, faith communities, public and higher education, the hospital, foundations, and neighborhood associations.
  • Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco Corporation, provided a business leader’s perspective on why paying good wages is good for business and good for the economy.

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Danny Avula, M.D.

Danny Avula is a husband, father and doctor, and he has spent the last 10 years of his life learning how to be a good neighbor in inner city Richmond. A board-certified pediatrician and preventive medicine physician, Avula currently serves as the deputy director of the Richmond City Health Department.

In 2004, Danny Avula and his wife, Mary Kay, made a commitment with a group of college friends to move into a low-income neighborhood and simply be good neighbors to people whose lives looked very different than their own. Ten years later, they have found themselves in the midst of North Church Hill’s amazing rebirth—a transformation that is full of hope, but which also presents daily complex challenges related to race, class and justice.

Recognized by Style Weekly as one of Richmond’s “Top 40 under 40” and by Our Health magazine as one of Richmond’s “Top 15 Health Care Leaders under 40” for his commitment to improving Richmond’s health, Avula’s work has also been featured nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MSNBC and Christianity Today.

Born in India, Avula was only one year old when his family immigrated to the United States.  He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and received a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University.

Kenny Bingham

Having represented District 89 for nearly a decade, Kenny Bingham serves on the powerful House Ways & Means committee, which is responsible for drafting the state spending plan.

Committed to lower taxes and less spending, Kenny has consistently earned high marks from pro-business groups, and in July 2003 was named “National Legislator of the Year” by the National Republican Legislators Association.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina and a successful businessman, Kenny is a licensed professional engineer and co-owner of American Engineering Consultants, Inc., which is based in his hometown of Cayce, S.C.

Russell W. Booker

As superintendent of Spartanburg County School District Seven, Booker has guided the district and community through a bold, comprehensive restructuring and transformation initiative that has positioned the district for future growth and innovation.

The district recently launched a technology initiative (7Ignites) that has placed a personal mobile learning device in the hands of every student in grades 3-12. Booker frequently collaborates with civic, non-profit and faith-based organizations in innovative and productive partnerships that have enabled the school district to provide robust programming to students across the district.

Prior to assuming the role as superintendent in District Seven, Booker served as superintendent of York School District One, where he successfully led the passage of a school bond referendum that spearheaded a $100 million capital campaign.

He earned a BS in Education from Wingate University in North Carolina, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of South Carolina.

In 2009, he was recognized as South Carolina’s Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Booker is a South Carolina Liberty Fellow, a Riley Diversity Fellow, and a Spartanburg Regional Fellow. He serves with numerous civic and professional organizations and chairs the United Way of the Piedmont, the Spartanburg Commission of Higher Education Board, and the Spartanburg College Hub Board. He is president-elect of the executive committee of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.

Gilda Cobb-Hunter

Elected to the South Carolina State House of Representatives in 1992, Gilda Cobb-Hunter was the first African American woman in Orangeburg County elected to a statewide office and the first freshman representative appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Since 1985 she has been the executive director of CASA Family Systems, an agency serving victims of family violence and abuse in Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties. She has worked at the state, regional and national levels on a variety of progressive issues aimed at making communities better places for working families to live.

Cobb-Hunter holds a B.S. in African American History from Florida A&M University, an M.A. in American history from Florida State University and is a licensed master social worker.

Dawn Dowden

Dawn Dowden, college educated, was raised in a middle class family. Due to her husband’s mental illness, Dawn and her three children experienced poverty and eventual homelessness.  Over the past 6 years, Dawn and her three boys have risen out of poverty and homelessness to rejoin the middle class.

Dawn’s own experience fuels her work as the Vice President of Operations for Homes of Hope, a not for profit organization based in Greenville that rebuilds communities and rebuilds lives throughout South Carolina.

Phil Feisal

Phil Feisal has been chief executive officer of Spartanburg Regional Health System’s Pelham Medical Center in Greer, S.C., since 2009.  Previously, he was executive vice president of business performance for Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and was president of the former Allen Bennett Memorial Hospital.

Feisal is a past chairman of boards for the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce and Greenville Free Medical Clinic. He currently serves on boards for the Greer Chamber of Commerce, Greenville Forward Health and Wellness Committee, and Sterling Community Center Advisory Committee. He’s served on the Greenville Tech Greer Campus Advisory Board.

Tammi Hart

Tammi Hart is an executive assistant at Day & Zimmermann in Greenville, SC. Her rise from poverty to success has been featured on Fox Carolina, in the Greenville News, and in a United Way 2013 campaign video.

She is the recipient of the Mary M. Yoh and H.L. Yoh, Jr community service award given by Day & Zimmermann to an employee who models the company’s commitment to building stronger communities. As a board member and former homeless guest of Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (GAIHN), Tammi eagerly shares her story with others to bring awareness to the plight of homeless families and those who live in poverty.

Tammi will receive her masters in psychology in Fall 2014 from Walden University. She lives in Taylors, SC and has three adult children, Kristan, Rashad, and Darian.

Jessica Hennessey

Jessica Hennessey is an assistant professor of economics at Furman University, an undergraduate liberal arts university in Greenville, South Carolina. She has taught Principles of Economics, Empirical Methods in Economics, Public Finance, Government and Business, and a senior capstone course in American Economic History.

Her main research interests are in public economics, new institutional economics, and economic history. Thus far, her research has focused on studying the changing relationship between state and local governments in the United States from the 18th through 20th century. Recently, this venture has expanded to look at the more general patterns of special and general legislation adoption across states.

Kyle Longest

Kyle Longest completed his undergraduate degree in history and sociology at Indiana University and earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research centers on understanding how teens make the transition out of high school, focusing on substance use, religion and academic behaviors.

