Our Staff

It takes teamwork and collaboration to fulfill NEXT’s mission. None of us could do what we do alone.

Ken Brower

Interim CEO

Brenda Laakso

Vice President

Christy Ashkettle

Director of Communications & Culture

Susan Durden

Operations Coordinator

Our Board of Directors

We’re thankful for the service of our board members.

Scott Millwood, Chair


Kenzie Biggins


Craig Brown

Greenville Drive

Mark Essex


Rich Hagins


Melissa Halliburton


Joe Kernell

Greenville County

Andy Kurtz


Frank Mobley


Carlos Phillips

Greenville Chamber

In Memory of Jeff Papenfus

On July 30, 2011, NEXT co-founder, entrepreneur, community leader, outdoor enthusiast, and husband Jeff Papenfus passed away unexpectedly while doing something he greatly enjoyed: mountain biking. His passing was a shock to the family of entrepreneurs here and his leadership and commitment to action is greatly missed. However, Jeff’s infectious smile and entrepreneurial spirit lives on in the work of NEXT and the hard work and dedication of the many entrepreneurs he touched through the years.