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Celebration of Inspiring Women honors eight women

Eight South Carolina women whose lifework demonstrates strength and purpose were honored during the inaugural "Celebration of Inspiring Women." The evening gala event is part of the Women's Leadership Conference, a day-long focus on women and leadership on Friday, March 25, 2011, at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa. 

These events brought 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) presented the two events.

ABC News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi served 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 honored:

  • 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 2011 Women's Leadership Conference featured 14 speakers:

  • Sharyn Alfonsi was an ABC News correspondent based in New York. She reported for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms.
  • Shannon Andrews is senior marketing manager for Health & Wellness at Sam's 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., is a licensed psychologist experienced in helping girls and women with eating disorders, body image issues, anxiety and depression.
  • Margaret Booth, is 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 is commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Patricia R. Hatler is 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 is a South Carolina Supreme Court Justice.
  • Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is the 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 is president of JHS Capital Advisors, Wealth Management Group.
  • Lisa Kinon is a family court judge for South Carolina's 15th Judicial Circuit.
  • Charlotte R. Lane is a commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission.
  • Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D., is deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.
  • Kim Brown Strickland is vice president of Walmart US Financial Planning & Analysis.
  • Donna R. Tyson is an international motivational speaker and author.
  • Mary Agnes Wilderotter is chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications, appointed by President Barack Obama as vice chair of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.
  • Jennifer Wilson is the chief judge of the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court.

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