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Who We Are

Our mission is to empower individuals with blindness and visual impairment to lead safe, dignified, independent and rewarding lives and to prevent vision loss for adults in Berkley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties as well as children in Charleston County Title I schools.

 Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired – Charleston (ABVI) has been serving and supporting individuals with visual needs in the Charleston Tri-County area for over 80 years.

ABVI was established on October 14, 1936 by a dedicated group of volunteers led by Mrs. Fred J. Sahlman and members of the American Foundation for the Blind. We were chartered and incorporated on April 19, 1937.

While our services have changed over the years, we have always promoted independence and strived to improve the quality of life for blind and visually impaired individuals through the programs we provide.

 

 

Board of Directors

Julius J. Anderson, Jr., Board President, Managing Member, Anderson Insurance Associates

Jules Anderson is the Managing Member of Anderson Insurance Associates, LLC., a full service, multi-office agency offering sales of personal and commercial life and health insurance products.

Jules is past chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of South Carolina; treasurer of Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of South Carolina; past president of Independent Insurance Agents of Charleston and has served on several major insurance company advisory boards, plus the SC Department of Insurance Coastal Property Task Force.

Additional community involvement includes elder, First (Scots) Presbyterian Church; past board chair, First (Scots) Kindergarten; moderator, Charleston Atlantic Presbytery; commissioner, General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA); Charleston County Assessment Appeals Board; past president, Sertoma Club of Charleston; past chairman, Big Brother/Big Sister Program of Charleston; past board member for My Sister’s House, past board member and treasurer, Life Management Center; past president and secretary, Charleston Bible Society; past board of trustees, Limestone College; and board member, Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce

Jules was born in Columbia and graduated from Limestone College, is married to Lynda C. Anderson, and they have three daughters who all live in the Charleston area.

Clay W. Hershey, Board Vice President, Financial Advisor, Harbor Financial Group

Clay is a founding member and Partner of Harbor Financial Group, which is a private wealth management firm dedicated to providing exceptional service with a clearly defined process designed to help grow and preserve wealth. Based in Charleston, the firm focuses on helping select individuals, businesses, and non-profits make sound decisions for their financial future.

Clay is Past President of the Rotary Club of Charleston-Breakfast where he remains active, and he also serves on the Board of the PruittCares Foundation in Atlanta, GA.

A graduate of the University of the South, Clay is married and has two sons and a daughter.

Fleetwood S. Hassell, Board Secretary, President, Bank of South Carolina

Fleetwood S. Hassell, was born and raised in Charleston, graduated from Porter-Gaud High School and earned a BS and MBA from the University of South Carolina School of Business.

He began his banking career in 1983 as a management trainee at the Citizens and Southern National Bank of South Carolina.  He has been with The Bank of South Carolina since its organization in 1986 and has served in various executive management capacities.   He was elected to the Board of Directors of The Bank of South Carolina and its parent company in 2006 and was named president and CEO in 2012.  Other board involvement has been with the Kidney Foundation, Crime Stoppers, Atlantic Coast Conservation Association, Trident Tech Foundation, Charleston Breakfast Rotary Club (past president), Charleston Day School (past treasurer), Porter Gaud School Alumni, the Preservation Society, and South Carolina Bankers Association.

Mr. Hassell currently serves the board of the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, College of Charleston Foundation Board, Trident United Way Board,  and the  South Carolina State Board of Financial Institutions.  He is married to the former Elizabeth Dawson and has two sons, Fleetwood, Jr. (26) and Louis (24).

“I joined the Board because of my relationship with Mary Morrison and the incredible leadership she brings to ABVI.  In addition my mother was passionate about the organization and served on the board for many years.  I look forward to continuing this family legacy of service.”

Robert M. Baldwin, Board Treasurer, CPA, Baldwin and Associates, LLC

 Bob Baldwin CPA is a resident of Mount Pleasant SC where he enjoys the practice of public accountancy. A graduate of the University of Georgia he has been a CPA since 1981. His career includes working for what is now known as Ernst and Young, as Manager of a Family Office and now Baldwin and Associates LLC, a Mount Pleasant CPA firm. Bob has served on numerous Boards including the South Carolina Historical Society, The Coastal Carolina Council BSA, The Charleston Library Society, Lowcountry Land Trust and the Disability Board of Charleston SC. Professionally he has served as President of the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, Vice Chairman of the South Carolina Board of Accountancy and President of the Estate Planning Council of Charleston.

