Meet The Regional Workforce Advisors

Brenda Golden, Santee-Lynches






Brenda Gardner Golden holds a Masters of Public Administration from Troy University and is employed as the Santee Lynches Regional Workforce Advisor for the SC Department of Commerce, serving Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter counties. Brenda is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator and Instructor, and is certified to teach Tackling the Tough Skills, a curriculum for building work and life skills.  

Brenda is a member of the Sumter Area SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) as well as Santee Lynches Youth Council, the Sumter Chamber Education Committee, and the Minority Business Outreach Council. She also serves on the Sumter School District’s Career and Technology Advisory Board, Lee County School District’s Career and Technology Advisory Board, and community organizations such as the Lee County RLI, Kershaw County IMPACT, Sumter Prevention Team, and Clarendon Interagency Coalition.

She was recognized with a National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Award of Excellence in 2014 for the Santee Lynches Education Workforce Summit.

Prior to her move to workforce development in 2009, she was assistant county administrator in Kershaw County, where she oversaw several county departments and assisted in the annual county budget process. She was instrumental in the county’s master plan for recreation and secured millions of dollars in federal, state, and foundation grant funding for county initiatives.  She also served at various times as grants coordinator, interim economic development director, and acting county administrator.

Cherie Pressley, Upstate






Cherie Pressley has been a Spartanburg County resident and educator for more than 28 years.  She was educated in Cherokee County and graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1976.  She has an M.ED. from The University of South Carolina, Columbia, S. C. 1999 and a Bachelor of Science from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S. C. 1980. She holds South Carolina Professional Teaching Credentials in a Master’s class and has 30 years of experience in education and workforce development.  She has experience in the classroom, guidance, counseling, curriculum development and training in various educational and workforce development settings.  Cherie has been a trainer for the South Carolina Department of Education in Standards in Practice, Contextual Teaching and Learning, Performance Assessment.  She has been a trainer for The Southern Regional Education Board with the High Schools That Work Model and is a Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor. She has taught graduate classes in Backward by Design Curriculum Model, Making Career Cluster Work, Contextual Teaching and Learning, Educators in the Workplace, and Career Development for Educators.  

Cherie has provided workshops for educators in many innovative educational and guidance initiatives including but not limited to curriculum alignment, curriculum mapping, Myers Briggs Interpretation and has trained over 175 educators and community members in Career Development.  She has presented at The National Career Resource Network National Conference, South Carolina Career Guidance and Placement Conference, National Career Development Conference, The Southern Regional Education Board Conference, SHERM, South Carolina Technical Educators Conference, SC Education and Business Summit, and other education and workforce related conferences.

Cherie is a 2000 graduate of the Spartanburg County Potential Administrators Academy. She served on the Higher Education EEDA, Sub-Committee and the Chairperson for South Carolina Career Guidance Plan- Technology Sub-Committee.  Cherie was the recipient of the 2001 Barbara H. James Career Specialist Award presented by the S. C. Department of Education. She served on the NCDA Curriculum Advisory Board, is past president of the S. C. Career Guidance and Placement Association and served as the Alliance V Chairperson for State Department of Education Regional Service Providers.  Cherie has served on the SC Partnership Committee for the Regional Education Center Alliance and currently serves on The Upstate Workforce Investment Board and the health care council for the United Way of the Piedmont.

Cheryl Lewis, Pee Dee






Cheryl Lewis serves as the Workforce Advisor for the Pee Dee Region, which consists of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marlboro, and Marion Counties. She was previously employed with Florence-Darlington Technical College as the TRiO Upward Bound Project Director.   Cheryl's degrees include a Master of Arts Degree in Human Resources Development from Webster University and Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from Francis Marion University. Cheryl is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor. 

Cheryl's local memberships and affiliations include Board Chair of The Naomi Project, Vice-Chair of the Pee Dee Workforce Investment Board Youth Council, Member of the Florence County Mayor’s Coalition to Prevent Juvenile Crime, and Member of the Florence Career Center Business Department Advisory Board.  She is a graduate of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce 2008 Leadership Class.  She is a member of Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church in Florence, where she serves as YPD Director, and a member of the Christian Education Department.

Cheryl is married to MSG. Cleveland Lewis and has two daughters, Kayla and Maya.

Dr. Cynthia Pitts, Upper Savannah






Dr. Cynthia Jones Pitts is a graduate of Wofford College in 1989, and Converse College in 1991 with a Masters in Education. In 1996 she earned her Education Specialist degree.  Cynthia earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Clemson University in 2003.  

