Dr. Leonard Starks


2nd Year Trustee

Dr. Starks serves as Dean of Students for the Viking Early College in Spartanburg School District Seven. 

Len was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Georgia Tech. He began his corporate career with Milliken & Company, the first African American Ph.D. Chemist hired by their chemical division. During his thirteen years with Milliken, he obtained thirteen patents, has thirteen additional patents pending, and was inducted into Milliken’s Innovator’s Hall of Fame. He has authored numerous technical publications and held recruiting duties with an emphasis on diversity recruitment. 

From Milliken, Len joined Michelin, North America, as Senior Materials Engineer specializing in materials cost reduction. In 2009, he joined Spartanburg District Seven, serving as District Coordinator for the AmeriCorps 7 program, as STEM Coach, and currently as Dean of Students for the Viking Early College. 

He is the Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, Epsilon Nu Chapter, having pledged through Psi Chapter, Morehouse College, in the spring of 1984. He is also a founding member of The 100 Black Men of the Upstate chapter, where he served as director of the Spartanburg County Mentoring program. Dr. Starks has been a member of several boards, including the board of directors for the Leadership Spartanburg Board of Regents and the Eagle Scout Review Board. He was a founding member of the board of directors for the ReGenesis Community Health Center, where he served as executive treasurer. He is a member of Silver Hill Memorial United Methodist Church, where he serves as Lay Leader and Sunday School teacher.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends, mentoring young people, and playing golf. One of his favorite quotes comes from the late Morehouse College president, Dr. Benjamin Mays, who says, “Not failure, but low aim is a sin.”

Len is married to the former Karla Cherry. They have two children, Kandace, a graduate of Claflin University, and Jordan, a North Carolina A&T University senior. He serves on the YMCA board and as Co-Chair on the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Board.