The Richland County Recreation Commission has a seven member board who serve a term of five years and are appointed to staggered terms. Officers are elected annually. The Richland County Recreation Commission Board of Commissioners holds regular meetings each month on the third Monday at 6:00 pm. Special Called Meetings are held when necessary. The public is invited to attend these meetings which are held at the Adult Activity Center, 7494 Parklane Road, Columbia. For more information or to contact board members contact the main office, (803) 741-7272 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The general duties of the Board of Commissioners are:
To enact resolutions and ordinances for the general health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Richland County.
To plan for future public needs.
To provide necessary services to safeguard the well-being and safety of the citizens.
Richland County Recreation Commission Commissioners
Stephen Venugopal, Commisisoner
Stephen Venugopal was born January 24, 1982 in Dallas, Texas. He is married to Elizabeth Venugopal and they have three children: Eli, Dakota, Nora Grace
Stephen Venugopal graduated from Faith Academy High School in 2000, then went on to earn a B.A. from Lawrence University majoring in Philosophy. While attending Lawrence University, he earned 4 Varsity Letters with the Football Team and 2 Varsity Letters with the Track Team. During this time he served as the President of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and on the Leadership Board for the Fellowship Christian Athletes; he graduated in 2004. Following a year working in business went on to earn an M.A.T. from the University of South Carolina in Physical Education. During this time he worked in the USC Athletic Department as an Academic Coach with the Football Team, Men’s Basketball Team, as well as the Swimming and Diving Teams.
In 2005 he became certified as Personal Trainer through IFTA (Interactive Fitness Trainers of America). He then went on, in 2007 to earn a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) from the NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association). Since then he has earned certifications in TRX (Total Resistance Exercise) as well as USAW (USA Weightlifting) as a Sports Performance Coach.
He has coached Football and Strength & Conditioning at all ages and levels from Youth Flag Football to Middle School, Freshman Team, JV and Varsity. His sub-varsity Football Teams won 3 consecutive Region Championships from 2013-2015. In 2015 the Varsity also won the Region Championship. In 10 years of Coaching at the high school level he has qualified over 100 athletes for the State Speed & Strength Meet, along with 60+ Region Champions, 25+ All-State Selections and 3 State Champions. He served as the Region Director for Region 11 of the SCHSSCA (South Carolina High School Strength Coaches Association) from 2010 – 2017. In 2016 he was recognized as the 4A Strength Coach of the Year by the SCHSSCA.
In addition to his work as an educator and coach he owns and operates his own Strength Performance, Health, Fitness, Youth Mentorship and Leadership Development company (Beyond Athletics). He also teaches Fitness Classes and does Personal Training at the Columbia Jewish Community Center. He trains individuals and teams for Speed, Agility, Boot Camp, the Mud-Run, Metabolic Conditioning, Posture, Balance, Alignment, College and Professional Tryouts.
Stephen is in his first year at Cardinal Newman School as the Director of Strength and Athletic Performance.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2021
Thomas Clark, Chair
Mr. Thomas Clark was confirmed to the board on February, 2016. Mr. Clark is a graduate of Benedict College with B.S. Degree in Criminal Justice and dual Master of Arts in Human Resource Management & Human Resource Development from Webster University. Mr. Clark is currently employed with Richland County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program that serves as a voice for our youth in foster care that have been abused and/or neglected. Mr. Clark, with his wife Opal, has reared their sons, Kendrick and Zachary, in Richland County Schools and Recreation sports programs; for over 20 years. Mr. Clark looks to continue with giving of his time & service to better serve the youth and elderly residents of Richland County, by implementing proper policies and procedures that reflect safety, quality of life and accountability to those we serve.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2021
Lisa L. Cotten, Secretary
Lisa Long Cotten is a member of the Mike Kelly Law Group in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, where her practice areas include Social Security Disability, Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Lisa is a native of Eastover, South Carolina. She attended Webber Elementary School and graduated from Lower Richland High School in 1991. Lisa attended the University of South Carolina graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science (Magna Cum Laude) in 1995. She went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law in 1998. Lisa was admitted to practice law in the State of South Carolina that same year.
Lisa began her legal career at Carolina Regional Legal Services in Florence, South Carolina. She also proudly served as an Assistant Solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Charleston, South Carolina before making the transition to private practice in 2003. Lisa was also an adjunct professor of Criminal Law at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina. Lisa returned to Richland County and began practicing at the Mike Kelly Law Group in 2006.
Lisa has been involved in numerous professional and community service organizations. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She was also duly inducted into Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina. She is an alumnus of Leadership Columbia Class of 2010, and she currently serves on the Blythewood Middle School-School Improvement Council. Lisa is also involved in numerous committees of the South Carolina Bar Association including the Law Related Education Committee, South Carolina Women Lawyers Association and South Carolina Black Lawyers Association. Lisa is the current Fifth Judicial Circuit Co-Chair of the Resolution of Fee Disputes Board, which is charged with resolving fee disputes between attorneys and their clients. Lisa is a member of the Richland County Bar Association and the American Bar Association. She also serves on the Board of the South Carolina Bar Foundation, which provides grants to various law related organizations throughout South Carolina. Lisa is admitted to practice law before the United States District Court-District of South Carolina and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2020
Jermaine L. Johnson, Sr., Commissioner
Jermaine L. Johnson, Sr. was born on July 4, 1985 in Los Angeles, California to Joe and Cynthia Johnson. Attended the College of Charleston where he was a 4 year Letterman for the men’s basketball program from 2005-2009 serving as team captain in his final year. Jermaine is 1 of 4 players in Charleston history to amass over 1,100 points and 850 rebounds in a career. Jermaine is the first Rookie of the Year in Charleston history, graduated in December 2008 with a degree in Communications and drafted in 2009 to the NBA D-League’s Reno Bighorns. Jermaine went on to play for various teams abroad in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Portugal.