Cynthia has been a public school administrator for K through 12th grade, worked at the District Office level as a coordinator of Math, Science, and Gifted Curriculum and Instruction, and has taught math and science at the middle school level.  Cynthia served as Assistant Principal and Director of Career and Technology Education for Clinton High School from 2005 to 2007.  She holds a teaching certificate in elementary education, special education, gifted education, and elementary and secondary administration. Cynthia has been connecting education and business for eight years, currently as a Regional Workforce Advisor with the SC Department of Commerce serving Greenwood, Laurens, Edgefield, Abbeville, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda Counties.  

Cynthia is on the Board of Directors for the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce where she serves as Chair of the Workforce Development Committee and “Champion” of the Work Ready Communities project.  Cynthia is the 2013 recipient of the Russ Emerson Award for Leadership and most recently recognized by ACT for her leadership in facilitating the Work Ready Communities certification for all 7 of the Upper Savannah counties – the only region in the state of SC that is Work Ready Certified!  Cynthia is also on the Laurens County Community Foundation Board and serves as Chair of the grants committee.  She is on the AMI Kids Piedmont Board of Directors and serves as Chair of the Board of Regents for Leadership Laurens County. 

Eileen Patonay, Waccamaw






Eileen Patonay is the Workforce Advisor for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, serving Georgetown, Horry, and Williamsburg Counties. Eileen earned her Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Bridgeport and her Global Career Development Facilitator credential from Coastal Carolina University. Eileen’s career roots began in Retail Management, then transferred to Career Development where she has worked with students in Kindergarten through Adult Education for twenty years. As a Workforce Advisor these experiences help provide insights into the needs of business as well as education, enabling the Waccamaw Region to build bridges between industry and education for a strong community.

Eileen serves on the boards for Horry County’s Early College High School, Business Education Expectations, The Village Group, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Guidance and Career Development Policy Committee, Academy for Arts, Science and Technology Advisory Board, FIRST Book of Horry County, Grand Strand Robotics and STEM Support, Williamsburg and Georgetown CATE Advisory Boards. In addition, Eileen is a member of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, Grand Strand Technology Council, Women in Technology, Horry County Superintendent of Schools Business Cabinet, Omicron Tau Theta Honor Society, Forestbrook Middle School Improvement Council and supports all Waccamaw Region Chambers of Commerce.

In 2011, Eileen was selected Career Development Facilitator of the Year by the National Career Development Association (NCDA). In 2013, Eileen was recognized as by the South Carolina Career Guidance and Placement Association as Outstanding Career and Technical Educator. Eileen is a member of the South Carolina Association for Career and Technical Education (SCACTE), National Career Development Association, and Coastal Carolina Women in Philanthropy. 

Jay Blankenship, Greenville






Jay Blankenship serves as the Regional Workforce Advisor for the Greenville Region. One of the primary goals of his position is to create a better prepared workforce by connecting academic studies with workforce preparation thereby boosting and positioning South Carolina as a key competitor in today’s global economy. Under Jay’s leadership initiatives have been implemented in the Greenville Region, areas of the Upstate and in the State to create a seamless pipeline of information, connections and opportunities for adults, students, schools, workers and employers.

Jay is a native of North Charleston and earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Marketing from South Carolina State University along with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and a Masters of Human Resource Development from Webster University. Jay is a recipient of many awards and has been recognized on a local and national level for making a difference in the community. In 2012, Jay was elected to serve on the Anderson School District Five School Board as a Trustee At Large.    

Jay is a devoted husband, father and community advocate. He is married to Janice Blankenship.  Jay and Janice are the proud parents of two sons, Jayson and Jajuan. 

Joni McDaniel, Lower Savannah






Joni McDaniel has dedicated her career to assisting individuals with workplace success.  She is currently employed with the SC Department of Commerce as the Lower Savannah Regional Workforce Advisor.  

After graduating from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education she taught Marketing Education in the public school system for nineteen years. Following that she worked with adults in career transition at the Jeffco Workforce Center in Golden, CO.  Joni is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional.

Joni serves on the University of South Carolina Aiken College to Career committee, the Lower Savannah Youth Council, and Work Ready Communities Committee for Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell Counties.   She volunteers as a mentor for the Aiken YEA!(Young Entrepreneurs Association) program.

Kaye Shaw, Midlands






Kaye Shaw earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina and serves as the Midlands Regional Workforce Advisor for the SC Department of Commerce, serving Lexington, Richland and Fairfield Counties. Kaye has taught at the high school and adult education levels with a certification in business education. For the past twenty-two years, Kaye worked as the executive director of Midlands Education and Business Alliance (MEBA.) She is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor and is certified to teach Tackling the Tough Skills, a curriculum for building skills for work and life. 

