2019 Future 10
Meet 10 of the talented young professionals who are the future leaders of Brunswick County.
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and they inspire us to challenge, create, innovate and contribute. In this annual feature on the emerging leaders of Brunswick County, we present the Future 10 — all of them younger than 40.
Kimberly Britt acquired her professional contractor’s license when she was just 22. Josh Torbich was addicted to heroin before becoming executive director of Brunswick Christian Recovery Center, and Kristina Clemmons was a dance instructor before becoming a mental health champion. They are among the emerging professionals who made this year’s Future 10. Also included are leaders from ATMC, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, Century 21 Sweyer & Associates, Brunswick Community College, Bill Clark Homes, Trufit Gym and McCumbee McAleer Racing.
Seven years ago, Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce introduced the first Future 10 leaders. Each year since the chamber and South Brunswick Magazine have continued to recognize 10 new leaders as part of this esteemed group, all of whom live up to the chamber’s motto of “Building Community and Supporting Business.”
This isn’t a competition, but rather a nomination-based search in which we invited coworkers, supervisors, employees, business owners, friends and family to recommend exceptional men and women younger than age 40 who not only contribute to the current and future success of our county with a proven commitment to excellence in their careers, but also provide inspiration and leadership for other young people.
Below you’ll learn their stories, dreams and goals and come to see that they, like the Future 10 nominees before them, are champions for their communities and committed to making a positive impact on Brunswick County.
Without further ado, here are the 2019 future leaders of Brunswick County.
Crew Chief, McCumbee McAleer Racing
At just 21 years old, Trey Babson has been from California to Canada and everywhere in between. As the crew chief for McCumbee McAleer Racing, Babson travels with the drivers and team to 12 races a year from January to September.
“Seeing the county is the best part of my job,” he says. “I’ve met new people from all over the world, like Scotland, England and Hungary.”
As the youngest crew chief of record in the division of road course racing in the Global MX5 Cup Series (sanctioned by Indy Car), Babson shoulders a huge responsibility. He oversees all aspects of managing the cars, from knowing how they handle on a specific track and putting them on the scales to checking the alignment and making any adjustments or repairs before they get on the track. This aptitude comes naturally. Since childhood, he has been interested in finding out how things work — specifically, mechanical things.
“I could take anything apart and put it back together,” Babson says. “My mom always encouraged me and told me I should do something where I’m working with my hands.”
Not only does Babson have to understand the inner workings of the car, but also he has to know the drivers and be in constant contact. He listens to them, watches for track position, monitors car performance, anticipates tweaks to make and helps calm the drivers if they get frustrated. Like any good crew chief, he steps up and takes on a leadership role to help the drivers succeed on the track.
Babson’s leadership skills are no accident. He credits his mother as the “absolute best life coach any kid could have.” And his dad, who owns his own construction company, taught him to “find something you love doing and make it happen.” Babson says both his parents were tough on him growing up, and now he can appreciate what they were doing for him. “They taught me that hard work goes a long away. And it’s a blessing because I love what I do.”
Though much of Babson’s time is spent on the race track, he volunteers during his off months at a local horse ranch that provides shelter and healthcare to horses that have been rescued from distressed situations. He helps get them healthy and happy again, ready for a second chance at life.
Of being nominated as part of the Future 10, Babson says, “It caught me by surprise. I think it’s really cool that I can be part of something like this.”
Owner, Britt Steel Buildings
A passion for construction and the outdoors combined with an entrepreneurial spirit — that’s what motivated 34-year-old Kimberly Britt to start her own construction company, Britt Steel Buildings.
“My daddy owned his own business when I was growing up,” Britt says. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I love being self-employed.”
At just 22 years old, Britt acquired her North Carolina and South Carolina residential and commercial contractor’s license. Soon after, she had the opportunity to purchase the steel company. Twelve years later, Britt is running a successful business, building approximately 25 buildings a year in Brunswick, New Hanover, Horry and Onslow counties.
