AYP celebrates annual award winners

The Chamber’s Aiken Young Professionals (AYP) recognized two of their peers at the group’s Roast and Toast on December 12.

Melissa Viola, Law Offices of Tom Young, Jr. PC, was named Most Valuable Young Professional, and Avery Spears Mahoney, director, Aiken Downtown Development Association, received Aiken’s Rising Star award.

Aiken Chamber President J. David Jameson presented the awards.

Viola has been a member of AYP since 2010. She served as the chair of AYP in 2013 and as vice chair in 2012. Viola returned to the role of chair in August of 2014 when current chair, Derrick McLane, moved away from the area for job related purposes.
“Melissa has played an important role within this organization and has made it her goal to promote quality growth that fits the mission of AYP. She never hesitates to step up and lead the group; her ongoing dedication is greatly admired and appreciated,” said last year’s AYP MVP recipient Avery Spears Mahoney.
The person who nominated Viola wrote on the nomination form, “Melissa has gone above and beyond to further the mission and goals of the Aiken Young Professionals group. At a time when she has a brand new family, including twin boys born in June, she was willing to step up and see the organization through its 7th successful year.”


Spears Mahoney has been a member of AYP since 2011. She chaired the community services committee in 2013 and also served on the inaugural Oktoberfest committee with AYP, USC Aiken and the Aiken Downtown Development Association. She continued in the role of community services committee chair in 2014, organizing a group of AYP members who participated in an Aiken County Habit for Humanity building project. AYP also participated in Operation Santa for Mental Health America in 2014.
Incoming 2015 AYP Chair Eric Brinkley, Aiken Laundromats, said, “Avery is the epitome of a rising star. She gives 110% of herself to everything she does. There isn't a challenge she isn't willing to face head on, and she can work a room like no other. Many of Aiken's recent successes are a direct result of Avery's hard work, infectious spirit, and passion to make Aiken a thriving community. Avery truly finds joy in other's successes. Because of her genuine love of this community, she is exactly what a true leader should be, and is well poised to lead Aiken into the future.”

“Avery is very deserving of the Rising Star award. She is building relationships in the community not only with AYP but also in her position as director of Aiken Downtown Development Association. She has been instrumental in making connections between the public and private sectors of our community.” said the young professional who nominated her. “She understands the value of collaboration.”
Catie Rabun, AYP’s 2013 Rising Star and owner of The Mill on Park, said, “Avery serves as a founding member of The Mill on Park Advisory Committee. She played a critical role in the planning efforts that went into the programming of The Mill to promote the vitality of small business in Aiken, specifically downtown.”
The Most Valuable Young Professional Award honors an individual for their involvement in the community, as well as their involvement with the Aiken Young Professionals.
The Aiken’s Rising Star Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated those qualities necessary to lead Aiken into the future. This individual is recognized for overall character, leadership, and excellence in his or her chosen field, as well as for overall accomplishment in relationship building, professional development, philanthropic activity, and contribution to the community.
For more information on Aiken Young Professionals, or to join the group, please visit www.aikenyoungprofessionals.com.

2014 AYP Sponsors









Aiken Pest Control, Aiken Regional Medical Centers, ASCO Valve Manufacturing Inc.,

Cherry Bekaert LLP, EnergySolutions, Newberry Hall, PARSONS, UPS Customs Brokerage

Scholar Sponsors 

Aiken Technical College, Limestone College, University of South Carolina Aiken

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