Keynote: Lauren Montano, Galápagos Alternative
Nancy Hritz, PhD Associated Professor of Hospitality at USC Beaufort and Assistant Director of the Lowcountry and Resort Islands Institute
Dr. Nancy Hritz, is an Associate Professor and researcher at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Currently the Assistant Director of the Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism Institute at USCB, she has completed multiple research projects in the professional sphere that include visitor profiles, conversion studies, and impact studies. She has worked with historical and beach communities and organizations such as the Hilton Head/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Sea Pines Resort, Island Rec of Hilton Head, Wilmington, NC and Beaches Convention and Visitor Bureau, Town of Wrightsville Beach, NC, Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, Moore’s Creek National Battlefield (US National Park Service) and United States Masters Swimming. She has 15+ years of professional travel and tourism industry experience with past positions with Royal Caribbean, Inc., Hilton Hotels and Divi Resorts.
Clyde Johnston, ASGCA
Bridget Lidy, Tourism Management & Ambassadorship Department, City of Savannah
Bridget Lidy is originally from Alexandria, Virginia. She received her undergraduate degree from College of Charleston in Urban Studies and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of South Carolina. Bridget is director of the Tourism Management and Ambassadorship Department with the City of Savannah. This complements her municipal work experience where she was employed by the cities of Alexandria, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina. She also worked for Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and Savannah Development and Renewal Authority. In her free time, Bridget likes to read, travel, garden, and spend time with family and friends.
John Salazar, PhD Professor of Hospitality at USC Beaufort, and Director of the Lowcountry Resort and Islands Tourism Institute
Dr. John P. Salazar is a Full Professor in the Department of Hospitality Management at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and is Director of the University’s Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism Institute (LRITI). He earned a B.S. degree from Northeastern University in Boston, M.S. degree from the University of South Alabama, and Ph.D. from Auburn University.
Dr. Salazar has extensive experience in a wide range of hospitality industry operations, including lodging, sales and marketing, the front office, food and beverage, and industry training. He is the author of 77 peer-reviewed publications, proceedings and presentations, and has been awarded more than 150 grants and contracts. His research projects include tourism economic impact analyses, visitor profile studies, brand marketing, and community association research. That research has been conducted for organizations and associations such as the US Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, RBC Heritage Tournament Presented by Boeing, Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, Charleston’s Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Town of Bluffton, SC, and Del Webb Sun City. Dr. Salazar has also served as past Chapter President of the Southeast Travel and Tourism Research Association, and also Director of Research for the Southeast, Central and South America Federation of the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education for 2012-13.
Tony Wartko, Director of Facilities, The Sea Pines Resort
Sara Clow, General Manager, GrowFood Carolina
Sara is the General Manager of GrowFood Carolina, South Carolina’s first local food hub. Before GrowFood Carolina, Sara was the Director of Sales & Marketing and the Commodity Manager at Pacific Organic Produce in San Francisco; marketing organic tree fruit and juice for over 200 growers to retailers and wholesalers nationwide under the Purity Organic brand. Sara has worked with a diverse group of growers and customers throughout her career and is committed to building thriving local and sustainable food systems. She was also very involved as a volunteer with the Marin Agricultural Land Trust in Northern CA which serves to protect active farmlands for future generations. Sara is originally from The Garden State and graduated from Vanderbilt University.
Anna DeLage, Recycling Market Development, SC Department of Commerce
Anna Lange is a North Carolina native who calls Columbia, SC home. As the Recycling Market Development Manager at the SC Department of Commerce, she manages recycling infrastructure development for new and existing businesses and is the staff support for the South Carolina Carpet Recovery Coalition. In 2010 she served as the project manager for Richland County’s Energy Efficiency and Community Block Grant overseeing $2.2M in federal energy and waste reduction grants. In 2012 Anna helped facilitate Richland County’s vision and strategy for sustainability by collaborating to create the Central Midlands Regional Sustainability Plan. Anna served as Richland County’s 1st Sustainability Manager during which time she directed sustainability programs, projects, and policies for the county. Her ability to institutionalize sustainability, align complex goals across multiple stakeholder groups, leverage resources, and implement successful sustainability programs resulted in the County reducing energy use by almost 10% in 5 years portfolio-wide.
Session 3: Coastal Resilience
Elizabeth Fly, Marine Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy
Liz is the Marine Conservation Director for the South Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy. She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, but has lived in South Carolina for ten years working on marine-related issues. She received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina, studying climate change impacts on marine mussels around the world. Liz spent a year in Washington D.C. as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, working on ocean and coastal issues for the Third National Climate Assessment which was released in 2014. Before joining the Conservancy, she was the coastal climate specialist for the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, providing science-based information and technical support for coastal climate adaptation issues. As the new Marine Conservation Director, Liz looks forward to expanding the Conservancy’s engagement in important coastal and offshore issues facing South Carolina.
Kim Jones, Watershed Management Division Manager, Town of Bluffton
Julie Davis, Living Marine Resources Specialist, SC Sea Grant Consortium
Session 4: Renewable Resources
Kenneth Sercy, Utility Regulation Specialist, Coastal Conservation League
Kenneth joined the Coastal Conservation League in 2012 as a Utility Regulation Specialist. He is a South Carolina native and a graduate of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where he received a Master of Environmental Management degree within the program’s Energy and Environment concentration. At the Conservation League, Kenneth has developed strategy and analysis for more than fifty regulatory dockets relating to electric utility resource planning, energy efficiency programs, and renewable energy initiatives in South Carolina. Prior to graduate school, Kenneth studied science and engineering at Clemson University and worked professionally as a technical manuscript editor.
