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#NEWberry: Newberry Empowering Women Jan-Feb 2019

Newberry Downtown Development Association (NDDA) celebrates Newberry’s abundance of successful women leaders: Newberry Empowers Women. Join us as we highlight these amazing ladies who make a difference in our community! 

Caroline Smith

Financial Wellness Officer, BB&T

Treasurer, Newberry Young Professionals

Leadership Newberry, FASTTRAC

Downtown Newberry

Newberry is where I fell in love with my husband, Ryan, and we knew one day we would settle here and raise a family. We wanted to give back to the community and we couldn't think of a better way than through health and fitness, so we opened Bear Arms CrossFit Gym.

My vision for Newberry is for it to become a place in which people will work, live, and play.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to to have pride in all of your work. Take responsibility for your mistakes, learn from them, and move on. Stand up for yourself when you know you’re right -- it’s ok to have a voice even if you’re the minority in the room.​ Also to know that everyone has a problem - something tragic that has altered their view. Will you let your "something" define you or change you? That choice is yours.

You would be surprised to know that I am dyslexic and some people could see this as a weakness, however I have grown to make this a strength. I am transparent about all aspects of my life to hold myself accountable, to encourage others, and to continue the lines of communication.

My Favorite Quote:“Life is what you make it so make it beautiful.” - unknown

I heard this a very long time ago and it reminds me that every day we have a choice, every moment, we have a choice to be positive or negative.  You have the choice to decide.

Suzanne Elston Director, Newberry Firehouse Conference Center, Downtown Newberry

Mine and my husband, Joe’s, journey from Louisville, Kentucky to South Carolina began with a call from him while I was working as the Community Relations Director at the historical and iconic Churchill Downs.  He asked me if I could live anywhere else in the US, where would it be?  Well without hesitation, I said either North Carolina, or South Carolina, but make it South Carolina because the warmer the better.  Kentucky winters were more than we wanted to endure anymore.  Ironically enough, Joe informed me there was a possible job opening for a Softball Coach at Newberry College and although he had retired from coaching, the rest is history.  Fate would have it that an old historic building would become a conference center and be in need of a manager.  It turned out having nearly 15 years of group sales and community relations experience at Churchill Downs fit the bill.  ​

My vision for Newberry is to maintain the path toward economic growth and prosperity while maintaining its unique and friendly town charm.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is “Do Not Sweat the small stuff."  There will be plenty of big stuff ahead of you to sweat over.  And if you put God first in your life, the big stuff will be easier to handle.

You would be surprised to know that I come from a thoroughbred horse racing family.  Three brothers were jockeys and then thoroughbred trainers.  My father was a thoroughbred trainer and several nieces and nephews, like myself worked as grooms at various race tracks.  It was only fitting that one day I would work in a different capacity for Churchill Downs. 

My Favorite Quote: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love”.   Mother Teresa

Michelle Long

Executive Director, Newberry County Chamber of Commerce


I am from Prosperity, but moved back to Newberry after college and worked for 15 years before coming to work for the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. My mother worked in downtown Newberry for over 40 years, so I was familiar with the area and some of its history. Working for the Chamber was a natural fit since I have been a strong advocate for all things local and am proud of the history of Newberry and the direction we are heading.

My vision for Newberry is for continued growth. I have seen Newberry improve immensely over the years with storefronts filling and the uptick in foot traffic. It is my hope that the forward thinking mindset of business owners and government will continue to be contagious so that Newberry rises to the top of the list when one is seeking to either open a new business or wants to visit a quaint town that is both welcoming and progressive.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to take more chances regarding my future career and not feel like I should make such an important decision at such a young age. While I have enjoyed my choices and feel like I am in the right place for me, I'm not sure that maybe I didn't miss out on some interesting experiences along the way.

You would be surprised to know that I play the piano and took lessons from 3rd through 12th grade. I love to play, but only for myself, and use it as an escape and stress reliever.

My Favorite Quote: "Slow progress is still progress." - Anonymous Not necessarily my favorite, but one that I have to often keep in mind.  While we sometimes wish we could snap the fingers and make a great idea or program so, it does take time to go through the process, and some processes take longer than others.

Angela Reid

Real Estate Agent, ERA

Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is to continue to have growth but still have that small town feel. Downtown is booming, the housing market is steady, and Newberry has become the "hot spot" for Millennials to move to raise a family due to the low crime rate; thanks to our LEO's! The county is still a popular destination for those looking to retire;  with affordable housing, a wonderful hospital system, and many entertainment options. The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to treasure the moments - make more of them with your loved ones. Life is really not about material things - its about making memories.  At 20 years old, I was a sophomore at Newberry College. Looking back, I would have not taken Dr. Keith Wagner's History class (I didn't need it for my major, barely passed the class, and it caused me a lot of stress). I also would have spent more quality time with my Father. He passed away about 4 years ago when he was 64 - worst day of my life. You would be surprised to know that I attended a middle school and high school of the performing arts in Jacksonville, FL - just like "Fame." From 7th-12th grade, I spent about 2.5 hours a day in dance class at school on top of the "regular" classes like Math and Science. My concentration was in classical ballet. I am a huge supporter of the performing and visual arts and truly believe it is essential in a child's development.

