'Antigone" is one of the first words uttered by William G. Medich to a guest in his office at South Carolina Bank and Trust.
It may seem strange to hear the senior vice president of a bank speaking of Sophocles' 441 B.C. Greek tragedy, but Medich is far from the traditional image of a buttoned-down banker.
The Washington, D.C., native, who is vice president for development of Spoleto Festival USA, is not only an expert on investments, loans and mortgages, but also is deeply interested in the arts and literature.
Some of that interest can be credited to his past year's experience as a Liberty Fellow, meaning he was one of 20 South
Carolinians between the ages of 25 and 45 selected to take part in the two-year fellowship program, sponsored by Hayne Hipp of Greenville, Wofford College and The Aspen Institute.
"At the seminars, Liberty Fellows have the chance to reflect on great writings such as Martin Luther King's 'Letter From a Birmingham Jail' and Plato's 'Republic,' and to think about how such writings apply to your own life," Medich explains.
"You also see how an individual's attitude can make a difference in society, and to answer the question: 'How does one lead a complete life?' "
Each of the participants must complete a project, and Medich is working toward creating a mechanism that channels business people to become members of the boards of nonprofits.
"I am using the skills I gain through this fellowship to address some of the challenges the festival faces, since that is my main volunteer passion."
In fact, the 42-year-old Medich himself helps solve one problem: drawing younger people on to the board as longtime board members retire.
"We also must continue to keep the standard high, as it is right now," he says. "Spoleto is at a truly world-class level, something I can't say about any other organization in the state."
While employed by Carolina First, Medich moved to the area in 1995 with his wife, Julie, an attorney with Haynsworth, Sinkler, Boyd. Today, they live on Sullivan's Island with their two daughters, Lauren, 9, and Emily, 6.
"About a year ago, South Carolina Bank and Trust, headquartered in Columbia, moved here, and I decided to leave Carolina First to have the opportunity to build a team from the ground up, which is what I will do as the city executive for this full-service bank," he explains.
Because his parents collect art in D.C. and he and Julie collect Southern art, Medich was drawn to join the board of the Gibbes Museum of Art, where he served as president 2002-04.
Medich was involved in starting the Gibbes' Fellows Program for donors who contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the museum. After two years, 200 people had joined the program.
Medich and his wife got their first taste of a Spoleto event when they attended a concert by the Spoleto Orchestra, which South Carolina Bank and Trust now sponsors. Next, the Mediches took their older daughter to a chamber music concert, and both daughters greatly enjoyed Circus Flora.
"We were hooked by then," Medich says with a smile.
In 2003, Medich joined the Spoleto board and has brought the same energy to Spoleto that he did to the Gibbes.
The banker explains how the festival must meet its estimated $7.5 million budget, and that the organization has ended in the black for 11 straight years, a trend that must continue, he says.
"People believe in Spoleto, and so right now it's not too hard to raise money," he says. "But, believe me, I know how much work the people did who came before me, and I think it is good to maintain a mix of board members from newcomers to those who were involved in the festival's history."
Medich recently returned from New Orleans JazzFest, where for the past decade he has relished three days and nights immersed in jazz, blues, gospel, zydeco, funk, brass bands and rock music.
"It's a fantastic experience and shows how strong the human spirit is," Medich says of the city that weathered a devastating hurricane 21 months ago.
Just as he recently saw the determination of the residents of New Orleans through the ongoing JazzFest, he sees Charleston shimmer and shine through Spoleto, and is convinced the arts are a key to the soul.
"Spoleto 2007 is going to be a great season," he says.
BORN: Washington, D.C.
EDUCATION: B. S. degree in economics and finance, University of South Carolina, 1986. Graduate School of Banking, Louisiana State University, 1997.
FAMILY: Wife, Julie; daughters, Lauren, 9, and Emily, 6.
VOLUNTEER: Vice presiˆ-dent for development on the Spoleto Festival USA board.
FAVORITE VACATION: Going to Paris with Julie for her 30th birthday.
HOBBIES: Collecting Southern art, cooking and attending performances.
William G. Medich
PEOPLE WHO HAVE INFLUˆ-ENCED MY LIFE: My parents, who instilled in me as a child the importance of honesty and integˆ-rity; my tae kwon do instructor, who showed me the importance of perseverance; and my wife, Julie, who has taught me the imˆ-portance of compassion.
PLACE I PLAN TO VISIT: New Zealand, where my family will visit my brother at Christmas.
MAJOR CHALLENGE IN LIFE: Coming to Charleston as a banker in 1995 and not knowing anyone.
MAJOR GOAL: To make a positive contribution to the community of Charleston.
NIGEL REDDEN, SPOLETO GENERAL DIRECTOR: " Bill has become increasingly involved in every aspect of Spoleto, espeˆ-cially in thinking of ways of how we can better operate."