D. Keith Pigues - Author | Speaker | Professor | Advisor | Coach

D. Keith Pigues has always been determined to help others live fulfilling and rewarding lives. He believes that we have all been given special abilities to be used for a specific purpose. It is his calling to help unlock this potential in others through his writing, speaking, teaching, advising, coaching and his work as a corporate executive. It is his mission to help those around him get more out of work and life than they ever thought possible.

His unique combination of academic thought leadership, inspirational delivery and executive experience, result in impactful, engaging and practical sessions that deliver immediate takeaway value for participants and their organizations. He is a sought after speaker on the topics of "Winning with Your Customers", "Get More Out of Work and Life", "The Leadership Balance: Lead Follow and Get Out of the Way", "Winning Through Diversity & Inclusion: Getting the Win-Win-Win all Companies Desire", and "Winning with Suppliers". 


Gabrielle Goodwin | CEO | 2015 South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Gabrielle Goodwin is President and CEO of GaBBY Bows. She and her mom invented the Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette by GaBBY to save families time, money and frustration. Solving the age-old problem of disappearing hair barrettes, the Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette is engineered to prevent hair slippage and won’t slip out of the hair. 

GaBBY launched and began selling barrettes through its online store at gabbybows.com in February 2014. In just two years of operations, GaBBY has filled online orders to 45 states across the U.S. and in eight countries. GaBBY Bows are also sold in 25 select retail stores in
South and North Carolina. 

GaBBY's story has been shared in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The State, Augusta Chronicle and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on a number of television stations including WIS, WLTX, WACH Fox, NBC 26 and ABC Columbia and through a host of online media platforms. She will make her national television debut on FOX “The Real” June 30. Gabrielle was named a 2015 South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the youngest to ever receive this award. She and her mom were also named as one of 15 national finalists for the 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration InnovateHER Competition and 2016 SCORE and Sam’s Club American Small Business Championship. 

Nine year-old Gabrielle is engaged in all aspects of the business, from inventory to speaking to schools and community groups and helping with sales taxes to writing thank you notes to every customer who orders barrettes online. GaBBY aso hosts the GaBBY Play Date to teach girls in children’s shelters about entrepreneurship. 

Gabrielle loves to read and dance and is a 3rd grader at Escolores Magnet Academy at Harbison West Elementary School where her favorite subjects are science, math and language arts. Gabrielle, her parents Mike and Rozalynn and little brother Michael live in Columbia, SC.


S. Richard Hagins | CEO | 2012 National Minority Small Business Person of the Year Nominee

After serving his country for 23 years as a U.S. Naval Officer and retiring in 2000 with the rank of Commander, Richard Hagins followed his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for service when founding US&S, Inc., previously Universal Supplies & Services, Inc., in 2003. US&S is a facility maintenance and support service provider specializing in operations and maintenance, repairs, renovation, janitorial, grounds maintenance and staff augmentation.

Between 1979 - 1984 and 1985 - 2000, Mr. Hagins was Commanding Officer or Senior Staff Officer for Naval Reserve Centers and Readiness Commands in Greenville, SC; Newport, RI; and Columbia, SC. His primary areas of responsibility included managing operations, administration, training, and logistics for units up to 2500 active and reserve marines and soldiers. His first 10 years in the US Navy were aboard ships operating out of the East coast with deployments to the Mediterranean and South America.
 
From 1984-1985, during a break in US Naval service, Mr. Hagins worked as a senior mechanical engineer and electrical engineer. He was responsible for developing the Security Manual for the Tomahawk Cruise Missile.
 
Since settling in Greenville, SC, in 1996, Hagins has become an integral part of his adopted home through the work of his company and commitment to service. He was previously appointed by the Governor as a state Commissioner of Minority Affairs (Fourth District). In 2007, he was appointed by Governor Sanford and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Board of the South Carolina State Port Authorities (SCSPA). Mr. Hagins was heavily involved in developing the Board’s 5-year strategic plan. Subsequently, he was elected Treasurer of the SCSPA Board and became a member of the Executive Committee until 2011. 

Additionally, he has served as Programs Committee Chair of the Greenville Metro YMCA Board, Board of Trustees for The Blood Connection, and Chairman of the Hillcrest Hospital Advisory Board. He has served as a board member of the Mauldin and Simpsonville Area Chambers and Chairman of the American and Red Cross Armed Forces Committee. Mr. Hagins is a Charter Member of 100 Black Men of The Upstate and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Most recently, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the Medical University of South Carolina and Chairman of the Board for the Blood Connection.

