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Media Contact:
Sara Ballard, sara@scwomenlead.net

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Our archive of 2022 Media Releases is available below.

SC Women in Leadership Celebrates Women Who Have Sought Elective and Appointive Office
Annual Leading Women Dinner Honors Women Who Have Blazed Trails in Civic Leadership 

September 22, 2022 (Columbia, South Carolina)SC Women in Leadership (WIL) will honor outgoing S.C. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, S.C. State Senator Mia McLeod, and S.C. State Representative Rita Allison at their annual Leading Women Dinner on September 28, 2022 from 6-9 p.m. at 701 Whaley Street in Columbia. The event will feature a keynote address by The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former mayor of Baltimore, Maryland and 73rd President of the U.S. Conference of  Mayors. Guests at the event will include some 275 current and former female candidates, elected and appointed officials, and supporters of equal representation in civic leadership.

WIL is a statewide multi-partisan organization working to inform, inspire, and involve qualified women in every aspect of elected and appointed leadership. The Leading Women Dinner recognizes and celebrates the South Carolina women who have stepped forward to seek elective (win or lose) and appointive office, honors women who have blazed trails in civic leadership so that others may follow, and builds a support network to encourage women to vie for civic leadership roles.

Due to institutional, socio-economic, and cultural barriers that persist in South Carolina, running for elected office remains daunting for women. Although 51% of South Carolina’s population is female, only 17.6% of seats in the state legislature are held by women and women are similarly underrepresented in local elected office and on public appointed boards and commissions. Furthermore, of 170 state legislators, only 10 are Black women. South Carolina voters have never sent a woman to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Additionally, since 1993, there had been no women at all representing South Carolina in the U.S. Congress until Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020. No woman of color from South Carolina has ever served in the U.S. Congress. Despite the challenges women face, this year 266 women filed to run for elected office from city and town councils to Governor with 174 women on the ballot in the general election in November.

Four honorees will be recognized for their vision, determination, and the stamina to stand up and make a difference through their careers in the public sector. Their work and active engagement in mentoring is helping other women that follow to achieve high potential in public service. WIL is proud to recognize these remarkable women who have worked across both gender and party lines to move South Carolina forward.

Leading Woman Honoree, S.C. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman
As State Superintendent, Spearman is the highest female elected official currently in office in the state. Throughout her career as a public school music teacher, assistant principal, member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Deputy Superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education, Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, and South Carolina State Superintendent of Education, she has worked across party lines and embodied the principles of cooperation and collaboration that SC WIL promotes.

Leadership Legacy Honoree, S.C. State Senator Mia McLeod
A trailblazing leader, Mia S. McLeod was the first woman to represent House District 79 and Senate District 22 and the first black woman ever to run for Governor of South Carolina. Senator McLeod is known for her bipartisan work in and through state government.

Leadership Legacy Honoree, S.C. State Representative Rita Allison
Representative Rita Allison has served a total of 28 years in the S.C. House of Representatives and founded the General Assembly’s Women’s Caucus. She was a member of the Spartanburg District Five School Board of Trustees, ran for Lt. Governor, and served as an education advisor, and later as the Legislative Director to Governor Mark Sanford.

Up & Coming Leader Honoree, Nocola Hemphill
Nocola Hemphill was the first woman and Black candidate to run for Mayor of the Town of Winnsboro. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Southern Women Philanthropy Conference working to strengthen and educate rural communities. 

“We intend that all the women we honor at the Leading Women Dinner, along with our keynote speaker,  inspire other women to consider leadership roles – in their home communities and at all levels. she continued. “We need the inclusive leadership styles our honorees present to build a more equitable state,” said Barbara Rackes, CEO and chair of the SC WIL board of directors.

Previously hosted by the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics, the event includes a V.I.P. reception for sponsors and special guests from 6-7 p.m. and seated dinner beginning at 7 p.m. with keynote remarks and award presentations for women in local and statewide office that have devoted themselves to community service, demonstrated a commitment to working across party lines, and whose civic work has improved the quality of life for all South Carolinians. Proceeds from the event, including sponsorship support from Secondary Solutions, Luck Companies, and Congressman Jim Clyburn, underwrite WIL’s mission of recruiting and training more qualified women to run for elective and appointive office in South Carolina. 

Visit the event web page for expanded bios for the honorees and keynote speaker. To access the media kit for the event, including hi-res portraits of the honorees, please click here.

