SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – A new leadership program plans to push Spartanburg County into the future.
Former Mary Black Foundation CEO Kathy Dunleavy helped start the Chamber of Commerce’s new leadership program called SURGE.
“We’re losing some of our leaders right now – they’re aging out. They’re retiring,” said Dunleavy.
SURGE’s first class will have 12 community partners from the public, private, and non-profit sector.
They’ll meet to talk about economics, education, equity, health, and civil discourse.
‘These are 5 issues that will never leave this community,” Dunleavy said.
Participants include: USC Upstate Chancellor Brendan Kelly, Spartanburg School District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker, Spartanburg County Administrator Cole Alverson, Spartanburg City Manager Chris Story, Johnson Development Associates, Inc. CEO Geordy Johnson, The Palladian Group COO Katherine O’Neill, WJ Partners Managing Director Jamie Wall, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Keith McDaniel, Chapman Cultural Center President and CEO Jennifer Evins, Inman Mayor Cornelius Huff, and Mary Black Foundation CEO Molly Talbot-Metz.
“I’ve been part of a lot of programs where people come together but with this one, we’re going to really go deep,” said Booker.
He’ll lead the discussion focused on equity.
“I’m responsible for bringing in the expert to really walk us through this deep conversation,” Booker said.
He says they’ll dive into the racial equity index – the USC Upstate study that found more than 45-percent of children in Spartanburg are living in poverty.
In the county, it’s one in four children.
“We’re doing a lot of things well in our community but if we really look at the data there are some gaps – a lot of gaps – and if we look deeper into the data, we’ll see a lot of those gaps are systemic,” Booker said.
After looking at each of the five issues over a year the group will choose a single goal.
All 12 of them will use their resources and influence to address that issue.
“Gel and communicate and build relationships but also to make a systems change,” said Dunleavy.
The program will officially start in the fall.