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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Winners of the HRSM Alumni Awards display their awards.

College of HRSM announces 2023 and 2024 Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the College Awards

The University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management announces the winners of the 2023 and 2024 Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the College Awards. The awards celebrate professionals, organizations and friends of the College of HRSM who are making an impact in their careers and helping to advance the college’s mission.

The honorees will be celebrated at an awards ceremony on March 22. The event moved from fall to spring this year, so this year’s celebration will include both the 2023 and 2024 award recipients.

Congratulations to all of our recipients, and thank you for serving as role models, visionaries and champions for both the future of our fields and the next generation of leaders. This impressive group of awardees are inspiring and impactful leaders who represent the very best of our college, and it is an honor to recognize their achievements with these awards.

Tina Weaver, Director of Alumni and External Relations
Tina Weaver

2023 HRSM Distinguished Alumni Awards

Andrea Belfanti, '00

Andrea Belfanti headshot

Andrea Belfanti is the CEO for the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC), the leading source for global hospitality expertise, represented by the industry’s most respected hospitality professionals worldwide. Belfanti has been with ISHC since 2009 and has over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry with previously held positions in a variety of hospitality sectors.

ISHC is a professional society with over 200 members with work experience in over 60 countries. Membership is by invitation only and members are owners, principals, directors, and/or officers in their firms and are leaders in the industry in their respective areas of expertise.

Under Belfanti’s leadership, the society's membership has grown, most notably an expansion in Europe and other key international markets. She has been instrumental in delivering professional development and networking opportunities for its members and the industry, publishing research and nurturing a diverse pipeline of future hospitality leaders. 

She is a prominent speaker and presenter at hospitality industry events around the country, and she currently serves on the planning committees for numerous hospitality investment conferences. Belfanti is a member of the advisory board for the University of South Carolina’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and she has served as a mentor to numerous students.


Korey Banks, '00

Korey Banks headshot

Korey Banks was born and raised in Queens, New York. In 1996, he moved to South Carolina and began his collegiate life at the University of South Carolina where he would go on to receive both an undergraduate degree in sports administration and an MBA.

Banks’ professional career spans 23 years in the financial services industry including the last 14 years as a certified financial planner and limited partner at Edward Jones in Summerville, South Carolina.

Philanthropically, Banks believes in uplifting his community as well as the less fortunate. He does so by volunteering his time and resources supporting numerous causes and organizations like the Korey Banks Family Endowment Scholarship Fund at the University of South Carolina, Barbershop Books and Magdalene House of Charleston. Additionally, his faith has led him to serve on the board of trustees for Seacoast Church.

Above and beyond all else, the absolute and undeniable joy of his life comes from being a father to his sons Kristian (age 4) and Klayton (age 6).


Helen Leland, '15

Helen Leland headshot

Helen Leland earned her Bachelor of Science in Retailing from USC and has combined her passion for health and wellness with her retail entrepreneurship to build a thriving multi-million dollar brand right here in South Carolina. 

Leland is founder and chairman of Blender Bombs, a company devoted to helping people lead healthier and more fulfilling lives through food, mindset and inspiration. By providing a convenient solution for enhancing smoothies with wholesome ingredients, she has carved a niche in the health food industry. 

She has grown her business to include an online store, social media channels reaching more than 165 thousand followers, two brick-and-mortar smoothie stores and product distribution through Amazon, Walmart and Whole Foods. 

She was featured in WeFunder’s list of Top 10 companies run by women in 2023, and she was recognized by the Charleston Regional Business Journal for her career success as a member of the Charleston 40 under 40 in 2021. She has been featured in numerous media outlets and is recognized for her entrepreneurship, vision and resilience.


Jonathan Sorrenti, '08

Jonathan Sorrenti headshot

Jonathan Sorrenti has built a dynamic career of service and innovation, including 20 years of service in the South Carolina Army National Guard and more than a decade of service in higher education as an education technology systems manager at Midlands Technical College. He earned his bachelor’s degree in technology support and training management, which was offered by the College of HRSM at the time. 

In his role with Midlands Technical College, he administers the college’s learning management system, including providing exemplary leadership, training workshops and instructional materials, technological expertise and support to anyone utilizing the learning management system or other education technology. In addition, he has served on MTC’s Staff Council, led the school’s United Way Campaign, and also serves as an adjunct instructor, teaching microcomputer applications.   

