Harmon Scholarship Revives Hope in the American Dream

Fred Harmon started his scholarship fund to foster a new generation of civic-minded innovators.

Fred HarmonSumter native Wilfredo Anderson, a rising sophomore at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, doesn’t often find himself at a loss for words. But when the recipient of the 2016 Harmon Scholarship was announced, he proved more than a little tongue tied. “I got home, and all I could squeeze out of my mouth was, ‘I got it,’” the business finance major says. “My parents and I were ecstatic, we had a little jubilee.” 2017 Harmon Scholar Kwajo Boateng, who will attend Clemson University this fall to study computer engineering, saw a similar reaction from his parents--a Ghanaian couple who immigrated to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream. “My parents were so happy,” the Sumter High School graduate says, “they were screaming with joy in the house.”

Such responses are not unusual when you consider the breadth of what the Harmon Scholarship offers. In addition to providing a generous personal stipend, as well as funds for textbooks, a laptop computer, and a home printer, the Harmon Scholarship covers tuition costs for four years for Clemson- or Carolina-bound students hailing from Sumter County. Entrepreneur Fred Harmon, co-founder of the South Carolina based safety technology firm SixAxis, started his scholarship fund through the Community Foundation to foster a new generation of civic-minded innovators in his adopted state. “Rather than giving a small amount of money to a number of people, I chose to give a very generous amount to select individuals, to make sure that they could actually go to school and have a productive and pleasant experience,” the Indiana native says. “My only problem is picking one out of the number of terrific students who apply every year. The Community Foundation has been enormously helpful in sorting out the recipients.” Students with American Flag in background

For Harmon, who manages sales-related concerns for a bevy of SixAxis brands, philanthropy is a passion he cannot commit himself to full time. The Community Foundation’s broad audience reach among residents of the Midlands, not to mention its reputation for efficient, organized grant administration, compelled him to pursue a partnership in the first place. “I talked to a few people when I started looking for a way to provide this scholarship,” he says. “A colleague directed me to the Community Foundation as a nice, easy way to administer the program--they’ve been very, very helpful with this process.”

Harmon designed his scholarship in part to challenge pessimistic notions about the American Dream. “When I grew up, I was told that America was the land of opportunity. If you got an education, worked hard, and strived to be productive, you could accomplish great things,” Harmon says. “Now, we’re told that America is no longer the land of opportunity. We need to change that perception.” Anderson and Boateng, to their credit, remain devoted to the people of Sumter County--they are eager to rekindle faith in the American Dream among their peers just as Fred Harmon did for them. “The mentality now is that we want everyone to win and we want everyone to be successful,” Boateng says. “It’s really beneficial to help other people do things that they’re not able to do.” Anderson agrees. “I never plan to completely leave Sumter,” he says. “My belief is, if you get to a certain high place in life, you should always push the elevator to go back down so you can bring somebody else up with you.” 

Click here to learn more about starting a scholarship fund with the Community Foundation

By Luke Hodges

Cherise Arrendale

Strategic Initiatives & Communications Manager

Cherise implements and monitors all marketing, communications and public relations efforts by the Foundation. She also develops strategies to build brand awareness, manages the Foundation’s online presence, and oversees Midlands Gives, the Foundation’s 24-hour annual giving day.

An Atlanta native, Cherise has a Master of Business Administration degree from USC's Moore School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in music from Furman University. She previously worked for the Peace Center for the Performing Arts and the SC Governor's School for Arts and Humanities. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading, playing in a local community band and spending time with her husband and their fluffy Maine Coon cat.

Inquiry from the media? Seeking information about Midlands Gives? Contact Cherise.

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Cortney Bailey

Program Associate

Cortney manages the granting process for all donor advised funds and corporate competitive grants. She also supports all functions within the Foundation by ensuring that policies, procedures and best practices for the database are followed and producing timely reports using this data.

Cortney comes to the Foundation with seven years of prior nonprofit experience. She earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and enjoys spending her free time with her two wonderful daughters. Her hobbies include woodworking, pottery and relaxing at the beach.

Looking to recommend a grant from your donor advised fund? Or seeking information about competitive grants for Aflac, Sonoco, or Hootie & the Blowfish? Reach out to Cortney.

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Jamie Bray

Advancement Administrative Associate

Jamie is responsible for providing clerical support and event administration for the Advancement Team and supporting other administrative needs across departments. 

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Jamie attended college at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky and moved to Columbia in Spring of 2017. Jamie enjoys walking her German Shepherd mix dog, spending time with family, and playing sand volleyball.

Contact Jamie to RSVP to Foundation events.




