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Featured Presenters


Dr. Kevin So, Keynote Speaker
Dr. Kevin Kam Fung So is an Assistant Professor in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management and a Research Associate in the Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development at the University of South Carolina. Dr. So has participated in a number of funded research projects. Many of these projects were funded by prestigious industry partners including the United States Department of Commerce, the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, the City of Columbia South Carolina, as well as peer institutions from the Australia, Hong Kong, and the United States. His work has appeared in many top-tier academic journals including the Journal of Travel Research, Tourism Management, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, and International Journal of Hospitality Management.

Recognition of Dr. So’s academic achievements includes the prestigious Griffith University Medal for his undergraduate studies; the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence: Highly Commended Paper Award from the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management; the Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing Martin Oppermann Best Article of the Year Award 2013; the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research Article of the Year Award 2014. Dr. So’s doctoral research, “An investigation of the role of customer engagement in strengthening service brand loyalty,” was chosen as the winner of the 2014 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the Hospitality Management category.

Michelle Mapp
Michelle Mapp serves as the CEO of the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit, mission based lender that has facilitated the development of more than $246 million in community development projects throughout South Carolina. A certified Housing Development Finance Professional, Michelle has been with SCCLF for 11 years and has served in her current capacity for the past 6 years.

She currently serves on the board of directors for Business Development Corp., Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte Branch, Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation, SC Community Capital Alliance, TogetherSC, and on the SC Rural Action Plan Taskforce. She is a Liberty Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. A 2012 executive finalist for the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Influential Women in Business, Michelle was recently named one of Charleston Magazine’s 50 Most Influential.

Gullah Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission
The Corridor is a federal National Heritage Area. A National Heritage Area is a site that represents a significant story of local, regional, national, and even global importance. The designation of the Corridor as a federal National Heritage Area recognizes the Gullah Geechee people for maintaining their cultural traditions and for being an outstanding reflection of American values of ingenuity, pride, and perseverance. The intent of the designation is to help us to preserve and interpret the traditional cultural practices, sites, and resources associated with Gullah Geechee people.

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.

SC African- American Heritage Commission
The movement toward recognizing the importance of preserving this cultural richness led to the passage of a joint resolution of the General Assembly in 1993 that established the South Carolina African American Heritage Council and to its establishment as a commission in 2001 by executive order. The mission of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission is to identify and promote the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina and to assist and enhance the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. The 15-member commission includes representatives from all regions of the state.

Jannie Harriot has helped bring inspirational history to children through the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, which identifies and promotes the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture demonstrating the African American experience in South Carolina. When Harriot became the commission’s chairperson in 2001, she focused on enhancing programming, developing funding sources, and increasing visibility through collaborations with state and local historical organizations and an aggressive public relations plan. In 2009, Harriot became executive director of the foundation that raises money to support the commission’s efforts. (She still serves with the commission as vice chairperson.) Most recently, her efforts, along with other members of the commission, resulted in the publication of the Greenbook, a guide to African- American establishments in South Carolina. Soon Harriot will publish a book chronicling the history of African American education in Hartsville, South Carolina, and her efforts to save her former high school in that town from commercial development.

Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network
GAAHPN provides assistance to anyone interested in preserving Georgia’s African American historic resources through presentations, site visits and Reflections. Reflections is a periodical featuring African American resources and stories from across Georgia. GAAHPN received a Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) for Reflections. GAAHPN continues to celebrate African American heritage in Georgia, with the hope that all Georgia communities will embrace diversity as a unique opportunity to enhance heritage tourism and historic preservation.

Jeanne Cyriaque researches, lectures and facilitates historic preservation and interpretive projects to raise awareness of the contributions of African Americans to Georgia’s built and cultural past. She served as the coordinator of African American programs for Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division for 15 years. Jeanne currently serves as Chair of Georgia Humanities and is a member of the board of advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is also a board member of the Georgia African Historic Preservation Network (GAAHPN). Jeanne researched 28 sites associated with the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Georgia and developed content for the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Footsteps of MLK Trail. The trail was implemented in April 2018 in partnership with the King Center to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and is available online at ExploreGeorgia.org/Footsteps. Cyriaque is currently conducting community engagement with stakeholders for U.S. Civil Rights sites for the Georgia State University World Heritage Initiative. Jeanne is the 2012 recipient of the Mary Gregory Jewett Award from the Georgia Trust for her achievements in historic preservation and the 2014 Lillian C. Lynch Citation from the Georgia Museum of Art for her achievements in cultural heritage education.

Jessie Bagley
A Charleston native and 2009 graduate, was an arts management major and art history minor. An internship with Piccolo Spoleto during her junior year opened Bagley’s eyes to a wide variety of arts-related careers. Bagley has worked with Spoleto since 2010, when she was hired as the special events assistant. After holding that position Bagley assumed the role of marketing and public relations manager.

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., after successfully consulting part-time for seven years.

