Many community leaders are involved with the yearly Martin Luther King Celebration events and the ongoing work of Carolina African American Heritage Foundation
Bennie Swans is known as a loving husband and community servant. He married his soul mate, Marcella Davis Swans, and is a proud father of three sons. As a community leader, he gained national recognition for his efforts to reduce violence and prevent drug use. In 1975, Mr. Swans founded Philadelphia’s Crisis Intervention Network. Swans also served as President of the national consulting firm Urban Intervention Inc. Since moving to Myrtle Beach SC, Mr. Swans has been actively involved in the community. He currently serves as a Trustee at Mount Olive AME Church, is a member of the Myrtle Beach Human Rights Commission and was selected to chair the Carolina African-American Heritage Foundation. He established partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, school leaders and other community groups to help develop programs to address issues affecting underdeveloped neighborhoods throughout Horry County. Notably, Swans assisted in the implementation of home foreclosure assistance programs, economic development initiatives, and was instrumental in the development of 2nd chance programs and the “Mothers against Violence” organization. Bennie Swans was raised in Philadelphia and was a student of the public school system. After graduation Swans joined the United States Army. During his military career he served overseas where he was wounded during a combat mission in Vietnam. Swans heroic efforts earned him a Purple Heart and several Silver and Bronze stars. The highly decorated veteran returned to the U.S. and, under the GI Bill, obtained an undergraduate and graduate degree from Antioch University.
Marcella Davis Swans was raised in Buffalo, NY. She received her undergraduate degree from University of New York at Buffalo, with graduate studies in social work. Swans used her professional talents, as a social worker, to advocate for groups including foster children, senior citizens, and pregnant teens. Swans moved to Philadelphia and married her lifelong friend Bennie Swans. While living in Philadelphia she worked in several fields including mental health, senior services and the school district. Swans also worked in the Williamsburg County school district. While living in Williamsburg County, she helped train minority contractors to ensure that they were prepared to bid on contracts for the Federal Prison being built in Salter, SC. In addition, Swans started a cleaning company and employed over 40 people at the Salter prison site. Swans has a passion for family, children and her community. She raised three stepsons and adopted a granddaughter. She is active in her church and presently serves on the Steward Board, Missionary Board, Voices of Praise, YPD Director, Usher Board at Mt. Olive AME Church. Swans has worked for Horry County School District for seven years. Swans is a former elected New York State Grand Trustee of the Prince Hall Order of Eastern Stars and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.
Herbert Riley was born in Wilkesboro NC. In 1951. Appointed to the Horry County Planning Commission in 2002, Herbert Riley served for eight years, the last two in the as chairman. He has been an influential force throughout Horry County for more than 30 years. In 1978 he co-founded “The Myrtle Beach Unity for the Community Organization” which with the help of Clemson University’s 1978 Gator Bowl Championship Football team, Frank Beckham and the Myrtle Beach Recreation Department, the citizens of Myrtle Beach in general and the “Booker T. Washington” neighborhood in particular built an outdoor million dollar recreation facility which included lighted basketball courts, volleyball courts, a full size softball field and a driving range for community golf enthusiasts. In 2010 he was selected to participate in the prestigious Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative. The Institute was founded by former Governor of South Carolina and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, no relation to Herbert. He is married to the former Mary Frances Cumbee. Herbert Riley was a music major in college and helped form Jazz Et Cetera in 1980; it is the feature group at the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues restaurant on Sundays. Much of Herbert’s inspiration came from father, who in the early 1970’s became the first African- American to run for political office in Horry County in an election for Myrtle Beach City Council. Herbert’s father is credited as on of the founders of Myrtle Beach’s famous “Hospitality Industry” . Inspired by his father, Herbert political interest continued as he worked on several successful campaigns including John Jenerette, the only politician from Horry County ever elected to Congress, County Councilman Marion Foxworth,,Gov. Jim Hodges, and
Dr. Gloria Tinubu to name a few. In 2011 he was commended by Art Collins Chairman of the 21st Century Council at a Congressional retreat in Myrtle Beach for his outstanding work which helped President Barack Obama win the historic South Carolina primary in 2008.
