Celebrating Our Legacy

Determined to Soar is a non-partisan group of women based in Spartanburg, South Carolina who have joined creative forces to CELEBRATE women’s achievements in order to EDUCATE, INSPIRE and UNIFY the next generation of leaders. To accomplish these goals, we are staging a series of interactive and engaging events. Come Join Us!

Our Team

Valerie Manatis Barnet

Valerie Manatis Barnet is married to Bill and they have three grown children- Becca, Will, and John, and one grandson, Cassius. In the Spartanburg community, Valerie serves on the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation Board, and the Board of Directors for Mental Fitness, and Sidewalk Hope, which is a truck that goes into the inner-city neighborhoods weekly to fill spiritual and physical needs of the residents. She also serves as a Stephen Minister at her church, First Presbyterian Spartanburg. Valerie is the Cofounder and Board President of the Hub City Animal Project, an organization that empowers local animal welfare groups who are proactively working to address the root causes of animal homelessness.

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Nancy Corbin

Nancy Corbin was born in Ohio and moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1976 with her husband Mike as they started a family, and each began a budding career in artistic fields. Both became teachers, though they continued pursuing their personal interests. Mike became a photographer while Nancy has cultivated her love for painting.

As a young girl, Nancy studied art at the Toledo Museum of Art Saturday School. She continued to study visual art, arts education, and arts administration at University of Cincinnati (BFA), University of South Carolina (MA), New York University (Certificate of Arts Administration), Banff School for Fine Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, The Hemlock Studio, Arrowmont School for Art and Craft, Wild Acres Retreat, The Creativity Workshop, and Converse College.

After teaching in Spartanburg County School District Seven for 14 years, Nancy joined the Spartanburg Day School visual arts faculty in 1991 and taught students a range of subjects from Studio Art to Art History from introductory levels through Advanced Placement. In 1999, she became the first Mildred Harrison Dent Fine Arts Center Coordinator. While at SDS she was awarded the Mildred Harrison Dent Endowed Chair, an honor she held until she moved on at the conclusion of 27 years at the school. Additional honors while at SDS include the school’s permanent collection being named for her, being awarded the Larrabee Endowed Chair, and the future Valerie M. Barnet Theatre will house the Nancy Corbin lobby and gallery.

Her teaching career was enriched greatly by the dozens of art study tours that Nancy led for her students in NYC, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Switzerland, England, Cuba and Spain. She served for 12 years as a reader of Advanced Placement Studio Art exams for the Educational Testing Service and The College Board.

Since leaving SDS, in addition to serving as secretary of the Board of Directors at Spartanburg Art Museum, Nancy spends her time in her studio at Mayfair Art Studios preparing for upcoming exhibits. Watercolor, pastel, printmaking, and collage are important in her process. Smaller works on paper often lead to large works in acrylic on panels, canvas, and walls. Color and figurative abstraction in layered compositions are responses to current events and historical ties.

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Louise Fagan

Louise Fagan is a Producer and Capacity Builder whose career has its heart in amplifying authentic voices and stories. Since moving to the Upstate in 2014, Louise has worked as a producer and consultant for foundations, non-profit organizations, and the arts community  in project management, video production, and special initiatives. Previous career highlights include productions Off Broadway (NYC) and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC); the Bach Music Festival of Canada; national tour and studio recording of Northern Daughter (Canada/NYC), Olympic Torch Relay (Vancouver Olympics, Southwestern Ontario), Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the Canada Games (Producer/Director). Louise also designs jewelry inspired by nature, books, and art, under the name Willow and Poppy Studios. Whether in a large stadium with a cast of 100s or in a recording studio with a single artist, Louise’s numerous projects are woven with story, building engagement between organizations and the community. 

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Robyn Hussa Farrell

Robyn Hussa Farrell is an award-winning writer, producer, and performer. She is the founder of four companies — including Transport Group Theatre Company in New York City which recently celebrated its 22nd year.  Hussa specializes in producing and implementing multi-media events and programs that highlight stories of empowerment and strength.  For the last decade, she has worked with over 200 inter-disciplinary researchers to develop evidence-based mental health programs that have shown to decrease stigma, and to improve behavioral health outcomes for communities.  She has had the honor and privilege of collaborating on over 20 projects with DTS team members over the last decade in Spartanburg and looks forward to more!  Robyn lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Tim, and their pug, Maggie Mayhem.

