Our team brings more than 40 years of experience in management, leadership, collaborative partnerships, research and data collection, communications, and evaluation. We have worked extensively with communities, social service organizations, and philanthropic organizations. Our team is purposefully small, which allows us to be nimble and utilize our extensive network of partners to meet your needs.
About 1000 Feathers
In July 2016, Forrest Alton and Heather Brandt launched 1000 Feathers in an effort to bring the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors closer together – in both vision and strategy – and to provide aggressive leadership development to help prepare organizations to better handle a changing landscape. Throughout their careers, Forrest and Heather have discovered that retiring baby boomers, changing approaches to funding and philanthropy, and a more crowded than ever nonprofit sector have combined to create a need for more strategic thinking, bigger and bolder visions, and an ever-increasing need to be sure effort leads to results.
The work of 1000 Feathers is based on the premise that a strong vision combined with thoughtful strategy, and purposeful execution is the only path to measurable results. Yet, as Forrest and Heather have too often seen in their own work, there is something missing that prevents communities and organizations from moving forward. Sometimes leadership; sometimes vision; sometimes the ability to execute a planned strategy; sometimes there is not enough meaningful collaboration; sometimes leaders are not asking the right questions or exploring the right data; sometimes it is a failure to communicate. Many times, it is “all of the above.” As it turns out, there are a lot of moving parts to the "vision.strategy.results." formula.
Why 1000 Feathers?
The “1000 Islands” region is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. The 744 miles of water in the mighty St. Lawrence River connect the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. In between, just a few miles from Lake Ontario you’ll find this breathtaking region of the country, where there are 1,864 islands, to be exact. The region is where Forrest grew up and one that Forrest and Heather visit often. One of the 1000 Islands, appropriately named Heart Island, was the location of their wedding in 2012. But what about “Feathers”? Well, that’s the easy part… take equal parts Forrest + Heather, add it to the “1000” (Islands), and now you know our story.
Forrest has been involved in the nonprofit and social service sectors in a variety of capacities and settings for more than 15 years. For the last decade he served as the Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, where his leadership and management resulted in the significant growth of an agency, which is now recognized as a national leader on issues related to adolescent health. The type of growth experienced by the organization doesn’t happen via random chance – especially on such a contentious issue being discussed in a conservative, southern state. It happens because of strong vision, strategic thinking, bold leadership (and certainly a little luck.) Forrest’s accomplishments in the sector combined with his dynamic, engaging personality and presentation style have resulted in him being frequently sought after as a speaker for conferences, trainings, and media opportunities.
After spending more than 10 years in the C-suite of a highly successful nonprofit organization, Forrest stepped down to focus his energy on the launch of 1000 Feathers. He made the move to do his part to make the nonprofit, social sector, and philanthropic sectors stronger by training and developing leaders, helping organizations to think and act more strategically, posing the difficult questions you may be afraid to ask, and encouraging big, bold, courageous conversations at all levels of organizations and throughout communities.
A dynamic and inspirational leader, Forrest has developed a contagious energy and enthusiasm for leadership and strategic thinking. Recognized by The State newspaper as one of South Carolina’s “20-under-40 emerging leaders” and by the Free Times as one of the “50 Most Influential People in Columbia,” Forrest is a Riley Institute Leadership Fellow and a member of the Liberty Fellowship - part of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network. He is a respected voice and frequently requested speaker, both in South Carolina and nationally on issues related to young people, education, reproductive health, and nonprofit leadership and management. A seasoned fundraiser, he has also led multiple grant writing teams through the process of securing more than $45 million in public and private grants since 2010.
Forrest currently serves on the boards of Power to Decide, Together SC, and My Carolina - the University of South Carolina’s Alumni Association. Forrest earned his Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, where he has been recognized with a Young Alumnus of the Year award (2011), and received his Bachelor of Science from Coastal Carolina University where he has also been named a Distinguished Alumnus (2009).
Heather M. Brandt, PhD, CHES has more than 20 years of experience working in the public health field. She has particular expertise in cancer prevention and control efforts focused on examining, describing, and intervening upon cancer-related health disparities through innovative approaches in partnership with the “community” (defined broadly and diversely) emphasizing dissemination and implementation of evidence-based approaches, knowledge-based practice, and co-creating knowledge with stakeholders in order to address disparities through informed action on multiple levels.
Dr. Brandt is an Associate Professor of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health and Associate Dean for Professional Development in The Graduate School at the University of South Carolina. She is well known at the University and across the state for her ability to collaborate and to get things done.
Dr. Brandt has a diverse network of partners with whom she works and has worked to address cancer-related health disparities and underlying factors contributing to health disparities overall. She has led several research grants to increase HPV vaccination, cervical cancer screening, and colorectal cancer screening; to engage the faith community in efforts to address health disparities; and to examine the role of health communication in improving community-partnered approaches in public health. A passionate advocate, Dr. Brandt has relentlessly supported women’s health rights and continues to emphasize the role of policy, systems, and environment on public health in her work.
She is the recipient of several awards, including the 2016 Norman J. Arnold Alumni Medal, 2015 James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award, 2014 Crescent Award, 2014 Tribute to Women in Industry Award for Health, and 2013 Early Career Award from the Public Health Education and Health Promotion (PHEHP) Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Nationally, she is Chair-Elect of the PHEHP Section of APHA, Co-Leader of the 80% by 2018 Evaluation Committee of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, and a member of the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. Locally, she is a member of the Contemporaries Board of the Columbia Museum of Art, Board of Directors of the South Carolina Cancer Alliance, and Executive Committee of Women in Philanthropy of the United Way of the Midlands.
Director of communications
With nearly 15 years of experience in nonprofit and higher education communications, Cayci brings a unique mindset to 1000 Feathers, but perhaps one of her greatest talents is telling a story. Over the years, she has expertly crafted messages for general audiences based on large amounts of data and sector speak. Having built a strong network of media contacts across South Carolina, she brings value not only in message creation but in message distribution as well.
After serving the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy for nine years, first as director and most recently as senior advisor, Cayci is currently sharing her lessons learned with students in her public relations and media courses at Newberry College.
A leader in her community, Cayci is a graduate of the United Way of the Midlands Blueprint for Leadership program, founded the Newberry chapter of FiA (Females in Action), and also serves on the chapter advisory board for Kappa Delta Sorority at Newberry College. With a B.A. in communications from Newberry College and a M.A. in communications from Queens University, Cayci is a sought after graphic designer and social media manager. In 2013, she received an Award of Excellence in Advocacy Communications from the International Association of Business Communicators (South Carolina Chapter).
Director of Finance
Based in Columbia, SC, Tameka Bell has 15 years of accounting experience in banking, academic and nonprofit environments. After earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lander University, Tameka worked for a variety of companies ranging from small businesses to multi-million dollar nonprofits. She worked alongside future 1000 Feathers colleagues Forrest Alton and Cayci Banks at the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy for over seven years before becoming the Director of Finance and Administration for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. In 2016, Tameka started Bell Financial Services with the vision of building strong financial foundations for small businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Her unique experiences perfectly position her for the Director of Finance at 1000 Feathers. Whether it's bookkeeping, accounting, or personal financial coaching, Tameka helps take our clients to the next level.