I joined the Board because of my understanding of the challenges imposed on lives by visual impairment and belief strongly in the work done by ABVI here in Charleston.

Carol S. Clement, Controller, Clement, Crawford and Thornhill, Inc.
Carol Clement is the controller for Clement Crawford and Thornhill, Inc. She and her husband, Robert Clement, have four children.   She has been active in First Scots Presbyterian Church, the Junior League of Charleston, the Charleston Museum, and the Friends of MUSC Children’s Hospital. Serving on the board of the ABVI is a special honor for her to be able to work with Mary Morrison and her very talented staff and to help support and promote the services they offer.
C. Shawn Dobbs, Director of Public Relations and Development, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.
shawn dobbsShawn Dobbs was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, a small town just outside Indianapolis. He is a graduate of the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. After high school, Shawn attended the University of Evansville where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology before enrolling at Indiana University where he earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Organizational Leadership. Shawn has over 15 years of experience working in the blindness field. Since May of 2012, Shawn has worked for The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. first as the Director of Public Relations and Development in Spokane, Washington, and in August 2016, he relocated to the Newest Lighthouse location in Summerville, South Carolina.
J. Douglas Hazelton

Doug is a retired businessman and a former USAF pilot. He and his wife Joni moved to Charleston in 2007 and he became involved with ABVI shortly after that. In addition to his work with ABVI, Doug serves on the Revolving Loan Fund Committee of the Historic Charleston Foundation and is a member of the Advisory Board of the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs at the College of Charleston.

Doug is a graduate of Stanford University and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.  He and Joni have two grown children and two identical twin granddaughters.

James F. Hill, III, O.D., F.A.A.O., MUSC Storm Eye Institute

James F. Hill III, O.D., F.A.A.O. is a native of Georgetown, SC. He graduated from Georgetown High School in 1999 and went on to attend the Citadel. He graduated in 2003 with a B.S. in biology and spent 2 years working in cardiology research at MUSC before deciding his calling was to become a vision care provider.

He attended optometry school in Birmingham and graduated UABSO in 2009. He was very active as a student and served as national president of the American Optometric Student Association. After graduation he decided to pursue a residency in low vision and ocular disease at the Birmingham VA Medical Center and Blind Rehabilitation Center. At the completion of his residency he completed the Advanced Competence in Medical Optometry (ACMO) examination. In 2011 he also obtained his fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO), a distinction that about 10% of active optometrists obtain.

Dr. Hill is excited to be home and looking forward to becoming active in the community. He enjoys being outdoors and loves to fish. He is a self-proclaimed college football junkie and enjoys Saturday’s in the fall, and loves to tailgate and cheer on his beloved Citadel Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks.

B. Karl Jantzen

B. Karl Jantzen

Tricia Leyte-Vidal, Professional Services Training Program Manager, Blackbaud, Inc.

Tricia Leyte-Vidal is the Training Program Manager for the Professional Services group at Blackbaud, a local nonprofit technology partner. She moved to Charleston shortly after graduating from Wake Forest University in 2008, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Film Studies. While attending Wake Forest, she managed the student callers for the University’s fundraising telethon and co-chaired a fundraising event known as Hit the Bricks which raised money for the Wake Forest University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her love of giving back has followed her to Charleston where she is Co-President of the local Wake Forest University Alumni Club, an Alumni Admissions volunteer for the University, and an emergency room volunteer at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. She is proud to serve on the board of ABVI after serving on the Advancement Committee for over two and a half years.

“Through my work at Blackbaud, I was assigned to train ABVI on the use of their fundraising software. I was able to spend several days at their offices, working closely with their staff and meeting many of their clients as well. Everyone was so wonderful, kind, and fun to work with and I greatly admired their cause. I was very flattered when I was invited to join the Advancement Committee, and thrilled when asked to join the board as I’ve loved continuing my involvement with their mission!”

