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2014 Inspiring Women

Paula Harper BetheaPaula Harper Bethea
Executive director of the South Carolina Education Lottery • • •

Paula Harper Bethea has served as executive director of the South Carolina Education Lottery since 2009.

She was born in Hampton County, S.C., and graduated from Estill High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 1975.

For 30 years she worked with her husband Bill at the family law firm, Bethea, Jordan and Griffin, P.A., in Hilton Head. From 2006 to 2009 she served as director of external relations with the McNair Law Firm and in 2010 she served as assistant to S.C. Speaker of the House Rex Carter.

She was one of nine South Carolinians chosen to serve on the initial lottery commission in 2001 and helped launch the state’s first successful lottery game the following year. In 2005 she was invited to serve on the board and later served as chairman of the Centers of Economic Excellence, which oversees the annual lottery proceeds. Since its inception, the South Carolina Education Lottery has generated more than $3.2 billion dollars: more than $2.4 billion has been allocated for scholarships and grants for higher education and more than $690 million to K-12 education.

Harper Bethea served as a director of First Financial and First Federal Bank (First Federal) from 1996 to 2010 and chairman until 2013, when the bank merged with SCBT Financial; she currently serves as vice chairman of the SCBT board of directors.

She is chairman emeritus of the United Way of America’s Board of Governors and was the first woman to serve as chairman. She was a member of the board of directors for United Way International, chairman of United Way of South Carolina and Beaufort County. She also served as the United Way liaison to the NFL.

In addition, she is a former board chairman of the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce and the Wilkins Forum at Furman University. She is a founding board member of the Palmetto Institute, and has served on the board of the South Carolina Competitiveness Council.

She was vice chairman of the board at Presbyterian College, a member emeritus of the board of the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation, and is past chairman of the board of the Heart and Vascular Center at MUSC.  She also has served as president of the University of South Carolina Alumni Association. She is a life member of Independent Colleges and Universities of South Carolina and is a member of the board of the MCI Heritage Classic Foundation.

She served on the State Chamber's Task Force for Restructuring State Government in 1991 and was a member and a Subcommittee Chairman of the Governor's Commission on Restructuring. In 1992, Gov. Campbell awarded her the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest award for volunteer service.

In 2011 she received the Global Vision Award by the World Affairs Council, which is presented annually to the individual, organization or business that has demonstrated a vision toward the advancement of international affairs in South Carolina.

With her husband William “Bill,” she was named the 2006 South Carolina Business Leader of the Year. In 2003, she was awarded the Columbia College Medallion, the most distinguished commendation bestowed by the college; she is a former chairman of the board of trustees. In 1995, she received the South Carolina Women of Achievement Award. In 1998, she was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award by the University of South Carolina. In addition, she has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of South Carolina and Presbyterian College.

 

Mary Ann BishopMary Ann Bishop
Humanitarian and author‌ • • •

Mary Ann Bishop is a long time Bible teacher, author, recording artist and speaker.

In 2004 she and her husband David founded the White Harvest Foundation, a ministry to the people of China, India, Laos, Turkey and Vietnam. She regularly travels to India with teams of women to train church planters and pastors through the story-telling method set forth in her three-volume curriculum series, Servants of the Most High God (2010), now published in nine Indian languages. In addition, she is the author of two volumes of poetry – Portraits in Poetry, and her latest writing project is a tribute to her late mother, called Mother, Teacher, Friend

In 2011 she became the South Carolina Area Director for Community Bible Study and she continues to advise classes in North Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Florence and Orangeburg. From 1990 to 2005, she served as the teaching leader for the Myrtle Beach Bible Study Fellowship Women’s Day Class and from 2006 to 2010 she served as the teaching director for Georgetown (S.C.) Community Bible Study Women’s Day Class.

She has served multiple terms as a trustee for Charleston Southern University and she currently serves on the Academic Affairs Committee. 

In 2004 the Bishops launched the White Harvest Trading Company in Pawleys Island, S.C., specifically to sell products from Southeast Asia where they have ministered.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Florida State University, both in music education.

Bishop lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., where she teaches Community Bible Study. She and her husband are the parents of two grown children, Wesley and Elizabeth, and several grandchildren.

 

Nathalie DupreeNathalie Dupree
Renowned chef, author and television host • • •

Nathalie Dupree started the “New Southern Cooking” movement, a blend of regional ingredients with French and Southern cooking techniques found in many restaurants throughout the United States. According to Dupree, “Southern cooking is the Mother Cuisine of America.”

She has sold more than half a million copies of her 13 hardback and two softback cookbooks focusing on the American South, entertaining and basic cooking.  She has received three James Beard Awards, known as the “Oscars” of the food world, most recently in 2013 for “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking,” which she co-authored with Cynthia Graubart. Her previous books have been nominated five times and she has won twice, for “Southern Memories”  (1994) and “Comfortable Entertaining” (1999).

Dupree has hosted more than 300 national and international cooking shows, which have aired since 1986 on PBS, the Food Network and the Learning Channel, and she has appeared many times on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Morning Show, and CNN Good Morning, among others. She has been featured in the New York Times, Washington post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune as well as Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Better Homes and Garden, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping. 