Mary Riley was born in Andrews SC. At a young age, she moved to Georgetown SC where she attended Georgetown County Schools. In 1973, she graduated from the historic Howard High School, a previous all-black school. Riley then moved to New York City where she studied at OIC Technical School. Upon returning to Georgetown, she worked as a recruiter for the JPTA program for the SC Department of Employment and later worked in retail sales in the Myrtle Beach area for more than 20 years. As a political activist she assisted in campaigns of Rep. John Jennerette, Gov. Jim Hodges, and President Barack Obama, to name a few. Mrs. Riley is a mother of three, and a Grandmother. The seasoned community activist has always worked energetically to improve the quality of life in communities. She currently serves on the Stewardess Board at Mount Olive AME Church.
Mr. and Mrs. Roddy Brown have been residents of Booker T. Washington Community in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for more than 45 years. They have always shown great interest in the community by supporting activities that have contributed to the growth and development in our community while focusing on programs that encourage our youths to become more productive citizens.
After teaching for 30 years and retiring from the Horry County schools, it has been their desire to contribute to programs that enhance the development and education of our children. Mrs. Brown has written many books designed to teach American History to young readers. She uses the proceeds to help fund our youth programs.
Doris Gleason is Director of Community Outreach for AARP in South Carolina. As such, Doris provides education on issues relevant to those 50+ and their families and partners with many local organizations to provide programs and partnership on community service projects. She has been with AARP since 1993. Doris has extensive skills in volunteer and event management, training and facilitation, public speaking, collaboration and issue based knowledge. She currently serves on the Board of Volunteer Leaders for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University and is a member of the Waccamaw American Leadership Forum – Class III. Born and raised in New York City, Doris spent time in New Jersey and Atlanta prior to relocating to South Carolina in 2006. She holds a degree in Business Management from SUNY Saratoga Springs and her passions include family, reading, cooking, the beach and animals.
Rev. Jerry and Genar Faulk was born in Conway, S.C. to George and Nancy White Flowers. She attended Horry County public schools and is a 1969 graduate of Whittemore High School in Conway, SC. She received a BA Degree from Clafin University in Orangeburg SC where she majored in Secondary Social Studies. In 1979, she received a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of South Carolina and Specialist Certification in Administration and Supervision from USC in 1993. She spent the majority of her teaching career at Conway Middle School. She served twice as the school’s Teacher of the Year. She worked as an Assistant Principal at Whittemore Park Middle School for 4 ½ years. In 1998 she was appointed as Principal of Conway Middle School and served in that capacity for six years. In 2004, she retired after completing thirty years in public education. She worked part-time in the Horry County School District’s Office of Student Affairs for six years and is now fully retired. She is a charter/life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is involved with political, social, religious and educational activities that promote the well-being of the citizens of this county. She has received numerous civic, church, and educational awards for outstanding service. She is married to the Rev. Jerry Faulk and they have two children and two grand-children.
