Welcome to the debut of Charleston Business Magazine’s 50 Most Influential. Selecting 50 movers and shakers from the area is a tough task, but we believe our list is representative of the top influencers in government, culture, academia, business and industry.

We welcome your feedback on this list, including suggestions of who to consider next year. Please send to John McCurry, editor, at jmccurry@indexx.com

Marcus Amaker – A local poet, web designer, musician, and videographer, Amaker was named Charleston’s first poet laureate a month after the position was established by City Council. He has created websites for various companies and communities, has more than 50 albums, and is the lead graphic designer for the national music magazine No Depression.

Ernest Andrade – A tech visionary, Andrade is founder and director of the Charleston Digital Corridor. His leadership has helped grow the CDC to more than 100 companies. In June, the organization announced an expansion into Beaufort.


Tommy Baker – Owner and president of Baker Motor Co., Baker is expanding his car dealership to Summerville. He purchased about 13 acres alongside Interstate 26 in the developing Nexton community. Baker Motor Co. is the largest privately held automobile dealer group headquartered in South Carolina.




Dana Beach – Environmentalist Beach founded the Coastal Conservation League in 1989. Currently, he is fighting against the production of International Drive in order to conserve the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.





Ed Bell – Bell was inducted as the new president and owner of the Charleston School of Law in October 2015. He has led the growth of the school, putting students and faculty first and developing learning and teaching opportunities. First-year enrollment for 2016 grew 153 percent from the previous year.


Sen. Paul Campbell, Jr. – The executive director and CEO of the Charleston Airport Authority, and also state senator, Campbell has led the airport through a period of expansion, including a $200 million renovation project. In 2016, he announced plans to retire when a replacement is named.


Lonnie Carter – President and CEO of Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility company, Carter leads the state’s largest electricity supplier. The utility has recently moved into renewable energy sources in a large way, but environmentalists say they can do much more.




David Cole – Cole, president of MUSC, has researched and published articles on T-cells to better understand how tumors grow and how to create better cancer treatments. Recently, MUSC physicians have become able to communicate via telehealth with school nurses to diagnose and treat patients in 40 schools across the state, allow for more efficient treatment for students.

Bart Daniel – Former U.S. attorney now in private practice, Daniel is the current president of the National Association of Former United States Attorneys. Since returning the private practice in 1992, the former lead prosecutor during the Operation Lost Trust investigation in the early 1990s, Daniel has focused on white collar, healthcare, environmental, securities and business litigation.




Charles Darby – Darby founded MUSC’s Children’s Hospital in 1987 and the Ronald McDonald House of Charleston in 1983. MUSC Children’s Health recently partnered with Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood to provide a health clinic for students, with a nurse practitioner able to diagnose conditions, take X-rays, and write prescriptions.

Joe Darby – A minister and civil rights activist, Darby serves four congregations of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the South Carolina midlands, including as a senior pastor at the historic Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston. He is a life member of the NAACP and co-authored the 1999 national NAACP resolution that led to the removal of the Confederate flag from the dome of the South Carolina State House.



Bryan Derreberry – As president and CEO, Derreberry leads the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s business and economic development. Recently, the company partnered with WOW! Business to supply “Member Program Discounts” on Internet, data, and phone services to local businesses.




David Dunlap – Dunlap has stepped down as CEO of the three-hospital system after a 45-year career in health care. Under his supervision, Roper St. Francis was named a Top 15 Health System for the fourth consecutive year in 2016. Dunlap will be succeeded by Lorraine Lutton, previously president of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla.



Steve Dykes – Charleston County’s Economic Development Director was among local officials playing a key role in attracting the $500 million Mercedes Sprinter Van assembly plant, which will eventually create 1,300 jobs.





Michael Gianoni – Gianoni has ably steered the Blackbaud technology giant since 2014, earning it a spot as one of the Charleston area’s top grossing companies, helping create jobs and opportunities. In April, Gianoni was awarded a contract renewal and retention bonus, making him the highest paid executive among South Carolina’s largest publicly traded companies. His extension will last until 2019.

David Ginn – President and CEO of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance since 2000, Ginn leads an organization that has been at the forefront of recent industrial project recruiting successes such as Volvo and Mercedes Sprinter Vans.





Stanfield Gray – Founder of DIG South, the annual technology conference, Gray is one of the builders of the new economy in Charleston. With growing attendance, DIG South has helped spread the word of Charleston’s tech prowess throughout the nation.