Kaye serves on the board of Midlands Middle College and Midlands Technical College’s Batesburg-Leesville Advisory Board, the education council of United Way of the Midlands and numerous committees including CoursePower’s Steering Committee and the board of Carolina Alliance for Technology.  She serves on the Work Ready Steering Committees for Lexington and Richland Counties. She chairs Lexington High School’s Center for World Languages and International Business Advisory Board. 

Kaye is a member of the Columbia Rotary, the South Carolina Association of School Administrators,  the South Carolina Association for Career and Technical Education, and the National Career Development Association. She is a member of Leesville United Methodist Church and currently serves as an adult Sunday School teacher and a member of the Vision Team. 

Kim Statler, Lowcountry

Kim Statler currently works for the South Carolina Department of Commerce as the Regional Workforce Advisor of the Lowcountry Region serving Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties.  

Prior to working for the State of South Carolina, Mrs. Statler led economic development efforts in the Lowcountry for 8 years, first as the Executive Director of the Lowcountry Economic Network and later the Lowcountry Economic Alliance.   

Kim’s work in economic development was preceded by a year of work as the Executive Director the Technical College of the Lowcountry Foundation where she directed fundraising and student scholarship programs.

Mrs. Statler is a board member of the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the Child Enrichment Center, Treasurer, of TWEAC and Immediate Past Chair of Hope Haven of the Lowcountry, and an active member of Tidal Creek Fellowship.   She has been recognized by the Savannah Business Journal 40 under 40 and is a graduate of the Leadership Beaufort program. 

Kim holds a bachelors of science in political science and economics from Southeast Missouri State University and a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Des Moines University. She is married to Trent Statler and has two sons, Logan and Dallas.

Lisa Robbins, Catawba






Lisa Robbins serves as the Catawba Regional Workforce Advisor for the South Carolina Department of Commerce serving York, Chester, and Lancaster counties.  Lisa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Winthrop University in 1992 and her Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1994.  Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Lisa worked as a South Carolina public school administrator for twelve years.  There she gained extensive experience in building partnerships between business and education, including extended learning opportunities (shadowing, internships, and service learning).  

Prior to working in education, Lisa gained experience in the economic development arena while serving as the Director of Downtown Development for Chester, SC.  She has extended experience in working with education, economic development, and business partnerships.

Lisa is certified in the following:  Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor, Grants Specialist, National Career Pathways Facilitator, and Tackling the Tough Skills Instructor.  She is a Junior Achievement Hall of Fame recipient and a member of the Chambers of Commerce in York, Chester, and Lancaster counties.  Her free time is spent with her husband Michael, a school administrator in Fort Mill School District 4, and her two sons.

Patricia Ferguson, Trident






For more than 12 years, Patricia A. Ferguson has organized and managed personal, academic, career and financial development programs and services for adults and children. Patricia believes in helping individuals “Create Beyond The Standard” to improve their quality of life.

Patricia has served as a corporate engineer, counseling and guidance professional, and student services administrator.  She has also served as financial officer, grant writer, and evaluator for several nonprofit organizations.  Each role allowed Patricia to teach audiences in several formal and informal settings to include faith-based, nonprofit, collegiate and commercial.

Patricia has extensive experience in developing leadership conferences, seminars and marketing initiatives, such as alumni career networks, career expositions, diversity seminars, bible bowls, and royal destiny conferences.

As an advocate of volunteer and community service, Patricia has provided support services to such organizations as:  South Carolina Professional Association for Access & Equity; South Carolina Council of Educational Opportunity Programs Personnel; Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Sunday School Convention; Inter-community Development Organization, and March of Dimes.

Patricia earned her undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering and a M. Ed. degree in Counseling and Guidance Services from Clemson University.  She has also earned an Education Administration graduate leadership certificate from the University of South Carolina with research interests in socioeconomic status, underrepresented student populations, and dual-enrollment.

Rick Murphy, Pendleton






Rick Murphy serves Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties as the Tri-County Regional Workforce Advisor for the SC Department of Commerce.  Rick has been an educator in the Upstate for over 36 years holding teaching, counseling, and administrative roles at both secondary and post-secondary levels.  He has been a consultant for the US Department of Education, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Jobs for the Future (JFF), and the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW).   Rick holds his undergraduate and Masters degrees from Clemson University and is a certified Career Development Facilitator Instructor.

Rick is active in the AOP community serving on numerous Advisory Boards and Councils, is a member of SC Association of School Administrators, SC Association for Career and Technology Education and serves as state director for the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association.  He is a resident of Pickens, SC and a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Pickens.