By Kinnidy Thoreson, Staff Writer
When you share the same name with the current James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, you might feel the pressure to succeed.
James Bond or not, Woodruff’s Daniel Craig is certainly leaving his mark on Spartanburg County.
After graduating Woodruff High School in 2006, Craig attended the University Of South Carolina (USC) and then USC’s School of Law, both in Columbia.
Right out of law school, Craig worked for the South Carolina Supreme Court in Columbia, the highest-level state court. But he was important for him to get back to the Spartanburg area because it’s where both he and his wife had both grown up. “We wanted to get back to be around family.” His wife Melissa is now a teacher at Dorman High School, and they have a four-year-old daughter, Adelyn.
After moving back to the area, Craig started an associate at Johnson, Smith, Hibbard & Wildman Law Firm, LLO in Spartanburg in July 2015. He was named partner earlier this year. His next step was to get involved in the community. He already knew some people in Spartanburg Young Professionals (SYP) and in 2016 joined the group.
SYP is a program of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce which seeks to engage young adults in the Spartanburg community by providing members with social, leadership and civic opportunities. The group currently has about 210 members. After about two years as an active member, Craig joined the board as treasurer in 2018. The following year, he became the Chair-Elect and now he’s serving as Chair. In 2021, he will serve as Past Chair.
“I was just trying to get involved in the community and involved in the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce,” states Craig. “I think it is important to be involved in Spartanburg County as a whole.”
One of the misconceptions of the group that Craig is trying to debunk is that SYP is just for young professionals in the City of Spartanburg or just Downtown Spartanburg. Just as the chamber serves the entire Spartanburg County, so does SYP.
“We want young folks that are outside of downtown Spartanburg to be involved so that we can learn what is going on in the communities and so that we can highlight these young people that are making a difference outside of downtown Spartanburg,” said Craig.
Craig says that COVID-19 has made things challenging. Nonetheless, they try to meet once a month still and are planning a Forty Under 40 event, an event recognizes of the top forty young professionals under 40 years old for their professional and personal contributions to Spartanburg County. (This is event is not affiliated with the GSA Business Report’s Forty Under 40 event.)
For Craig, creating this new event was important because “[he and the SYP committee] feel that Spartanburg has enough young professionals that are doing enough great things and we need to recognize the folks that are making a difference in the community.”
Candidates were nominated by their peers and a confidential committee choose the forty winners. The event was originally scheduled for March but has been rescheduled several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the goal is to hopefully hold the in-person event in 2021.
Hunter Brown, the communications chair for SYP and just elected co-chair of the Woodruff Area Council champions Craig’s leadership during this unprecedented time. “Daniel is a thoughtful leader and carries a genuine humbleness like many people from Woodruff. It has served him well as he has had the task of guiding Spartanburg Young Professionals through the current Covid-19 Pandemic. While we’ve had to cancel all of our in-person events for the year, we have found new ways to engage members online. His steady presence as we navigated this new territory made serving with him a great experience.” Brown is also the vice president of Palmetto Vermiculite in Woodruff.
Craig encourages young professionals from all walks of life have a vital role in our community. “A young professional does not have to wear a tie to work, does not have to work in a downtown building, and does not have to have a degree. A young professional is a young person that works in our community.”