Steven Schwartz, CEO, Hilton Head Solar
Mr. Steven Schwartz is the CEO of Hilton Head Solar and Lucent Energy Management. Hilton Head Solar is a local installer of renewable energy systems, including LED Lighting, Solar Electric and Hot Water Systems. Lucent Energy Management is a National installer of energy systems, having developed, designed, and installed collectively, over 60 megawatt of solar energy systems over the past 10 years. Both Companies are direct Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Companies. Steven also serves as the COO for Eco Grow Farms, an indoor herbal grow consultant, design, and engineering Company. Additional to renewable energy project development and construction, Steven has significant experience in financial services, having spent over 10 years in the commercial real estate services industry. During this time, his expertise was focused on real estate collateral management, construction financing, credit dispute resolutions, and contract negotiations.
Mike S. Hughes, P.E., LEED AP Thomas & Hutton
Mr. Hughes is a Principle at Thomas & Hutton an engineering and development consulting company located across the southeast. He have focused the past 15 years as a civil engineer creating healthy communities in the low country of South Carolina and Georgia. From urban infill development projects to low impact development communities like Palmetto Bluff, Mr. Hughes is driven to create places that will continue to be special and enjoyed by generations to come.Mr. Hughes has been working in the field of civil engineering for 20 years. He is a graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor and Master of Science in Civil Engineering.
Jay Walea, Executive Director, Palmetto Bluff Conservancy
Mr. Walea is the Executive Director of the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy. He has been with Palmetto Bluff for over twenty-seven years. As part of the Conservancy Environmental Team he works to develop, implement and manage programs relating to the environment and stewardship. He works with the development planning team, design review board, construction staff and property owners to identify and preserve natural resources. In this capacity, he handles habitat identification and preservation; lot development; traditional land and forestry management; wildlife management; interface with Design Review professionals on natural resource protection/building placement; design and implementation of nature trails; and education and outreach. Mr. Walea began his career working for Union Camp’s Land Resources Division in 1993 while pursuing his Associates Degree in Wildlife/Forestry Management from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He graduated in 1994 and has been at Palmetto Bluff since that time.
Daniel Keefer, Witmer | Jones | Keefer
Received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University with honors. He has been practicing since 2000 and is a Registered Landscape Architect in South Carolina and North Carolina. Dan is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Urban Land Institute and the Town of Bluffton Planning Commission. Dan and his wife Amanda have three children - Halle, James and Hayes. When he isn’t enjoying time with them or in the office Dan can be found enjoying the safety of Complete Streets while training for his next Marathon or Cycling Race.
Session 5: Quality of Life
Fred Leyda, Human Services Alliance Beaufort County
Fred Leyda is the Director of the Beaufort County Alliance for Human Services and Facilitator for the Collaborative Organization of Services for Youth, COSY. Fred has worked in the human service arena with delinquent youth as well as mentally, behaviorally and emotionally handicapped children for 30 years. Upon graduation from the University of Tampa he became a Marine Science Instructor/Counselor and then Administrative Director for several of the Associated Marine Institutes. In 1996, he moved into his position with Beaufort County as facilitator of the COSY Process coordinating interagency treatment plans and removing barriers to service for children. In 2009, he added the duties of the Alliance directorship to his job description. Fred serves on the 14th Judicial Circuit Multi-Disciplinary Team; he facilitates the Beaufort County Early Childhood Coalition and acts as Project Director for the Sheldon Township Community Support Partnership. Mr. Leyda also serves on various other advisory boards and councils in Beaufort County and within South Carolina including the Growing Together State Advisory Council, the SC Office of Rural Health Action Plan Task Force and the Disabilities and Special Needs Community Review Team; he is a member of the Knights of Columbus and serves as a Lector for St. Peter Catholic Church.
Charles Rutkowski, Community Transportation Association of America
Charles Rutkowski is the Director of Technical Assistance Programs for the Community Transporatation Association of America in Washington, DC. Mr. Rutkowski has more than 41 years experience in the community transportation field with extensive skills in transit planning, evaluation, management, operations and financing. Mr. Rutkowski manages the CTAA's Rural and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs, which provide planning assistance and training to help establish, expand or enhance rural and tribal transit programs, services and facilities. Through these programs, Mr. Rutkowski has had direct involvement in the development and implementation of transit service and facility projects in over 200 communities in all 50 states.
Joe Kunkel, CEO, Neighbor to Neighbor
Bob Gossett, Salty Dog Cafe and South Beach Marina
Robert Gossett was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina and first visited Hilton Head Island when he was a young boy, becoming a permanent resident in 1980. Bob initially worked as a carpenter and went on to establish The Salty Dog Cafe in 1987. He received a BS in Marketing from The University of South Carolina and feels that the popularity and success of The Salty Dog can be partially attributed to his degree. Bob’s assets include majority owner in South Beach Marina Village and he remains actively involved in executive operations of The Salty Dog Cafe and it's related companies. He has been on the Board of Directors for Sea Pines CSA since 1991 and was instrumental in bringing the Sea Pines Trolley operation in-house to CSA in 2001. Bob has three children and his hobbies include fishing and working on his farm in Bluffton.