Marquerite Palmer

Arts and Special Programs Coordinator, Newberry Arts Center

Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry isI envision a town that keeps its friendly nature and welcomes more life enriching activities to be shared by people of various ages, races and backgrounds. I would like to see people discovering that they have something in common with a person they would not meet during their normal day. Through these enriching experiences they see the other person without preconceived notions of who they are, and friendships can form.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is...

You will be making many decisions in your life and there is a clear formula for making GOOD decisions. I am afraid you do not know this formula for you too often say, “I am doing this because I am AFRAID that if I do something else, everyone will hate me” or “I have made the decision, I cannot change my decision because it would disappoint someone else. I will force myself to be happy with the decision.” This is the worst one of all, “I am not going to pray about this decision, listen to my friends or explore my doubts about this decision. To do so might make people mad at me.”

Before you make any new decisions about your life, first PRAY about the choices you are facing and see if they align with God’s word. Look at all the possible consequences and if any of them make you feel anxious, find out why.  Second, don’t be rushed into a decision. Talk to those you know have WISDOM and who love you enough to give you honest and straight advice. (Only talking to folks who you know will agree with your decision is a waste of breath.) Talk to someone who has been in a similar situation. Lastly, be true to yourself by seeking wisdom, facing your fears and praying constantly for God to direct your path and use you for His will.

Doing all these things will not keep you from making mistakes, but it will make sure that the mistakes you make can be what you needed to learn before the next big decision. Remember FEAR is False Expectations Appearing Real. Through FAITH and thanksgiving, fear is gone!

You would be surprised to knowthat I am a procrastinator. For the last twenty years I have wanted to write and illustrate some stories. The funny thing is, I don’t think I am a very good writer and most of the time I put off writing because it seems to take me a very long time to communicate what I am trying to say. I especially love illustrations in children’s books, but the stories in my head are not children’s stories. One day I will put forth the time and effort to write these stories and I will give them to my children and grandchildren.

Sally Cockrell

Owner, Fabulous Finds

Downtown Newberry

Denise Graham

Owner, Joy Ride

​Downtown Newberry

I am from Newberry, and I chose to do business here because this is home. I was born, raised and my family and I reside here. I saw a need in the community and I love history. Between the City of Newberry and Newberry College there are numerous events being held throughout the year. Senior citizens and people with physical handicaps often have a hard time getting around, so I opened Joy Ride, a transportation service.

My vision for Newberry is to create a transportation experience that inspires a sense of curiosity and appreciation for our city’s history; To foster community connections and economic growth through exploration - one ride at a time.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self isto start pursuing and building your dreams now! Live life to the fullest and enjoy the journey along the way! Always keep God first!

You would be surprised to know that I’m an avid motorcycle rider and I own (2) bikes: 900 Kawasaki ZX-9 and a Yamaha R1. I called these my yin and yang. Riding is like a natural high.

Micah Decker

President Elect, Newberry Young Professionals

Secretary, NDDA

Marketing & Donor Relations, Newberry Opera House


Downtown Newberry

​I was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where my father was stationed at Fort Knox. I am a military brat - we moved every 2-3 years of my adolescent life. I’ve been to over 10 different schools. We moved to SC when my father was stationed at Ft. Jackson. I graduated from Chapin High School. My husband was the first in our family to work at the Opera House, where he was hired out of college to be the Audio Engineer. Management later needed some more help backstage so I came along and worked the wardrobe department. Later I was promoted to Office Manager, and now serve as the Marketing/PR and Donor Relationships Manager. Our family fell in love with the town, so we purchased our first home and welcomed our son three years ago. I have also done genealogy research on my family and have ties to Newberry County as far back as the 1700’s. There’s something every familiar here that I love.​

My vision for Newberry is to see it grow sustainably. It is a beautiful historic town, with charm, and friendly faces. I would hate to see it grow too quickly and get swallowed up like some of our neighboring towns have. Or likewise to not be as receptive to growth as we need to be and get passed by. I think there is a sweet spot where we can thrive and flourish, and I think it will take all our organizations working together to make that happen. The advice I would give my 20-year old self is go to class, get that internship, and not turn anything down. Be young and hungry. I look at myself now and am proud of where I came from, what I have learned, and what I am doing. But I would encourage myself to be more of a risk taker earlier on. I feel like I’ve gotten braver over the years. I admire Marie Curie as a trail blazer of her time and for women in general. She paved the way for women in science, and helped to encourage women to tackle male-dominated fields. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the first woman to ever win the award twice for two different sciences. She was behind the pioneering research for radioactivity and even developed the first portable x-ray machines during WWI. Sadly her passion project ultimately ended with her death, since the effects of radiation were not known during her time. I love her tenacity to challenge cultural norms, push barriers, and innovate. 

