The Great Conversation connects young professionals with influential community leaders and United Way advocates. Through these conversations, we hope to create an intimate space to hear from local leaders on the importance of philanthropy and civic engagement — and how giving back to our community can positively influence your career.

The Great Conversation
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 | 4:30–8 p.m.

Judson Mill
701 Easley Bridge Rd, Greenville, SC 29611

Networking: 4:30–5:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30–8 p.m.

$75 ticket includes a three-course meal and beverages


Karen Baynes-Dunning

Over the past 25 years, Karen Baynes-Dunning has served in numerous leadership positions to help improve public policies and services throughout her storied career as a lawyer, judge, social justice activist and advocate for children and families. A former juvenile court judge and past president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, she currently serves as president of Baynes-Dunning Consulting LLC, as well as the federal court-appointed monitor overseeing reform efforts at the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.

After receiving a juris doctorate from the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Baynes-Dunning practiced antitrust litigation, later becoming the first executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program and director of program development and management for Atlanta’s Fulton County Juvenile Court. She served on Fulton County’s juvenile court bench from 1998–2002. She has also served as associate director for governmental services and research at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, as a visiting professor at the Emory University School of Law, and as associate professor at the University of Alabama. She received a bachelor’s degree in politics from Wake Forest University.

Gary Bernardez

Gary Bernardez returned to AMECO as CEO in May 2021, having previously served as president of AMECO from 2000–2014 and chief operating officer of Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping. Bernardez has more than 36 years of experience serving capital construction project owners, contractors and ongoing plant operators in the oil, gas, chemicals, mining, power, biotech, manufacturing and infrastructure end markets. His expertise includes project execution, construction, risk management, operations, business development, strategy, information technology, acquisitions and corporate administration.

Bernardez has participated in various executive management programs, including the Wharton School, London School of Business and the Thunderbird International School of Management. Active in professional and civic organizations, Bernardez is an executive committee member of the board of directors of Junior Achievement of Greater South Carolina. He previously served as chairman of the Greenville Humane Society board of directors, chairman of the board for Junior Achievement of Upstate South Carolina District, board member for the Blind Children’s Learning Center and as a volunteer for the YMCA. He currently serves on the United Way of Greenville County board of directors.

Bernardez holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Business Administration from Clemson University.

Dr. Caroline Caldwell

Caroline Caldwell, PhD (ABD) is the founder and director of New Mind Health and Care, providing free specialized behavioral modification services to individuals, families, and children affected by incarceration or criminal histories. Caroline is also the sole proprietor of the consulting firm ReFlight LLC. She has over 20 years of experience as a clinical mental health therapist and a decade of experience as a Federal Officer. Caroline is a certified life coach and an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church Ministries.

Caroline sits on the current boards of United Way of Greenville County, Upstate Pride SC, 864 PRIDE, Upstate SC LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Infinite Possibilities, Olive Branch Project, Greenville Reentry Coalition,  USC LGBTQ+ Advisory Council. She is the co-organizer and curator of TEDxHeritageGreen where she has been involved for over 11 years. Her honors and awards include the Remy Martin Women in History, 96.3 Black History on The Block Award, Village of the Year Award, United States Attorney’s Office Community Partner of the Year, Greenville Police Department’s Chief’s Award, YWCA Women of Achievement Award

Rick Davis

Rick Davis is Chief Executive Officer at Elliott Davis. With more than 35 years of public accounting experience with the firm, he has worked with a variety of businesses and has a passion for delivering exceptional customer experience. He is responsible for ensuring that Elliott Davis positively impacts the growth and success of its customers, people and communities. As CEO, Rick leads the strategic planning process ensuring its alignment with firm’s vision, mission and core values. He also oversees key initiatives relating to geographic and practice growth, innovation, revenue aeration, customer satisfaction, community relations, and employee recruitment and retention.

Rick is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. Rick has served on the boards of United Way of Greenville County, Moore North America, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and the Clemson University Board of Visitors and College of Business. He has served as Board Chair of the Governor’s School for the Arts Foundation and President of Greenville County Museum of Art Association. Rick is a graduate of the Riley Institute for Diversity Leadership and Leadership Greenville. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Clemson University.

Bill Fox

Bill Fox serves as senior account director for Hughes Agency where he has worked for the past six years. Bill has 32 years of journalism experience and previously served as Managing Editor of The Greenville News. There, Bill oversaw the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, including the publication of content across a portfolio of digital platforms and the daily print edition, as well as a variety of weekly and monthly products.

Previously, Bill served in a variety of editing positions, including Digital Editor from 2001 to 2010, and worked as a reporter for 15 years during which he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a two-time South Carolina Journalist of the Year. In his 32 years as a journalist, Bill honed an innate understanding of storytelling from the journalist’s perspective and fielded thousands of story pitches from local, regional and national agencies as well as media representatives in both the private and public sectors.