Born and raised in Brunswick County, Britt is inspired by the ever-evolving makeup of the surrounding communities and believes it’s an exciting time to have a business here. “There was nothing here when I was younger,” she says. “But with more people moving here, things are growing and different kinds of people are coming. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. This is home.”
When she’s not managing several crews, making jobsite visits or meeting new customers, Britt finds time to get involved in the community. She is a member of the Pilot Club of South Brunswick Islands, an organization that works to improve the lives of those affected by brain-related disorders. In addition, she is an active member of the Rotary Club of Shallotte, in which she serves as treasurer and is heavily involved in its annual fundraiser, Las Vegas Night.
Surprised by her nomination for the Future 10, Britt hopes to inspire other future leaders to start their own businesses. She admits it’s tough owning your own business. “I’ve developed a backbone over the years, and I used to stress a lot,” she says.
In the early years, Britt says it was a challenge being a woman in construction, and she wondered if she was being taken seriously. But she soon realized that once her customers knew that she knew what she was talking about, it became business as usual. Even with all the challenges of business ownership, Britt says, “If I had to do something else for a living, I wouldn’t even know what it would be. This is what I want to be doing.”
Assistant Director, Coastal Horizons Center
In another life, Kristina Clemmons, assistant director at Coastal Horizons Center (CHC), was a dance instructor. She helped her students hone their craft through challenging dance techniques and choreography. But it was one teenage student in particular who would challenge Clemmons’ own career aspirations.
The young dance student was suffering from mental health issues, and though her parents sought outside help, Clemmons found herself playing a part in her student’s life as a confidant and a pair of listening ears. Through that experience, Clemmons decided that she wanted to work with children and help them with their mental health needs. “I felt that this was where I was needed and what I was supposed to be doing,” she says. She changed her major to psychology and became a counselor.
Clemmons, who grew up in Brunswick County, began her internship at CHC during graduate school in 2010. After earning her master’s degree in mental health counseling, she became an outpatient therapist at CHC, specializing in office-based counseling services for children ages 3 to 9. Over the last seven years, she has also served on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council for Brunswick County to address the needs of at-risk youth.
In October of 2018 Clemmons was recognized for her hard work and dedication to CHC and promoted to assistant director. In her new role she oversees the administrative aspects of the mental health and substance abuse facility, maintains a small patient caseload, handles community outreach, manages the Brunswick County school contract and supervisors the other therapists. She enjoys mentoring new therapists, helping them find out where their passion in mental health lies and helping them achieve it.
What really matters to Clemmons as a mental health professional is taking the stigma and shame away from substance abuse. “It’s an opportunity to encourage people to get treatment,” she says. “The reluctance to get help comes mostly from the fear of ‘What would my community think of me if they knew I had a substance abuse problem?’”
Clemmons’ Future 10 recognition makes her “very honored and very excited.” As a native of Brunswick County, she is even more grateful that she’s able to give back in such a way.
Accounting Manager, ATMC
“I had always planned on becoming a pharmacist,” says Lana Fischer, the accounting manager at ATMC. She was a chemistry major at Meredith College in Raleigh until she took an accounting class in her junior year. “Something just clicked in that class, and that’s what I decided I wanted to do.” She earned her degree in accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.
It took just three years for Fischer to ascend from accountant to accounting manager at ATMC. She supervises six employees and is responsible for budgeting, financial statements, inventory tracking and program and strategy development. She was instrumental in securing grant funding to provide service for underserved areas in ATMC’s communications footprint, such as schools, community centers, churches, small businesses and farms.
A native of Brunswick County, Fischer grew up in Ocean Isle Beach. Living in Raleigh while in college was alluring. She loved the city, the tall buildings and everything that was available to her. But the thought of living that far away from the beach was not appealing. “I saw these people who worked hard all week just to come to the beach on the weekends,” she says, and she didn’t want to be one of those people. “I grew up here. I decided this is where I wanted to be, back at the beach.”
