BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DENISE K. SPENCER : CHAIR
A sought-after nonprofit/foundation consultant since founding PhilanTOPICS in 2019, Denise has over 25 years of experience leading community foundations and working with nonprofits, following 20 years in academia. Well-known for writing, speaking, training, consulting, facilitation and coaching, she has hands-on experience in leading organizations to higher levels. Her specialties include board governance, strategy, policy, program design, grantmaking/seeking, communications and public relations, fund development and more. Her passions are helping good organizations improve, and working with mission-driven people. Her focus continues to be strengthening nonprofits and foundations for growth and community improvement through effective design and efficient implementation.
Current community service includes Greater Island Council of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton (Board Secretary), and previous area leadership includes Vice Chair for the Vision Project Management Team for the Town of Hilton Head Island, CEO Retreat Planning Committee for the Southeast Council of Foundations, board member of the Hilton Head Island Rotary Club, board member for the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations, and more. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including 12 years on a public school board. She earned a Certificate of Nonprofit Consulting from BoardSource, was a Michigan Political Leadership Fellow at Michigan State University, and served as a Peer Reviewer for National Standards for Community Foundations for over 15 years.
Denise’s recently discovered passion for writing poetry and micro-memoirs has blossomed, and her beloved daughter and granddaughter are eagerly awaiting their autographed copies of a poetry collection that is under development.
Mike Cerrati was born and raised on Hilton Head Island and spent most summers working on the local waters. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 2001 and then attended law school at Southwestern Law School. After practicing law in Los Angeles for several years, Mike and his wife, Jennie, returned to Hilton Head. Mike now practices in Belzer PC’s Hilton Head office, regularly advising domestic and international trademark and copyright owners on the proper selection, clearance, use, licensing and protection of their intellectual property both in the U.S. and abroad. He manages intellectual property portfolios for established corporations and assists startups and entrepreneurs in developing strategies for branding their new businesses.
Prior to joining The Outside Foundation, Mike served on the boards for the First Tee of the Lowcountry and the VanLandingham Rotary Club. Mike and Jennie have two boys who like to play as many sports as possible. In between sports seasons or during an off weekend, Mike prefers to spend time wakeboarding in Bull Creek with family and friends.
DR JOHN BATSON
John Batson grew up on Hilton Head and graduated from Hilton Head High. He graduated from the College of Charleston with a BS in Biology and completed medical school at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. He completed his intership and residency in Greenville, SC. He completed dual-fellowships in Sports Medicine and Pain Medicine, and is the only physician in the state to hold these dual board certifications.
Dr. Batson has lectured extensively in the field of Sports Medicine and Spine Care and co-authored 5 publications in these fields. He is a fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Batson has been in private practice in the Lowcountry for over five years and currently owns Lowcountry Spine and Sport. His medical practive has been a patron sponsor for the Heritage Golf Tournament for the past 4 years and he organized a group of local physicians to jointly sponsor the even when it was in jeopardy. For over 5 years, John has served as a volunteer team physician for Bluffton High School. Dr. Batson and his wife, Alice recently served as chair people for the American Heart Association Heart Ball.
John and Alice have a daughter Jordan, who is a sophomore at Fordham University in Manhattan. In his free time, Dr. Batson is an avid water sports enthusiast who enjoys windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking and wakeboarding.
BRIAN KINARD : TREASURER
Originally from Houston, Texas Brian has spent most of his adult life living and working between the Florida Keys, Hilton Head Is., Texas, and parts of Europe. He maintains a 1600 ton US Coast Guard Masters License and has worked extensively on boats, yachts, ships and tugboats. In 2013 Brian and his wife Mollie, a native of Hilton Head, decided to plant roots in Hilton Head and enjoy a welcomed career change. Brian is a full time REALTOR with the Lighthouse Realty on Hilton Head Island and serves on many boards and committees, including the Board of Directors for the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, the Chairman of the legislative committee, and the Chairman of the Candidate Screening Committee. He has also been involved with other non-profits on the island, currently serving on the Board of Directors for The Sandbox Children's Museum. When Brian is not busy volunteering or working, you can find Brian, Mollie, and their daughter Clementine spending time out on the water, surfing, kiteboarding, traveling, and enjoying this incredible Island.