Paula S. Mullen, Marketing Consultant, Cumulus Media, Inc.

 

Callie K. Smith, Multimedia Account Executive, The Post and Courier

Callie graduated with a BA from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.  She grew up in Charleston and is The Executive Director of The Post and Courier Foundation.  She has been with the company for 37 years.Callie is married to Walter Smith and they have two children, Dr. Peter G. Smith (Angie) and Anna Heyward Smith.

George B. Smythe, Senior Vice President, Mortgage Banker, South State Bank

George Smythe’s 33 years of experience in many areas of commercial and mortgage banking allow him to assist his clients realize their dream of buying a home. George’s expertise with self-employed borrowers, make him uniquely qualified to help his clients. George has experience in construction financing, as well as primary, second home and investment property financing.

George is a native Charlestonian. He is a lifelong member of the Second Presbyterian Church. George previously served on the Board of the Preservation Society of Charleston. George is a Rotarian where he is a two-time Paul Harris Fellow and past President.

Thomas M. Smythe, Financial Advisor, Mass Mutual Financial Group
Thomas Smythe was born in Charleston, SC.  He attended Porter-Gaud School then went on to graduate from The Taft School in Watertown, CT.  Thomas graduated in 2004 from the University of the South (Sewanee) where he majored in history and was a member of the men’s soccer team.  After college, Thomas lived in Portland, Oregon for three years working in the commercial real estate business. Currently, Thomas lives in Mt. Pleasant with his wife Kalyn and their two dogs Jake and Bentley.  He is a Financial Advisor with MassMutual.
Kristen Gayeski Tinkler, OD, Carolina Eyecare Physicians, LLC

Dr. Gayeski was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Emory University in 2006 and Nova Southeastern College of Optometry in 2010. In June 2011, Dr. Gayeski completed her primary care residency at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina, focused on ocular disease and secondary specialties, including medical contact lens fits and low vision. She joined Carolina Eyecare Physicians in 2014 and practices primary eye care, urgent care and surgical co-management with surgeons in the practice.

Dr. Gayeski’s current publications include five SECO posters and two Academy presentations. During her residency, she established a binocular vision clinic for veterans and served as an author for the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry. She is an active member and past president of the Coastal Carolina Optometric Society, member of the American Optometric Association and South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association and is involved in the Heathwood/Old Towne Neighborhood Council. She also enjoys helping out her community, providing free eye care to local South Carolinians at regional health fairs and has recently become involved volunteering her services at the Shifa Clinic in Mount Pleasant.

Allison Burke Thompson, Attorney-at-Law, Mullen Wylie, LLC

Allison Thompson graduated from the College of Charleston with a BA in English Literature and from the University of South Carolina Law School with a Juris Doctorate. She is a lawyer who has over 18 years of experience in construction and insurance coverage litigation for both plaintiffs and defendants. Her practice concentration areas include construction litigation, insurance coverage and analysis at the trial and appellate court levels with a focus on managing complex long-term litigation, research and writing, and collaborating with forensic experts and clients to insure best practices and results. She is admitted to practice in South Carolina, the United States District Court for South Carolina and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She is a member of the Charleston County Bar and is a former president of the Charleston Lawyers Club.

In addition to her service on the board of the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Mrs. Thompson serves as Vice President and Executive Committee Member of the College of Charleston Alumni Board. Mrs. Thompson served as Co-Chair of Student Alumni Associates Alumni-Mentor Program where she aided in the development of the program which identifies alumni willing to serve as mentors to collegiates, identifies alumni with varying talents and professional backgrounds who would complement the interests and aspirations of the students, and partners alumni and students based on their interests. She serves as an international officer for Alpha Delta Pi as a Collegiate Province Director for four universities and previously served six years as a Chapter Advisor.

Mrs. Thompson is married to Charleston native Joseph Thompson, III (Trey) and has a son, Burke (14) and a daughter Ann (12).

