The Holy City, as Charleston is often revered, is host to visitors from afar and considered a top destination for travelers. The history and culture entwines with manners and vitality brilliantly in this city. While many dream of living amongst the southern charmed streets, delectable dining and ambling art walks, it is a challenge to become an integral part of this growing bastion of prosperity still proud of its pomp and circumstance. Helen Pratt-Thomas has turned her childhood home into her life’s work. She has devoted herself to growing the city in the financial industry as well as tirelessly championing local charities.
A native of Charleston, Pratt-Thomas is an active member of the community. She serves on the boards of the Carolina Art Association/Gibbes Art Museum, and Charleston Animal Society. Pratt-Thomas initiated the establishment of Society 1858, a young collector’s organization within the Gibbes Museum, in a successful effort to bring the arts to a new generation of collectors. She is also the past president of The Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center and a former trustee of the Historic Charleston Foundation, former Treasurer and Board member of Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding.
Pratt-Thomas received recognition as a Forty Under 40 2012 Winner featured in the Charleston Regional Business Journal. She has spent her adult life giving back to the community she calls home all while managing to become a successful career woman. She has found a balance of professional stamina and worthwhile community involvement.
Pratt-Thomas recently joined South State Bank as a Senior Wealth Commercial Banker. She spent the previous 13 years in various positions with Wells-Fargo including Senior Private Banker and Commercial Relationship Manager. Pratt-Thomas has clients throughout the country, but her primary focus has always been growing businesses and private clients in the region.
On Friday, March 13th, 2015, Pratt-Thomas will bring her celebrity status as a society maven, community advocate and career woman to the Lowcountry Dancing with the Stars event to benefit the American Lung Association (ALA) in South Carolina. The 2015 Oxygen Ball will feature five local celebrity dancers who will compete to raise funds for the ALA. Other celebrities to compete with Helen Pratt-Thomas are Karalee Nielson Fallert, Restaurateur; Marshall Morris, Morris Nissan; Lisa Weitz, Avocet Hospitality; and Dixon Woodward, Coastal SC/NC, TD Bank. The celebrities are paired with professional dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studios for the competition. Guests will cast their vote for their favorite performance.
Name: Helen Pratt-Thomas
Three words that best describe me: Energetic, friendly, and driven
Could you describe your business? Helen is a Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Commercial Banker for South State Bank in Charleston, SC. Her primary role is to serve as the point of contact for commercial businesses. She also works closely with affluent and high net worth individuals and her team of experienced specialists to offer financial planning, trust and estate services, investment management, and customized credit solutions.
What do you do that inspires you most about your work? My clients inspire me daily. Learning about their needs and providing solutions to help them achieve their goals is why I love what I do.
Was there anything in your past that pointed you in the direction you’ve taken? Tom Parsell (founder of Magnolias, Blossom, and Cypress) introduced me to Carlos Evans who was at NationsBank in the late 90s when I got into banking. Carlos’ energy, enthusiasm, loyalty, tenacity, and love for his clients and the people he works had me wanting to emulate him. He is a mentor to me to this day.
What experience in your career are you the most proud of? Building a loyal client base.
What advice would you share with those still in school? Choose a career in a topic that you love.
How has giving back helped you? It has been personally gratifying to know that funds I have donated have saved the lives of many animals that have needed the services of the Charleston Animal Society. It has been gratifying to see Society 1858, An Auxiliary Group of the Gibbes Museum continue to thrive two years after I stepped down as President and Co-Founder. Society 1858 raises $10,000 annually to fund the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Young Southern Artists. I have met many friends who I would not know had I not volunteered.
How do you incorporate giving back in your life? It is part of my weekly routine. I attend committee meetings and Board Meetings regularly. I also give monthly to several organizations.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? The Gibbes Museum of Art: I was a co-founder of Society 1858, an Auxiliary Group of the Gibbes Museum of Art. It is a group geared to Young Professionals. Charleston has had several organizations try to start a young group but most have fizzled out. Society 1858 is on its 6th year and raises 10,000 a year for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Young Artists.
Charleston Animal Society: Every animal deserves a chance to have a healthy, happy, and productive life. Charleston Animal Society is no-kill and gives each animal the opportunity to be a part of the community.
When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help? Co-founding Society 1858 and implementing the annual 10,000 award for the 1858 Prize for Young Contemporary Artists.
What is the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across? “Flirting with Art” where we had female and male nude models (with panties and bras) painted by local artists. Each local artist selected a work of art hanging in the Museum as inspiration for his-her model. We had a fashion show with a MC and the models walked the runway to a sold out crowd of 420 people to raise money for the Gibbes.
What are some must-attend charity events for you? The Oxygen Ball, Dancing with the Stars to benefit the American Lung Association, 1858’s Winter Party at the Gibbes, Charleston Animal Society’s Chili Cookoff, Gibbes Street Party
What brands do you wear most often? Tricia McEvoy, Armani, J.McLaughlin, Manolo Blahnik
What is your favorite beauty product? Kiehl’s moisturizer
How would you describe your home decor? Clean lines, neutral
What is your secret for hosting a great party? Coordinating with Caviar & Bananas
Favorite Food? hamburger with pimento cheese
Favorite cocktail? champagne
Favorite Restaurant? Fulton Five
If you could host a dinner party for 8 who would you invite? Jesus, both sets of grandparents, mom, and dad, and Rawling, my brother
Favorite vacation spot? Nantucket
Favorite TV show? NCIS
Favorite Movie? American Sniper
Favorite Song? Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars
Favorite Book? Anything by James Patterson
Where do you get your news? Fox, CBS morning show