Keynote Speaker- Luncheon

Dawn Dawson- House, Director of Corporate Communications for South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism helps shape and deliver the agency’s voice and message about its complex public service to multiple constituencies, including the general public; the parks, recreation and tourism industries; government and elected officials, and the media. 

She serves as a spokeswoman for the agency and publishes the monthly Tourism Today e-newsletter that communicates key metrics on tourism’s impact on South Carolina’s economy and general news about SCPRT. She also organizes special media events, public speaking appearances and press conferences.

Dawson-House also fills the agency’s ex-officio seat on the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, where she offers counsel on leveraging the distinguished story of African American heritage to help grow tourism. One of the Commission’s major tourism projects is the “Green Book of South Carolina: A Travel Guide to S.C. African American Cultural Sites”. It is considered the nation’s first travel guide for African Americans.

Featured Presenters

Micheil Perry, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of wanted to create an online and offline resource of lifestyle inspiration for African -American women in the South. So she did! In 2015, Mrs. Perry and her team expanded Black Southern Belle and developed an editorial division, ambassador program, online store, and the Black Southern Belle Collective. Black Southern Belle has been featured in numerous outlets, including Washington Post, Southern Living, HGTV,   Essence,  Black Enterprise, Draper James, Apartment Therapy, Brides, Today, Levo League, AOL Lifestyle Collective, and more. We have also done marketing campaigns with Home Depot, Evite, Olay, Pure Leaf, American Express, Gildan, Walmart, and various other Fortune 500 companies.


ForeSight Communications (FSC) is a full-service public relations and marketing company that specializes in developing diversity, inclusion, and equity campaigns. Since 2005 FSC has worked with more than 300 small businesses, government agencies, aviation authorities and travel/ tourism authorities, domestically and abroad.. FSC offers strategic planning, brand development, public outreach, graphic design, email marketing, market research and evaluations, staff training and event management.


Courtney Young, President/CEO of ForeSight Communications is an innovative and strategic public relations and marketing professional, with deep roots in the South Carolina Sea Islands and Gullah-Geechee Communities.

She has built her career developing strategic marketing plans, public outreach campaigns, designing corporate VIP events and advising executive management teams on effective communication strategies.  She is skilled at creating on-target and well-organized communication counsel that exceeds her clients’ expectations.

Under her leadership the company’s clients have been recognized by various organizations throughout the United States and across the globe including National Geographic Travel, the Southeast Tourism Society, the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the National Parks Services, the White House Young American Project – Initiatives to Model and the Botswana Ministry of Tourism.


Carmen Young, Branded Content Manager for ForeSight Communications is passionate about helping businesses understand and leverage the power of  online media to grow their brands. She works closely with clients to develop their voice through website content, social media posts and strategic partnerships that align with their brand. By staying  “in the know” on all new technologies, trends, and applications related to online brand management has helped clients improve their brands on average by 200%. Since 2012 Carmen has worked with more than 100 business brands in travel, tourism and government contracting.


Ahmad Ward, Executive Director for Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, is responsible for developing and implementing a master plan, that will recreate this historic town of Mitchelville as an interpretative site on Hilton Head Island, SC. The Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park will convey the important story of Mitchellville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States, to visitors from around the country.

Prior to this position, Ward spent fifteen years leading the Education Department at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama. It is there where he honed his expertise in telling the story of civil and human rights in America, with a focus on historic analysis and application to current social justice issues.  With Masters-level training and years of experience in exhibition design, he brings a strong understanding of storytelling and the importance of technology in interpretation.

Ward is a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He received a BA in Art from Elizabeth City State University and an MA in Museum Studies from Hampton University. He is a member of Rotary of Hilton Head Island Club and the Southeastern Museums Conference Jekyll Island Management Institute (JIMI) Selection Board. He is a former member of the Smithsonian Affiliates Advisory Board.


Heather L. Hodges, Executive Director joined the Gullah Geechee Corridor after serving as Pro Bono Counsel for almost a decade at Neighborhood Legal Services of the District of Columbia.  She is an experienced, non-profit executive and attorney with significant experience in program design, resource development, fundraising, community engagement, communications, board relations, organizational development, capacity building, advocacy and strategic planning. An honors graduate from the Tulane University School of Law, Hodges began her legal career in private practice in Washington, D.C., as an Associate at the international law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP (now Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer) and then as Counsel with Crowell and Moring LLP.  She was the recipient of a 2010-2011 Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship from Georgetown Law School where she did field work exploring challenges to providing access to justice in Belize and organized programs on international human rights law.   Ms. Hodges is also a documentary photographer who specializes in African, Afro-Latino and Hispanic culture with an emphasis on contemporary and traditional music and dance culture.  She has traveled extensively including to Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, to study traditional Afro-Cuban dance; to La Sabana, Venezuela, for the Fiesta de San Juan; to Dakar, Senegal, to explore its contemporary music scene; and to Belize for Garifuna Settlement Day.  She has also documented the roots of Delta blues and the Gathering at Geechee Kunda Festival in Georgia.  Her photographs have been exhibited in Washington D.C. and London.


Tonita Perry
Tonita R. Perry, APR has 24 years of diversified experience in the public relations/marketing communications field. Her qualifications include having worked in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors in such industries as travel and tourism, sports/entertainment, and issues management, in addition to her holding positions in public relations, marketing communications, and currently, entrepreneur. A public relations strategist since 1998, Ms. Perry has always specialized in integrated public relations strategies for individuals, organizations, corporations, government, and concepts. Dedicated to creating innovative ways of placing clients in the spotlight of the public eye through perceptual management of reputation, in 2005, she decided to open the doors of Eaddy Perry & Associates, Inc., a boutique agency, after successfully consulting part-time for seven years.