Michael W. Zolman, OD, Owner and Founder, Infinity Eye Care

Michael W. Zolman, OD, is the owner of Infinity Eye Care and Low Vision Center, which he founded in 2009 to provide low vision rehabilitation for the visually impaired in addition to providing routine vision and eye health care.

His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2001, along with a Doctorate degree in Optometry and a Doctorate degree in Vision Science from the Nova Southeastern College of Optometry in Ft. Lauderdale in 2006.  He received training in Low Vision rehabilitation at the Lighthouse International in New York City, the Lighthouse of Broward County in South Florida and the Feldberg Center of Vision Rehabilitation at Storm Eye Institute. Dr. Zolman holds an optometric license in South Carolina and is certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.

Michael holds membership in several professional and optometric societies, including the American Optometric Association, South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association, Coastal Carolina Optometry Society, and Southern Council of Optometrists.  He currently is the chair person for Vision Rehabilitation Committee for the South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association.  In addition, he is a clinical director for the Special Olympics “Opening Eyes” program for South Carolina for which he and other volunteers provide eye exams and glasses at no cost to Special Olympics athletes.

Dr. Zolman joined the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2013 and currently focusing his efforts on program development.  He became involved with the ABVI because “There is a great need to serve the visually impaired and underserved of our community.  The ABVI allows me to be a part of this service and it is my goal to help improve and strengthen its efforts.”

Advancement Committee

During the Spring of 2013, ABVI created an Advancement Committee comprised of motivated and talented young adults. The group was formed to help promote and raise awareness of the Association and its programs, to help recruit volunteers, to fundraisers and to educate a younger generation about the Association and Charleston’s Tri-County community of blind and visually impaired individuals.

Taylor Concilio, Chair, Customer Support Associate, TEKsystems

Taylor Concilio, was born and raised in Charlotte NC. Concilio moved to Charleston in 2002 to begin her studies at the College of Charleston. She studied psychology with a minor in Spanish and spent time studying abroad in Spain. After graduating, she spent a few years in retail helping with the opening of Tanger Outlets in North Charleston. For the past 5 years Taylor has been in customer support with a leading South Carolina information technology company, TEKsystems. Several years ago she was looking for ways to give back to the community that has been her home for more than a decade and was grateful for the opportunity to join ABVI’s advancement committee whose mission is to serve and support the blind and visually impaired in our community.

Caroline Wooten, Vice Chair, MD, Mount Pleasant Dermatology

Wooten-CarolinaDr. Caroline Wooten is a board certified dermatologist and associate of Mount Pleasant Dermatology. A Charleston native, she was raised on Johns Island and attended Ashley Hall School. In 2004, she graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She earned her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2008.

Following an internship with Spartanburg Regional Hospital, she completed her dermatology residency at the Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, NC.

Following residency, she served as Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology for the Brody School of Medicine. In 2013, she joined Mount Pleasant Dermatology, where she currently practices medical, procedural and cosmetic dermatology.

Ellen Hassell, Secretary, Mortgage Sales Associate, Wells Fargo

EllenHassellEllen Hassell grew up in Charleston, SC and attended Ashley Hall School. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing at Clemson University, she returned home to Charleston where she began her banking career at Wells Fargo. She is currently a Mortgage Sales Associate and has been with the Bank for nearly 5 years. Ellen is looking forward to the opportunity to become involved with ABVI and to give back to the Charleston Community!

Brian Johnson,Treasurer, Partner, Hood Law Firm

brian-johnson-cropBrian was born in Charleston and raised in nearby Kingstree, SC.  He received a Bachelor of Science from Clemson University in 2003 and Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2007.  Brian returned to Charleston in 2007 and is currently a partner at Hood Law Firm, LLC where he focuses his practice on civil litigation defense in the practice areas of healthcare and commercial litigation.  After years of living and working in Charleston, Brian is looking forward to joining the Advancement Committee and being a part of the ABVI to help foster awareness for Charleston’s blind and visually impaired community.

Courtney Adams, Associate, Customer Operations Training, Blackbaud, Inc.