Jane Roberston, Janel Thomas, and Vickie Wiseman

Co-Owners, Southern Renaissance

​Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is

(Vickie) two-fold: first, I would love to see more local shoppers downtown. We have many familiar and new faces in downtown Newberry, and I believe our shops will continue to bring more. There are retail stores that offer a variety of goods and services, restaurants, coffee shops, along with businesses for hair, skin, and wellness. Secondly, I want others to see Newberry as a wonderful place to live. Young people starting out, couples beginning life together and maybe starting a family, folks looking to simplify and enjoy a less hectic lifestyle can all find the home they’re looking for in Newberry. The advice I would give my 20-year old self is

(Vickie) Enjoy each  phase of  your life because you only get this point in time once. And when faced with adversity know that you will get back up, your heart will mend, you will forget and one day in the future, it will all come together and make sense. Quick friendships fall apart easily. You don't know someone until you've experienced many of life's ups and downs with them. The ones that are with you through joy and heartache are gifts from God! Treasure them! And last but definitely not least, buying shoes too small with the hope that they will stretch out is a bad idea. You would be surprised to know (Vickie) that I am not from Newberry County- my marriage brought me here to which I am very grateful!  

Cayce Shirey

Owner, Lucy's


Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry isto see it grow, but keep its small-town feel.  Get people more involved to be open-minded and try new things, but still have its conservative feel.  Evolving Downtown to a beautiful atmosphere with color and life. To get everyone on a same time frame so there are certain times everyone knows to come to Newberry and get the most out of it.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to be more confident. Confidence is key. Also, I would tell myself to be more patient.  Patience is key to not rush through life. You need patience to maintain success and understand life. It does not happen overnight.

You would be surprised to know that I have lived in Newberry my entire 30 years of life! I love traveling to escape, but always find myself back in Newberry!

My Favorite Quotes: “It is what you make it.” - Anonymous “Do what makes sense.” - Anonymous

Wendy Forgetta

Owner,  Your CBD Store

​Downtown Newberry

My name is Wendy Forgetta, I was born in Haverhill Massachusetts, where I lived for 43 years, the majority of them practicing Cosmetology. In 2008, my family and I (all except my son) decided we'd had enough of the snow and cold, so we moved to Florida where we resided for 10 years. In 2016, we were visiting friends in Lexington and they introduced us to Lake Murray, we fell in love and bought a "Lake House." In 2017 my daughter graduated HS and moved back to Massachusetts, so my husband and I and our 2 pups moved to the Lake House. Along with studying Cosmetology in FL, I decided it was time for a change. In 2013 I received my Realtor's license, then when we moved to South Carolina, I became a real estate agent here as well. I have a passion to help people, however I found the area saturated with real estate agents so much that it was difficult to make this career choice work for me. This is where CBD comes in to play, as I was looking for another business where I could help people and I found Your CBD Store in Lexington -  the rest is history! I am back in my element of helping people in a Beautiful, Friendly Town! What brought me to Newberry is the quaintness of the town and the friendly people. I felt welcomed from the moment I stepped into the town office, where I thought I was going to feel very uncomfortable, not knowing how I would be accepted. I am looking forward to hopefully many years of doing business here and enjoying all the town has to offer!  My vision for Newberry is to create a town where people will travel miles to come and visit because we have so many different and fun things to offer. Keeping the "Old Town" look with a New Vibe.​ The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to focus on yourself, don't let others influence you into an unwanted path. Seriously do searching of your inner self so you will be able to find your purpose in life. You would be surprised to know that I drove a regular sized school bus for HS & Kindergarten students while attending Cosmetology School at the age of 23.  

Beth Hipp

Owner, Elizabeth's On Main

​Downtown Newberry

Elizabeth's on Main is a fun and stylish women's apparel and accessories boutique on Main Street. Although I was gone for 23 years, I always felt a pull to return to the family, community and sense of home that endures here in Newberry. And now the future of our very special town looks brighter than ever.

My vision for Newberry isto see our historic district continue to grow as a charming tourist destination and art district with a quality, wholesome lifestyle for our citizens.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is don't define yourself at 20. Make sure all your life plans are penciled in so you can embrace all the twists and turns that shape your path.

My Favorite Quote: "The greatest tragedy is not death but life without purpose."  - Rick Warren

Please share with us if you know a woman who is empowering Newberry.  We would love to add her to our growing list. Email us at:

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