Board of Directors


Matt Green’s board and professional positions share parallel missions of attracting knowledge-based jobs to Bluffton that stimulate, strengthen and diversify the local and regional economy.

Green often focuses on recruiting businesses to Bluffton that serve clients out of the region and the state to optimize Bluffton’s economic strength.

“Bringing in new money from businesses that derive their revenues from out of the area is true economic growth. We saw what CareCore has accomplished as a Bluffton-based headquarters of a national company. We want to attract more similar companies whether they are big or small. Within time, smaller companies in abundance have just as much impact as the larger companies,” Green said.

Green is also the co-founder of Live Oak Group, LLC and Live Oak Property Group, LLC, real estate development firms which focus on economically-sustainable projects which offer a variety of uses.

Based in Bluffton, Green is involved with identifying investment opportunities, acquisitions, project management, development (including supervising construction activities), financial management, sales and marketing for his companies.

The Shadyside, Ohio native is now extremely active in the greater Bluffton community and holds various civic positions. Green is on the board of directors and executive committee for the national award-winning Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. He also chairs the Bluffton Regional Business Council and is on the board of May River Montessori, National Bank of South Carolina (NBSC), Young Life and is an active member of the Creative Coast and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).


Berl Davis is the chairman of the Bluffton Public Development Corporation board of directors and president & chief executive officer of Palmetto Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Davis offers the Bluffton Public Development board expertise with community infrastructure and guides the Board with how local utilities can work together with economic development projects.

Davis has spent his entire career within the utility industry. He joined Palmetto Electric in 1988 and in July of 2014, Palmetto Electric named Davis to his current position. He is a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Transmission and Distribution Committee, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and is also active with the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Engineering and Managers Associations.

He is also very involved in civic and community projects. His many affiliations include: a member of the Beaufort County Economic Development Board, a former director of the United Way of Beaufort County, former past president of the Coastal Discovery Museum, a former Rotarian and a recipient of Paul Harris Fellow.

Davis graduated from Clemson University with a degree in electrical engineering. He is also a graduate of the NRECA Management Internship Program at the University of Nebraska. Davis has lived in Bluffton since 1992.


Michael P. Mathews joins the Don Ryan Center for Innovation as a member of the board of directors.

The Palmetto Bluff resident was recently the Savannah/Beaufort regional manager for the Blood Alliance after a 35-year career of executive leadership with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The Chicago-native worked with the merged Baxter Healthcare and American Hospital Supply Corporations, Boston-based Haemonetics Corporation and Toronto-based Hemosol. Mathews is a member of the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land Preservation Board. He is also active with the Beaufort County School District as a science fair judge via the Sea Island Regional Science Fair Organization.

Mathews has lived in Bluffton since 2006.


Bluffton resident Larry Hughes joins the Don Ryan Center for Innovation as a member of the board of directors.

As a 2001 graduate of the Clemson-sponsored Bluffton Leadership program, Hughes was responsible for originally pitching Bluffton to Clemson University representatives as a pilot location for a Clemson Technology Village, now known as the Don Ryan Center for Innovation.

As a result of Hughes’ presentation, Bluffton was the first non-metropolitan town in South Carolina to partner with Clemson University to form a business/technology incubator. The New Jersey native spent his 40-year career in the fields of marketing, public relations and political consulting.

He has been a Bluffton resident for more than 16 years; serving as the past president of the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society and a Bluffton representative/board member for the former Lowcountry Economic Alliance.


Gregory J. Johnson is the secretary of the Bluffton Public Development Corporation board, using his decade of banking experience to assist the board with buying and selling property as a tool to attract business development to the Town of Bluffton.

The Virginia-native is the Assistant Vice President and Branch Sales Manager for Regions Bank in Bluffton where he offers lending advice to small businesses and consumers. Prior to his current position, Johnson worked at Bank of America as a Branch Manager and a Regional Manager. Among his career highlights was authoring a Regional Sales Playbook for more than 240 bank branches. After the Bank of American implemented and executed the new sales strategy developed in the book, Johnson’s region earned the division-wide Crystal Eagle Award for sales innovation.