Jannie Harriot
Jannie Harriot, daughter of the late James and Marvell Bradley Harriot, was born in Wilmington, NC and grew up in Hartsville, SC. She graduated from Butler High School in Hartsville, attended Talledega College in Talledega, Alabama and received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, NC. She continued her studies at University of South Carolina and Montclair State College, Montclair, NJ

Ms. Harriot taught in the public schools of North and South Carolina and community colleges in New Jersey before returning to Hartsville, SC in 1990. Since returning, she has served as executive director of several community-based organizations and retired in 2005 as Executive Director of the Allendale County First Steps for School Readiness.

Ms. Harriot served on the board of many community organizations and currently serves as chairperson of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission and executive director of the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation.

As the founding chairperson of the Butler Heritage Foundation she was instrumental in getting the Darlington County Board of Education to deed the Butler High School to the Foundation for restoration and preservation.

In 1993 she was appointed as a charter member of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission by Governor Carroll Campbell. She served as the chairperson for nine years, six years as vicechair person, three years as secretary and currently serves as chairperson. During her tenure as chair, the SCAAHC has published yearly “African American Historic Places in South Carolina” published a “Teachers’ Guide to African American Historic Places in South Carolina and its “Arts Integration Supplement”, a survey of African American schools in South Carolina, “How Did We Get to Now?” and “The Business of Rural Heritage, Culture and Art”, an introductory resource guide for entrepreneurs.

She was a 2009 Purpose Prize Fellow, and in 2010 was selected as one of South Carolina’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence. In 2014 the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation awarded her the “Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr. Trailblazer’ award for her dedication to the preservation of African American history and culture in South Carolina. In 2018, the South Carolina Conference of NAACP awarded her the Presidential Citation in Education and Advocacy. She is the month of May in the 2019 AT&T African American History Calendar
and selected for the first class to be inducted into the first class of the Ernest A. Finney Hall of Fame and awarded “The order of the Palmetto” the highest civilian award for the State of South Carolina.

She is a member of the Household of Faith Church #3 in Hartsville and “Aunt Jannie” to 172 nieces, nephews, grand and great nieces, and nephews.

Latesha F. Smith
Latesha F. Smith recently relocated from Washington, DC to Charleston, SC to fulfill the roles of Community Engagement Coordinator with the Spoleto Festival and Creative Catalyst Fellow with the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. In these roles, Latesha will produce outreach programs and events focused on a newly commissioned opera about Omar Ibn Said and the community at large. Prior to her relocation she worked as a special event entrepreneur and professional, planning and managing events at NPR’s WAMU 88.5 and Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage. After graduating from Williams College with a BA in History, she worked with Meridian International Center and developed a love for international exchange programs and events. In 2016 she co-founded the Nakiso Curl Fest in Johannesburg, South Africa that celebrated natural hair textures and placed female entrepreneurs at the forefront.

The LDC is able to provide a variety of loan programs that can assist with most needs a small business could have. The LDC and its programs are structured to address the needs of underserved segments of the community. The LDC participates in many entrepreneurship activities with community resources, such as SCORE, the Small Business Development Center, and the Women’s Business Center.


SCORE provides Business Counseling for existing and new businesses, Mentoring & Business Training, Business Workshops & Webinars, Resources, Tools, Templates, Business Consultants, and Business Help Starting a Business.

Small Business Development Center
The Charleston Area SBDC provides one–on–one consultation to prospective and existing business owners. Assisting them to analyze business opportunities, develop business plans and strategies, and create small business loan packages, PTAC, manufacturing and industrial. These services are offered at no charge to the consumer and are available by appointment only. All services rendered by the Small Business Development Center are completely confidential.


MBE Office City of Charleston
The MWBE office assists potential entrepreneurs and existing small business owners through: Assisting potential entrepreneurs to identify and evaluate resources related to the start-up of his or her business, aiding existing business owners in the capacity of business growth and expansion, providing access to potential economic and financial opportunities through the use of business databases.


Economic Development Loans providing small business loans up to $25,000 to encourage economic development activities and promote opportunities for employment.

SC Community Loan Fund
We provide capital for the financing of community business by providing loansup to $1,000,000 to finance acquisition, predevelopment, infrastructure, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements, machinery and equipment, working capital, and permanent financing business costs, we support local economies.

Wando- Huger CDC
A Community Development Corporation task with the economic, social, and cultural development of the Cainhoy community.. The organization has restored the Keith School which serves as a museum and community meeting space. The organization is also dedication to historic preservation of the Cainhoy community through education and self- sustainable development initiatives such as affordable housing.


Chase Quinn

Chase Quinn

Program and Tour Coordinator

Latesha F. Smith

Latesha F. Smith

Community Engagement Coordinator

Courtney Young

Courtney Young

Foresight Communications

Amy Heath

Amy Heath

Director of Tourism City of North Charleston

Rashida Jeffers-Campbell

Rashida Jeffers-Campbell

JC and Associates

Dionna Everett

Dionna Everett

3G Event Decor & Rentals

Heather L. Hodges

Heather L. Hodges

Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Corridor