The YPs: Young & Professional in Spartanburg

The YPs is an initiative launched by Spartanburg Young Professionals in an effort to enhance the visibility of young professionals’ contributions. The ten individuals listed below, age 21-40, are making an impact on Spartanburg through work or service in various industries. Community members submitted more than 300 nominations for the inaugural YPs. SYP’s board of directors identified the top three candidates in each category, and more than 700 community members ranked the finalists to select the awardees.


Young & Professional in Art

Chris "CeeJ" Jefferson | Founder, B.A.R.S. Academy

Chris launched B.A.R.S. Academy through the Start:ME business accelerator, driven by the Northside Development Group and George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics. B.A.R.S. Academy is a community driven creative arts service that allows Spartanburg’s inner-city youth to combine education, creativity and entrepreneurship while learning the ins and outs of the music business.
Chris is a coach, a teacher, a mentor and a marketer. He contracts with the city departments and organizations that B.A.R.S. Academy caters to. Chris is motivated by inspiring people through the music and artistic concepts that are unique to his business.

"The Key to achieving every desire, and reaching every level you hope for, is to make up in your own mind that you will do it."


Young & Professional in BUSINESS

Geordy Johnson | President - Johnson Management; CEO - Johnson Development

Geordy leads, shapes, and implements the overall strategy for the Johnson Family portfolio by supporting and developing existing business enterprises while also evaluating opportunities to acquire or develop new business platforms. He is leading a growing family of companies, while simultaneously growing Spartanburg’s young talent pool.

Geordy worked outside of the family-owned business for a number of years and gained valuable external experience and perspective while working for several publicly traded companies. Geordy is most proud of his team. He believes the key to continued success will be the ability to continue to develop and attract a very high level of talent.

"Wake up every day and strive to GO MAD - Go Make A Difference - in your community, family, and business. Never let the fear of failure hold you back. Rather, take calculated risks and be bold."


Young & Professional in EDUCATION

Erin Black | Director, Spartanburg County Adult Education

As the Director of Spartanburg County Adult Education, Erin operates in an administrative capacity similar to that of a principal, with the additional responsibilities of overseeing multiple sites, recruiting students, marketing the program to existing and potential community partners, and managing the budget. She oversees six adult education facilities serving county residents age 17+ who are in need of high school equivalency education, English language proficiency, and skill upgrading.
Every day, Erin is making an impact. Whether it's helping someone earn a diploma ,or teaching a non-English speaker how to communicate, lives are being changed for the better, and people's economic statuses and contributions to the local economy are dramatically improved.

"The worst thing someone can tell you is no. It took me a while to really take that to heart, but once I learned to not be afraid of the word “no”, all of my uncertainty and professional inhibitions disappeared. So many opportunities are missed when you don’t allow yourself to at least take a chance."


Young & Professional in Entrepreneurship


Landon launched, executed and scaled three companies while playing in the NFL. He founded and directs Light Transportation and Light Valet, offering 24-hour black car service and creating jobs for 2nd/3rd shift workers. Landon is a partner in Village Clothing Co., which creates quality hand-crafted clothing in Spartanburg.
Landon considers himself a connector - connecting people to their destinations, goals and aspirations. Transportation is part of every transaction made in the world. Landon would like to think that in some capacity or another, he can make the world better and more efficient by the second.

"Look your best always. Never give up. And if you were not born with it, you can go a few more days without it."


Young & Professional in Health

Cameron Harris | Occupational Therapist (OTR/L), Spartanburg Regional Pediatric Rehabilitation

As an occupational therapist, Cameron develops and implements evidence-based treatment plans to promote growth, development, and facilitate rehabilitation for clients, birth to adulthood, with a variety of medical diagnoses. As part of the neonatal therapy team, she utilizes advanced training in the screening, evaluation, and treatment of high-risk and premature infants.

Cameron assisted in the development of Spartanburg Regional Medical Center NICU Neonatal Touch and Massage Program, which is particularly beneficial for babies born with drug addictions. She uses creativity to develop individualized treatment plans that help people live their lives in a purposeful and meaningful way.

"Move out of your comfort zone and you will gain many new insights, skills, and a better understanding of who you are and what sustains you."


