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Celebration of Inspiring Women to honor eight with S.C. connections

March 14, 2011

Eight South Carolina women whose lifework demonstrates strength and purpose will be honored during the inaugural "Celebration of Inspiring Women." The evening gala event is part of a day-long focus on women and leadership scheduled for Friday, March 25 at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.Eight South Carolina women whose lifework demonstrates strength and purpose will be honored during the inaugural "Celebration of Inspiring Women." The evening gala event is part of a day-long focus on women and leadership scheduled for Friday, March 25 at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.

The Women's Leadership Conference is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Celebration of Inspiring Women will begin at 6:30 p.m. These events will bring nationally known speakers and honorees to Myrtle Beach, providing a forum for women to share their wisdom on topics such as career advancement, work/life balance, and women's leadership in the areas of business, philanthropy, community and government. Coastal Carolina University's Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL) will present the two events.

ABC News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi will serve as master of ceremonies. Alfonsi, based in New York, reports for all ABC News broadcasts including "World News with Diane Sawyer," "Nightline" and "Good Morning America."

"We believe that in recognizing extraordinary women in South Carolina, we will show the nation that we are rich in the strength of accomplished women," said CCU Terri DeCenzo, executive director of WIPL. "We hope to inspire the next generation of women to build on that strength and to empower them to reach greater heights than ever imagined. This is our opportunity to celebrate a legacy of achievement while helping provide education for future legacies."

The Celebration of Inspiring Women will honor:

* S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, honored for making history in becoming South Carolina's first female governor. Gov. Haley was elected the 116th governor of South Carolina on Nov. 2, 2010. She was first elected as a state representative to serve the 87th district in Lexington County in 2004. Haley was named "Friend of the Taxpayer" (2009) by the S.C. Association of Taxpayers and a "Taxpayer Hero" (2005) by Gov. Mark Sanford.

* Vivian Ayers-Allen, honored for her commitment and contributions to literary arts, for facilitating and promoting artistic efforts of others and for her preservation of an important South Carolina cultural landmark. Ayers-Allen is a poet, cultural activist and founding director of the "Brainerd Institute Project." She has been recognized by the Cambridge Who's Who for dedication, leadership and excellence in her career.

* Maria G. Buse, M.D., honored for her groundbreaking work in medical research and for her efforts to forge new roles for women and create opportunities for future generations. Buse has been an Medical University of South Carolina faculty member since 1957 and is the first woman in MUSC's 179-year history to receive the honor of Distinguished University Professor in 2003.

* Mignon Clyburn, honored for her commitment to public service and dedication to the public interest. Clyburn is member of the Federal Communications Commission. Prior to her swearing in as Commissioner, Clyburn served for 11 years as the representative of South Carolina's sixth district on the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.

* Brig. Gen. Darlene Marie Goff, honored for her dedicated service to the people of South Carolina for opening new frontiers for women's military leadership in the Palmetto State. Goff made history when she was promoted from colonel to brigadier general on Jan. 7, 2011, becoming the first female general officer in the South Carolina National Guard.

* S.C. State Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn, honored for effecting change through her visionary leadership within the public sector. Hearn made history in 2000 when she became the first female chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

* U.S. Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, honored for her extraordinary leadership in solving pressing challenges both domestically and globally, as well as for her professional leadership and consistent commitment to excellence. Ambassador McElveen-Hunter is the first female chair of the American Red Cross, founder and CEO of Pace Communications and former ambassador to the Republic of Finland.

* Frances Scott, honored for her selfless commitment to her children and for serving as an inspiration to mothers everywhere who nurture, encourage and support their children's success. Scott is the mother of U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, (R-SC) District 117.

The Women's Leadership Conference will feature 14 speakers:

Sharyn Alfonsi is an ABC News correspondent based in New York. She reports for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms

Shannon Andrews is senior marketing manager for Health & Wellness at Sams Club. She is responsible for driving the development and implementation of marketing strategies, planning and innovation to drive sales, membership and penetration.

Kristin Bohan, Ph.D., licensed psychologist experienced in helping girls and women with eating disorders, body image issues, anxiety and depression

Margaret Booth, president of M. Booth and Associates, a New York public relations firm

Karen Brewer-Edwards is a regional general manager for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. She is responsible for managing more than $6 billion in revenue and approximately 26,000 associates and 87 stores in North Georgia including Atlanta.

Mignon Clyburn, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission

Patricia R. Hatler, executive vice president and chief legal and governance officer of Nationwide Insurance and served as 2009-2010 chair of the board of directors of the Association of Corporate Counsel

Kaye Hearn, South Carolina Supreme Court Justice

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, first woman chair of the American Red Cross, founder and CEO of Pace Communications and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland

Mary M. Kennemur, president of JHS Capital Advisors, Wealth Management Group

Lisa Kinon, family court judge for South Carolinas 15th Judicial Circuit

Charlotte R. Lane, commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission

Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D., deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University

Kim Brown Strickland, vice president of Walmart US Financial Planning & Analysis

Donna R. Tyson, international motivational speaker and author

Mary Agnes Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications, appointed by President Barack Obama as vice chair of the Presidents National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee

Jennifer Wilson, chief judge of the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court

Gold sponsors of the WIPL Conference and Celebration include The Brandon Agency and WPDE News Channel 15. Silver sponsors include the Frugal Princess Boutique, Nationwide Insurance, The Sun News and Walmart. Bronze sponsors include Aramark and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Carole and John Sanders Tech-Ed Fund are sponsoring the Internet Caf during the conference.

To register, go to To register by phone, contact Lynn Fox at 349-2158. For media information, contact Martha Hunn at 843-349-2962.

Women in Philanthropy and Leadership creates and fosters a community of women as philanthropists and leaders in support of Coastal Carolina University (CCU) and its educational foundations and practices. WIPL works to cultivate a sustainable legacy to transform the leadership potential of students, staff, faculty and the community into a vital resource for leadership development and recognition.