Workshops and Speakers Announced for 2019 PIQUE  Young Professionals Summit

Workshops and Speakers Announced for 2019 PIQUE Young Professionals Summit

GREENVILLE, S.C.– Ten at the Top’s (TATT) fourth annual PIQUE: Young Professionals Elevating the Upstate Summit, presented by ScanSource, is set to include many regional business leaders for its workshops and roundtables. This event focuses on the collaboration and connection of young professionals (ages 21-40) in the ten counties comprising the Upstate community.

“There are many dynamic young professionals as well as a number of young professional groups located here in the Upstate,” said Ten at the Top Executive Director Dean Hybl. “We started this event in 2016 as a way for young professionals from across our region to connect with each other and also with executives and community leaders who are engaged today in shaping the Upstate. The young professionals of today are the executives and decision-makers of tomorrow and PIQUE is a great annual opportunity for our young leaders to grow their engagement and connections around issues that are impacting the Upstate.”

Event workshops will feature the following:

Executive Networking Roundtables

Young leaders have a thirst for knowledge, advice, and mentorship. This workshop will feature an interactive session of roundtable networking. Established business and community leaders (executives) from all sectors, regardless of age, will be invited to lead a discussion about how they got where they are, how they found what they needed to successful and the barriers they have overcome to reach success. Due to the popularity of this workshop, it will be offered during both workshop sessions.

  • Carol Burdette, CEO, United Way of Anderson County
  • Karen Burgess, Campus President, ECPI University
  • Tracey Boucher, Vice President, Supplier Service Networking & Security, ScanSource
  • Val Carolin, President & CEO, Salem Media Group
  • Chris Corley, Owner, Corley Plumbing Air & Electric
  • Roy Costner, Chairman, Pickens County Council
  • David Feild, Market President, Colliers International
  • Danielle Gibbs, Regional Director, U.S. Senator Tim Scott
  • Angelle LaBorde, President & CEO, Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce
  • Hank McCullough, Senior Manager of Government Relations, Piedmont Natural Gas Company
  • Mark McKinney, General Manager, Cintas Corporation
  • Ken Peterson, Senior Director Human Resources, ScanSource
  • Laurie Rovin, Executive Director, A Child’s Haven
  • Allen Smith, President & CEO, Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Walker Smith, Director, Advocacy & Community Relations, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
  • Paige Stephenson, President & CEO, United Way of the Piedmont
  • Brian Ziegelheafer, Executive Director, BGEN

Developing Executive Courage
Most young leaders aspire to reach the executive level within their careers, which takes courage and resilience along the way. In this workshop, Chunsta Miller, General Manager of the Anderson Mall, will share her 20 years of retail experience and journey to becoming an executive. Miller will discuss the challenges and opportunities she has dealt with at her current position and how she stays courageous when faced with tough decisions.

Lions, Tigers, Millennials – Oh My!
A panel consisted of a Baby Boomer (1944-1964), a Gen-Xer (1965-1979), and a Millennial (1980-1994) will be discussing the spoken and unspoken generational differences in the workplace. This group of professionals will focus on sharing the positives and negatives of working alongside other generations with the goal of learning that people may be more alike than they realize.

Speakers are set to include:

  • Daja Dial, Marketing and Communications Manager, Oconee Economic Alliance
  • Stacey Flax, Senior Strategic Communications Coordinator, Renewable Water Resources (Re-Wa)
  • Barry Nocks, PhD, FAICP, Graduate Professor in City & Regional Planning, Clemson University
  • Moderator: Alex Moore, Director of Marketing and Communications, United Way of the Piedmont

Moving up the Ladder
Young professionals constantly think about the “next step,” whether that be a promotion, pay increase or increase of responsibility within the workplace. There is no right or wrong way to move up the career ladder, but steps can be taken to be ready for that next big opportunity. This panel will address the steps young professionals can take to prepare for moving up the ladder and flourishing within positions of higher leadership.

Speakers are set to include:

  • Leesa Owens, Director of Government and Community Relations, Michelin North America
  • Blake Sanders, Planning & Projects Manager City of Easley/Mayor of West Pelzer
  • Jermaine Whirl, Vice President of Learning and Workforce Development, Greenville Tech
  • Moderator: Todd Horne, VP of Business Development, Clayton Construction

Reading Between the Lines: Creating a Positive Conversation Within the Workplace
Creating a culture of open and positive communication is a priority for employers. Miscommunication between bosses, peers, and subordinates can often be stressful for all parties involved and detrimental to overall productivity. This panel seeks to address communication challenges that often arise in the workplace and give tips on how all parties can work together to create a positive open dialogue.

