Upstate leaders become Liberty Fellows, join statewide and global networks

Liberty Fellowship Class of 2023

Six Upstate leaders have completed the requirements to become Liberty Fellows. They now join a diverse and interconnected group of 330 leaders in the Liberty Fellowship South Carolina Network and 3,000 leaders in the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Through these two networks, they will have lifelong opportunities for engagement and access to an influential group of colleagues and mentors.

The new Liberty Fellows from Upstate South Carolina are:
• Teresa Goodman, executive director, Community Initiatives, Inc.
• Shontavia Johnson, associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation, Clemson University
• James Jordon, president, Jordon Construction Company
• E. Smyth McKissick, IV, president and CEO, Alice Company
• Brooke Mueller, senior director of government relations and public affairs of mid-atlantic states, Southeast and Puerto Rico, Walmart, Inc.
• Rochelle Williams, vice president of strategy and programs, Mary Black Foundation

The Liberty Fellowship experience brings together a small group of leaders who may not otherwise know or interact with one another into a Class. Each Class is selected to contain a wide range of thought, professions, geographic locations, and lived experiences. Through a rigorous 18-month process, each Class member is challenged to embrace their varying perspectives as they build upon each other’s strengths.

Also becoming Liberty Fellows are:
• Amy Barch, executive director and founder, Turn90
• Gary Brewer, South Carolina House of Representatives District 114
• Chase Glenn, executive director, Alliance for Full Acceptance
• John Gordon, president & CEO, Leroy Springs & Company, Inc.
• Michael Lalich, president and founder, Lowcountry Labor Company
• Dominik Mjartan, president & CEO, Optus Bank
• Tiffany Roberts, market vice president - clinic operations, CenterWell Senior Primary Care
• Aparna Polavarapu, associate professor, University of South Carolina School of Law, and executive director and founder, South Carolina Restorative Justice Initiative
• Tommy Preston, Jr., global vice president, ethics, The Boeing Company
• Seema Shrivastava-Patel, chair, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
• Sarah Simmons, founder and CEO, CITY GRIT Hospitality Group
• Megan Stifel, chief strategy officer, Institute for Security and Technology
• Laura Ullrich, senior regional economist, South Carolina and North Carolina, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

“South Carolina must have highly effective leadership to navigate the increasing interdependence of businesses, technologies, communities and nations, and we must have collaboration to foster sustainable growth,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president and CEO of Liberty Fellowship. “These 19 individuals bring unique perspectives, skills and leadership to our state. We are thrilled to welcome them officially as Liberty Fellows to our networks here in South Carolina and across the world.”

“Being a part of the Liberty Fellowship has reshaped my perspective on leadership. The challenges I faced not only molded my skills but also ignited a deeper passion for community service. To me, becoming a Liberty Fellow means committing to a lifelong journey of growth, collaboration, and impact.” James Jordon, CEO and president, Jordon Construction Company.

"During my first two years as a Liberty Fellow, I embarked on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, soaking in invaluable lessons in leadership and forging lasting connections with some of South Carolina's most remarkable leaders. This transformative experience has not only enriched my understanding of leadership but has also empowered me to contribute meaningfully to our state's future," said Rochelle Williams, vice president of strategy and programs, Mary Black Foundation.

“Liberty Fellowship granted me two profound gifts. First, I gained a wonderful network of friends and colleagues from around the globe. Many have radically different worldviews, but all are people of goodwill.  Second, I achieved a deeper understanding of the thorniest issues facing society today using the wisdom of great texts, both ancient and contemporary,” said E. Smyth McKissick, IV, president and CEO, Alice Company.

“The Liberty Fellowship experience has allowed me to have a broadened view of how individual leaders can impact our communities, regions, and state for the better. The experience also spawned lifelong connections and relationships I am excited to nurture. I look forward to being a more effective, transformative leader with an intention of moving South Carolina forward,” said Teresa Goodman, executive director of Community Initiatives, Inc.

“During my experience with the Liberty Fellowship, I witnessed the remarkable impact of this dynamic community of leaders who are committed to driving positive change in the state. I formed invaluable relationships with individuals who share a passion for making a difference in South Carolina and beyond. I completed the foundational seminar series with a renewed sense of commitment to positively impacting South Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and I look forward to supporting the work of others in the Liberty Fellowship South Carolina Network and the Aspen Global Leadership Network,” said Shontavia Johnson, associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation, Clemson University.

1. A new class of Liberty Fellows is selected every two years from a pool of more than 400 nominees.
2. Anyone can nominate a Liberty Fellow.
3. To become a Liberty Fellow, each individual selected must complete five seminars in the United States and abroad and an individual impact venture.
4. Of the 330 Liberty Fellows in the South Carolina network, 87% remain in the state.
5. 76% of Liberty Fellows are from the business sector; 12% are from the nonprofit sector; and 12% are from the public sector.

Liberty Fellowship activates individual leaders through a deeper understanding of a just, free and equitable society; serves as a convener for bringing together diverse perspectives to advance civil discourse; and provides infrastructure for taking action. The Fellowship is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, nondogmatic organization which operates as an independent 501c3 organization. Learn more at

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