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Julia D. Lyons

Julia D. Lyons relocated to Spartanburg from the Northeast in 1996 with her late husband, Bernard E. Brooks and immediately resumed her career in Human Resources with Hardee’s which was a division of Denny’s and later with BB&T and the United Way of the Piedmont. She has a BS from North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina and an MS from City University of New York. She is semi-retired and is currently consulting with individual clients and agencies on human resources issues. She has over thirty years of experience in human resources with major corporations, public accounting firms, banking, food service, and nonprofit agencies. She currently serves on the board of the Spartanburg Historical Association and Fifty Upstate. She has served on the board of Converse Board of Visitors, Chapman Culture Center, Girl Scouts of the Piedmont, Mobile Meals, Salvation Army, Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg Regional Foundation -Executive Committee, and The Spartanburg Chapter of The Links, Inc. She is a graduate of Leadership Spartanburg. Julia is a member of Spartanburg Business and Professional Women and serves as Chair of the ARC Committee of her homeowner’s association.

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Sabrina Richardson

Sabrina Richardson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Intrinsic Therapy LLC, a private practice she owns and operates. Sabrina graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy from Converse College. Sabrina completed the COAMFTE Accredited Post Degree Program with EMERGE Family Therapy Center and Teaching Clinic. Since passing the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy State Licensure Exam, Sabrina’s clinical concentration has been relational conflict, maladaptive coping, emotional disturbances, disordered eating, trauma, and life transitions. As a therapist, her approach centers on thoughts and emotions that determine our behaviors and impact the choices we make. Sabrina is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy.  



Join us as we celebrate milestones in Women’s History and the resilient and collaborative nature of women! Determined to Soar presents gatherings, art openings, film screenings, and live stage events.



Learn about the strategic work and epic risk-taking that gave women the vote in 1920. Where was the source of this energy and where has this led? Get info about your current voting rights and how to make your voice heard. 



Through curated stage events DtS brings together women who have a story to tell, a poem to lift up, a song to sing, a film to share or a dance to move you. We hope these programs leave you inspired and activated to do more.



We strive to bring diverse and inclusive audiences to our events. We encourage you to bring a friend or two. Our events are for all ages. Through our offerings we hope to widen our circle of phenomenal women.

Your Voice Matters

Determined to Soar provides spaces to tell your stories, inspire voting, and help women find paths to leadership. We use gatherings and the arts to see each other, hear each other, and assure each of us that our voices matter. Please join us.
Anytime we delve into the history of a country established on the land of indigenous peoples and built by enslaved peoples, awful truths will be found. We believe treating all people with dignity is the only course of action and acknowledge this has not been the case throughout the history nor the present of this country.
Please VOTE.

We believe this country is stronger when we all have a voice and exercise our voting rights.

To support this belief we launched Determined to Soar on February 13, 2019

(that’s right, on Galentine’s Day!)

Thank You To Our  Sponsors

An Evening with Marlee Matlin

Wings ($500)

Mr. and Mrs. Horace C. Littlejohn Jr.

Bond Street Wines

Arthur State Bank


Nancy Corbin

RJ Rockers

Lift ($1000)

Now Flowers/Celia Cooksey

Lindsay Lavine Webster Charitable Fund

Neue South Collective

The Spartanburg County Foundation

The Mary Black Foundation


Glide ($2500)

Pinnacle Partnership

Rise ($5,000)

Mr. and Mrs. John S. McBride, Jr.

Soar ($10,000) Presenting Partner

Business and Professional Women of Spartanburg and of South Carolina

Susu Johnson

Valerie M. Barnet

Converse University

SC School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation, Inc

Special Recognition

Burg Apparel
Julia D. Lyons
Louise Fagan
Marjorie Boafo Appiah
Marlene and Gerald Fagan
Natalie Dawn Bingham
Sabrina Richardson
Southeastern Printing
Susan Floyd

Please write all sponsorship checks to The Spartanburg County Foundation

Mail checks to The Spartanburg County Foundation

424 East Kennedy Street, Spartanburg, SC 29302

Fund Name: Determined to Soar (2184)

Give online to the Determined to Soar Fund (2184)


Determined to Soar is a non-partisan group coming together to celebrate milestones in Women’s History. We use the arts to educate, inspire, and unify women through a series of interactive and engaging events.


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Project Management:
Neue South Co.