Laura’s business partners have deep non-profit, law enforcement, local government and national organization development expertise.
Laura Varn has more than 20 years of leadership experience working within complex corporate structures, successfully dealing with high-level challenges in areas of communication, crisis management, human resources, strategic planning, leadership development and change management. Her comprehensive skill sets, developed from her executive leadership work in the utility, aviation, and transportation industries, enables her to see challenges clearly, and develop consensus around solutions that are creative, practical, and strategically on target.
Laura Varn’s leadership positions throughout the greater Charleston community and South Carolina have earned her the trust and respect of centers of influence and other resources that she can access for your benefit.
Laura is an influencer, strategist and former corporate executive with a well-earned reputation as a community leader. With 20 years of experience in the transportation, aviation and energy utility industries, she is now fulfilling a lifelong dream of launching her own business to help organizations achieve success. She brings a wealth of communication, human resources, strategic planning, crisis management, leadership development and change management experience to her clients.
Laura worked as a Vice President for Corporate Communications and Vice President for Human Resources for South Carolina’s state-owned utility for the past 13 years, and she’s worked in management positions at several Fortune 500 companies, including Delta Air Lines and Southern Company. She led Atlanta’s public transit system’s communications efforts during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.
She has a reputation for speaking up, thinking differently, influencing the region and delivering results.
She is a widely-respected community leader who believes in making a difference. Laura is a past Chair of the Board of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves on the boards of Tri-County Cradle to Career, Trident Literacy Association and WREN. She is a Liberty Fellow and a Schottland Scholar mentor. Laura is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina and Diversity Leadership Institute, and has been named a “Forty Under 40” winner by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. Her work as a Steering Committee member of the Charleston Illumination Project has inspired her, along with others, to take this important police and citizen work nationally.
She has her MBA from The Citadel and a broadcast journalism degree from Ohio University. She and her husband Scott have two children, Jake and Madison. Laura is addicted to spin classes, dark chocolate and the Outlander TV series. She is a big Ohio State football fan, has been to 24 Jimmy Buffett concerts and reads as many books as possible.
Previously, as CEO of the Carolina Youth Development Center, Barbara secured major gifts from prestigious funders such as The Duke Endowment, the Andrus Family Fund and The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation that enabled her to expand and sustain Charleston’s most comprehensive youth serving organization. Barbara’s ability to bring nationally acclaimed programs such as the Freedom Schools® to the local level and establish the groundbreaking Linda and Tony Baker Career Center for older youth in foster care was informed by her success as a Vice President of the nation’s largest operating foundation, Casey Family Programs, in Seattle, Washington and the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC. In these executive positions, Barbara developed expertise in leadership and organizational development, non-profit management, executive coaching, program design and implementation, and coalition building.
Barbara believes in the power of community-based organizations to change lives. She has served as Executive Director of local organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey. In New Jersey, she re-constituted an agency that had been dormant for five years. While there, she designed and implemented a Fatherhood Program that was funded by major foundations and won national awards.
Crediting the richness they brought throughout her professional life, Barbara’s commitment to at-risk children and families gained her recognition as one of the 15 Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston by The Charleston Regional Business Journal in 2008; Trident United Way Women’s Leadership Council’s Non-Profit Leader of the Year in 2011; and “20 to Know in North Charleston” by the Post and Courier in 2015. She has also been a guest lecturer at The International Interdisciplinary Course on Children’s Rights in Brussels, Belgium.
Currently, she serves on the Boards of Tri-County Cradle to Career, The Sophia Institute, and the Charleston Freedom School. She was a Leadership New Jersey Fellow and was selected to participate in The Diversity Leadership Institute, Class of 2014, at the Riley Institute of Furman University.
An avid reader and foodie, you can often find Barbara buried deep in a best-selling literary read or in one of Charleston’s many fine dining establishments.
Chief Gregory G. Mullen (Ret.)
Gregory G. Mullen was appointed Chief of Police of the Charleston Police Department in 2006 and retired in August 2017. Chief Mullen is an experienced leader with a proven record of community involvement, cultivating relationships and using teams to create opportunities and solve problems. He established strong community relationships throughout the city with the goal of strengthening relationships between the citizens of Charleston and their police department. Chief Mullen leads by example with a strong commitment to lifelong learning, employee growth and development, and accountability.
Chief Mullen, a retired Air Force veteran with 22 years of combined active and reserve service, began his law enforcement career in 1982 as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. In 1985, he joined the Virginia Beach Police Department, rising through the ranks to Deputy Chief of Police. His previous assignments included patrol, narcotics, criminal intelligence and resort operations.
During his tenure in Charleston, Chief Mullen led the City through a number of critical incidents including the simultaneous trials of Dylann Roof and Michael Slager (2016), Hurricane Matthew response (2016), Emanuel AME Church shooting that generated international media coverage (2015), South Carolina’s historic flood event that impacted Charleston (2015), and the Sofa Super Store Fire where 9 firefighters died (2007). In each of these incidents, he demonstrated his ability to effectively develop and implement incident action plans, execute crisis communication principles, and successfully manage local and national media requirements.
He was instrumental in implementing a number of strategic changes throughout the organization that led to enhancements in the areas of crime reduction, excellence in policing, community support and outreach, and technology advancements. The organizational enhancements allowed the Department to be adaptive and flexible to changes involving laws, policies, citizen feedback, and technology innovations. This led the Department to a focused policing strategy, which embraces the values of crime prevention and relationship building as key elements in creating a vibrant, safe, and quality community.
After the Mother Emanuel Church shooting, Chief Mullen launched an initiative to further strengthen relationships between police officers and citizens. The Charleston Illumination Project created a structured process, led by a diverse community steering group and research partner, to examine the important values of Public Safety and Individual Rights using a Polarity Thinking Model. The initiative produced an action plan in 2016 and expanded in 2017 to a broader community focus surrounding race relations.
Chief Mullen received a Bachelor Degree in Criminology with Honors from Saint Leo College and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University. He is a graduate of the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School, FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia, the Professional Executive Leadership School at the University of Richmond, and the Senior Management Institute in Police from Boston University. In 1998 and 2008, he was selected to participate in law enforcement exchange programs involving the Israeli National Police and Victoria Police Service, in Victoria, Australia.
He served on the executive boards of the Trident United Way, Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center, and as the President of South Carolina Law Enforcement Officer’s Association. He is an active member of the International Association of Chief’s of Police, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), and South Carolina Police Chief’s Association. Due to his commitment to the continued professionalization of policing and reduction of family violence, he was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the Governor’s Commission on the Advancement of Public Safety (2015) and the South Carolina Domestic Violence Advisory Committee (2016).
Shauna J. Rowland
Shauna J. Rowland is an expert in Change Management and Organizational Effectiveness. She has over a decade of success in helping corporations improve the capabilities of their people and the efficiency of their processes. Her industry experience spans healthcare, energy, information technology, supply chain, and pharmaceutical, among others.
She is known to be a highly collaborative and organized leader who has a knack for changing chaos into order, with a special ability to bring logic and reason to any challenging situation. Her work philosophy is to understand and address the root cause of an issue, rather than apply a temporary fix, to effect a lasting change.
Shauna has created Change Management solutions for small-scale organizations and multi-million-dollar projects, including for such renowned organizations as McKesson, CVS, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has held leadership positions with Deloitte and Slalom Consulting. Her clients regard her as a trusted business advisor.
Shauna attended Emory University where she earned both a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters focusing on policy and management. On a personal note, she loves to stay active, and her two children help to keep her on task in that regard. Much to the delight of her husband Nathan, she also enjoys trying new healthful (and delicious!) ways to cook.
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