Reggie Cummings
Meet Reggie Cummings, the founder of Black Travel Movement – a community of friends and family who share an interest in cultivating new friendships and epic experiences through international travel.

Ashlea Pope
Ashlea Pope is the creator and founder of Nomadik Nation, an e-magazine dedicated to millennial culture and heritage travel. She is also the co-founder of AfricanDiasporaTourism.com that explores black lifestyles globally. A leading member of the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an organization that boasts over 10,000 millennial members worldwide, she has already visited over 24 countries and six continents. With a degree in Economics and German from Rutgers University, she has studied at Freie Universitat in Berlin Germany, and is fluent in Spanish and German. Ashela also does PR, event planning and grant writing for cultural artists.

Cocktail Bandits (’18 Harriet Tubman Trailblazer Award Winners)
Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, listed among Imbibe Magazine’s ‘75 People to Watch in 2018’ and named two of Charleston’s 50 Most Progressive, are the dynamic duo known around the globe as the curly-haired Cocktail Bandits. These full-time Charleston Beverage Ambassadors met at the College of Charleston, and now, with their booming hospitality business and self-titled Cocktail Bandits blog, promote female empowerment through advocacy for the food and beverage community from a feminine, urban perspective. The curly ladies, who talk cocktails daily, educate and entertain their growing blog audience through their own original cocktail recipes, by promoting the craftsmanship of other bar professionals and by sharing their experiences at foodie events all around the Holy City and beyond. Johnny and Taneka have hosted sold-out events at Charleston Food & Wine Festival, Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and Euphoria Greenville Food, Wine & Music Festival. As expert judges, The Cocktail Bandits have participated in the American Craft Spirit Competition, First Annual Fried Chicken Challenge, Charleston Fashion Week’s Top Cocktail Competition and more! The duo have also been featured on Sirius XM Radio online, NBC BLK online, Metro UK online, Style Me Pretty Online, Cuisine Noir Magazine, Black Southern Belle Magazine, National PBS ‘Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking TV’, ESSENCE Magazine, Imbibe Magazine and several other regional publications. The Bandits have collaborated with brands like Red Bull, Avion Tequila, Saveur Magazine, Renaissance Hotel and Toyota to transform the way people think about beverages. Their highly anticipated book, ‘Holy Spirits! Charleston Culture Through Cocktails’ features over 50 original recipes, is scheduled to be released Spring 2018.

Michael Moore,
Michael Boulware Moore was named the president and CEO of the International African American Museum in February 2016 after serving as an IAAM board member for several years. He brings with him over two decades of experience in brand strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship. After earning a political science degree from Syracuse University, he received his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He went on to Coca-Cola, where he managed the Coca-Cola brand in the US. After several years there, Moore pursued a number of senior roles in consumer packaged goods companies before leading a boutique strategy consulting firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Katherine Saunders Pemberton,
Katherine Saunders is the Associate Director of Preservation at Historic Charleston Foundation where she has worked since 1996. Her primary job responsibilities include preservation advocacy, planning, and historical research. A native of Virginia, Ms. Saunders earned her undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va. She worked as an archaeologist at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest before moving to Charleston in 1992. Prior to her employment by HCF she worked for SC State Parks and The Charleston Museum. She attended the Attingham Summer School for the study of the English Country House in 1999 and more recently has taken graduate courses in History at the College of Charleston and the Citadel.

Her principle research interest for the last several years has been the fortifications of colonial Charles Town, the results of which were published in 2002 as a chapter within the archaeology volume Another’s Country, edited by JW Joseph and Martha Zierden. In 2005, she was appointed by Charleston mayor Joseph Riley as co-chair of the Mayor’s Walled City Task Force. Since 2005, Ms. Saunders has taught HP611 Research Methods in the graduate program. The course focuses on property research.

Bobby Donaldson,
A native of Augusta, Georgia, Professor Donaldson received his undergraduate degree in History and African-American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and his Ph.D. in American History from Emory University. Previously, he held the Thurgood Marshall Fellowship at Dartmouth College and the Susan Biddle Ford Fellowship at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Additionally, he has served as a consultant for museum exhibitions, archival collections, oral history initiatives, documentary films, and historic preservation projects, including the renovation of the Booker T. Washington High School in downtown Columbia. In 2008, the Historic Columbia Foundation awarded Dr. Donaldson and his students the Helen Kohn Hennig Prize for their documentary project on the Ward One community in downtown Columbia. Professor Donaldson received a Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award (2010); the John N. Gardner Inspirational Faculty Award (2015); and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award (2016).

LDC
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
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.

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,

SC Community Loan Fund
We provide capital for the financing of community business by providing loans up 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.

