Maureen McAvey
Senior Resident Fellow
Bucksbaum Family Chair for Retail
Urban Land Institute

Maureen McAvey is the Bucksbaum Family Chair for Retail at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, D.C. She concentrates on urban retail and has led several special projects around demographics and future urban development. In this role, McAvey has cowritten a number of annual reports on current strategic issues, most notably What’s Next? Real Estate in the New Economy and What’s Next? Getting Ahead of Change. Other recent efforts have highlighted the potential solutions for and best practices in infrastructure development and finance, and she edited the popular report Generation Y: Shopping and Entertainment in the Digital Age. She is also a senior staff adviser to ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative.


Todd Ballantine
Professional Speaker/Facilitator

Through experienced leadership and working with partners Todd Ballantine has helped tourism-resort communities and clients throughout the United States achieve higher success through environmental solutions for over three decades. He is a respected industry leader, widely read writer and best selling author. He is a sought-out thought leader in the tourism-resort industry.


Laura Simmons
Social Research Specialist
Director of the Charlotte Regional Indicators Project
UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

Laura currently serves as a social research specialist at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.  Laura manages the Charlotte Regional Indicators Project and the accompanying Indicators Partners Program. In addition, Laura oversees multiple client-based research initiatives for various organizations in the Charlotte community. She also works on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Quality of Life Study and is involved with the Mecklenburg Area Partnership for Primary Care Research (MAPPR). Her professional interests include demography, immigration, urban social geography and program evaluation.


Stephen A. Borgianini, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of South Carolina Beaufort

Dr. Borgianini’s research involves the ecological consequences of sea level rise in estuaries and coastal rivers. He is especially interested in the physical, physiological and developmental constraints that limit the distribution of organisms within estuaries and the human impacts that could, and do alter these processes. He is presently examining the changes to biological communities that may be driven by coastal development short-circuiting the hydrologic cycle through freshwater runoff into the Lowcountry’s unique and vulnerable high-salinity estuaries. Organisms living in high salinity estuaries are quite susceptible to large, rapid inputs of freshwater.  In order to develop a better understanding of potential human impacts to this system his lab is attempting to establish an ecological baseline that accounts for natural fluctuations in estuarine and coastal ocean ecosystems.


Brandon J.  Cosley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Psychology
University of South Carolina Beaufort

Dr. Cosley’s research is broadly focused on how people are affected by, manage, and excel under stress. He applies this interest to better understand factors that affect community well being, economic resilience, and environmental sustainability. In collaboration with John Salazar, PhD., and the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce, his lab is also examining how tourists experience Hilton Head Island and the consequence of these experiences for how they engage the local economy. Additional projects include examination of perceptions of the business environment among local business owners. This “business barometer” provides us quarterly information regarding perceived changes in the local economic climate.


John Salazar, Ph.D.
Professor of Hospitality Management
University of South Carolina Beaufort
Director, Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism and Institute

Dr. Salazar is a Professor of Hospitality Management at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. He is also the Director of the Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism Institute. The Institute’s primary mission is to “To develop, organize, and interpret research that enables the diverse region to enhance its goods and services that the Lowcountry provides to its tourists.” Dr. Salazar has participated in city, county, state, and regional tourism and economic development projects throughout the US. He has conducted research that has been funded by corporations, universities, regional and state tourism bureaus, various farm bureau initiatives, and the US Department of Transportation. He has also served as a steering committee member and board member for city, state, and regional economic development initiatives and chambers of commerce. 



Daniel P. Keefer, ASLA, ULI

Dan Keefer is a Landscape Architect / Land Planner with Witmer-Jones-Keefer, LTD (WJK) based in Bluffton, South Carolina.  Since moving to the Low Country in 2000, Dan has enjoyed working with new and existing Resort Communities throughout the Southeast.  



