Like many great love stories, it began in a buffet line over chicken wings. Cheryl Holland and Doug Quackenbush ’82, M ’84 were young professionals when they met at a Columbia Chamber of Commerce luncheon and connected immediately. They soon realized they shared the same values, dedication to their careers and passion for giving back to others.
Thirty-two years of marriage later, Holland and Quackenbush have kept the sparks flying while establishing award-winning and nationally recognized businesses in their chosen fields. Holland is the founder and president of Abacus Planning Group Inc., a financial planning and investment firm managing more than $1.7 billion in assets. She is a regular on Barron’s annual Top 100 Women in Finance list and was named a Barron’s Hall of Fame Advisor in 2023.
Quackenbush is the founding principal of Quackenbush Architects + Planners (Q+), an architectural firm specializing in educational projects across South Carolina. He and his team have completed more than 400 large-scale projects, focusing mostly on K-12 and higher education. Last October, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Learning Environments, the national organization’s highest honor.
Today, this Columbia-based couple generously gives their energy and resources to many causes they believe in, including Clemson University.
Both Holland and Quackenbush enjoy the multifaceted aspects of their careers. “The best financial advisers are empathic problem-solvers who understand markets and taxes and psychology and put all this knowledge to work in service
of others,” Holland explains.
Quackenbush continues to be inspired by what he describes as his “incredibly rich” Clemson Experience, where he made lifelong connections with his fellow architecture students and professors. He recently established the P. Douglas Quackenbush Endowed Professorship in Architecture. The professorship reflects his gratitude for those Clemson professors and mentors who helped shape his life and career. He also serves on the University Board of Visitors and the capital campaign committee.
For Holland’s part, the Bryn Mawr College alumna has adopted Clemson as her second college home. She was awarded an honorary degree in 2010 for her service to the University. She is the incoming chair of the Clemson University Foundation Board, where she will lead the efforts of the Foundation’s new strategic plan that aligns with Clemson Elevate to secure the future direction of the University. No small task. But Quackenbush knows his wife is the perfect person for the job.
“I’m incredibly proud of Cheryl and of Clemson for recognizing her talent,” he said. “She is a former trustee at her alma mater. She is a gifted fundraiser. And she understands endowment management at the collegiate level. There is no one better suited to lead this foundation than Cheryl Holland.”
To the ends of the Earth
In their limited spare time, Holland and Quackenbush enjoy adventure travel. Quackenbush says Holland does all the planning, and he just follows her lead. Their latest adventure was to Antarctica. The busy couple cherishes these getaways and their rare time alone. The connections that first brought them together in that buffet line are still strong. “At the end of the day, there is no one I’d rather have dinner with than Doug Quackenbush,” says Holland.