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McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise

Our Team

The McNair Institute's faculty and staff are a talented group transforming the entrepreneurial culture at UofSC and cultivating a new generation of creative, productive leaders across industries. 

Dirk Brown portrait

Dirk Brown, Faculty Director

Dirk Brown is the faculty director of the University of South Carolina's McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. Dr. Brown is a seasoned executive with a strong track record of developing, marketing and licensing disruptive, proprietary technologies. He has written more than 30 technical papers and journal articles, holds more than 25 patents and is an active member in a number of professional societies.

Brown holds an MBA from San Jose State, a Ph.D. (Materials Science) and M.Eng. (Applied Physics) from Cornell University and a B.Sc. (Engineering) in applied physics/electrical engineering from Queen's University in Canada.

To contact Dirk Brown, please call 803-777-1717 or email

Kristina Hooks portrait

Kristina Hooks, Director of Operations 

Kristina Hooks brings a broad range of experience from the business, government and nonprofit sectors, including work in higher education, auditing and retail. She holds an MBA from the University of South Carolina, an MPA from the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston, a B.S. (Business Administration) from the College of Charleston, and a B.A. (Corporate Communication) from the College of Charleston.

To contact Kristina Hooks, please call 803-777-1717 or email

Bre Spaulding portrait

Breanna Spaulding, Director of Ecosystem Advancement

Bre serves as Director of Ecosystem Advancement for the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise and joins our team with a robust background in project management. Her role connectes students to opportunities with startups in the community. She holds an M.S. from Southern New Hampshire University in Healthcare Administration, and a B.A. from Columbia Colllege in Public Health. Community involvement is important to Bre and she enjoys most of her free time exploring and experiencing Columbia and all it has to offer.

To contact Bre Spaulding, please call 803-576-7716 or email


Sean Powers, Project Admin

Bringing recent experience in entrepreneurship from multiple industries, Sean serves as a Project Admin for the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. 

Sean is a 2019 graduate of the Moore School with a degree in Supply Chain and Operations, and Marketing. Previously the President of the USC Entrepreneurship Club, Sean has gone on to be involved in a number of venture including The Front Coffee and Tap,  Enterprise Columbia Consulting, and Copyt, Inc. as Executive Chair.

Sean graduated with Copyt from Techstars Austin's 2023 Spring Cohort.

To contact Sean Powers, please email




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