Dr. Longest’s work has appeared in journals such as Social Forces, Journal of Marriage and Family, Society and Mental Health, and Work and Occupations. He currently teaches courses on deviance, religion, research methods, quantitative analysis, the sociology of Harry Potter, and sports analytics.

Longest received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his B.A. from Indiana University.

Curt McPhail

Curt McPhail is president of Greenlab Strategies, which specializes in providing innovation solutions to community development projects locally and around the world. Currently, McPhail leads Greenlab’s work as executive staff for globalbike, inc., an nonprofit connecting people to resources with bikes, and the Northside Development Corporation, a non-profit implementing “Spartanburg’s most ambitious redevelopment ever.” Greenlab is also managing the Mary Black Foundation’s Northside investment portfolio.

Greenlab combines over 15 years of non-profit, foundation, community engagement and international solution finding skills to bring a fresh and innovative perspective to every opportunity.
Carol Naughton

Carol Naughton helped found Purpose Built Communities in 2008. She previously served for seven years as the Executive Director of the East Lake Foundation, the lead non-profit organization that developed and continues to implement a bold, innovative and successful model of community revitalization that helps families break the cycle of poverty.

An expert in public/private partnerships, Carol has crafted groundbreaking alliances in housing and education. Prior to joining the East Lake Foundation, she was General Counsel and Deputy Executive Director for Legal and Nonprofit Affairs for the Atlanta Housing Authority. Before working with the AHA, Carol was engaged in the private practice of law with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan’s real estate group, where she primarily represented developers, lenders and investors.

Carol serves on the Board of the Charles R. Drew Charter. She is a former president of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, a member of the State Bar of Georgia, and a former member of the Board of Governors for that organization. She serves, or has served, on the boards of several community and national organizations.

Carol is a graduate of the Emory University School of Law and was Executive Editor of the Emory Law Journal. She graduated with honors from Colgate University.

Mark Quinn

Mark Quinn is director of Public and Member Relations at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and has had a long career as a professional journalist in South Carolina.

Quinn worked in television journalism for more than 16 years, 13 of which were spent in Columbia, South Carolina. For 11 years, he worked in various on-air capacities for one of the most successful NBC affiliates in the country, WIS-TV. In 2007, he began work with South Carolina Educational Television and is the former host of ETV and ETV Radio’s weekly news and public affairs program, The Big Picture and The Big Picture on the Radio.

Among the highlights of his tenure with SCETV was his on-site coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions of 2008 and the statewide gubernatorial, congressional, and constitutional officer debates in 2010.

Sarah Sattelmeyer

Sarah Sattelmeyer is a senior associate in family financial security and mobility at The Pew Charitable Trusts. The project conducts original research to assess differences in family balance sheets across diverse U.S. households and the degree to which Americans’ short-term economic security relates to their longer-term economic mobility.

In her position, Sattelmeyer explores the health and status of family finances, works with experts in the field and the financial security and mobility team on its comprehensive research agenda, and ensures that reports and publications are understandable to a variety of audiences, including policymakers and the public. Additionally, she has a lead role in research exploring the intersection between employer-sponsored benefits and family economic security.

Sattelmeyer worked on Pew’s economic mobility project, building broad and nonpartisan agreement on the facts and figures related to mobility and encouraging an active debate on how best to improve opportunity in the United States.  Before coming to Pew, she was a research fellow in the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There, she helped design and manage a portfolio of federally funded research and evaluation projects related to family self-sufficiency and stability. Before that, she worked for the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Urban Institute, and the California Department of Health Care Services. She holds master’s degrees in public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley.


Jim Sinegal

Jim Sinegal, is the Co-Founder and Director of Costco Wholesale Corporation.  He retired December 31, 2012 and is currently serving as a Company Advisor. Jim served as the Chief Executive Officer of Costco Wholesale Corp. for 27 years and has been a Director of Costco Wholesale Corp. since its inception.

Jim began his career in retail business in 1954.  As an 18 year old college student, he went to work for the legendary retail icon Sol Price at the discount store FedMart in San Diego.  Jim remained working for Price for almost 30 years before striking out on his own to start Costco.

Costco today has revenues in excess of $100 billion and operates 654 warehouses/stores in 42 states, Puerto Rico and 9 countries.  The company employs over 194,000 people worldwide and has earned the reputation as a fair and progressive employer.

Jim serves as Trustee for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  He is a Senior Executive in Residence at Seattle University’s Albers School and serves in a similar capacity at his alma mater, San Diego State University.  Jim also serves as an advisory at the Mendoza School of Business for Notre Dame.


Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas is a proactive, dedicated Community Leader and Residential Counselor. He is the current president of the Northside Neighborhood Association in Spartanburg, South Carolina and a founding member of the Northside Voyagers (a Resident-led Leadership Team). Tony spends a majority of his time volunteering as part of the Northside Initiative Redevelopment effort. In this capacity, Tony is focused on developing partnerships and building relationships with key community leaders, stakeholders and organizations with the ultimate goal of making a notable difference in his community.

Tony is a certified Barber/Cosmetologist and has extensive experience in both the service and engineering fields. Previously, Tony worked as a residential counselor, trainer and air traffic controller. Tony has an Architectural Engineering Degree from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee Alabama and received an Air Traffic Control Operator certification from Keesler AFB. He also has a certification from Piedmont School of Cosmetology. Recently, Tony received a certification from NeighborWorks America’s Community Leadership Institute.
David Wood

Senior Vice-President for Development at Wofford, Dr. Wood’s previous position at Wofford was that of Provost and he is close to the academic and service learning connections incorporated into the Spartanburg Northside Initiative. Wood served as vice president and director of athletics from 1997-2001, then as senior vice president from 2001-2007 before becoming the dean of the college in 2007. He has a PhD from Vanderbilt.