It’s not just the beach that brought Fischer back to Brunswick County. It’s the smallness of the community that makes it possible to feel part of something. “Our county is growing, and there are lots of opportunities for people to build a business, be part of a business or just be involved in the community,” she says.
The Future 10 nod was “honestly, a surprise,” she says. “It’s nice to see that someone recognized me for my hard work and what I’m doing.”
And she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “I know this sounds nerdy, but when I’m working on a problem and the numbers just come out right the first time, I get really excited,” she says with a laugh. But it’s not just the numbers that keep Fischer at ATMC. “I enjoy working here. I love the atmosphere, and I love the team I have.”
General Manager, TruFit Gym, Shallotte
After working at Gold’s Gym in Fayetteville for only eight months, Kristin Gettleman’s supervisor saw leadership qualities in her and asked her to move to Shallotte and manage the gym there.
“I thought they said Charlotte,” she says with a laugh. “I got to Shallotte and there were no skylines!” But after four and a half years here, the self-described “mountain person” has taken to the beach, getting her diver certification, learning to surf and paddleboard and volunteering for local sea turtle protection organizations.
Rebranded as TruFit Gym, but still owned by Gold’s Gym, the fitness center continues to thrive under Gettleman’s management. She is the longest-serving manager at the Shallotte location, and that consistency attracts staff and clients. Her leadership and drive and her own personal story inspire members to get healthier.
“I know how it feels to not be confident about yourself,” Gettleman says. “I was overweight with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.” After joining the gym and getting her health back on track, that’s when she decided to work in the fitness industry.
As the manager and fitness director of TruFit, Gettleman’s day-to-day responsibilities are always changing. She starts every morning with a coffee run for her staff to help them kick-start their day. Whether she’s managing her staff of 20, handling customer service and sales inquiries or overseeing safety and regulations, her 60- to 70-hour workweeks are long but never dull. It’s the knowledge that she’s helping to change lives on a daily basis that sustains her motivation.
“We’re getting individuals in the best shape they can be,” she says. “I’d rather help people take care of their bodies now so they don’t have to pay for it when they’re older. I’ve been in their shoes, and if I can do it, anyone can.”
Gettleman’s Future 10 award leaves her “humbled and thankful,” and not regretting the move she made to Shallotte nearly five years ago. “As small as the community is, it’s still big. And it’s humbling to know that both my members and my staff who nominated me think so highly of me,” she says.
When she’s not at work, Gettleman enjoys volunteering at food banks and community trash pick-ups and is a youth leader at Coastal Church. Her passion is preserving sea turtles. “I even have a full sleeve tattoo of sea turtles,” she says.
Real Estate Broker, Century 21 Sweyer & Associates
When she’s not helping her clients find their dream homes, managing her investment properties or keeping up with her three daughters’ busy schedules, Dana King, real estate broker for Century 21 Sweyer & Associates, can be found running the business side of her dance studio, Inspirations Dance Centre, in Boiling Spring Lakes. King purchased and resurrected the dance studio with the hope of increasing awareness and access to the performing arts in Brunswick County.
“The amount of visual artists we have in our communities is outstanding,” King says. “We just don’t have a lot of performance art features.” In addition to dance, the studio offers a Combative Concepts curriculum, which teaches self-defense and confidence-building for children and adults.
A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” King and her husband have opened and sold businesses over the last 20 years, beginning as real estate investors. Owning her own rental properties attracted her to the world of consumer real estate.
“I like having my hands on the pulse of real estate in the area,” King says. “I want my clients to know everything that’s on the market, whether it’s foreclosures, new construction or existing homes, so I can best match them to properties.”
King sees herself getting into the development side of real estate in the future, possibly building affordable housing for the growing communities. “As someone who owns rental properties, I see first-hand the large need for affordable housing,” she says.
As King sees it, the future of Brunswick County couldn’t be brighter. “There is the rural part of the county that reminds me of the farm I grew up on in Whiteville, and when mixed with the beach, it’s an unbelievable place to live,” she says. She believes it’s those characteristics that attract new retirees to the area, “bringing with them culture from the Northeast, so we get a mix of Northern culture and Southern charm.”