Bill is a graduate of Northwestern University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Medill School of Journalism

John Intile

As vice president of engineering at GE Gas Power, John Intile’s focus is safety; customers; operational excellence; continuous improvement; and delivering technical solutions and products that power the world reliably, cleanly and efficiently. In this role, John oversees approximately 4,000 GE innovators focused on a better tomorrow with cleaner, more flexible power.

John began his career at GE over 20 years ago, working with the Power business and Global Research Center where he developed expertise in combustion, conceptual design, gas turbines, and launching leading products and services like the DLN2.6e combustor and 9HA.02 gas turbine. He holds a both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Stony Brook University.


Rev. Stacey Mills

Stacey Mills is executive director of the Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility (REEM) Commission. He has also served as senior pastor at Mountain View Baptist Church in downtown Greenville for the past 25 years.

Mills’ community roles include the GVL2040 Steering Committee, Boy Scouts of America Blue Ridge Council Board of Directors and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He currently serves as the chairman of the Urban League of the Upstate Board of Directors and is the Southern Region Trustee for the National Board of Trustees for the Urban League. He is also Vice Chairman of the Greenville Health Authority Board of Trustees and the Piedmont Health Foundation Board of Directors. Mills is an alumnus of Leadership Greenville Class 40, the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative and Leadership Spartanburg.

A 1997 USC Upstate graduate, Mills served as president of the Student Government Association, Secretary General of Model United Nations, and was a member of the internationally renowned gospel choir. He and his wife, Jacqueline, have three children.

Rhiannon Poore

Rhiannon Poore is the Founder and CEO of Forge Search + Consulting, a boutique professional recruiting firm headquartered in Greenville. She has over 15 years of experience in talent acquisition, business development, marketing and talent development. Rhiannon previously led talent acquisition at Elliott Davis, where she created and scaled the first experienced recruiting department for the 800-person Southeastern public accounting firm. She also spent nearly 10 years in external recruiting at Find Great People (FGP).

Entrepreneurial at heart, Rhiannon has been recognized as Greenville’s “Best and Brightest” and FGP’s “Top Biller of the Year.” Rhiannon graduated with honors from Bob Jones University with a B.A. in English & Communications and a M.A. in English. She is deeply involved in the community, having served with United Way of Greenville County’s Young Leaders Society, the Center for Developmental Services and other area charities. When she’s not at work, you can find Rhiannon in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, running on the Swamp Rabbit Trail or playing with her two children.

Michelle Seaver

As Vice President of United Community Bank, Michelle Seaver champions her company’s growth across Upstate markets like Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee counties. Through her leadership, United Community Bank was the winner of the 2020 J.D. Power award for highest customer satisfaction with retail banking in the Southeast. Prior to United Community Bank, Michelle served as SVP, Wealth Market Leader, at TD Bank.

Michelle has served on numerous boards or held leadership positions with groups such as Prisma Health Board of Directors, Greenville Health System Board of Trustees, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Heart Ball Executive Leadership Team, Charity Ball Board of Greenville, South Carolina Bankers School, Community Foundation of Greenville, Greenville Country Club, Artisphere, South Carolina Children’s Theatre, and Children’s Museum of the Upstate.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of South Carolina and is a graduate of the South Carolina Bankers School. She is a longtime resident of Greenville County, and her family—including husband David and daughters Kaitlyn and Caroline—are proud to call Greenville home.

Will Whitley

Will Whitley currently serves as the Director of State, Local Government Affairs & Community Relations for Michelin North America. In this role, he is the liaison for Michelin’s state and local government affairs activity, while encouraging employee involvement where Michelin can have the greatest impact in the areas of education and workforce development, protecting the environment and boosting local economic growth. Will started his Michelin career in 2008, working in various engineering, maintenance and other technical leadership positions, before transitioning into the Corporate Recruiting Department, where he served as a Senior Corporate Recruiter and was responsible for identifying candidates for key strategic positions throughout the company. Before joining Michelin, he worked in various leadership positions in the manufacturing sector for several different companies including DuPont, Agfa, and Sealed Air Corporation. 

As an active member in the business community, Will has served on multiple boards and frequently collaborates with a variety of organizations throughout the country and across the state of South Carolina focusing on a broad range of critical issues such as advanced manufacturing, economic mobility and diversity, equity and inclusion. He currently serves on the boards of the State Chambers of Oklahoma and South Carolina, County Chambers of Greater Greenville and Anderson County, and the South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance. He is a graduate of the Riley Institute of Diversity Leaders Initiative of Furman University and previously served on the YMCA of Greenville Advisory Board and the Golden Strip Emergency Relief Advisory Board. 

Will is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He is married to Janet Foster-Whitley and together they have three children: Nandi (20), Franklin (14) and Gavin (10).


Making a difference starts here


Making a Difference Starts Here

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