Download PDF Version

SC Women in Leadership Recognizes State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman
Annual Leading Women Dinner Honors Women Who Have Blazed Trails in Civic Leadership

August 17, 2022 (Columbia, South Carolina) – SC Women in Leadership (WIL) will honor outgoing South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman at their annual Leading Women Dinner on September 28, 2022 at 701 Whaley Street in Columbia. The statewide multi-partisan organization works to inform, inspire, and involve qualified women in every aspect of elected and appointed leadership. The Leading Women Dinner recognizes and celebrates the South Carolina women who have stepped forward to seek elective (win or lose) and appointive office, honors women who have blazed trails in civic leadership so that others may follow, and builds a support network to encourage women to vie for civic leadership roles.

As State Superintendent, Spearman is the highest female elected official currently in office in the state. Throughout her career as a public school music teacher, assistant principal, member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Deputy Superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education, Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, and South Carolina State Superintendent of Education, she has worked across party lines and embodied the principles of cooperation and collaboration that SC WIL promotes. Spearman has demonstrated a positive and forward-thinking approach to South Carolina education in pursuit of her vision for every South Carolina graduate to be prepared for the next step after graduation.

“Molly Spearman has walked the walk – from the S.C. House of Representatives to running for and winning this seat as the only woman elected statewide in S. C. today. Her ability to navigate the choppy waters of a pandemic that put many schools and school administrators at cross-purposes with political winds makes her a model our future women leaders can emulate,” said Barbara Rackes, CEO and chair of the SC WIL board of directors.

“I am honored to receive this award and represent women all over the state and nation who take on the challenge of public office and service,” said Molly Spearman, State Superintendent of Education. “During my service, I have met leaders across this state, from women who lead large corporations to those who do the important work of serving as leaders in schools and classrooms. They have inspired me, and I hope that I have inspired them. As the grandmother of two girls, I am encouraged by the collaborative spirit we have and need to advance South Carolina. We need women and men who will lead our state into the future, and it has been my honor to serve as an inspiration for the next generation.”

Due to institutional, socio-economic, and cultural barriers that persist in South Carolina, running for elected office is daunting for even the boldest of women. Although 51% of South Carolina’s population is female, only 17.6% of seats in the state legislature are held by women and are similarly underrepresented in local elected office and on public appointed boards and commissions. Furthermore, of 170 state legislators, only 10 are Black women. South Carolina voters have never sent a woman to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Additionally, since 1993, there had been no women at all representing South Carolina in the U.S. Congress until Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020. No woman of color from South Carolina has ever served in the U.S. Congress. Despite the challenges women face, this year 266 women filed to run for elected office from city and town councils to Governor with 169 women on the ballot in the general election in November.

The Leading Women Dinner, previously hosted by the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics, includes a V.I.P. reception for sponsors and special guests, open beer and wine bar, seated dinner, national keynote speaker, and awards for women in local, statewide, and appointive office that have devoted themselves to community service, demonstrated a commitment to working across party lines, and whose civic work has improved the quality of life for all South Carolinians. Corporate sponsorshipstables, and individual tickets are available. Proceeds from the event support WIL’s mission of recruiting and training more qualified women to run for elective and appointive office in South Carolina.

To obtain a hi-res version of Superintendent Spearman’s headshot, please click here.

Download PDF Version

Annual SpringBoard Conference Empowers Women to Serve on Boards and Commissions
Join SC Women in Leadership for skill-building sessions, panel discussions, and more

May 5, 2022 (Columbia, S.C.) – South Carolina Women in Leadership (SC WIL) will host the third annual SpringBoard Conference at the Columbia Museum of Art on May 17, 2022, from 1-5 p.m. Presented by Bank of America, with support from Duke Energy and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the multi-partisan nonprofit organization will provide women with the tools that they need to gain confidence and knowledge to seek positions of power and influence on public appointed boards and commissions. New this year, there will be opportunities to learn about how to level up your board service and navigate the politics of the appointment process.

Attendees will learn about the important role boards and commissions play in our government and how the decisions they make directly impact our everyday lives and gain an understanding of the responsibilities associated with serving. Through a series of skill-building mini-sessions and panel discussions, they will be able to identify the right board for their interest and experience, and then submit and follow up on their application. SC WIL will also present a demonstration of MatchBoard, an app that improves accessibility for citizens to find and apply for boards in their areas.