Young & Professional in Hospitality

William Cribb | Partner, Cribbs Catering - Cribbs Kitchen - Hub City Hospitality

William has been instrumental in creating a vibrant restaurant scene in Spartanburg, with staples like Willy Taco and Cribb's Kitchen. Along with his partners, he identifies needs and brings new products to Spartanburg, such as the recently opened FR8 Yard biergarten, and future eatery The Kennedy. He recently represented South Carolina on a national level by serving as one of the four 2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors.
William enjoys working on menus and creating specials. He figures out how to pull off big events in challenging venues whether they be in a field or on top of a building. He is proud of helping to create places that give opportunity,  and inspired by watching the work of other creative chefs in the industry. 

"Start from the bottom and work up if at all possible. It takes time to learn your craft."


Young & Professional in INDUStRy

Diana Rubiano | Shop Quality Obtention Manager, Michelin

Diana has been instrumental in driving success in new operation and creating tens of thousands of dollars in savings by developing systems for rigorous analysis of data at the Spartanburg Michelin workshop. She leads a team of four quality technicians and supports their efforts to achieve results in the areas of product compliance, customer satisfaction, and machine performance.

Diana promotes a quality-driven environment by coaching and mentoring all members of the department. As an engineer, she is highly motivated by analyzing problems and finding solutions. Diana finds the most inspiration when she reflects upon her day and realizes she took an active role in the making of a product that people can buy and use.

"Being influential doesn’t come with a job title but it is rather earned and recognized by others."


Young & Professional in Innovation

Kelli Coons | Instructional Technologist, Spartanburg District One

Kelli provides development, mentoring and support that enables educators to use technology in a meaningful way. Kelli is one of fifty coaching fellows chosen throughout the country to work with Google for Education, EdTech Team and Digital Promise to ensure teachers and students have the necessary resources for 21st century learning.
Kelli was named a 2016 Emerging Leader by the South Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She is inspired by the teachers and students she works with on a daily basis who are not afraid to try new things and push themselves beyond what is expected. Kelli has the opportunity to see growth and innovation on a daily basis within our schools, and believes that technology has the power to truly transform education and prepare our students better than ever before for their future careers.

"There are always going to be setbacks and disappointments in life, but how you react to them will make the difference in your overall success or failure. Choose to compete with yourself on a daily basis, each day focus on being better than you were the day before."


Young & Professional in NONPROFIT

Laura Ringo | Executive Director, Partners for Active Living

Executive Director of Partners for Active Living, Laura has spearheaded the most recent efforts to fund and develop a 32-mile connected trails network in Spartanburg County, while simultaneously directing programming that strives toward a healthy, active, connected, vibrant community. PAL's projects include Spartanburg BCycle, elementary school partnerships, the downtown criterium and Turkey Day 8K, and a new park on the MBF Rail Trail.
Laura has grown and learned professionally as Partners for Active Living has matured as an organization and small business. Both have played key roles in changing the culture and conversation around preventative health in Spartanburg County to include park access, sidewalk inclusion and healthy food options.

"To quote former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, 'When you surround yourself with smart people, they challenge you to think harder and in entirely different ways.'"


Young & Professional in SERVICE

Jalitha Moore | Strategic Implementation Coordinator, OneSpartanburg

Jalitha is being recognized as an avid servant leader, going beyond her professional contributions to better Spartanburg.

Jalitha developed the Let's Unite Community Cookout, a preventive initiative to strengthen relations between law enforcement and community members, and has coordinated several clothing and toy drives for the City of Iman in conjunction with the Inman Police Department. She serves on the boards of Partners for Active Living and Leadership Spartanburg Alumni Association, is a member of the Patron Society for the Hope Center for Children, and assists with the USC Upstate chapter and Epsilon Beta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

Jalitha's inspiration is knowing the sky is the limit. In her professional career, she is most proud of her time at the Solicitor's Office as a Criminal Domestic Violence victim advocate, where she gave a voice to women that believed they did not have one, and of her work in Congressman Trey Gowdy's office, implementing the I am an Achiever program to encourage students to strive for excellence no matter the circumstances.

"Don’t let fear limit your progress or your promise. It is important that you always do what is right for you because you are the only person walking in your shoes. Authenticity is your best asset."

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