During Jermaine’s final year of professional sports in 2014, he started New Economic Beginnings Foundation, Inc. which is a non-profit workforce development organization that assists the under served citizens of Richland County to locate gainful employment and learn life skills. Jermaine also began his role in the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition where he currently holds the title of Regional Job Developer where he serves in a similar role of workforce development for non-custodial fathers trying to increase involvement in the lives of their children. In 2014, earned a Masters of Science Degree in Project Management from Strayer University. Currently a Doctoral Candidate at North Central University where Jermaine is studying Organizational Leadership.
Married to Dr. Evan Patrice Johnson and has two children: Jermaine Johnson, Jr. and Khloe Johnson. In Jermaine’s spare time, he enjoys playing and coaching recreational basketball. A member of the Lower Richland Community where he attended St. Johns Baptist Church in Hopkins, South Carolina with the Reverend Sammy Wade presiding.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2022
Donzetta Lindsay, Commissioner
Donzetta Lindsay retired from the Federal Government in 2012 with 40 years of service. The last 21 years she served in the capacity of supervisor with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
She was the supervisor for the Public Contact Team and Fiduciary Team. The Public Contact Team consist of Veterans Service Representatives who assisted veterans, spouses and family members with filing claims for disabilities and other veteran benefits. The Fiduciary Team provided for the welfare and financial affairs of incompetent veterans.
Donzetta conducted career and college jobs fairs and also headed the Homeless Veterans Program, The Women Veterans Program and other outreach projects including the annual welcome home event for returning combat veterans in Charleston, South Carolina.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2022
Robert Lapin, Commissioner
Robert Lapin was born September 9, 1964 in Kansas City, Missouri. He is married to Lori Belson Lapin and they have three children: Harrison, Max and Jack.
Robert graduated from Shawnee Mission South high School in 1983, then went on to earn a B.A. in Business from Michigan State University majoring in Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM). While attending Michigan State, he earned a varsity letter on the MSU Varsity Soccer Team; he graduated in 1987. He has coached all levels of soccer from recreational up to academy level over the past 18 years. While holding a USSF National “C” coaching license, he is currently on staff as a coach with South Carolina United Football Club and Cardinal Newman Varsity Soccer.
Robert was owner operator of Chiller Distributors and Delight Wholesale (Wholesale Ice Cream Distribution) in Atlanta, Georgia from 1990-1997 and Director of Marketing for the Ben Arnold Sunbelt Beverage (now known as Break-Through Beverage) from 1997-2001. Robert is currently a Commercial Real Estate Agent for NAI Avant (formerly Edens and Avant).
Robert’s community involvement and affiliations are as follows: past President of Habitat for Humanity of the Midlands and served on the board for 8 years; Director of Compliance and Treasurer of the SC Battery Development Academy; past board member of the Columbia Jewish Community Center and past board member of the City of Columbia Cultural Council.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2019
Cynthia Shepard, Vice Chair
Cynthia Shepard is the owner of CMS Total Fitness. She has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. She is a published fitness writer, was featured in fitness DVDs and was an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina teaching in the Physical Education Department. She currently teaches contract fitness classes and personal training throughout the Midlands. She is married to retired Air Force Colonel Steven Shepard and has two grown daughters. She serves as a Deacon at her church and is very active in the community fundraising and working with families in need. She served as the Flood and Disaster Chair for Lake Murray Presbyterian Church during the flood of 2015, worked with the United Way and the Long Term Recovery Group to assist families affected by the floods to get back into their homes. She was recently honored by the Modern Woodmen of America with a Hometown Hero Award. She hopes to be active in her community for many years to come.
Term Expiration: February 27, 2018
Richland County Council MembersBill Malinowski, District 1
Joyce Dickerson, District 2
Yvonne McBride, District 3
Paul Livingston, District 4
Seth Rose, District 5
L. Gregory Pearce, Jr., District 6, Vice Chair
Gwendolyn Kennedy, District 7, Chair
Jim Manning, District 8
Calvin “Chip” Jackson, District 9
Dalhi Myers, District 10
Norman Jackson, District 11
South Carolina Senate DelegationJ. Thomas McElveen, III, District 35
John L. Scott, Jr., District 19
Mia S. McLeod, District 22
Darrell Jackson, District 21
John E. Courson, District 20
South Carolina House DelegationDr. Jimmy C. Bales, District 80
MaryGail K. Douglas, District 41
James E. Smith, Jr., District 72
J. Todd Rutherford, District 74
Joseph A. “Joe” McEachern, District 77
Leon Howard, District 76
Christopher R. Hart, District 73
Kirkman Finlay, III, District 75
Ivory Torrey Thigpen, District 79
Beth E. Bernstein, District 78
Nathan Ballentine, District 71