Humble by nature, King says she is usually embarrassed when the spotlight shines on her. But being named as part of this year’s Future 10 put things in a different perspective. “It was such a nice surprise and a complete honor. I’m at a place in my life right now where I’m ready to step into the recognition.”
New Home Consultant, Bill Clark Homes
Eric Lank is both inspired by the growth of Brunswick County and heartened by the nostalgic character of Sunset Beach that “reminds a lot of people of the beaches they grew up going to.” It’s the small town feel that first attracted him to the area. Lank grew up in Pennsylvania, but he and his wife, Kim, vacationed here while they were college students at Penn State. After graduating, they decided to make the move to Brunswick County a permanent one in 2002 and are now raising their two daughters, McKenzie and Mya.
Lank helps others find their own slice of paradise in the area. As the new home consultant for Sunset Ridge, a Bill Clark Homes community in Ocean Isle Beach, he not only helps homebuyers find their forever home, but also promotes all that Brunswick County has to offer — especially for retirees, since that’s the majority of his clients.
“I love talking with people who are considering moving to our area about how much Brunswick County has to offer,” Lank says. “From the restaurants to the beaches to golf to a much more laid-back lifestyle. And, of course, lower taxes are good too!”
From day one, before the first house was constructed, Lank has been with Bill Clark Homes. His first career stop was as a seventh-grade science teacher at Shallotte Middle School. But after friends and his wife began getting involved in real estate, he left the classroom and switched careers. Now, 12 years later, the Sunset Ridge community has almost sold out, and thanks to Lank and the Sunset Ridge team, more than 350 homeowners have their dream homes.
As the face of the Sunset Ridge community, Lank feels that he’s not only helped people find homes, but also created friendships. In his position he enjoys meeting diverse people with many different life experiences. From “law enforcement to teachers to entrepreneurs, they all come with unique stories,” he says.
Lank’s Future 10 nomination has him feeling honored and part of a community. “To be thought of as someone who is qualified for this type of recognition is amazing,” he says. “There is such a sense of unity here; everyone supporting one another. Everybody looks after one another. That’s what community means.”
Executive Director, Brunswick Christian Recovery Center
Josh Torbich, executive director of Brunswick Christian Recovery Center (BCRC, is recognized locally as an expert in addiction recovery. He is also the vice chairman of Brunswick County’s first Opioid Task Force. Torbich’s leadership, innovation and compassion make him well-suited for both of these positions. But making him even more qualified is his personal story.
“I came through the program,” Torbich says. “I was horribly addicted to heroin and opioids. Through word of mouth, I found out about BCRC.” Lacking resources, support, ambition or great expectations for the outcome, Torbich became a resident and got sober when he was just 22 years old.
Six years after completing the program, Torbich has found his purpose. The directors asked him to stay on after his recovery and for two years he worked tirelessly to give back to BCRC. Now, as the leader, Torbich has instilled GED and work-study programs, provided healthcare and dental coverage for residents and established partnerships with The United Way, NASCAR and PGA as well as local mayors, county commissioners and churches. He also leads the volunteer programs, a major part of BCRC’s program.
Most notably, Torbich is responsible for directing the center’s 2019 capital expansion campaign. The expansion will increase the center’s single campus that houses 15 men to three campuses, including a campus just for women, The Rose Campus, the first of its kind in Brunswick County. When the expansion is complete, the residential program will support more than 50 men and women at a time in their recovery.
Although Torbich’s responsibilities don’t give him as much time for direct contact with the residents these days, he deeply values the people in the program. In the end, the hard work is all for them. “I want to motivate them and show them that a stable living environment and a good job are possible,” he says. “I want to convince them that a future is possible.”