Jamee Haley – Haley heads up Lowcountry Local First, a nonprofit that supports and celebrates local businesses. In November, Local Works, LLF’s open-sector co-working space for entrepreneurs and start-ups, received $50,000 as winner of the U.S. SBA’s annual Growth Accelerator


Bill Hall, Sr. – The owner of Hall Management Group, Hall has built a successful empire of popular, high-quality food venues. The company recently expanded into the Upstate market, with the opening of Hall’s Chophouse in Greenville in 2016.






James Hill, vice president, Land and Development; Derek Mathis, director, Industrial Development, Westrock; and Barry Jurs, Berkeley County economic development director. Hill, Mathis and Jurs were instrumental in winning the Thorne project. A vitamin supplement manufacturer, Thorne plans to move its headquarters and manufacturing operation from Idaho to the Omni Industrial Park in Berkeley County.




Hank Holliday – As CEO of the Holliday Companies, a sizeable investment firm, Holliday has helped revitalize the Charleston area. Last year he completed one of the largest commercial real estate deals on the peninsula with the purchase of the DoubleTree Hotel and Suites and Hank’s Seafood Restaurant.




Shawn Jenkins – With Jenkins at the helm of Benefitfocus, the HR giant has continually ranked one of the fastest-growing companies across the state and nation.





Hugh Lane, Jr. – Lane was the president and CEO of the Bank of South Carolina from 1986 and the Bank of South Carolina Corporation from 1995 until 2012. Still the chairman of the board for both companies, he continues to work directly with customers and employees to build relationships.





Pierre Manigault – As chairman of the Evening Post Industries, which publishes the Charleston Post and Courier, Manigault oversees dissemination of the area news. He also helped found the popular magazine Garden and Gun, launched in 2007. In addition to his corporate work, Manigault is also involved in several nonprofits. He is a member of the College of Charleston’s School of Business Board of Governors, a trustee of the Middleton Place Foundation, and a trustee of Magnolia Cemetery.


Michelle Mapp – As CEO, Mapp oversees the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, an organization that helps individuals access capital to transform communities. In November, the SCCLF was awarded $10 million from the USDA to be loaned to areas that need infrastructure and services improvements.




Michael Messner – Messner has headed up the Seminole Capital Management hedge fund since its 1995 inception. After having a few rocky years, the company returned $3 billion to investors at the end of 2015. Messner is helping the company work its way back onto solid ground.

Darla Moore – Philanthropist and founder of the Charleston Parks Conservancy, Moore has been a driving force behind projects such as Colonial Lake, which was renovated and reopened last summer.





David Morrow – With Morrow as CEO, CresCom Bank has seen explosive growth in 2016, with new branches opening up at remarkable speeds. In addition to his corporate work, last year Morrow was also selected to the board of directors of the Business Development Corp.




Bill Murray – Co-owner of the Charleston River Dogs minor league baseball team, the actor, comedian and part-time Charleston resident is also co-owner of two restaurants. Bill Murray spotting has become a popular activity for residents and visitors to the city.




Ben Navarro – Navarro is the Founder and CEO of Charleston based Sherman Financial Group, the nation’s largest privately held consumer finance company.  The Sherman portfolio of companies comprises Credit One Bank, Resurgent Capital Services and Kroll Bond Rating Agency. He is passionate about education and the belief that all children, regardless of where they live, deserve the opportunity to attend a great school. His primary philanthropic venture is Meeting Street Schools, a network of independent and public schools bringing educational opportunity to more than 900 under-resourced students in South Carolina. Meeting Street is becoming a critical “proof point” of what is possible when a culture of excellence is paired with the appropriate resources.

Jim Newsome – The South Carolina Ports Authority president and CEO, Newsome is guiding the state’s ports through a period of major expansion, including a harbor deepening, development of inland ports and development of a new container terminal at the old Navy base. He was named Person of the Year by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, an exporting group, in 2016.



Linda Page – Page was elected to the position of mayor of Mount Pleasant in 2013. Officials state that Mount Pleasant is in its best financial state it has ever been in and has grown quickly.





Elmire Raven – Raven, executive director, has served at My Sister’s House for 27 years. A victim of domestic violence herself, she works hard to help women and children in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties heal and rebuild after leaving abusive situations. Raven also advocates for better laws to protect them. She will be retiring in May 2017.




Nigel Redden – Redden has orchestrated the annual Spoleto Festival for more than two decades, having been named general director of the festival in 1995. The festival will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2017.