Phil Schoonover Increasing revenue for small business owners by expanding entertainment options on the Hospitality Coast inspires entrepreneur Phil Schoonover to build innovative partnerships. Myrtle Beach and Charleston have a rare opportunity to choose their paths to prosperity, he said. Their choices will determine everything from property tax rates to job opportunities. Schoonover should know, because his own small businesses have created more than 165 jobs in the past two decades and increased gross revenue over tenfold. Schoonover owns Low Country Harley-Davidson in Charleston and Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson. His endeavors helped create the multiple dealership policy for corporate Harley-Davidson as he was one of the first dealers to own two dealerships with multiple stores. Champion of the laissez-faire lifestyle, he owns a second home in St. Croix, where he is engaged in a farming business to provide fresh vegetables for St. Croix public schools. This enterprise, which has also created dozens of jobs, has been named Virgin Island Farmer of the Year for five of the past six years. Former president of the Carolina Harley-Davidson Dealers Association, he played a key role in expanding the Myrtle Beach Spring Rally from three days to ten and in launching the Hurricane Alley Fall Rally the first weekend of October. Both events bring more than 300,000 motorcycle enthusiasts annually to Myrtle Beach. With its eight acres of parking, Low Country Harley-Davidson serves as a gateway for many charitable causes and other motorcycle events. One, the Undie 500, a motorcycle ride,co-sponsored with Good-Will, that provides new underwear for the Veteran’s Hospital. Other events sponsored by Schoonover’s Myrtle Beach dealership include fundraisers for Hope House which provides help for homeless public school students and Citizens Against Spouse Abuse (CASA).Almost anything with four legs or a motor attracts his interest. Not only is he an animal lover, he enjoys tinkering with cars, motorcycles, boats, tractors, airplanes and most anything mechanical. Perhaps that is because Schoonover attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, has flown, worked on and overhauled military airplanes early in his career. Schoonover while on active duty in the US Navy,served multiple tours in Vietnam with a S.A.R. helicopter squadron and later retired from the USAFR. Schoonover has one son, Chad who works with him in both Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Schoonover’s driving passion is to establish a pro-business network to foster private sector support for quality year-around job creation on the Hospitality Coast of South Carolina.
JOHN BONSIGNOR Born in Brooklyn NY; attended public schools, graduating from Lafayette H S.. received certificate degree from Cambridge School of Radio and TV announcing under the G I bll; …LLD dgree from Chicago’s Blackstone School of Law… Honorary Doctorate from King of Tyre…NYU Communication, Marketing & Speech… Public Relations LIA certification..plus more too many to mention believe this is enough.. John served 4 1/2 years in the US Air Force during the Korean War
Lectured on Marketing & P.R. Member of SCORE; Sav-R-Cats; South Strand Republican Club;.. Sons of Italy in America; Italian American War Veterans, DAV Chapter 30 S.C…. plus many more civic, fraternal.
Dr. Tom Reid – Dr. Reid is the chairman of Carolina Human Reinvestment in Georgetown and Horry counties. While he vacations here and has many interests and friends in coastal SC, his home and core business is in Philidelphia, PA.Southwest Nu-Stop has helped over 10,000 recovering addicts and counting. It is also one of the few facilities that offers scholarships to those unable to afford treatment. Nu-Stop has grown in so many ways since it was established many years ago, and only time will show what other success stories it will live to tell.
Mike Chestnut – I was raised in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by loving and hardworking parents. As a child we didn’t have a lot of material things but we all shared faith in God and faith in ourselves. My family truly believed, that by having faith in the greatest country in the world we too could achieve the American Dream. After all…it was faith that led me to my loving wife Maxine; and together we started our family’s journey by raising our three children Michael, Miccaela, and Marcus. My civil service didn’t start as a council member. In early 1990, I decided to make a difference and lend my energies to community service by chairing the first community clean up known as Pride Fest. However it wasn’t until January 2000, that I became a City Councilman. At that moment, I dedicated my life to making our government more accessible and transparent to the citizens. I still firmly believe that we must not forget:
– …those who live in Myrtle Beach
– …those that work in Myrtle Beach
– …those that teach or mentor our children
For it’s these 3 groups that help make a stronger and better city. Now in my 4th term (11 years) as a member of Myrtle Beach City Council, I continue to work tirelessly to respond to all the needs of the residents and business community. I am proud my tenure successes and enjoy sharing those accomplishments that include: the new 1.2 mile oceanfront boardwalk as a tourist attraction, improving our parks, building more sidewalks, providing superior recreation facilities and after school projects for our youth, and being a deciding vote to give our residents the largest property tax cut in the history of the city. While all of my tenure accomplishments are important, I knew the big picture was to concurrently provide the needed tourism funds to advertise and promote the Myrtle Beach Area. It is a fact, that increasing tourism will create more jobs and foster a stronger economy for Myrtle Beach. Remember…my track record has proven that I believe in Taking Action and Getting Results.