Courtney Adams grew up in Charleston, SC and attended Bishop England High School. After receiving a degree in Communication at the College of Charleston, she decided to stay in Charleston and begin her career at Blackbaud.  She is currently an Associate on the Customer Operations Training team. Courtney was fortunate to have the experience of interning with the American Red Cross and this is where she discovered her passion for volunteering. She is excited for the opportunity to continue serving the community as a member of the ABVI Advancement Committee.

Will Adams, IT Manager, Integral Solutions Group

will-adamsAfter studying business at Wofford College, Will Adams returned home to Charleston where he launched his professional career with a downtown real estate company. With a keen interest in technology, Will later joined Radiate Technologies where he has held several positions over the past five years. Currently an IT Manager, he enjoys assisting businesses from a technical perspective and looks forward to broadening his scope of support through his involvement with the Advancement Committee.

Kirstin Clark, Marketing Coordinator, Colliers International

kristin_turnerAfter having been a life-long west coaster, Kirstin Clark recently relocated to Charleston and currently works as a Marketing Coordinator for the commercial real estate company, Colliers International. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Kirstin received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Oregon in 2006, majoring in Business Administration and Spanish. Upon graduating, Kirstin obtained a position with Colliers International in Los Angeles and has been in the real estate industry for the past 7 years. Kirstin is thrilled for the opportunity to be involved with the Association, and looks forward to giving back to the Charleston community that has so graciously made her feel right at home!

Henry Laurens, Realtor Associate, Carriage Properties

Henry LaurensA native Charlestonian, Henry Laurens attended Porter-Gaud School and graduated from the University of South Carolina. He began his career in real estate in 2010 and has worked in the field ever since. Henry is currently a Realtor Associate with Carriage Properties. As a third-generation real estate professional, he is eager to use his knowledge of the area to assist potential clients with their needs.

Henry is actively involved in the community and currently sits on the Advancement Committee for the Association of the Blind & Visually Impaired. He is also a member of the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Library Society.

“Charleston is one of the world’s best cities and I am so happy to be a part of its vibrant community. Our area nonprofits such as the Association of the Blind & Visually Impaired do so much important work to enhance the Charleston community and the lives of its citizens. I am pleased that I can be involved with such a great organization.”

Lauren Morgan, Alumni and Development Coordinator, Storm Eye - MUSC

A native of Maryland, Lauren has lived in Charleston for seven years. She is a graduate of the College of Charleston where she majored in elementary education. During college, Lauren interned in the development office in the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina where she developed a passion for seeing the joy that comes from accomplishing good for others. Following graduation, she joined the development staff at MUSC where she began working for the Heart and Vascular Center and recently transferred to Storm Eye.

Lauren resides in downtown Charleston with her golden retriever, Sam, and can often be found walking around town. She is currently pursuing her masters in health administration at MUSC.

Hagood Morrison, Associate, Colliers International

HagoodMorrisonHagood Morrison is an Associate with Colliers International where he focuses on commercial real estate investment sales in South Carolina. Born and raised in Charleston, Hagood graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in Economics. After working in commercial real estate acquisitions in Washington, DC and Chicago, Hagood and his wife, Whitney, returned home to Charleston to raise a new addition to the Morrison family – a baby boy. Hagood is delighted and thankful to serve as an advocate and volunteer for the Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired.

Our Team

Courtney Plotner

Executive Director
843-410-1056
cplotner@abvisc.org

Mark-Carmichael

Mark Carmichael

Director of Finance
843-410-1055
mcarmichael@abvisc.org

Brooks-Harken

Brooks Harken

Director of Programs
843-952-7242
bharken@abvisc.org

Anne-Reid

Anne Reid

Director of Development
843-212-3040
areid@abvisc.org

loraine

Lorraine DeNicola

Manager of Client Services
843-410-1058
ldenicola@abvisc.org

amy_harris-210x300

Amy Harris

Manager, Employee Development Program
843-410-1060
aharris@abvisc.org

Kimberly-Taylor

Kimberly Taylor

Manager, Own Your Life Program
843-410-1059
ktaylor@abvisc.org

Amy Asper

Development and Communications Coordinator
843-410-1057
aasper@abvisc.org

susan-lucas

Susan Lucas

Administrative Assistant
843-410-1061
slucas@abvisc.org