Kitty Robinson – As executive director of the Historic Charleston Foundation, Robinson works to protect Charleston’ architectural, historical, and cultural heritage, including fighting for historic landmarks to be preserved rather than replaced. Currently, she and the Foundation are meeting with Charleston city planners in hopes to preserve the Cainhoy Plantation.




Joan Robinson-Berry – Vice president and general manager at Boeing South Carolina since last June, Robinson-Berry leads one of the region’s biggest economic engines. She is a big advocate for workforce training and for STEM education. In 2016, she was recognized as the one of Women’s Enterprise USA’s Top 100 Leaders in Supplier Diversity.




Joe Riley – Longtime Charleston mayor is proving to be as good an ex-mayor as he was mayor. He has gracefully exited center stage but continues to work on his last piece of unfinished business, raising money for the International African American History Museum.


Darius Rucker – The nationally known singer, formerly front man for Hootie and the Blowfish and now a prominent solo country artist, calls Charleston home. In 2000, he and his band established the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, a private nonprofit that focuses on public education issues in South Carolina. The 14th annual Homegrown Concert Series was held in August.

Tim Scott – Scott was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by Gov. Nikki Haley after Jim DeMint retired. He started his Opportunity Agenda, which gives students and workers greater chances to succeed, as well as offers economic freedom and quality education. He is also working on ways to redevelop poor areas and give people in the foster care system an opportunity for education.



Keith Summey – North Charleston’s mayor since 1994, Summey is the new ‘Dean of the Mayors’ of the Lowcountry. With Joe Riley stepping down, Summey is now the longest serving mayor of any of the major cities in the region. Given his new seniority, look for him to try and extend his already considerable reach into the broader public affairs of the region.



Steve Swanson – Entrepreneur Swanson co-founded Automated Trading Desk and was named president and CEO in 2001. He sold ATD to Citigroup for $680 million and currently serves as the inside director of operations and strategy at SnapCap. He was recently named co-chair of the College of Charleston Comprehensive Campaign, which has raised $110 million.

 John Tecklenburg – Successfully moving into the mayor’s office with no blowups or disasters in his first year, Tecklenburg and the city survived Hurricane Matthew and he has begun to move on some of his major campaign promises.





Mary Thornley – Thornley has been president of Trident Technical College since 1991. She led the plans to build an aeronautics training center at the college’s main campus, which broke ground in November 2016. It is scheduled to be completed by 2020.




John Truluck – Dorchester County’s Economic Development Director, Truluck was instrumental in helping convince Bosch to expand in Dorchester, rather than in Mexico or Germany. The German firm is investing $175 million in the Dorchester plant, and will add 150 jobs over the next year.




Charles Way – Way joined the Beach Company in 1975 and since becoming chairman has led its growth into a real estate firm offering construction, development, and property management. Alongside his professional work, he contributes widely to the Charleston and South Carolina communities.




Rutledge Young, Jr. – The quintessential “old Charlestonian” who is not bound by the ‘old Charleston mentality,’ Young knows everyone and everyone knows him. An eminent lawyer and former City Councilman, he is always to be found on a list of folks that are supporting good projects and ventures in Charleston. In addition to being included in many rankings of top U.S. attorneys, he has served on the boards of BB&T, Woodberry Forest School, Historic Charleston Foundation, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, and Lowcountry Land Trust. Young currently serves on the Board of the Charleston Library Society and Brick House Plantation.

Anita Zucker – Zucker has headed InterTech Group since her husband’s death in 2008. TIG Sun Energy III, a company owned by InterTech Group, developed a 500-kilowatt solar station in Colleton. In addition to her corporate duties, Zucker also owns the minor league hockey team, the South Carolina Stingrays.




Jonathan Zucker – Zucker serves as president of InterTech Group, alongside his mother, Anita. He also serves as director of office at the governor at Hudson’s Bay Company, where he helps oversee the operation of Canada’s largest department store retailer. Zucker also serves as consultant for several companies, including Charleston-based Blackbaud.


  1. How can you omit Helen Hill from this list? Charleston repeatedly ranks as a top visitor destination in the world, and that is no accident. Helen Hill and her team at the CVB play a large role in that.

  2. Your criteria includes culture yet you didn’t include Angela Mack, Executive Director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. She led the successful effort to raise the money and complete the $13.5 million renovation of the museum, one of the premier regional art museums in the country.