Our Staff & Board of Directors



Michael Brown

Executive Director/ Vice Chairman

Michael Brown is the Managing Partner of Rainey and Brown, LLC, a general litigation firm in Spartanburg, SC. A native of Spartanburg, Michael holds a B.A. in Political Science from Alabama A&M University, an M.P.A. from The Ohio State University, and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Michael has served eight years as the District One Representative for Spartanburg County Council and chairs the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee. Among many community service roles, he is currently serving on the South Carolina Bar Board of Governors, serves as President of the Spartanburg NAACP, is an alumnus of the Liberty Fellowship, and is an Aspen Global Leadership Fellow. A trained apiarist certified in Sustainable Agriculture, Michael is a member of the Spartanburg County Food System Coalition working to combat the reality of food swamps/food deserts in the community. He is passionate about helping to “heal the land” and will open a regenerative urban farm, Roots of Life, in early 2019.


Alecia Brewster

Program Director

An innovative professional with over 17 years of experience and a proven track record of success in program management and outreach for mission-oriented organizations, Alecia brings a wealth of knowledge in youth and adult development, program management, and a passion for service to the local community.

Before joining Sustaining Way as Program Director, Alecia served on the board of directors for three years. As Sustaining Way’s first Program Director, Alecia is responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of Sustaining Way’s programs. Alecia recently helped to establish the Greenville County Mentoring Collaborative and is an active Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Ambassador, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Advisory Council Member, and Past President of Greenville Breakfast Rotary Club. Her career began as an elementary teacher in Greenville and Charleston County School Districts. Alecia holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from College of Charleston and a Master of Public Administration from Clemson University. She is married with three school aged children.


Oscar Bennett

Executive Coordinator

Oscar Bennett is the Executive Coordinator at Sustaining Way. He graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Middle East studies. He was raised to know that service to your fellow neighbor is one of the greatest duties a person can undertake in your life. Oscar wants to uplift others to become more educated, healthier, and self-sufficient in their lives. Through a sustainable lifestyle and a helping hand, he believes the Nicholtown community can achieve those goals.

Danielle Parks

Sustainability Coordinator

Danielle graduated from The College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in Sociology. During her college career, she served as a Bonner Community Scholar and engaged both the school and greater community in food security and environmental and social justice efforts through her work at the TCNJ Campus Garden and with local organizations such as Meals on Wheels of Mercer County and the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. She later served as an Agriculture Extension Volunteer in the West Region of Cameroon, where she worked with rural smallholder farmers to sustainably improve the productivity of their farming systems. With Sustaining Way, she seeks to capacity-build with community members and foster community resilience, especially in regards to a local, affordable food system.

Zanna Ellison

Sustainability Coordinator

Zanna moved around a lot growing up and has been in SC since 2015. She learned about organic farming through a work-trade program, which led her to study Biology and Environmental Studies at the College of Charleston. In college, she led cohorts of peers through a Garden Apprenticeship with the Sustainable Agriculture Program and the Office of Sustainability. She also led the Alliance for Planet Earth Club, facilitated the Food Security Coalition, and connected student-grown produce to the Stone Soup Collective. Outside the classroom, her experiences ranged from working in food service to working at the NotSo Hostel, hosting current-event discussions, doing field research on insects and forestry, and working on inclusive zero-waste initiatives. Zanna aims to grow food with a purpose in the Greenville community.

Board of Directors

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Rick Joye

Founder / Board Chairman

Rick is the Founder and Chairman of Sustaining Way. Also an executive at Michelin North America, Rick received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and later an MBA from Clemson University.


Jennifer Derryberry


Jennifer is responsible for Community Works’ monthly financial statements, cash management projections, the annual budget, management of funder relationships, financial projects, grant compliance, and coordination with auditors. Prior to joining Community Works in 2012, she worked as an accountant for a small CPA firm and a senior accountant for a LIHTC real estate developer. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Accounting from Columbia College and is pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration from Clemson University.