Speakers are set to include:

  • Chris Corley, Owner, Corley Plumbing Air and Electric
  • Madison Skinner, Human Resources Manager, ScanSource
  • Sharon Wilson, Director of Conscious Leadership Development in the Academy of Leadership and Professional Development, Prisma Health–Upstate
  • Moderator:Chad Lawson, Communications Manager, Spartanburg Water

“Young professionals are entering the workplace looking for a culture of growth and development, volunteerism, collaboration, and inclusion,” said John Harvey, Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources at ScanSource. “Companies throughout the Upstate share these values, and through events like PIQUE, employees and regional leaders alike have an opportunity to come together from across county lines, learn about what’s working for neighboring organizations, and create a dialogue around how we can continue to make the Upstate such a great place to live and work.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to choose their personal agenda between multiple workshops as well as coordinated networking opportunities to meet with an executive in their respective industry or interest area to discuss relevant insights and the attendee’s professional goals. PIQUE tickets cost $25 and may be purchased here. Advanced registration is required, and space is limited.

The 2019 PIQUE Young Professionals Summit will be on Monday, March 25 from 1:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Greenville ONE Center with a networking reception to follow, featuring live art demonstrations from various Upstate art professionals.

About Ten at the Top
Comprised of public, private and civic leaders from across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to connect and encourage regional collaboration through data-driven research and regular convening of leaders and citizens to address key issues facing the region. Ten at the Top works with regional partners to foster collaboration and strategic planning to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. For more information, visit

Greer Streetscaping Project

Greer Streetscaping Project

by Savannah Higgins, Ten at the Top Intern

Big changes are happening in Greer. One of South Carolina’s fastest growing cities is getting a major makeover. The project is known as “CenterG” for the synergy it will bring to Greer. Greer CPW has worked since the summer of 2017 to replace or rehabilitate sewer and water lines prior to the city’s work, giving much of the area known as Greer Station new underground utilities now.

In a recent article from the city of Greer, Greer City Administrator Ed Driggers mentioned, “This is one of those projects that we do about every 75 to 100 years and it just happens to be the time to do it,” he continued to mention that, “It is aging infrastructure and it will be a very complex project on which we are partnering with Greer CPW. We’ve been working with our downtown merchants for a couple of years now, advising and preparing them for this.”

In hopes of enhancing people’s experience downtown, the city is taking a design that is very unique. This new infrastructure will not be traditional—the design is called a shared street design. It has no curb and gutter and is a paver street rather than an asphalt street. Their goal is also to maintain two-way traffic for vehicles and pedestrian access in that area as well as parallel parking.

The streetscape will be funded by city resources. The $10.8 million-dollar project will include a shared street design, brick pavers, landscaping, new curb and gutters, ADA accessibility, and new lighting on Trade Street.

Matt Sossamon, Project Manager at Sossamon Construction Company, Inc., stated to Nickelle Smith of WSPA, “We’ve done a number of streetscapes throughout the Upstate —Daniel Morgan Square in Spartanburg, Fountain Inn, Abbeville, we’ve done a number of them.” He continued, “We understand the concern that the business owners have in the downtown and we’re going to do our best to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible.”

The city of Greer is encouraging folks to follow the construction process at and is working to communicate that despite the construction, all businesses are open and we need to continue supporting them.

Senior Issues Group Hosts First Workshop About Lifelong Learning in the Upstate

Senior Issues Group Hosts First Workshop About Lifelong Learning in the Upstate

On February 7th, Ten at the Top’s Upstate Senior Issues group reconvened for their first session of the new 2019 Senior Issues Workshop Series.

In September of 2018, the Ten at the Top Senior Issues group convened to discuss goals for 2019. It was determined that moving forward, that this group must be more intentional with their approach to address senior needs collectively. After much conversation, the group decided to move forward with topic-focused meetings that address the top senior needs in our region.

The Appalachian Council of Governments proposed that the group utilize data from their 2018 Senior Needs Assessment, which was conducted in early fall. It was agreed that these topic-focused workshops seek to address the most pressing senior needs that were identified in this assessment. The workshop series will address topics such as food access, transportation, and senior household needs.

