The Who’s Who Panel

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The 2014 Who’s Who panelists agreed to take on a difficult – yet exciting – task: Sift through dozens of worthy nominations from all around the Upstate, and help us find the first batch of winners for an award that didn’t exist yet.

This week we see the results of their hard work. The panelists each took a moment to sit down with UBJ and share a bit about themselves and their goals in helping us celebrate Who’s Who in the Upstate.

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0920UBJWhosWhoJerryDempsey1GregJerry Dempsey is former CEO of BorgWarner Corp. and currently serves on the boards of the Clemson School of Engineering and Greenville Health System.

 

Why did you agree to serve on the Who’s Who panel? 

 

I’m interested in learning more about the nominees and their backgrounds and so forth because I think that those are the people who are making significant contributions to the advancement of Greenville. I’m interested in learning what they are and what they’ve done. I’m sure I will be surprised, since I’ve only lived in Greenville 16 years.

How will you know who’s who when you see them?

 

I think the first criterion is vision. Someone has to have a vision of where they’re trying to take an organization or company. So I always look at someone that’s been visionary, and then has been able to accomplish the vision. And someone that’s made a contribution to the well being of the community. A lot of the nonprofits have done a great job. It’s not going to be easy to select the recipients. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of very qualified nominees. That’s been my experience in the past.

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0920UBJWhosWhoDrPhinnizeFisher1GregDr. Phinnize “Penny” Fisher is a former Greenville County Schools superintendent and chairwoman of the Spartanburg Methodist College board of trustees.

 

What are some parts of the Upstate outside Greenville where we should be looking to see what’s next? 

 

With young entrepreneurs and those in the tech sector. The people in the background, the researchers, the people who are creating and designing. I don’t know how often we look at people who develop and design; it’s not always just the owner – it’s the people with the imagination and the creativity to make it happen. We have to say, “We value what you do and we value what you bring to the table.”

Why are you serving on the Who’s Who panel? 

 

I feel the way other people do about Greenville and supporting our community. I thought this was a way I could help and contribute. It’s a great idea and it always helps to honor people who that push us forward in our community. This looked like something I could do to help out in a different kind of way.

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0920UBJWhosWhoAndyCajkaProvidedAndy Cajka’s expertise is in the hospitality industry. He is the founder and president of Southern Hospitality Group and has been in Greenville since 1996.

 

What talents and attitudes push the Upstate forward?

 

We have very diversified talents with a willingness to accept best practices from various places. I reflect back on some of the Chamber visits that I have been able to go on, and I have noticed that there is a willingness to accept ideas and there is a very can-do attitude. I have also seen a very strong sense of philanthropy through people willing to share their time and resources.

What parts of the Upstate should we be looking at to see what’s next? 

 

First, I really believe that the Upstate is gaining recognition of our beautiful natural resources. It’s a question of how we leverage those assets. We should watch Spartanburg’s downtown. There are over a half-dozen institutes of higher learning in the downtown area. Development of amenities to allow those attending schools to live closer to each college is something to look at going forward. Also, core areas where we have seen great residential growth, like Fountain Inn and Greer. They are really leveraging assets that make them desirable with expansion of arts and restaurants.

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0920UBJWhosWhoLillianBrockFlemingProvidedLillian Brock Flemming is vice mayor pro tem and District 2 representative for Greenville City Council. She is also employment recruiter for Greenville County Schools.

 

What are the talents and attitudes you’ve seen that push the Upstate forward?

 

I have a love for Greenville. There’s a spirit of collaboration here, a desire to achieve greatness and a willingness to talk and study issues. There’s a community spirit of “Let’s get together and do something better than before.”

What’s the best advice you wish you’d listened to the first time?

Do not be afraid to take risks. My mom gave me that advice. She also said it’s important to never think that you don’t have the quality or skills. And to give as much as is truly required.

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0920UBJWhosWhoWRagland1GregWill Ragland teaches theater at Woodmont High School in Piedmont and was named Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year for 2012–2013.

 

What parts of the Upstate should we be looking at to see what’s next? 

 

There have been noticeable grassroots efforts in terms of cultural development in the smaller communities surrounding Greenville. Many of these organizations have taken advantage of existing historic structures and given them a second life while launching highly successful community programs. Prime examples include the Fountain Inn Civic Center (now the Younts Center for Performing Arts), the Greer Cultural Arts Council and the Greer Children’s Theatre, and the Mauldin Cultural Center. Other communities are also working toward creating their own cultural organizations and centers. Two exciting places to keep our eyes on are Simpsonville and the Williamston, Pelzer, West Pelzer area.

What’s the best advice you wish you’d listened to the first time?

 

Worrying gets you nowhere.

How will you know Who’s Who when you see them? 

 

I always admire those who work the hardest, seek the least praise, and put their talents to use for the betterment of others.

 

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