Elizabeth Gilman


Since her earliest memories of walking on the beach in Australia, Liz has always been in love with the outdoors. She is a passionate flyfisher and enjoys all things outside. Liz is a graduate from Clemson’s school of Business & Behavioral Sciences, where she studied Management Info Systems and Nonprofit Leadership, and currently serves as a licensed Scrum Master at EP+Co where she helps manage their Creative Technology Team. In the past she has served in a variety of roles in the nonprofit world, focusing on health and wellness, environmental activism, equality for all people, and animal protection. She is currently pursuing her graduate degree from Clemson and is serving on the Board for Sustaining Way.

Margaret Stephens

Board Member

Margaret Stephens is a registered Nurse with accreditation in Faith Community Nursing and the director of Faith & Neighborhood Relations at LiveWell Greenville. In addition to serving as facilitator for the at Worship workgroup and the Hispanic Cohort, Margaret has provided technical assistance to more than 23 houses of worship in creating policy, systems and environmental change in Greenville County. She has 20+ years of nonprofit experience in faith communities, especially within neighborhoods that have had less than equitable opportunities. Margaret developed the Abundant Living Program, a successful Parish Nurse Model for Baptist Easley Hospital under The Duke Endowment grant, with more than 200 faith communities across seven states. She serves on the Community Advisory Board of USC’s Prevention Research Center and the Executive Board of Sustaining Way.

Gary Davis

Board Member

Gary Davis is a partner at Nachman Norwood & Parrott, and has worked in the financial advisory industry for twenty three years. Before that he worked with an international manufacturing company traveling extensively in Europe. He serves on the Green Ribbon Committee for Mobility for the City of Greenville. His interests include sustainability, solar energy, organic gardening, hiking, bird watching, running, travel and flying. Four years ago he set an aviation world record for altitude with an electric powered ultralight.
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Sylvia Palmer

Board Member

Sylvia is native a Greenvillian and long-term resident of Nicholtown. She was the first African-American Earth and Life Sciences teacher at Greenville Middle School serving 30 years from 1967-1997. Later she served for ten years as the Office Manager of the Greenville County Education Association. Now retired, Sylvia continues to serve the community as the President of the Nicholtown Neighborhood Association, and board member of Genesis Homes along with many other volunteer activities focused on the betterment of the Nicholtown Community.
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Chris Sermons

Board Member

Chris is the founding farmer of Bio-Way Farm in Ware Shoals, SC. Founded in 2004, Bio-Way Farm was one of the first private certified organic farms in South Carolina. He is also a founding member of Slow Food Upstate’s Earth Market and was named Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Farmer of the Year in 2016. Chris’ goal is to create a community that is able to provide safe, healthy and nutritious foods for all.

Mike Murrell

Board Member

Mike brings a unique mix of business development expertise, a passion for equity and cultural sensitivity, and a love of community to his board role. Mike earned his BA in Economics from Furman University, and went on to become a successful computer programmer, and eventually a vice president of sales for an international software company. His efforts at Sustaining Way are geared towards leveraging his skills and passion to grow corporate fund-raising while supporting the board as it adapts its governance and policies to keep pace with the organization’s growth.
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Jervelle Fort

Board Member

Jervelle Fort serves as a Health Educator for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC).  In this role, she provides technical assistance and resources to communities in Laurens and Greenville Counties to help community members create Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) policies, systems and environmental changes.  She holds both a Bachelor's Degree in Community Health, and a Master's Degree in Public Health, as well as a Certified Health Education Specialist certification, and a Child Passenger Safety certification.  Jervelle has a passion for service as she sits on numerous boards, and actively participates in numerous organizations, most notably serving as the Secretary for the Greenville Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Secretary for the South Carolina Public Health Association, and Church Clerk, Trustee, and Health Ministry Chair for Springfield Baptist Church.

Apply to be on Sustaining Way’s Governance Committees!

Do you believe in Sustaining Way’s mission and vision? Do you think you can help us realize our goals? If yes, please apply to serve on one of our governance committees. Our Nominating Committee regularly reviews applications and will be back in touch.

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