The first session was surrounding lifelong learning opportunities in the Upstate. Lifelong learning is an important topic of discussion because studies show that those who are well connected to family, friends, and community are happier and physically healthier, and they live longer than those who are less connected.

Nancy Kennedy from OLLI at Furman led a panel discussion, which included panelists:

  • Jack Hansen, Author, Speaker, OLLI member
  • Andrea Smith, Executive Director & CEO, Senior Action
  • Morgan Jordan, Director, Lifelong Learning at Wofford College

The group engaged in a thoughtful dialogue about lifelong learning and other social engagement opportunities available in the Upstate. They also talked about the challenges of reaching parts of the senior population with these opportunities.

Some of the many opportunities available in these ten counties of the Upstate are:

  • OLLI@Clemson
  • OLLI@Furman
  • Senior Action
  • Lifelong Learning at Wofford
  • Lifelong Learning Institute at Anderson University
  • Lakelands Lifelong Learning Network in Greenwood
  • Community Centers/Senior Centers in many communities
  • Those 60 and older can audit courses at no charge at state colleges, universities, and technical schools.

The goal of these discussions is to raise more awareness than ever before of our seniors in the Upstate and the issues they face on a daily basis. The workshop series is sponsored by Upstate Home Care Solutions and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

To get involved or attend a workshop please contact Adelyn Nottingham at:



Upstate, SC [February 5, 2019] –Ten at the Top (TATT), a non-profit organization created to foster collaboration and planning in South Carolina’s Upstate region, has announced its new board members for the 2019-2021 term. They join existing members to form the governing board for the 10-county non-profit organization.

New members of the Ten at the Top Board of Directors are:

  • Scott Carr, Vice President – Commercial Business & Communications, GSP International Airport
  • Peggy Hill, President & CEO, Western Upstate Association of Realtors
  • Charles McManemin, Greenville Office General Manager, Fluor
  • Jessica Miserendino, International Trade Import Manager, AFL
  • Rich Robinson, Environment & Risk Prevention Manager, Michelin North America
  • George Shira, Vice President of Human Resources – Chemical Division, Milliken & Company

The TATT Board of Directors is composed of public, private and civic leaders from across the 10-county Upstate region. TATT board members are charged with representing the region and their community in fostering trust and collaboration across the region on issues of regional significance, serving as an advocate for regional thinking within their specific city or county, assisting TATT in engaging elected officials, business and community leaders, and supporting general organizational functions.

Addressing the Teacher Shortage: Supply, Demand, and Perception

Addressing the Teacher Shortage: Supply, Demand, and Perception

by Sharon Purvis

One of Ten at the Top’s focus areas for 2019 will be convening various stakeholders to address what is becoming a serious problem in South Carolina: a shortage of teachers to meet the growing demand.

Working with Ten at the Top to spearhead this initiative is Ansel Sanders, president and CEO of Public Education Partners, whose mission is “to lead our community in acting collectively to support, strengthen and advance public education and student achievement in Greenville County Schools.” That mission positions Sanders ideally to gather interested parties to address the shortage.

Ten at the Top has for some time been convening district superintendents and business leaders in the Upstate, but it has been with a workforce development focus in the past. The group evolved to include leaders in higher education in an effort to bridge the gap between K-12 and higher education institutions.

After several meetings with representatives from those three sectors, it became clear that the state’s teacher shortage—which is only projected to worsen if steps are not taken to address it—is an issue that needs focused attention.

The problem is two-pronged: the over-all student population in South Carolina public schools has grown by an average of 7,400 students per year over the last 5 years, and higher turn-over and fewer teacher graduates means a diminishing supply of teachers to meet the demand. (For an in-depth analysis of the issue, click here.)

In an effort to get their arms around what is needed to tackle this issue, the group began by forming three committees to address the following:

  1. Understanding the challenge—why is there a shortage? What are teachers actually saying?
  2. Thinking about elevating the profession. How do we better tell the story of teachers? This a marketing strategy, both to potential teachers and the public.
  3. Thinking specifically about teacher retention and recruitment strategies.

The first is important because, Sanders says, the shortage is really a symptom of an underlying problem, and without an understanding of what’s causing it, any measures taken to address it will be ineffective—or at least not as effective as they could be. Teacher pay gets a lot of press, but it is far from the only issue. Public perception of teachers and education is also a factor, as is a lack of stature for the profession, and the 2nd and 3rd  committees seek to address those issues.