He was named the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) South Carolina District Office’s nominee for “2012 National Minority Small Business Person of the Year”. Mr. Hagins was selected for this recognition by the SBA based on his firm’s “consistent growth in total sales and number of employees, excellence in government contract performance, response to adversity, and contributions to the community.” Most recently, he was named the “SC Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year” in April 2014 by the SBA. Just this year, he was recognized in Who’s Who 2015 through the Upstate Business Journal as “The Boss”. He has also been featured in numerous articles attesting to his character, service to mankind and success as a businessman.

Mr. Hagins received a BS from Savannah State College in Electronic Engineering Technology. He received his MA from Webster University in Management and recently completed the Executive Education Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.


Sylvester Hester | President | CEO

Sylvester Hester is President and CEO, Global Automotive Alliance (GAA). The enterprise is comprised of five manufacturing and logistics companies with eleven U.S. operations, and 1,400 employees. Since stepping into this role in 2015 Hester’s focus on operational excellence and sustained growth has resulted in a corporate acquisition, entré into new markets, an increase in facilities, innovation in product and service delivery and enhanced national and global relationships. GAA companies are: ARD Logistics, Global SQ, Grupo Antolin Wayne, Key Logistics and Vitec. 

Global Automotive Alliance began as an automotive supplier in 1999 and today has the reputation for providing quality manufacturing and exceptional logistics management to aerospace, automotive, food & beverage, government and retailers. Hester led the aerospace expansion, including two new logistics operations in Charleston, SC, and in 2013 Global SQ, a logistics company providing quality inspection services for Toyota in Georgetown, KY was acquired.

His lengthy career in the automotive parts manufacturing began in 1985 as an engineering technician for General Motors Advanced Engineering. He quickly moved up to project engineer/project manager at Regal Plastics in Michigan before moving into account management at Tredegar Molded Products and Woodbridge Inoac. In 1993 Hester returned to Regal Plastics as Vice President where his success prepared him to initiate and launch ARD in 1998 when chairman and CEO, William Pickard selected him as president of ARD near Atlanta, Georgia. In 2003 he was named president of GAA’s newest acquisition, Key Logistics and today Hester is president of Global SQ, LLC and president and CEO of Grupo Antolin Primera.

In addition to serving as president of GAA’s Advisory Board of Directors, Hester is a board member for the Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council, board member of Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, sitting Chair of MBEIC Automotive Manufacturing Committee, and past board member of the Atlanta Business League. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Hester holds a Master of Science in Administration degree with concentration in Leadership from Central Michigan University, and has a Bachelor of Science in Plastics Engineering with an emphasis in Polymer Chemistry from Ferris State University. He has completed the Advanced Minority Business Executive Program (AMBEP) at Dartmouth College Tucks School of Business, the Kellogg School of Management Advanced Management Education Program (AMEP) at Northwestern University, and the Quantum Shift Program at University of Michigan.

Sylvester Hester splits his time between Atlanta, Georgia and Detroit, Michigan with his wife Pleshette and they have two sons, both in college. Hester enjoys reading and golf whenever possible. 


Pradeep Palreddy | CEO | Co-Founder of Keshav Consulting Solutions | IT & Management Expert

Pradeep Palreddy is CEO and co-founder of Keshav Consulting Solutions (KCS), a minority owned firm providing Full Life Cycle IT and Professional Staffing and Custom Software Solutions services nationwide. Based in the Raleigh, NC metro area, as the CEO, Pradeep develops strategic partnerships with clients across the US to drive business value through people and software solutions via enterprise information systems. Pradeep is committed to helping others; he spends one to two hours a day enriching high school students seeking to attend college, job seekers, people in career transition and entrepreneurs. Pradeep serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors of the Research Triangle Park chapter of the Association of IT Professionals (RTP AITP), a sixty-five year old national organization. Pradeep has over fifteen years of experience in IT and Management and has attended graduate school for Computer Science through the University of Maryland System.


