John Luton Columbia County Director of Community and Leisure Services


John-Luton-(2-of-2)Number of Years in Position: 2

Family: Wife, Jenifer; children, Holly (4), Camille (2) and Eli (6 months)

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: In Columbia County, the best is the standard. I love working with a team and for a community with high expectations that strives to be the best. It’s what attracted me to Columbia County five years ago and what motivates me every day to do what I can to enhance the quality of life for residents. Seeing employees that I lead have success in what they’re passionate about, and experiencing the impacts of what we do on the community, is gratifying.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I am involved with several citizen advisory boards including the Recreation Advisory Board, Community Events Advisory Board, Monument and Public Art Committee, Greater Clarks Hill Regional Library Board, Friends of the Euchee Creek Greenway and Animal Services Advisory Board. I also work very closely with the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose mission of promoting the county as a destination marketplace is one I’m very passionate about.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: At one of my previous jobs, my department director was suddenly let go, and I was thrust into a leadership role. I was challenged to manage a brand new $17 million park (tournament complex) with only a quarter of the budget that was originally allocated to operate it, but with the same expectations for success. The park’s construction was controversial, and we faced a great deal of negativity from the public. Many couldn’t wait to see it fail. Our staff used this as motivation and rallied together. After just one year in operation, the total economic impact generated by events hosted at the park was greater than the cost to build the park itself. I still draw from lessons learned from this experience every day and consider it a crucial point in my professional development.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: I’m very proud of many professional accomplishments I’ve been able to achieve at this point in my career, but the success would mean nothing without being able to share it with my wife and kids. So, I’m most proud of being a husband and a dad.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: Some sort of professional athlete

Favorite Way to Spend a Saturday Afternoon: Couch, multiple TVs, full slate of college football

Favorite TV Show: “30 for 30”

Favorite Movies: Hoosiers, The Jerk

Favorite Sports Team: Clemson Tigers (2016 College Football National Champions)

Favorite Comfort Food: Steak and potatoes

Favorite App: ESPN

Last Book Read: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons                                                         

Dream Vacation: Anywhere tropical would work, but a safari-type trip sounds fun

Something That Has Changed My Life: The birth of my first child…then again with the birth of my second…then again with birth of my third…

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Treat others the way you like to be treated. Simple, but something I try to always remember whether it’s with personal relationships, dealing with the public or managing staff.

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Thankful

Favorite Hobbies: Clemson sports, golf, poker, spending time with the family

Secret Aspiration: I’ve always thought I would have been a good coach or sportswriter. I actually wanted to major in journalism in college, but Clemson didn’t offer it. And I certainly wasn’t going to USC.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I used to say I would win “Alone” on the History Channel. But my wife likes to remind me about a recent trip into our backyard woods, when I stumbled over my own feet and sliced my leg, pretty badly, with the hatchet I was carrying. So I won’t be auditioning for that.

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I’m hesitant to share, but I’m pretty good at impersonations. I don’t break them out that often because people tend to hound me to do my impression of them, and you never know how someone will take it. My high school basketball teammates persuaded me one time to do my impersonation of our coach, in front of our coach. So I did. All my teammates died laughing, coach’s face turned red as he laughed awkwardly and insecurely – and I never played again.

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