Humbled by the Future 10 recognition, Torbich doesn’t look at himself “as someone who meets the description” of a Future 10 leader. “I’m just the middle man. God surrounded me by great people who know how to do specific things to make all of this work,” he says.
When Torbich isn’t working hard to secure funding for BCRC’s expansion, he’s spending time with his girlfriend and his parents outdoors boating and fishing. “I also do motivational speaking for companies and organizations, as well as speaking to youth groups.”
Physician Assistant Hospitalist, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center
Daryl Turlington lives by the mission of his employer, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center: Improve the health of our communities, one patient at a time. As a physician assistant hospitalist, Turlington works collaboratively with physicians to compassionately care for patients while they are in the hospital, improve their health and seamlessly transition them back to their primary caregiver after they are discharged.
With thousands of hours of medical training, Turlington understands that the key to improving his patients’ healthcare is building relationships with them. “We have to put their needs first without trying to force change on them,” he says. “I’m just here to serve them and to be a small part of their healthcare journey.”
A native of Wilmington, Turlington earned his bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill with the intention of being an MRI technologist. After working in that field in Richmond, Virginia, for three years, he wanted to have a more active role in patient care. In 2013 he enrolled in the Physician Assistant Program at Duke University — the birthplace of the physician assistant profession, first established in 1965. After graduating from the program in 2015 with his master’s degree, Turlington relocated to Brunswick County to work for Novant.
Physician assistants, or PAs as they are referred to, practice evidence-based medicine with physicians to diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans and prescribe medications. The vision behind the Duke PA program is to create leaders in the PA profession who are dedicated to their communities and devoted to positive change. Turlington believes that local healthcare providers are an “extension of the patient’s family,” and an integral part of the community.
“There is such a sense of community here,” he says. “When residents get sick, the best way we can help them is by keeping them close to their families and their homes while we treat them.”
For his recognition as part of this year’s Future 10, Turlington is driven “to serve the community even more.” He does just that when he volunteers for two shifts a month at the New Hope Clinic in Bolivia. The free clinic provides medical services to uninsured and low-income patients. A dedicated caregiver, Turlington tracks the results and personally follows up with his New Hope patients instead of leaving it for the next provider on duty.
Executive Director, Brunswick Community College Foundation
Elizabeth Wassum, executive director of Brunswick Community College Foundation, loved everything about her own college experience. “I was involved in so many different organizations and student services,” she says. “Everything I had time for, I did.” A graduate of Emory & Henry College, a private liberal arts college in Emory, Virginia, Wassum is dedicated to her role of enriching the Brunswick Community College (BCC) students’ experiences.
Vital to the educational success of the students is the college’s ability to provide financial assistance for courses, books and fees. As the director of resource development, Wassum plays a significant role in securing funding by connecting the community with the students. Through fundraising, scholarships and partnerships with businesses, individuals, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as on- and off-campus outreach programs, Wassum helps to sustain BCC’s tradition of providing quality education so that students can graduate and contribute to the growth, development and future of the County.
Seeing the transformation in the students year after year is what inspires Wassum. She knows that removing some of the financial burden of paying for school allows students to focus on their courses and strike a balance in their school, work and personal lives.
“So many of our students are first-generation college students,” she says. “Being able to provide scholarships through donors changes their lives. It’s so important for us to make education accessible.”
When Wassum first graduated from college, she worked in the food industry for three years. While there, she learned that many of her colleagues were taking classes at a nearby community college. For the first time, she saw how important the flexibility, affordability and accessibility of community colleges were. When she and her husband moved to Brunswick County, she knew that she wanted to get back into higher education, specifically at the community college level.
Students of all ages and backgrounds can transform their lives through the community college system, she says. “We offer continuing education and workforce development classes, which are so important to our county. If you are unemployed or underemployed, you can take a 12-week course and learn a valuable new skill.”
Being recognized by the community as a Future 10 leader reinforces Wassum’s passion for the community. “It’s a huge honor to be considered among future leadership here,” she says. “I love helping students build a future through the college.”
Photography by Megan Deitz