The key, says Sanders, is “how to elevate, modernize, and professionalize teaching.” What makes a profession a profession? Compensation is a piece of the puzzle, certainly, but it’s also training and the autonomy to do one’s job, as well as the respect that is afforded to other professions, Sanders says. He continues: “We respect them, but do we respect and honor them the way we do, say, our military, or other highly honored professions? Are we telling our own children that they should aspire to be teachers, or are we not?”

Alternate routes to certification are another piece of the puzzle—not to replace the traditional route through colleges of education, but to supplement it as a source of teachers. An added benefit of that is that the pool of teachers entering the profession will have added diversity, with older teachers who have had other professional experience to draw on.

The three committees are just underway and will meet in January and early February and will report to the larger group, called the Education Spectrum Forum, in April. Each has 10-12 members, comprised of K-12, higher education, and business sectors. Although Sanders hopes to engage policymakers, the outcome of the committees is not policy recommendations, but the hope is that policy will emerge from the process.

This group’s efforts are running parallel to legislative efforts, in fact, with education being at the forefront of policy initiatives in Columbia. South Carolina Public Radio reports that Gov. McMaster’s budget recommendation calls for a 5% pay raise for teachers among other things as part of his promise to fix education in the state. The money to pay for the proposed reforms comes from a budget surplus as well as increased tax revenues from a growing economy. And McMaster promised in his State of the State address to sign into law reform bills that have been proposed in the state assembly.

Ten at the Top and Public Education Partners will continue to focus on this issue throughout 2019 and will continue to use this space to update constituents on the progress.

Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls

Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls

by Sherry Jackson

Located near the town of Walhalla are two of Oconee County‘s top attractions, Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls. Stumphouse Tunnel maintains a near constant 56 degree temperature and is a welcome respite on a hot summer day.  Nearby at Issaqueena Falls visitors can enjoy the waterfall and have a picnic at the shady retreat.

Stumphouse Tunnel

In 1852, this railroad tunnel was begun as part of a route that was to go from Charleston to Knoxville and eventually on to Cincinnati. Fifteen hundred workers, mostly Irish immigrants, worked twelve hours a day, six days a week using only sledge hammers, hand drills, and black powder to carve out the hard granite from Stumphouse Mountain. It’s been said that the Mountain defeated the Rail Line because in 1859 lack of funds interrupted construction and then the Civil War brought construction to a halt. There were various efforts by the Blue Ridge Railroad to revive the tunnel construction but it never came to fruition.

In the 1950s, a professor at Clemson University realized that the constant fifty-six degrees with 85% humidity conditions of the tunnel were ideal for making blue cheese. They used the tunnel to perfect the curing process for several years before it was moved back to the college.

Today the 1617 foot-long tunnel is one of the most visited sites in South Carolina. It’s considered somewhat of an oddity and a monument to pre-Civil War engineering. When visiting, be sure to take a flashlight as the tunnel is very dark, and don’t disturb the bats overhead. In recent years, there have been some falling rocks near the airshaft so a gate has been installed and you can only go about 50 yards into the tunnel.

Issaqueena Falls

This waterfall is named for a Creek Indian maiden named Issaqueena who had been captured by the Cherokees. She met and fell in love with a white trader named Allan Francis. When she learned that the Cherokee were planning an attack on the fort where her beloved lived, she warned the white settlers. When the Cherokee came after her, Issaqueena saw them coming and, knowing that they believed evil spirits lived in waterfalls, she pretended to jump over the falls but instead she hid on a ledge behind the falls. She remained there until they were gone and it was safe, thus tricking her pursuers.

There is a short, easy walking trail that leads to an overlook where you can view the 200-foot cascading falls.

Blue Ridge Railroad Trail

If you’re feeling adventurous, the Blue Ridge Railroad Trail at Issaqueena Falls is one of the lesser trekked trails in Oconee County. It’s marked by a small sign and yellow trail blazers. The moderately strenuous trail is about 4.5 miles round trip and follows along the railroad grade approach to Stumphouse Tunnel. Be prepared with bug spray as some of the trail is a little overgrown and spiders and ticks are prevalent.

Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls are located about 7 miles Northwest of Walhalla on Highway 28.

The park is maintained by the City of Walhalla and is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. except Christmas Day and inclement weather days.

Admission is free. There are outhouse restrooms and picnic tables.