Michael Allen
Michael A. Allen grew up in Kingstree, South Carolina; he is a 1978 graduate of Kingstree Senior High, as well as a 1982 graduate of South Carolina State College with a degree in History Education. He began his public career as a Cooperative Education Student with the National Park Service in 1980. Mr. Allen has served as a Park Ranger, Education Specialist as well as the Community Partnership Specialist for The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor/Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. In 2014 Michael was assigned by the National Park Service to participate as a team member on The NPS Special Resource Landmark Study exploring the history and legacy of The Reconstruction Era in American History. As a result of this groundbreaking effort a new national park service site was establishment by Presidential Proclamation, Reconstruction Era National Monument on January 12, 2017. Michael Allen has been a community activist for most of his professional life. He has a deep-seeded interest in our nation’s spiritual growth as it relates to the history and culture. Michael throughout his career was involved in designing exhibits and presenting interpretive programs that involve local communities and history. These programs were designed to attract non-traditional audiences to National Park Service and other historic sites. Mr. Allen also has been involved in a number of other innovative projects designed to engage new audiences in understanding and appreciating African and American history. He is a founding Board Member of the International African American Museum, which is slated to open in 2020 in Charleston SC. In December 2017 Michael Allen retired from the National Park Service after a 37 and half years career of public service.

Finally Michael’s motto is, “to understand the present and move toward the future, you must first know and accept your past.”

Mayor Billy Keyserling,
A Beaufort native who graduated from Brandeis University (BS, Magna Cum Laude) and Boston University (MS). He worked in Washington, DC for almost 16 years providing administrative and legislative duties for members of the U.S. Congress, coordinating an international human rights initiative and working as a public affairs consultant. He returned to Beaufort in 1989. Keyserling served two terms in the S.C. House of Representatives where he was Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy and served as Chairman of the Beaufort County Legislative Delegation. After deciding against seeking a third term in the legislature, Keyserling was elected to Beaufort City Council in 2000 and served one term. He became Mayor in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012 and 2016. Keyserling serves on the boards of the Municipal Association of South Carolina and the South Carolina Humanities Council.

Dawn Hammer Davis
She has been with the National Park Service for twenty-eight years. Currently, she is the acting superintendent of Reconstruction Era National Monument. She has spent almost all her career at Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site working in the field of history and interpretation. She started as a seasonal ranger and worked her way up to Chief of Interpretation at the two parks. She has also served as an acting superintendent at Moore’s Creek National Battlefield in North Carolina. She led Fort Sumter National Monument’s sesquicentennial commemorative activities from 2010-2015, including the nine-day event which marked start of the American Civil War.
Joyce Wright,
Joyce is key voice in bringing light to the profound story of Mitchelville. The transition from slavery to freedom was most profound in Mitchelville, a town on Hilton Head Island. General Ormsby M. Mitchel founded Mitchelville in the spring of 1862. But its residents created the community that fostered and encouraged freedom among its members. Escaped slaves from the area and as far away as Florida congregated in the town and worked for wages, shopped in stores in Mitchelville, attended church, and reunited with family. They also voted on their laws and operated a police force and education system. The town was laid out with named streets, squares, and homes on halfacres lots. Examining Mitchelville gives us a better understanding of Reconstruction efforts that began in earnest before the Civil War ended.

Deloris Pringle,
works as a grants writer/manager and project developer. A key focus of her career has been on rural education and rural community development. She has over thirty years of experience in non-profit management, and has worked for several foundations both in
management and as a consultant. She represented the Ford Foundation as Southeastern Director of the National Dropout Prevention Project; Served as South Eastern Representative for the Annenberg Foundation’s Rural Challenge Initiative; Served as Project Director for the
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry and worked as a consultant to the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in three southern states. She works with educational, non-profit and governmental organizations with emphasis on grant writing, grant management, resource development, and organizational development. She has a strong knowledge of grant resources, grants management, program planning, and program evaluation. Her back ground includes experience in strategic planning, grant making, community development, and instructional training. She has a strong working knowledge of educational issues, community processes and extensive experience working in communities throughout the southeast region. She is a grant writer for the Center for Innovation in Higher Education at the U of SC College of Education and manages and coordinates the NEH, Beaufort Fund and Donnelley Foundation supported Beaufort Reconstruction Interpretative Planning Project and obtained funding and coordinated three Beaufort Reconstruction Summer Institute for Teachers.

Dr. Rodell Lawrence
Dr. Rodell Lawrence was born in Apopka, Florida and has Gullah roots in the Lowcountry; his parents are Jasper County, S.C natives. He attended South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C., and majored in Electrical Engineering and minored in Mathematics. Lawrence left school in 1966, was drafted in the United States Army in 1967 and served in Vietnam. He returned to South Carolina State College in 1969, graduated in 1970. Lawrence received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from S.C. State College in 1992. Lawrence also sat on the Xerox philanthropic board that gave $25-$30 million dollars a year to community agencies as well as colleges and universities. He was responsible for making sure Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) got their fair share. As a result $5-$6 million dollars was given each year to HBCUs such as S.C. State University, Florida A & M University, Atlanta University Center, Southern University, North Carolina A&T Universtiy, Tuskegee, Howard University and many others. As a development officer, he raised money for Claflin College’s $20 million Capital Campaign, Stillman College, Meharry Medical College, Georgia Southern University and South Carolina State University.