Kelly Beazley, the Public Policy Executive for State & Local Government Relations for Bank of America, will kick the day off with a fireside chat. Presenters and panelists include women who are currently serving and elected and government officials involved in the appointment process. View the full schedule.

This event will be offered both in-person at the Columbia Museum of Art and virtually. Registration is required and ticket prices are $40 for in-person and $20 for virtual. Some scholarships are available. Contact events@scwomenlead.net for scholarship information.

SC Women in Leadership Announces Public Launch of MatchBoard.tech
Web-based App Improves Accessibility to Appointed Public Boards and Commissions

January 24, 2022 (Columbia, S.C.) – In a press conference on Monday, South Carolina Women in Leadership announces the public launch of MatchBoard, a new statewide public appointed board and commission management system for South Carolina’s county and municipal governments. The web-based app replaces the numerous confusing, frustrating, antiquated, and disparate methods of administration and communication currently used by South Carolina’s county and local governments for appointment of citizens to public boards and commissions. MatchBoard also simplifies the process, improving accessibility for citizens to learn about and apply for the many available seats on public boards and commissions.

WHAT:
MatchBoard Statewide Public Launch Press Conference

WHO:
Daniel Rickenmann, Mayor, City of Columbia
Barbara Rackes, President, SC WIL
Emily Bowerman, Matchboard Director, SC WIL
Joann Turnquist, President & CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF), representing the John S. And James L. Knight Foundation Fund at CCCF
Tim Winslow, Executive Director of SC Association of Counties
Representatives from: Beaufort County, City of Columbia, Jasper County, McCormick County, Orangeburg County, City of Spartanburg

Open to the Public. Masks required.

WHEN:
Monday, January 24, 2022, 11 a.m.

WHERE:
Columbia City Hall
Council Chambers
1737 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Match Board was developed and is operated by SC WIL, in collaboration with the SC Association of Counties, the Knight Family Foundation, and multiple S.C. counties and cities, who have experienced how difficult it is to administrate board and commission vacancies. Through MatchBoard, governments and their citizens can efficiently and seamlessly inform and communicate with each other through one streamlined and dynamic app. View a demonstration of MatchBoard and learn more about all of the apps functionalities at MatchBoard.tech.

Appointed boards and commissions are the backbone of local governments and present opportunities for local citizen volunteers with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences to have a say in decisions about how their community is governed including taxes, zoning, elections, law enforcement, performing arts, and assessments.

MatchBoard is now available statewide and has been adopted by several local governments including the City of Columbia, City of Spartanburg, Beaufort County, Jasper County, McCormick County, and Orangeburg County. The City of Columbia is leading the way in adopting the web-based app to manage their appointed boards and commissions. Residents of these communities can apply for boards and commissions now by visiting their local government’s website or MatchBoard.tech.

Erika Hammond, Clerk to Columbia City Council says, “Matchboard is going to create a level of exactness, efficiency, and equity that applicants, clerks, and council members have been craving for a very long time. This is certainly a game-changer for everyone involved. We are grateful for SC WIL’s leadership.”

South Carolina counties and municipalities are invited to learn more, register for a live demonstration, and sign up at MatchBoard.tech.

“The South Carolina Association of Counties is glad to be a sponsor of MatchBoard,” says Tim Winslow, Executive Director of SC Association of Counties, “This innovative platform transforms the way counties recruit citizens to serve on boards and commissions. MatchBoard streamlines the recruitment, application, and appointment process for council members, clerks to councils, and citizens alike. The association applauds the City of Columbia, City of Spartanburg, Beaufort County, Jasper County, McCormick County, and Orangeburg County officials for being early adopters of this program.”

Development of MatchBoard was made possible with the generous support of Aflac, Jen Baxley, BlueCross BlueShield of SC, Scott Middleton, Nephron Pharmaceutical Corporation, The Nord Family Foundation, Joe E. Taylor, John S. And James L. Knight Foundation Fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, and Unum/Colonial Life. SC WIL is also grateful to presenting sponsor Bank of America and supporting sponsor Duke Energy for their support of the annual SpringBoard Conference to help women gain the confidence and knowledge and identify opportunities to serve in leadership roles on public appointed boards and commissions that best suit their experience and interests.

MatchBoard Media Kit with downloadable logos, video demonstration of the application, press release, and more available at https://bit.ly/3KnHo8F.