Keynote: Lauren Montano, Galápagos Alternative

L VaismanOriginally from Miami, FL she grew up visiting the beautiful beaches and coastal areas of South Florida which allowed her to develop a love, appreciation and concern for coastal areas. After graduating with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of Florida and several years of working in the field, she went on to receive  a Master's degree in Marine Affairs and Policy at the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. In 2008, Vaisman began working in the Galápagos, focusing on tourism and development and its socioeconomic and environmental effects on Isabela Island, Galapagos. Since 2010, she has been working with Galápagos Alternative, an environmentally and socially conscious tour agency, creating personal local tours from an inside perspective promoting awareness and conservation of the Galápagos Islands.

Session 1: Tourism & Environment

Nancy Hritz, PhD Associated Professor of Hospitality at USC Beaufort and Assistant Director of the Lowcountry and Resort Islands Institute

Nancy HritzDr. 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

Clyde JohnstonClyde Johnston is the son of PGA golf professional and former golf coach at Wake Forest College, C.B. "Johnny" Johnston. Clyde spent his youth playing golf as well as working on the golf course maintenance staff at his father's golf course. He became interested in golf course design by watching his father design and build several courses while in grade school.

Clyde Johnston pursued a career in golf course design first by attending and graduating with a degree in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University in 1973. From there Johnston apprenticed under golf course architects Willard Byrd, Ron Kirby and Gary Player for a total of 13 years before starting his own golf course design business in 1987. Johnston has been a resident of Hilton Head Island since 1980.

Since the formation of Clyde Johnston Designs, Inc., Johnston had worked on and completed over 100 golf course projects in his career, both new courses and renovations. Among his award-winning golf course design work is Cherry Blossom Golf Course ("America's Best New Affordable Public Courses" – Golf Digest); Old South Golf Links ("Top Ten New Public Courses" – Golf Digest); and Ocean Harbour Golf Links (Top Ten New Courses - Golf Magazine). More information can be found at the company's website: www.clydejohnston.com.

Bridget Lidy, Tourism Management & Ambassadorship Department, City of Savannah

Bridget LidyBridget 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 

 JPSDr. 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.

Session 2: Resource Management

Tony Wartko, Director of Facilities, The Sea Pines Resort

Tony WartkoTony Wartko, CMCA, LEED Green Associate, is Director of Facilities Services and Sustainability at The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, SC. He is responsible for maintenance, janitorial and landscaping which includes energy and water management, and recycling and sustainability initiatives for various facilities including the four-star Inn at Harbour Town, six restaurants, three golf courses, conference and fitness centers, a beach club, Welcome Center and various other offices and buildings.

Tony leads Sea Pines' multi-pronged sustainability initiatives such as water re-use, commodity mining (cardboard, aluminum, plastic, glass, and oyster shells); and waste food processing (using vermi-culture, dehydration and composting). These efforts diverted 609 tons of solid waste from the landfill and reduced trash hauling costs over 20%.

Tony comes to facilities management via a career in manufacturing at companies including Gulfstream Aerospace and Cargill, Inc., where he applied his training in engineering to streamline production, maximize efficient use of resources, and develop environmentally compatible waste disposal systems. A native of Ohio, Tony received his bachelor of science degree from Southern Illinois University. He holds a certificate in Community Management.

Sara Clow, General Manager, GrowFood Carolina

Sara ClowSara 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 DeLageAnna 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 FlyLiz 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

Kim JonesMs. Jones' formal education is in biology and ecology, receiving her BS and MS degrees from Gannon University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, respectively. Her research experiences range from water quality in the Great Lakes to resource partitioning in Africa to her current focus on anthropogenic estuarine water quality issues and remediation in Bluffton, SC. She is currently a student in University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health Environmental Health Sciences program as a Ph.D. student.

Having lived in the Lowcountry since 1995, she has worked for the SC Dept. of Natural Resources' Waddell Mariculture Center, the Coastal Discovery Museum, and Palmetto Bluff Conservancy. In April 2007, she joined the Town of Bluffton and, after holding various positions including interim Director of Engineering, she currently serves as the Division Manager for the Watershed Management team. Please click here for more information about the Town of Bluffton or to contact Kim Jones.

Julie Davis, Living Marine Resources Specialist, SC Sea Grant Consortium

Julie DavisJulie was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, but now lives and works in Beaufort, S.C., as the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium's Living Marine Resources Extension Specialist.  She works with commercial fishermen and shellfish growers to help them improve the economic and environmental sustainability of their businesses.  Julie is excited to be speaking to you about how aquaculture will help meet a growing demand for seafood while creating entrepreneurial opportunities in coastal communities.

Julie's background is in the private sector - conch farming, conducting research on spiny lobster, and biological monitoring for coastal construction projects. She earned a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from Dalhousie University and MSc in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Auburn University.

Session 4: Renewable Resources

Kenneth Sercy, Utility Regulation Specialist, Coastal Conservation League

Kenneth SercyKenneth 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

Mike HughesMr. 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

Jay WaleaMr. 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 LeydaFred 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 RutkowskiCharles 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

Joe KunkelJoe came on board as Executive Director for Neighbor to Neighbor of South Carolina, Inc. in May of 2013.  

Joe received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Salisbury University in Maryland and his Master's in Social Work from the University of South Carolina in 2012. In 2013, he became a Licensed Master in Social Work (LMSW).  After graduation, Joe worked at the Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging in Columbia and under his guidance, the Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging was awarded grants from the SC Department of Transportation.

Joe has been interested in serving the aging population since volunteering at local nursing homes when he was in 3rd grade. As a social work student, he interned at Bryan Psychiatric Hospital and the Aging and Disability Resource Center at Central Midlands Council of Government.  During his internship, Joe realized his strengths in working through complicated issues surrounding the aging and disabled populations in South Carolina and decided to pursue this as his career path.

During his time with N2NSC, the organization has received two major awards. In 2015 as "Transit Provider of the Year in Human Services" from the South Carolina Department of Transportation. And in 2016, N2NSC was awarded the prestigious, "Award for Nonprofit Excellence in Governance and Management" by the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations (now Together SC).

Originally from the Baltimore region, Joe loves living in the Myrtle Beach area, especially being near the beach! When not surfing, Joe is enjoying family time in preparation for his first child, Abigail Elizabeth, due in July. 

Bob Gossett, Salty Dog Cafe and South Beach Marina

Bob GossettRobert 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.

Steven Green

Steven GreenSteven F. Green is a native of Sheldon Township in northern Beaufort County. His family dates back to and has been in the area since 1865. He left home to further his education and obtained a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. Returning to Beaufort he worked in the financial planning industry and in 1988 he bought Hilton Head Housecare and made it one of the first area businesses to obtain an 8(a) certification. That certification helped Mr. Green build his business into a substantial enterprise, employing over 80 people and providing services to building owners throughout a three state region.

In 1998 the company was recognized as the SBA Minority Service Firm of the Year in the Southeastern United States and Mr. Green was awarded the Small Business Person of the Year.

In recent years he became the President of CLIB (Consortium of Local Independent Businesses of Sheldon Township). This consortium consists of local tradesmen who are experiencing difficulty obtaining local, state, and federal contracts. Mr. Green brings a sincere dedication to the Sheldon Township community and the organization with both his personal and professional experiences. His leadership in CUB provides a wealth of experience to the participating member companies.