Board of Directors
When Deborah came to Newberry, the Opera House was nothing but a dilapidated building with the threat of being torn down. She helped raise the $5.5 million needed for that structure then over the years converted the local fire station into a busy conference center. She managed and directed a 426 seat theater that hosted approximately 250 shows a year, bringing both fame and the famous to Newberry. From a financial view, the numbers are staggering. Harry Miley, the former head of the Budget and Control Board for South Carolina, has estimated that the Newberry Opera House has had an economic impact of over $500 million.
Deborah graduated from Elmira College in New York, earned a Masters of Arts from the University of Vienna, and completed further graduate studies at Yale. Highly regarded on the national arts scene, she has served on numerous panels for the National Endowment of the Arts, the South Carolina Arts Commission, and the Vermont Commission for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission for the Arts, and The Association of Entertainment Professionals (AEP) Worldwide.
Beaufort native Valerie Sayers is the author of six novels, including her most recent, The Powers. Brain Fever and Who Do You Love? were named “Notable Books” by the New York Times, and a film, Due East, was based on Due East and How I Got Him Back. Her stories and essays appear widely and have received a Pushcart Prize and citations from Best American Stories and Best American Essays. Recipient of an NEA fellowship in literature, Sayers is professor of English at the University of Notre Dame.
Victoria enjoys serving her community as a Commissioner on the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission and as Advisory Board Member for the Gullah Geechee Consortium of Beaufort County. Her passions are her family, collecting Lowcountry, Gullah and African art, painting as a self-taught artist, and researching and sharing the unique history, art and culture of her people.
Jonathan Haupt, 43, has forged a distinguished career in literary arts leadership in his adopted home of South Carolina. Since 2011, he has served as Director of the University of South Carolina Press and, prior to that, as USC Press’s assistant director for sales and marketing. Under Haupt’s leadership, USC Press was honored with a South Carolina Governors Award in the Humanities, given in recognition of the Press’ commitment to education through humanities publishing. In 2013, he established the Press’ acclaimed Story River Books fiction imprint, edited by the late Pat Conroy and named by Garden & Gun magazine as one of the top ten things to love about the South. His directorship at USC Press has been defined by a consistent commitment to serving the interests of writers and readers alike, in and beyond South Carolina.
Haupt created and co-chaired the Pat Conroy at 70 Festival in October 2015, an immersive literary event that was equal parts birthday celebration, book festival, writers conference, film festival, civic pride ceremony, community outreach program, and family reunion. Following Conroy’s death, Haupt remade the festival as the Pat Conroy Literary Festival, which will be an annual event in his adopted hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina.
Jonathan is on the board of governors of the South Carolina Academy of Authors (the Palmetto State’s literary hall of fame), Haupt has also served on the boards of the South Carolina Book Festival; Deckle Edge Literary Festival; One Columbia for Arts and History; and Columbia’s One Book, One Community. A proven innovator and collaborator, he has presented at book festivals, writers conferences, and library conferences on topics of author marketing, small press and university press publishing, and literary arts partnerships.