Honorees celebrate at the Charleston Regional Business Journal's Forty Under 40 event. (Photos/Ariel Perez)
They’re volunteers, non-profit board members, foster parents, founders of nonprofits that help children and the community and pioneers in their fields.
Even more outstanding? They’re all under 40 years old.
More than 250 people attended the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 event, celebrating those young people’s accomplishments while feasting on prime rib and a mashed potatoes bar. The event was sponsored by Charleston Southern University and the Charleston Gaillard Center.
Each nominee was called to the stage and their resumes and community service highlighted by emcees Quinn Gaines — a past Forty Under 40 winner and director of business development for Choate Construction’s South Carolina Division — and Jason Thomas, executive editor of SC Biz News.
While the nominees work in a wide variety of industries — real estate, architecture, transportation, legal and health services, property management, hospitality — all of them have a deep passion for giving back to their community.
Collectively, the nominees dedicate their time and support the following organizations: The Susan G. Komen dragon boat race, Teacher’s Supply Closet, Green Heart Project, American Red Cross, Chase After the Cure, Girls on the Run, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, Next Child Fund, One80Place, Goose Creek Planning Commission, financial literacy organization Increasing HOPE and the Junior League of Summerville.
Many nominees use their business skills to help the community, like Max N. Gruetzmacher, member attorney at Motley Rice, who has offered legal services for Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, Charleston HALOS, Lowcountry Food Bank, Charleston WaterKeeper, Charleston Animal Society, Palmetto Paws and Charleston Legal Access.
Doing good through their work, Nichole Johnson, a local missions ministry leader at Seacoast Church, runs a warming shelter for homeless people in West Ashley. Devon Andrews, director of policy and partnerships at the Charleston Parks Conservancy, created community initiatives like Books on Buses, Books for Babies programs, Free and Fresh Fridge initiative.
Personal missions include the creation of new important nonprofits. Zach Volousky, vice president and financial consultant at South State Investment Services, co-founded Pickle’s People, which supports children and families that are undergoing a recent childhood cancer diagnosis, following his young daughter’s Leukemia diagnosis.
Marcus Bryant, a formerly homeless youth, founded Compass Collegiate Academy, a free charter school in North Charleston, and has dedicated his service to empowering marginalized communities.
Breaking down barriers in health care, Jill Dunnigan, manager of Provider Network Management for Select Health of South Carolina, served as the company’s first culturally and linguistically appropriate services coordinator. She learned about the problem of cultural and linguistic barriers while studying in Spain during college, where she experienced the struggles one encounters when using a health care system in a non-native language and culture. Dr. Cerrissa Hugie was recognized as the first female Black psychiatric nurse practitioner to open her own practice in Charleston.
Celebrating the local community, Dawn Boren, senior management specialist at Boeing, writes a children’s book series called Stories of the Gullah Geechee Children in her free time.
“Beautiful beaches, an historic downtown and great weather do not make a community — people like these 40 young people do,” said Thomas. “It takes many people volunteering their time and talent to build a strong, rich, vibrant, caring community. The selfless examples, the breadth and depth of community service and volunteer work represented tonight, is truly inspiring.”