FEATURED ALUMNI: JAMES H. RITCHIE
As the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, James H. Ritchie's family instilled in him a commitment to the American belief in equal opportunity and a duty to assist in the advancement of our nation; principles that remain a priority in his life and career today.
The older of two children, Ritchie grew up in Roanoke, Va. and attended public schools. His mother taught fifth grade and was a guidance counselor while his father was a corporate manager and businessman. Both active in their community, Ritchie's parents coached youth athletic teams, lead booster clubs and served on the PTA.
Now actively involved in his own community, Ritchie learned the value of volunteering early on from his parents. In addition, he also learned the importance of hard work at an early age, as he started his first job at age 12 and worked after school and during summers throughout his high school and college careers.
His work ethic later propelled him to Washington, D.C. During his college years he interned for the Senate Republican Conference Committee and the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
Inspired by Ronald Reagan, Ritchie's interest in politics and Washington continued to grow throughout college and upon graduation from West Virginia University in 1983 Ritchie attended ICPES that summer where he interned with the Senate Republican Policy Committee which was chaired by Senator Orrin Hatch.
"The Fund for American Studies was a transformative experience for me," said Ritchie. "It gave me the opportunity to compete with the best and to gain confidence as I prepared for a life of public service. The rigorous academics and the legislative internship enhanced my effectiveness in the competition of ideas in many legislative debates."
After his time in Washington, Ritchie attended law school at Wake Forest University and graduated in 1986. He and his wife Evelyn then moved to Greenville, S.C. where he began his practice with the Haynsworth Law Firm.
Over 20 years later, Ritchie is now a shareholder in the Holcombe Bomar law firm. His work focuses on business law, strategic planning, health care and regulatory matters.
In 1999 he announced his candidacy for the South Carolina Senate and was elected in 2000. In a 2002 report by The State, after serving only two years, Ritchie was selected by his colleagues as one of the ten most effective senators in South Carolina.
Ritchie was named Majority Whip in 2004. That same year, the South Carolina Policy Council presented him with its Palmetto Leadership Award for his commitment to individual liberty, free enterprise and limited government.
Just as his parents were, Ritchie remains active in his community. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for his family church, Trinity United Methodist, helped organize a youth football league and was a volunteer coach for football, soccer and basketball. He has also served as Vice Chairman of the Spartanburg County Republican Party. In addition, Ritchie has served on the Board of Directors and as General Counsel for the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
He also continues to be active with TFAS as an alumnus; he served as the keynote speaker at the TFAS Leadership Network conference in Charleston, S.C. in the fall of 2006 and will attend the Annual Conference in Washington this April where he will be presented with the 2010 TFAS Alumni Achievement Award. Ritchie was chosen for this award for the accomplishments he has achieved in his career and for his life of public service with his community.
He and his wife reside in Spartanburg, S.C. with their three children, Anna Grace, Caroline and Jimmy.