During his 20 years in the National Guard, he deployed overseas multiple times, completed humanitarian missions and served in support of hurricane relief and response efforts in the Palmetto State. He received numerous military awards, including the Bronze Star Medal. He held a wide range of positions, including serving as a military police officer and information technology specialist, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2022.


2023 HRSM Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Jarett Gerald, '11, '15

Jarret Gerald headshot

Jarett Gerald joined Duke Athletics as associate director of administrative operations in September 2021 and advanced to the position of director of revenue strategy in 2023. In his role, he oversees game-day experiences, Duke University auctions, non-game-day special events and all areas of new revenue generation for Duke Athletics.

Gerald came to Duke from the NCAA, where he was a member of the NCAA Postgraduate Internship Program (PGIP) in Division III Governance and Enforcement. Prior to the NCAA, Gerald spent five seasons serving as the special assistant to the University of South Carolina’s head men’s basketball coach, Frank Martin.

A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Gerald graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor's degree in sport and entertainment management in 2011 before completing his master’s in sport and entertainment management in 2015.

He was a four-year letter winner for the South Carolina track and field team, competing in the long jump and triple jump. Gerald was a member of the 2017 South Carolina basketball staff that went to the Final Four, a four-time SEC Honor Roll member and a two-time Iron Gamecock Award winner for the track and field team.


2023 HRSM Distinguished Service Award

Susan McKenzie Reeves

Susan Reeves headshot

Susan Reeves began teaching the principles of accounting courses in the College of HRSM in 1985 and remained as a full-time faculty member until her retirement in 2022. Over the years, she taught countless students, served on numerous committees, wrote scores of recommendation letters, and contributed to various activities and events for the Department of Retailing and College of HRSM. She also led and supported study abroad courses.

She was twice recognized as the College of HRSM Teacher of the Year (1992 and 1994) and was a finalist several other times.

Reeves continues to teach as an adjunct instructor while enjoying her retirement years with her husband, Steve, and spending as much time as she can with her children (Daniel and Stephanie) and grandchildren (Oliver and Trevor).

She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration (accounting) from the University of South Carolina in 1978 and went on to earn Special Graduate Status in 1988. She has been a licensed CPA since 1984.


2023 HRSM Distinguished Friend of the College Award

Cheryl Kelly Carroll

Cheryl Kelly Carroll headshot

Cheryl Carroll has been a friend to the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management for decades.

Carroll graduated from USC with a master’s in library and information science in 1973. Her late husband, Craig Kelly, was an assistant professor at HRSM and assisted in developing the sport law component of the sport and entertainment management degree.

In 2004, after Craig Kelly passed away unexpectedly, Carroll created the Craig S. Kelly Memorial Scholarship Fund in his honor to support students majoring in sport and entertainment management.

Carroll also continued to allow the college use of the family Cockaboose for alumni gatherings before football games.

Carroll later remarried Stephen Carroll. With his support, they assisted in the creation of the Craig Kelly & Cheryl Carroll Sport and Entertainment Cockaboose Fund so that hopefully one day soon, the College of HRSM will be able to have its own Cockaboose for an ultimate tailgating experience.

Carroll remains a loyal supporter and friend to the College of HRSM, attending events and interacting with her scholarship recipients. She has attended and supported HRSM’s Sport and Entertainment Venues Tomorrow (SEVT) Conference, helping identify and secure speakers.


2024 HRSM Distinguished Alumni Awards

L. Patrick DeLozier, '01

L. Patrick DeLozier headshot

L. Patrick DeLozier is a managing partner with DeLozier Group, specializing in targeted and exclusive executive search and career talent strategy. DeLozier Group clients benefit from his robust network within the club management community and reap the rewards of his intimate knowledge of club management roles, responsibilities and challenges. 

DeLozier is also president and CEO of UNIR Staffing Solutions, specializing in seasonal staffing for hospitality clients nationwide, recruiting from US territories with offices in Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Rhode Island.

DeLozier has had an illustrious career leading some of the country's most renowned operations. His most recent post was as the chief operating officer at The Alotian Club, an ultra-exclusive private club owned by Warren Stephens, who DeLozier continues to serve as a special advisor. 