Brooke Dickerson

Administrative Associate

Brooke provides administrative and clerical support for the President & CEO and the Board of Trustees.  She assists with data entry, grant tracking, database management and grantee mailings.  

Brooke is a native of Douglasville, Georgia. She comes to the Community Foundation with previous administrative experience both in Georgia and for a nonprofit in Rochester, New York. Brooke volunteers with youth at the Department of Juvenile Justice. In her spare time, she can be found spending time with family and friends, joining them in cheering for her favorite baseball and college football teams.

Need to update your contact information or have a question about a gift? Give Brooke a call.

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Erin E. Johnson

Vice President for Community Investment

Erin leads the Foundation’s efforts to increase our impact in the Midlands. She oversees competitive grantmaking, scholarship programs, and program-related initiatives, such as Connected Communities. She also implements community engagement strategies that help connect community needs and opportunities with available resources.

Erin previously served as the Chief Community Investment Officer for South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.  She is a proud alumni of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and  University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. In her spare time, Erin enjoys watching the Tar Heels and Carolina Panthers, reading and spending time with her husband Shawn and daughters Maya and Nina.

Contact Erin for information about the Foundation’s grantmaking or community engagement.

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James Mercado, II

Senior Program Associate

James supports the Foundation through the execution of communication strategies. He works to advance the Foundation’s strategic objectives by creating and monitoring communication campaigns across the Foundation’s communication platforms.

A Northern Virginia native, James earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Radford University and has several years of marketing and nonprofit experience.  In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife, Haylee, and their three kids, Hayden, James III, and Harper.

Questions about the Foundation’s social media or website? Or have a story you want to tell? Give James a call.

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Kevin L. Patten

Vice President for Finance and Administration

Kevin manages fund balances and investment information for donors, local organizations and agency endowments and directs all finance and accounting functions of the Foundation. He also oversees human resources and office administration for the Foundation.

Kevin earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD. He is an avid sports fan and can frequently be found rooting for the Miami Hurricanes and spending time with his wife and four children.

Reach out to Kevin for more information about the Foundation’s investment policies, audit inquiries, securities, and other non-cash gifts.

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Jamesha Shackerford

Program Associate

Jamesha oversees the scholarship administrative process by working closely with scholarship fundholders and students. She also works with the Vice President for Community Investment to support the Connected Communities grant initiative and provides logistical support to the Community Impact Committee.

A South Carolina native, Jamesha earned a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Columbia College and minored in dance, an interest she still pursues. She enjoys spending her spare time with family and friends.

Contact Jamesha for information or help with scholarships, Connected Communities applications and reports or the Foundation’s due diligence process.

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Heather Sherwin

Vice President for Advancement

Heather works with donors to set up charitable funds and collaborates with professional advisors and their clients to fulfill their philanthropic goals. She is responsible for promoting awareness and support for the Foundation among its varied constituencies. She leads the overall communication, public relations and donor relations strategy. Heather also serves as a resource for charitable planning in the Midlands community.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Heather held fundraising positions with Cleveland Museum of Art, Great Lakes Theater, American Red Cross, Hawken School and The Masters School. While living in Cleveland, Ohio, her hometown, Heather was the third generation to lead her family foundation, The Sherwick Fund, a fund of The Cleveland Foundation. In Columbia, Heather and her life partner, Buddy Register, are currently renovating an historic home in Elmwood.

Contact Heather about starting a fund at the Foundation or for information about planned giving.

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Kim Turnipseed

Accounting Manager

Kim supports the finance team with the ongoing financial and accounting responsibilities of the Foundation.  She handles the day to day accounting functions and fund management of the Foundation, along with analyzing, evaluating and recommending process improvements.

She comes to the Foundation with over 20 years of accounting experience, earning her degree in Accounting from Columbia College.

In her free time, Kim enjoys spending time with her three children, seven grandchildren, family, and 1 dog.

Questions regarding fund statements or invoices, contact Kim.

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JoAnn M. Turnquist

President & CEO

Named president and CEO in 2009, JoAnn works closely with her board of trustees and staff to develop and implement the vision and strategic direction of the Foundation.  She leads a team dedicated to helping individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit organizations establish charitable funds to support causes they care about and make a difference in the Midlands and beyond.

Before joining CCCF, JoAnn served as Vice President for Institutional Sales at The Clorox Company and Johnson Diversey. She is 2013 Riley Diversity Fellow.  JoAnn received the SC Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Community Diversity Award in 2014 and the Engenuity SC Vision Award in 2016. JoAnn enjoys cycling, swimming and reading. She and her husband Ernie are avid golfers and amateur chefs. They share their home and hearts with three dogs and two cats.

Contact JoAnn to learn about the Foundation’s strategic vision or if you have an opportunity for collaboration in the community.

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