Thornwell is proud to have a cohesive team of professional, highly trained, and dedicated individuals who are committed to working together for the good of the children and to bring glory to God.
Thornwell Leadership Team:
The Rev. Elliot M. Smith, President
Ms. Lindy Scott, Executive Vice President
Mr. Norman Dover, Vice President for Educational Services
Ms. Sonya O’Neal, Vice President of Programs and Clinical Services
For other departmental staff listings, please click links below.
As a graduate of Penn State University, Elliot spent the early years of his career as a small business owner. In 1987, he heeded the call to ministry, sold the family business and enrolled in a double-competency degree program at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Bellarmine University, earning an M. Div. and an MBA.
In 1992, Elliot was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and served as an associate pastor at Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood, Florida. In 1996 he was called as Thornwell’s first director of church relations for south Georgia and Florida. Elliot traveled throughout the region speaking to individuals, groups and church congregations inviting them to “share in the joy that is Thornwell.”
Elliot and his wife, Jill, come to Thornwell from Austin, Texas, where Elliot served as Vice President for Development for Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services since 1998. They have two adult children, a daughter and son (twins).
Elliot began his current ministry position as Thornwell’s 9th president in June of 2011. His passion for children and family ministry runs deep as does his commitment to providing a joyful, Christian community within which to nurture all God’s children.
“Children are a wonderful gift from God. Sadly, child abuse, neglect, abandonment and other family crises threaten that gift. You and I are blessed to share in Thornwell’s ministry, for it is by God’s grace and working together that we are able to keep the promises we all make in Baptism and heed Christ’s call to serve the least of these.”
Executive Vice President
Lindy received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Erskine College and a Master’s Degree in Student Personnel and Counseling from Clemson University. She began her professional career at Thornwell in l977 as a campus Social Worker, and in 2002 became the Director of Training and Social Work. Lindy now serves as the Executive Vice President and considers it a privilege to be a ministry leader to the children and staff on Thornwell’s campus. She has lived in Clinton, SC for 28 years and is an elder at Bethany Presbyterian Church.
When asked, after 30 years of service, what keeps Lindy motivated to care for Thornwell’s kids, she said, “It really is my calling. I’ve watched hundreds of kids arrive on this campus feeling heartbroken and hopeless. But something remarkable happens, and usually within a short period of time. I begin to see something in their eyes that may not have ever been there before – hope. Having the privilege to watch children’s lives being transformed on a daily basis; that’s my motivation.”
Vice President for Educational Services
Norman earned his B.A. in religion and fine arts at Presbyterian College in 1981. He went on to earn both a Master’s Degree in education, and an Ed. S. degree in educational administration from the University of South Carolina. He worked as an Admissions Counselor for Presbyterian College before accepting a position as Drama Teacher and Assistant Principal at Thornwell High School. From 1995-2007, Norman held the position of Principal of Hartness-Thornwell Elementary School before accepting a position as the Director of Thornwell Learning Center. He is very active in his community and serves as a member of the Workforce Development Committee of the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce, and as a board member of the Joe Adair Outdoor Education Center. Norman is also a member of the Presbyterian College Educational Advisory Committee, a YMCA youth coach volunteer, an ordained Presbyterian Elder, and a member of Bethany Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Robin, have three boys. Norman loves to spend time with his family. He especially enjoys taking hunting trips with his boys.
As a long-time staff member at Thornwell, Norman has had the opportunity to see first-hand, the positive impact Thornwell is having on the lives of children:
Norman says, “As a Thornwell teacher and school administrator for almost three decades, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of seeing our children grow over a long period of time. I find it especially gratifying to see them return as adults and share their thoughts concerning the tremendous influence growing up at Thornwell had on their lives. This long-term perspective enables me to understand how God is using the efforts of all His servants on this campus to establish a strong foundation for our children that will have a major impact on them and their families for their entire lives.”
Vice President of Programs and Clinical Services
Sonya holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Erskine College and a M.S.W. from the University of South Carolina. With over 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults and families, her trauma experience includes working with families as a Crime Victim Counselor and as the Clinical Program Director for SAFE Homes Rape Crisis Coalition as well as providing therapy for the Children’s Advocacy Center’s in Spartanburg and Greenville, SC. Sonya has also provided school based therapy and family reunification work through Family Preservation. She is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Child Centered Play Therapy, EMDR and IMAGO Therapy, and has provided individual and family therapy at Thornwell since 2007.
Sonya is married to Scott, who teaches 6th grade Science and Robotics at Phinney Fisher Middle School in Greenville, SC. They have a son, Taylor, who is in high school and runs Cross Country. Sonya enjoys cooking, vegetable gardening and hiking.
Regarding her role as Vice President of Programs and Clinical Services, Sonya says, “I am excited to join the staff at Thornwell in this ministry of healing children and families.”