Barbara Rackes is often remembered for her years in the women’s apparel industry, where she built a $10 million company doing business in three southeastern cities and employing more than 100 people.
Following 20 years in the retail industry, she launched the first S.C. company doing business online and ultimately several technology companies. What Rackes remembers best is the blend of skills she learned across all those platforms – finance, customer service, marketing, technology – that now enable her to invite other women to do as she did.
In 2018, Rackes joined with other leading women to found a non-profit corporation called the South Carolina Women’s Leadership Network dba, SC Women in Leadership (SC WIL). Its mission is to encourage women to step up and lead corporations, boards, and governments. In 2019 SC WIL has taken on additional missions of collaborating with other organizations to ensure fair voting, filling the pipeline with diverse candidates, and reducing polarization as women are so capable of doing.
An active contributor to her community, Rackes has chaired or served on many local, state and national boards including the Small Business Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the University of South Carolina Educational and Research Foundation Boards and the advisory board to the College of Liberal Arts, the of Claflin College Business Board, the Palmetto Health Foundation Board of Directors, the Central Carolina Community Foundation Board, One Columbia for Arts and Historic Preservation, Famously Hot New Year, and the Governor’s Commission for Management, Accountability, and Performance (MAP).
Prior to her years as a traditional and online pioneer, Rackes served as a press secretary to a US Congressman in Washington while attending law school. She and her husband live in a restored historic building in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.