Columbia Chamber graduates 62 Midlands leaders

June 19, 2024

62 Participants in the Chamber’s Leadership Columbia Program Honored at Graduation Ceremony

On Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at the Columbia Museum of Art, the Columbia Chamber and the Leadership Columbia Advisory Board (LCAB) honored 62 graduates of the Leadership Columbia program. The Class of 2024 completed an orientation, a retreat, 10 class days and a class project with Serve & Connect. Since its inception in 1972, Leadership Columbia has graduated over 2,000 leaders across the Midlands.

“For over 50 years, the Columbia Chamber has developed the leaders of our community,” said Carl Blackstone, President and CEO of the Columbia Chamber. “The class of 2024’s work with Serve & Connect helped to create a safe landing space for the community for years to come.”

In addition to presenting each graduate with a commemorative plaque, the Columbia Chamber and Leadership Columbia Advisory Board honored Emily James, Find Great People, and Anna Peterson, Columbia Chamber, with the Glenn Jacobus award, an award given each year to class member(s) who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the class project and truly embody the role of a servant leader.

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2024:

Sara Grace Bailey BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Rachel Bashor Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
Travis Basnett Hussey Gay Bell
Kelly Brown BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Tyra Burch Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union
Jessica Burton Friendly Atmosphere Mentoring
Courtney Buzan University of South Carolina
Sydney Byrd South Carolina Air National Guard
Michelle Chapman Mauldin & Jenkins
John Patrick Connell First Citizens Bank
Aneesah Deen-Carlos Lexington Medical Center
Jennifer Dowell Palmetto GBA/BCBS SC
Tanika Epps City Year Columbia
Ashley Gee Safe Federal Credit Union
Katie Glanton Georgia-Pacific
Jordan Goetzman Queensborough National Bank & Trust Co
Katie Welborn Hagan Conservation Voters of South Carolina
Rachel Hair First Community Bank
Audra Hawisher Post & Courier/ Free Times
Emily James Find Great People
Patrice Jenkins KRJ Consulting
Rahkeem Jenkins South Carolina Air National Guard
Jay Little Forward Counseling
Eli Long Mark Anthony Brewing
Erin McBride Chernoff Newman
Monica McCoy Monica Motivates
Kourtney Moody ITG Brands
Kim Moore Richland County School District Two
Andreas Mosby Fisher & Phillips
Amanda Myers Richland Library
Ashley Nielsen Colonial Life
Ryan Patane D’Alberto, Graham & Grimsley, LLC
Angel Payne South Carolina Federal Credit Union
Andrea Peterman AgFirst Farm Credit Bank
Anna Peterson Columbia Chamber
Raymond Prince Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Stig Rasmussen Fact Forward
Kathryn Ross Blanchard Machinery
Haley Saxby Robinson Gray Stepp & Laffitte, LLC
Angela Yong Sellers FIT Columbia
Essie Sellers Benedict College
Wade Sellers Coal Powered Film Works
Jenna Shrader BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Aaron Simmons First Heritage Mortgage
Ed Simmons Central Midlands Council of Governments
Todd Simon Simon Wray Lending Team
Darius Smith Westinghouse Electric Company
Hunter Sox First Tuesday Strategies
Erica Staley Serve & Connect
John Strong Pulliam Restoration
Alexis Terry-Mouzon Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company
Ashley Thomas The Hive Community Circle
Bobby Thompson First Citizens Bank
Adrienne Turner Colonial Life
Harrison Vance Unum
Deja Vaughn United Way of the Midlands
Erin Watkins Bank of America
Jennifer Webb Safe Federal Credit Union
Natalie Webb
Alexis Wood Central Carolina Community Foundation
Nicole Hendricks Woods Encompass Rehab Hospital Columbia
Brooks Wright Rogers Townsend, LLC


“Leadership Columbia is the region’s signature leadership program, and this year is another example of why” said Maggie Dittmar, 2023-2024 Leadership Columbia Advisory Board Chair. “Each class hears from experts in their perspective fields, takes part in valuable program opportunities, and partners with a non-profit to make a positive, lasting impact on the community. They’re able to walk away with a wealth of knowledge and insight on why Columbia is a great place to live and work. This year’s class had the opportunity to make an incredible impact partnering with Serve & Connect to further their mission of police and community partnership. To see how this class has been dedicated to the program, built relationships, and partnered with the community has made for a successful year. As we look forward to the new year, the board hopes to continue developing great leadership in the Columbia area.”

Leadership Columbia would not be possible without the support of the generous 23/24 sponsors.

Leadership Columbia Presenting Sponsor:

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

In-kind Sponsors:

PepsiCo, Inc., Sound and Images

Class Day Sponsors:

Aflac, Hood Construction, McGuire Woods Consulting, Thompson Turner Construction, M.B. Kahn Construction, Richland County Public Library, Cyberwoven, Bauknight Pietras & Stormer, P.A., ESGR, Jones, McAden & Associates, ECS Southeast, Columbia Metropolitan Airport, The Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina Federal Credit Union, The COMET, SSOE Group

In August, the Columbia Chamber will announce the Leadership Columbia Class of 2025, which will be the 52nd class in the program’s history.


About Leadership Columbia
Founded by the Columbia Chamber in 1972, Leadership Columbia strives to provide the community with an enduring source of diverse leaders who are prepared to serve their region. The 10-month skills-building program, aims to identify and motivate emerging community leaders; provide an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness; and challenge participants to apply their talents within their community while providing an opportunity to become involved. The program focuses on showing the candidates an in-depth look at critical issues facing the Midlands.

For more information on Leadership Columbia, visit or contact Mary Beth Sanderson at [email protected] or (803) 733-1124.

About Columbia Chamber
The Columbia Chamber is a private, non-profit, Partner-driven organization comprised of 1,200 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals in Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties. The Columbia Chamber serves as the voice of its Partners and the business community at large on matters of economic, educational, social, cultural and political concern, as well as supports and promotes the success of its Partners through networking, professional development, advocacy and leadership. The organization has represented the interests of the local business community since 1902. 

To become a Partner or to learn more about the Columbia Chamber, as well as its events, programs and initiatives, visit