Robert Stenhammer
Vice President - Hospitality
Telluride Ski and Golf

Robert Stenhammer is the Vice President of Hospitality for Telluride Ski & Golf.  During his nearly 20 years of extensive resort hospitality experience, Stenhammer has overseen the management of over 3,000 vacation rental properties, 40 homeowner associations, hotels, retail outlets, food and beverage, real estate and resort operations. He has previously worked for Vail Resorts, Intrawest and Wyndham Worldwide. A past resident of Hilton Head Island, SC Robert served as a Director of the Hilton Head/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce  and was Chairman of the Town’s Accommodation Tax Committee. Stenhammer holds a BA in business from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and a MBA in Hospitality & Tourism from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada

 Robert’s current responsiblities as Vice President for Telluride Ski & Golf include hotel and vacation rental resort lodging, Mountain Village retail operations, golf course operations, the Telluride Conference Center and the exclusive Telluride Ski and Golf private members club.


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Carolyn Vanagel
Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d'Elegance

Carolyn Vanagel is the President of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance, a nationally ranked automotive event, a position she has held for 10 years. Under Ms. Vanagel’s leadership the Motoring Festival has grown from a two day event with 2500 attendees to a ten-day festival kicking off with vintage car racing in Savannah and culminating with multiple events on Hilton Head Island. In 2013 attendance toped 18,000 and national press claimed Hilton Head to be among the top events of its kind in the country ranking with the likes of Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.


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Robert T. Carey, Ph.D.
Director - Regional Economic Analysis Laboratory - Strom Thurmond Institute - Clemson University
Owner - Regional Transactions Concepts, LLC

Dr. Robert T. Carey holds a Master of Arts degree in economics and a Ph.D. in policy studies with a concentration in rural and economic development from Clemson University. Dr. Carey taught economics for a total of five years for TriCounty Technical College and Anderson (SC) University and was a visiting instructor in political science for Clemson University for five semesters. He has also served as a visiting professor for Clemson’s Master of Public Administration and Ph.D. in Policy Studies programs. He has been a research associate at the Strom Thurmond Institute since 2005 and became director of the Regional Economic Analysis Laboratory in 2009. He has also been the owner of Regional Transactions Concepts, LLC since 2010. To date, Dr. Carey has conducted in excess of three dozen economic impact studies for clients ranging from state, local, and federal government agencies to manufacturers and nonprofit organizations.


Jay Wiendl

Jay D. Wiendl
General Manager
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

As General Manager of Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, Jay D. Wiendl is responsible for the oversight of sales and marketing, operations, development, positioning and training. Wiendl is the third generation in his family to serve in the hospitality industry and brings extensive knowledge in repositioning the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island to a preferred destination and leader in the Upper-Upscale market.

Previously, Wiendl served as the Director of Hotel Operations for the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans, a AAA Four Diamond rated hotel situated in the heart of the French Quarter. In addition to the day-to-day operation of the Bourbon Street hotel, Wiendl managed the strategic partnerships with Grammy Award-winning Irvin Mayfield and the Jazz Playhouse, as well as with Home on the Range, a collaboration between celebrated chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto and the Royal Sonesta, to build and open R’estaurant Revolution, an award-winning New Orleans dining destination. Awards include Best New Restaurants in the American South from Conde Nast, America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants from Wine Enthusiast Magazine and Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. from Gayot.

Fred Leyda
Director - Beaufort County Alliance for Human Services
Facilitator - Collaborative Organization of Services for Youth

Fred Leyda is the Director of the Beaufort County Alliance for Human Services and Facilitator for the Collaborative Organization of Services for Youth, COSY. Fred has worked in the human service arena with delinquent youth as well as mentally, behaviorally and emotionally handicapped children for 25 years.   Upon graduation from the University of Tampa he became a Marine Science Instructor/Counselor and then Administrative Director for several of the Associated Marine Institutes. In 1996 he moved into his position with Beaufort County as facilitator of the COSY Process coordinating interagency treatment plans and removing barriers to service. In 2009, he added the duties of the Alliance directorship to his job description. Fred serves on the Multi-Disciplinary Team for Hope Haven of the Lowcountry; he facilitates the Beaufort County Early Childhood Coalition and acts as Project Director for the Sheldon Township Community Support Partnership. Mr. Leyda also serves on various other advisory boards and councils in Beaufort County including Shepherd’s Table Community Outreach and the Beaufort Irish Festival; he is a member of the Knights of Columbus and serves as a Lector for St. Peter Catholic Church.