As the COO and general manager at several of the nation’s most esteemed and prestigious clubs, and the club manager at Augusta National Golf Club, home to the world-famous Masters Golf Tournament, DeLozier has a deep understanding of private club operations.

DeLozier holds a Bachelor of Science in hotel, restaurant and tourism management

with a specialization in club management from the University of South Carolina. He continues to support his alma mater as a donor, advisor industry partner and resource for students. In addition to serving on advisory boards, he is a frequent guest lecturer and has also impacted dozens of students’ careers through his development of an externship program at The Alotian. 


Jessica O'Neill, '12

Jessica O'Neill headshot

Jessica O’Neill is the president of business operations for the Houston Dynamo Football Club (HDFC) which includes the Houston Dash (NWSL), Houston Dynamo (MLS), Shell Energy Stadium and Houston Sports Park.

O’Neill joined the Dash in March 2022 after spending the previous nine years with the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC. She led Houston Dynamo Football Club through a transformative year on and off the pitch. Under her leadership, they welcomed a new stadium naming rights partner in Shell Energy, reinvigorated the fan experience at matches and reorganized their business.

As the director of marketing and communications for Charlotte FC, O’Neill was instrumental in the MLS expansion club’s record-setting launch. Prior to that, she spent eight seasons in the NFL, working her way up from sales associate to director of ticket sales for the Carolina Panthers.

In Houston, O’Neill focuses on growing reach, engagement and revenue in all areas of the Dash and Dynamo. Together with HDFC majority owner and chairman Ted Segal, she represents the club within league and external engagements.

In addition, she currently sits on the board of WISE Houston, Dynamo and Dash Charities and Central Houston.

O’Neill earned her bachelor’s degree in sport and entertainment management from the University of South Carolina and has remained an active alumna – coming back to campus on several occasions to serve as a guest lecturer and keynote speaker.


Megan Pinckney Rutherford, '14

Megan Pinckney Rutherford headshot

A Charleston, South Carolina, native, Megan Pinckney Rutherford left the Lowcountry to attend the University of South Carolina where she earned a degree in retailing with an emphasis in fashion merchandising.

She began developing her social media skills during her reign as Miss South Carolina USA when she was tasked with managing the title’s accounts across relatively new social media platforms. During her senior year at USC, she competed in the 2013 Miss USA pageant where she finished in the top five. 

The following year, she established her blog, which eventually developed into “Shades of Pinck,” a social media moniker and lifestyle blog that promotes local businesses, global travel, her Southern roots, classic style and timely topics that affect her and her community.

Since then, she's founded a business in creating memorable images for brands like Banana Republic, Toyota, Gap, Crate & Barrel and Macy’s to use across all major platforms as a digital content producer. 

A proud mom of a boisterous toddler boy and wife to one of the state’s Democratic leaders, she recently added editor-in-chief to her list of titles when she re-launched her blog into a digital lifestyle magazine earlier this year.

She recently curated the Sergio Hudson exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art, open through June 30, 2024.

She frequently speaks to classes at HRSM and gave the keynote address at our Hooding and Cording Ceremony in December 2023.


Ryan Alpert, '11

Ryan Alpert headshot

Ryan Alpert joined the University of Tennessee athletics executive leadership team as deputy athletics director/chief operating officer in August of 2021.

No stranger to the Southeastern Conference, Alpert (a native of Columbia, South Carolina)  transitioned to Tennessee from the University of Missouri, where he was deputy AD for external operations.

In his current role, Alpert oversees several major capital projects that total nearly half a billion in total project costs, including a $337 million renovation at historic Neyland Stadium, a $45 million renovation of the Anderson Training Center and a $95 million renovation of Lindsey Nelson Stadium. 

Alpert serves as the campus and athletics lead on one of the most transformative projects in all of college athletics — the Neyland Entertainment District — the public-private partnership aimed at the development of a first-in-class entertainment district spanning the Tennessee River waterfront near historic Neyland Stadium.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in sport and entertainment management from USC in 2011.


2024 HRSM Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Kauri Black, '15

Kauri Black headshot

Kauri Black serves as associate commissioner for broadcasting and digital programming for the American Athletic Conference. As the primary contact for TV and multimedia partners, Black plays a pivotal role in enhancing the AAC's media presence, curating content on ESPN+, and collaborates closely with the ESPN production team to maximize digital and linear control room opportunities for select AAC institutions. 