Johnson started his career with General Electric Healthcare as a Field Service Engineer providing customer service on medical imaging equipment.

Johnson earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland after earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in electronics from DeVry University in Atlanta, Georgia.

He has lived in Bluffton since 2011 and is active in the Rotary Club of Bluffton.


Walter Nester is the Managing Shareholder of the Beaufort County Unit of the McNair Law Firm, which is comprised of offices in Hilton Head and Bluffton. Walter's practice involves commercial business and real estate development and financing, including municipal, zoning, and condominium law, representing owners and developers before municipal boards, commissions and councils, and commercial leasing. Walter has extensive experience managing complex zoning and development issues with government boards, agencies and municipalities. In connection with this work, Walter's practice also involves formation of business ownership entities, as well as representation of lenders and borrowers for commercial and development loans, loan workouts and loan acquisition. Walter serves as general counsel to various large planned and club community owners' associations and has considerable experience in the drafting, interpretation and enforcement of covenants and restrictions and applicable governing documents. A Connecticut native, Walter is a graduate civil engineer and former Captain in the United States Marine Corps.


Ryan personifies the entrepreneurial spirit and is an example for fellow innovators at the Don Ryan Center. Ryan is currently the chief executive officer at Service Brewing Company, a micro-brewery in Savannah. He followed his passion and began making beer after an accomplished and prestigious military and corporate career.

His road to his new venture was paved with his experience with the United States Army and several executive positions at CareCore, the nation’s largest specialty benefits management company. CareCore is the first national company to base its headquarters in Bluffton.

Ryan primarily designed, sold and launched new company products for CareCore as executive vice president. Throughout his eight years at CareCore, Ryan also served as interim president, chief operating officer and the executive vice president of operations.

Before his corporate career, Ryan served as an infantry officer in Alaska and Colorado and commanded two infantry companies in Iraq. He earned an engineering management degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Ryan’s new business, Service Brewing Company, is a veteran-owned and operated brewery. His company’s mission is to donate a portion of its proceeds to charities that support military service members. Ryan also strives to experiment with innovative craft beers as he uses locally-grown ingredients to connect the region’s farmers with its consumers.


Mayor Lisa Sulka has called the Bluffton – Hilton Head Island area home for 36 years. Born and raised in Prosperity, South Carolina, a small southern town just outside of Columbia, she finished her higher education at Clemson University. After college, Lisa moved to Hilton Head Island and started her own business which she owned for 15 years. This business venture led to her relationship with Hampton Hall, where she was part of the original sales team. Lisa is currently working with Carson Realty, a full service real estate firm in Bluffton SC.

A Bluffton resident for 25 years, she and her husband, John, enjoy spending time with their three children: Brannon and Haley are graduates of Clemson University; and Michael from Auburn University. Favorite family outings include water sports, crabbing and shrimping or just sitting on the sandbar on the beautiful, pristine May River.

Lisa is involved with many boards and commissions, and is an Honorary Trustee of the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Classic Foundation. Lisa is a graduate of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership program and is actively involved with Bluffton High School Athletics and Academic clubs, Iptay’s County Chairman (Clemson University’s Booster Club) and is on the Boys and Girls Club of Bluffton’s Advisory Board.

Ex-Officio Board

Larry Toomer
Town Councilman and Mayor pro tem. Owner, Bluffton Oyster Factory and Bluffton Oyster Company.

Ariana Pernice
Bluffton Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce, VP Visitor & Convention Bureau

Matt Raehn
Aerotek, Account Manager Engineering, Environmental, Construction and Government Service.

Ryan Clark
BFG, Account Supervisor

Brian Messman
Page One Media, Owner

Mark Polites
Crescent Communities, Regional Accounting Director

Natalie Majorkiewicz
Town of Bluffton, Treasury Manager


© Don Ryan Center for Innovation/Website by Hazel Digital Media