Mike Overton is the founder, owner, and CEO of Outside Brands. A graduate of the University of Vermont with a BS in Resource Economics he has been a business owner in the Hilton Head community since 1979. Outside Brands is a multi-faceted organization. Operations include retail, team and leadership development, outdoor education, outdoor recreation, and destination management. Mr. Overton has lead experiential team and leadership development programs for over 400 organizations including many fortune 500 corporations, local small business, and professional sports teams. He also provides consulting services on the development of nature-based recreation programs.
Mike’s vision to create opportunities for local kids to get outside and his passion for environmental protection and preservation was the seed for the idea of the Outside Foundation. He has served on boards of The HHI Chamber of Commerce, The Island Recreation Association, The Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head, The Low Country Recycling Association, and The South Island Public Service District and currently The Port Royal Sound Foundation.
Melissa Krauss has a diverse background, and currently works full time as a Global Sales Executive for IBM. Melissa graduated with a Masters in Business Administration from the John Hopkins University, Carey Business School in Baltimore, Maryland and has held various sales leadership positions at IBM since 2000 where she successfully coaches global teams to consistently deliver complex solutions and achieve large revenue targets. Melissa also has a Masters in Nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a Bachelors in Nursing from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana and has held several positions in healthcare prior to joining IBM as both a clinician and an executive. In the span of these roles she implemented clinical and business best practices to reduce cost, drive operational efficiency, and improve outcomes for patients.
Melissa was raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and has lived in New York, Tennessee, Indiana and Maryland before moving to Hilton Head Island. Through the years one thing remains the same, her dedication to her family who live across the United States. Melissa is a busy Aunt involved with her 24 Nieces and Nephews and 11 great Nieces and Nephews. She spends her spare time pursuing her love of nature through wildlife photography and working to preserve the local ecology. She is a founding member of the island’s grassroots Turtle Trackers organization which is focused on supporting efforts to improve the nesting and survival Loggerhead Sea Turtles on Hilton Head Island. Melissa is also an avid cyclist who enjoys riding the island roads.
Ron retired in 2020 and relocated to Palmetto Bluff with his family in 2021. His wife Jaime is a writer, while their daughter Emma is majoring in Communications at the College of Charleston. Ron's distinguished career includes serving as the Regional Head & Managing Director for Warner Bros. Entertainment Nederland B.V. in Amsterdam, where he managed regional distribution of feature films and television programming across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Before his European role, Ron held key positions in Burbank, California, overseeing business affairs, legal matters, and operations for Warner Bros.' television distribution outside of the United States. His career at Warner Bros. began in 1994, leading to successive promotions to Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President roles. Prior to Warner Bros., Ron spent six years at MGM/UA Telecommunications, managing business affairs for home video and international television. He also practiced law in San Francisco, California, and is a member of the State Bar of California.
Ron holds a Bachelor of Science degree with High Honors from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law. An accomplished pilot, he has a Commercial Multi-Engine Instrument rating from the Federal Aviation Administration. In his leisure time, Ron enjoys boating, cycling, hiking, photography, and an occasional golf game. He's also an avid reader of American history.
John Taylor is an experienced energy consultant and expert witness with an in-depth understanding of multiple facets of the energy industry. He is an accomplished project manager with the right combination of management skills, business development capabilities, and industry knowledge. John has contributed to developing several businesses through strategic planning, new market entry, website development, marketing, finance, accounting, operations, and team development. He enjoys continually looking to learn and grow professionally through new projects, exciting challenges, and cultivating relationships. His volunteer work includes being a National Outings Leader for the Sierra Club, where he planned, marketed, provisioned, and led multiple weeklong backpacking trips in Rock Mountain wilderness areas with 12-14 participants. He participated in and led outdoor leadership programs and held a Wilderness First Responder certification for over a decade. While living in Richmond, VA, Mr. Taylor was on the Board of Higher Achievement, an NGO dedicated to closing the educational opportunity gap for middle school children through academic enrichment programs. Mr. Taylor previously served on the Town of Hilton Head’s 278 Gateway Corridor Committee. He enjoys biking, paddling, and hiking and lives on Hilton Head Island with his wife and daughter.