Black serves as the coordinating producer for American on ESPN+ championships and executive produced two shoulder programming shows. Additionally, he collaborated with the digital/video communications, basketball and brand marketing teams to successfully launch the American Hoops Showcase for the 2023-24 season, highlighting two men's and two women's digital games.

Starting in 2015, he progressed from an administrative fellow to roles such as assistant director of broadcast scheduling (2017), director of broadcast scheduling (2020), and senior director of broadcasting and digital programming (2022) before assuming his current position.

Adapting to the evolving sports and media landscape, Black earned a graduate certificate in data science and analytics from Elmhurst University in December 2023. Prior to that, he received a Master of Sport and Entertainment Management from the University of South Carolina and a master's in mathematics and science education from the University of Tulsa. His academic journey also includes a bachelor's in criminal justice from Northeastern University.

Black's background as a former basketball student-athlete at Northeastern University and the University of Tulsa, where he served as captain and started every game for head coach Danny Manning, exemplifies his commitment to enhancing the student-athlete experience through the intersection of sports and entertainment.


2024 HRSM Distinguished Service Award

Olivia Hyatt, '11

Olivia Hyatt headshot

Olivia Hyatt’s service to the College of HRSM dates back to her days as a student where she sought opportunities to volunteer and serve the college. She served as a College of HRSM ambassador through her University 101 class, both volunteered and attended SEVT, worked the Masters and was a recipient of the Garnet Jacket Classic Outstanding Volunteer Scholarship.

During her senior year, she was selected by the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management to serve as a student representative on the hiring committee for two full-time faculty positions.

She has served on the HRSM Alumni Society Board since 2013 and is the current board chair, serving in that role for seven years so far. She has also served on the HRSM Dean’s Leadership Council since 2019. She has given countless hours to support alumni society events and initiatives, assisting with fundraising and event planning, serving as a mentor to other alums and to students, volunteering her time on campus and serving as a champion for the college. During her time as chair, HRSM’s annual homecoming auction has generated over $80,000 and the Alumni Society Fund has awarded 35 student scholarships. 

Hyatt began her career in the sports and entertainment industry by working her sophomore through senior years as a receptionist and intern at Colonial Life Arena. During this time, Hyatt fell in love with the marketing side of the business, which is where her career took off. 

She accepted a role in marketing and promotions for local broadcast television where she worked with companies to execute television campaigns and sponsorships. Hyatt then transitioned to the marketing agency side of the business where she served eight years as a media buyer for local, regional and national brands.

Today, Hyatt is on the leadership team at La-Z-Boy Southeast as their marketing manager, where she manages all content and digital marketing.

She was recognized in Columbia Business Magazine’s 2023 Best and Brightest Under 35 and has volunteered for organizations including the Junior League of Columbia, JDRF, March of Dimes, Historic Columbia Foundation, Lexington Medical Center Foundation, and Family Connection of SC.


2024 HRSM Distinguished Friend of the College Award

Craig Locascio

Craig Locascio headshot

Craig Locascio is director of learning, leadership and sales solutions for Breakthru Beverage Group. His 30-year passion for wine, spirits and beer began with a part-time job waiting tables while in college. By age 23, he was maitre d’ and sommelier at the renowned Restaurant Le Bistro in Cumberland, Maryland, overseeing an award-winning wine program. After relocating to Hilton Head Island with his family, Locascio joined The Ben Arnold Beverage Company, now Breakthru Beverage Group, as a wine sales representative in 1989.

Locascio has held regional and statewide sales management positions in Hilton Head, Charleston and Ridgeway, home of Breakthru South Carolina headquarters and distribution center. In 2006, Locascio joined the corporate staff to lead development, implementation and maintenance of product knowledge education, training and leadership development programs for their distributors and sales force across North America.

Locascio is a member of the USC School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Advisory Board and has been a constant supporter of the college for more than a decade. He worked with Sandy Strick to develop a “Business of Beverage” course and then co-taught it with her.

He has contributed to college events and fundraisers and most recently has provided significant product for the new Beverage Education Laboratory.


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