Dupree holds an advanced certificate from Le Cordon Bleu London cooking school and has been chef of three restaurants located in Majorca, Spain, Georgia and Virginia.

In the early 1970s she opened her first restaurant – Nathalie’s – in Social Circle, Georgia. In 1975, she founded a cooking school at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, and became its director and gourmet chef in-residence. In nearly 10 years of operation, the school attracted more than 10,000 students in classes and apprenticeship programs.

In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Grande Dame of Les Dames d’ Escoffier International, which she considers her highest honor as it is from women who have excelled internationally in the culinary field. She was named the 2013 Woman of the Year from the French Master Chefs of America, and received the Jack Daniel's Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2004.

She is the founding chairman of the Charleston Food and Wine Festival.

Born in New Jersey, where her father, a career officer in the U.S. Army, was stationed, Dupree spent her childhood in Virginia, Texas, among other places throughout the South with her mother and two siblings.

She maintains homes in Charleston and Atlanta with her husband, Jack Bass, who is the author of nine books on the American South.

 

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson
Only woman to pitch in professional baseball • • •

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson is the only woman to ever pitch and one of only three women to ever play in professional baseball’s Negro Leagues.

She was born in 1935 in Ridgeway, S.C., and attended Thorntree School, a two-room schoolhouse. She grew up with a passion for baseball and often played with her uncle using tree limbs for a bats and rocks wrapped in tape for balls.

In 1945 she moved to New Jersey and played girls softball while a student at Long Branch High School. Frustrated and used to playing hardball with the boys, she quit the team and tried out for an all-boys team organized by the Long Branch Police Athletic League. As the only girl and the only black player – she helped the team to two divisional championships.

After high school, Johnson attempted to try out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, but was denied access to the field due to her race.  She falsely assumed that because Jackie Robinson had broken barriers in the major leagues, the girls’ league would also welcome black players.

She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1947 and soon was playing semi-professional ball for two local black-male teams in a recreational ‘sandlot’ baseball league.

By 1953, she was married, had a son, played baseball on weekends, and began college (in the off-season). During a ‘sandlot’ game in New Jersey she was discovered by a scout for the Indianapolis Clowns and was invited to try out for the team, the only one at the time with women players. She played for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953 to 1955 and after three seasons held a winning record of 33-8 and a batting average range of .262 to .284, ranking her among the best players in Negro League history. Her nickname came from an opponent who said she looked like a “peanut” on the mound; she struck him out. 

Following her graduation from New York University in 1955 she began what would become a successful nursing career of nearly 30 years at Sibley Hospital in Washington D.C. She also coached youth league baseball teams. When she retired from nursing, she began to help her son run his Negro League Baseball memorabilia shop in Capitol Heights, Maryland.    

Among her many accolades, Johnson was recognized by President and Mrs. Clinton at the White House as a female baseball legend in 2001; A Strong Right Arm, a youth book about her life, was published in 2002; and a one-women theatrical show – “Change Up”– made its premiere at Brown University in 2005. In addition, she is a recipient of the prestigious Mary McLeod Bethune Continuing Legacy Award, the highest honor given by the National Council of Negro Women.

In 2008, Johnson and other living players from the Negro Leagues were drafted by major league franchises prior to the MLB First Year Draft; she was selected by the Washington Nationals. She was among the players from the Negro Leagues who were recognized by President Obama at the White House in August 2013.

 

Wendi NixWendi Nix
ESPN reporter and host • • •

Wendi Nix joined ESPN in August 2006 as a reporter and host covering college and pro football. She has also covered golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open, the Masters and the British Open. She was the first woman to cover the Masters for ESPN.

Nix hosts both NFL Live and College Football Live and contributes regularly to SportsCenter, College GameDay and Sunday NFL Countdown. Since the 2010 season, Nix has been host of ESPN2’s pre-, halftime and post-game segments on college football Saturdays.  She also has reported for Baseball Tonight and Sunday Night Baseball.

In the 2009 NFL season, Nix served as host of the Monday Night Football “Chalk Talk” luncheon program that showcases the teams and host cities participating in the weekly MNF primetime games and honors local civic and community leaders. 

In January 2009, Nix became the first woman to serve as the master of ceremonies at the Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America awards dinner, which honors the Division 1A college football player of the year.  She was a co-host for the 2010 Lombardi Award presentation and co-host of the 2012 Collegiate Women Sports Awards. 

Prior to joining ESPN, Nix spent three years as a sports anchor and reporter with an NBC affiliate WHDH in Boston, and two years as a national sports reporter for FOXSports and an anchor-reporter for FOXSports New England. In 2001 she reported and anchored for the New England Sports Network (NESN). Her on-air television career began in 1999 at ABC affiliate WPDE in Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C., where she covered news, NASCAR and high school sports.   

Nix is from Murrells Inlet, S.C., and is a graduate of Socastee High School. In 1996 she earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and French from Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where she and was a two-year captain of the golf team and student-body president. In addition, she earned a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1997.