MÉGAN MCLEAN | DIGITAL LITERACY MENTOR | CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Mégan McLean is a junior pursuing her bachelor’s degree in computer science with a concentration in cyber security at Johnson C. Smith University. She is a Digital Literacy mentor who empowers seasoned adults to easily embrace the digital world to connect and engage with family and friends, improve their professional skillset, and reduce technology anxiety. Megan is an avid supporter of entrepreneurship as she is an entrepreneur herself and comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Megan takes pride in her role as Chief Marketing Officer of Johnson C. Smith University's first and only college accelerator program: Innovo Scholar Society. Innovo Scholar Society grows out of the University's commitment to innovation and building intellectual capital particularly in the Northwest Corridor by connecting JCSU students to entrepreneurs, mentors, and Charlotte' s uptown business core. Megan was brought into Innovo after participating in Queen City Forward' s ImpactU college accelerator program where she spent 10-weeks during the summer at co-working space, Packard Place, to meet a rich network of mentors and coaches while participating in fast-paced, hands-on business development and market tests to move The Learning Tree to Charlotte, NC. From participating in the program, Megan made connections with the office of former Mayor Dan Clodfelter in hopes to bridge potential partnership with the Charlotte My Brother' s Keeper Initiative. At the close of the program, Megan stood before over 100 of Charlotte's local community and entrepreneurs to present a 5-minute pitch about her non-profit. Megan is currently the founder of BinaryBeauty.CO, a tech and lifestyle blog that highlights the new standard of beauty and brains. 


Ray Antonio Lattimore | CEO | President | cutting-edge technology Expert

Ray Antonio Lattimore is the founder and president of Marketplace Staffing Services, Inc., a company headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a respected community leader and a dynamic speaker on entrepreneurship, minority enterprises and wealth creation. Ray was the first member of his family to attend college. After securing a basketball scholarship, he attended Spartanburg MethodistCollege, where he was captain of the basketball team and received an A.A. in liberal arts. He later won a basketball scholarship to attend Southern Wesleyan University, where he earned a B.A. in business administration. Additionally, Ray won a scholarship from the Greenville Technical College and thus earned two associates degrees in marketing and computer technology from that institution.

After he completed his educational career, Ray worked as a business analyst for the Information Technology department of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Greenville. His 15-year tenure at MetLife included many cutting-edge technology projects and extensive travel as a computer programmer and a member of the company’s strategic marketing team. 

In addition to managing wide-reaching projects at MetLife, Ray taught computer science as an adjunct professor of Information Technology at Greenville Technical College. During his time at Greenville Tech as a professor, Ray mentored many underprivileged college students in order to prepare them for the professional workforce. In 1993, Ray started “Marketplace Services,” a small business that prepared the people of his community for successful entry into the corporate workforce. The company held simple but empowering workshops on interviewing skills, how to write resumes and cover letters, dressing for success, and the use of office computer software.

In 1995, Ray Lattimore wrote a momentous business plan that would expand his operations and offer Greenvillians employment opportunities in addition to coaching them. In March of 1996, he became Founder, President and CEO of a new venture – Marketplace Staffing Services. He paid off his bills, refinanced his home and hired his first two employees, whom he paid out of his own salary from MetLife. For over two years, he worked fourteen-hour days as he led Marketplace during the hours before and after his eight-hour day at MetLife. His long hours and personal sacrifices soon resulted insignificant benefits for his fast-growing company and its community. Marketplace Staffing has had offices in Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and currently services South Carolina. The Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce and other associations have awarded Marketplace numerous honors for its professional and community achievements.


CEO A10 Clinical | Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year® Award Carolinas 2011

Leah Brown founded and operates three companies—an impressive achievement under any circumstances but especially remarkable when you consider she has done it all in the last 12 years. Her foundation firm, A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc., which opened its doors in 2004, conducts clinical trials, observational health studies and animal husbandry for pharmaceutical, bio-tech, and government entities. Several years later she rolled out A10 Health Clinics www.a10healthclinics.com, which manages and operates corporate health clinics and related medical services such as occupational health and emergency preparedness services. Notably, A10 just recently landed a contract with the State of North Carolina – Department of Health and Human Services for healthcare support services. 

Most recently, Brown launched C10 Connect, a proprietary patient communications software developed  to improve hospital efficiency by replacing outmoded patient-service technology, such as call buttons, with a mobile app. Brown, a licensed attorney, prefers the title of Chief Innovation Officer to keep her ahead of the curve while working out of her Cary, North Carolina based office. The three firms serve different markets and varied demands, although all are in the health-care industry. Brown’s growth strategy—“to diversify the portfolio companies under the big umbrella A10”.

Brown’s accomplishment has received national recognition. She won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year® Award Carolinas 2011 and has served as a national EOY® judge for several years afterwards and was then appointed to E&Y’s Advisory Council.   A10 was named on the Forbes 2012 America’s Most Promising Companies list.  Leah has also been ranked by Fortune magazine, which named her in its 2010 Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs; Inc. magazine, which ranked A10 in its 2011, 2012, and 2013 in its top overall, health, woman-owned,  black-owned, and American job-creating companies;  and Black Enterprise 2012 BE 100.  Leah’s leadership has also garnered recognition and accolades from Bloomberg Business Week, American Express OPEN, CNBC, NBC Nightly News.