2015 Inspiring Women - Coastal Carolina University
In This Section

Gloria Gaynor  |  Leeza Gibbons  |  Mary A. Jackson  |  Barbara F. Livingston  |  Anne L. Matthews

Gloria Gaynor

Gloria GaynorIn 1978 Gloria Gaynor recorded the Grammy-winning "I Will Survive" as her tale of personal strength. The song would become a banner for social survival that is still relevant after three decades. In 1979 “I Will Survive” climbed to the top of Billboard’s Pop Charts and twice claimed the No. 1 position. Last year marked the 35th Anniversary of the song which has been re-recorded over 200 times by artists such as Chantay Moore, Diana Ross and Cake.

Gaynor was only 19 when she signed her first record contract and in 1975 she made history when Billboard gave birth to the ‘Disco Action Charts.’ Gaynor’s version of "Never Can Say Good-Bye" became the first Dance Song to reach No. 1 status in dance music, "I Will Survive" won the Grammy for Best Disco Song, and in 1984 she recorded "I Am What I Am," which reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Dance Disco Hits.

"Just Keep Thinkin' About You," topped the Billboard Dance/Club charts at No. 1 in March 2001, while her international hit "Last Night" with Giorgio Moroder debuted at No. 1 throughout Europe. Gaynor was the first artist to record an album especially for clubs, and the first to do a mega-extended dance medley party mix, releasing 12-inch dance singles that are now collector's items.

In 2002 Logic Records/BMG released the highly anticipated "I Wish You Love." It gave birth to four No. 1 dance singles on Billboard’s Dance Charts and "I Never Knew" (radio version), made the Top 10 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Charts. Her Spanglish version of "I Will Survive" was recorded live in Brazil. She was honored at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo with the coveted LEGEND award presented by long time fan Prince Albert and was the featured artist in the Tom Ford Tribute hosted by Tom and Rita Hanks. Gaynor made a splash on Broadway in the longest running musical revue, Smokey Joe’s Café, and on national TV, as a guest star on programs such as That ‘70’s Show, Ally McBeal, The Wayans Brothers’ Show, Don’t Forget The Lyrics, and more.

Gaynor has touched audiences in more than 80 countries with her electrifying performances. On September 19, 2005, she and her hit song "I Will Survive" were inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame during a ceremony in New York City. "I Will Survive" has been featured on the soundtrack of more than a half dozen major motion picture releases and VH-1 honored Gaynor with the No. 1 spot during its countdown of the Top 100 Dance Records of All Time.

In 2013 she released a book titled, "We Will Survive," a compilation of true stories told by fans about how "I Will Survive" inspired them and impacted their lives. In conjunction with her book, she released a new Christian Contemporary CD, “We Will Survive.” Her autobiography, appropriately titled "I Will Survive" (St. Martin’s Press), offers incite into her exciting yet somewhat turbulent life.

Gaynor lends her support to numerous charities including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (North Jersey affiliate), the Hellenic Times Foundation, the Revlon Walk For Women and the Christian Broadcasting Network. She is a member of the United Cerebral Palsy Hudson County Board of Directors, financially supports Save the Children, sponsors three children through the Christian Children's Fund, is a chair holder for the New Jersey Crime Victims' Law Center, and supports Denise Rich's Angel Ball, a foundation for Melanoma research. In 2014 Gaynor was voted into the New York Grammy chapter as a board member.

Leeza Gibbons

Leeza GibbonsEmmy Award winner Leeza Gibbons is one of the most well-known pop culture icons on the air. In addition to her impressive background in the field of entertainment and news media, she is an instrumental advocate for healthcare, wellness, and caregiving. She is also a wife, mother, businesswoman and author.

The spectrum of her career in entertainment and news media is diverse and impressive. Her on-camera hosting dominance in the entertainment, news and talk show arenas has ranged from the most popular entertainment news show in history, Entertainment Tonight, to her award-winning daytime talk show, Leeza. Her current roles include hosting the syndicated TV news magazine show America Now alongside Bill Rancic, and the weekly TV news show My Generation on PBS, for which she won the 2013 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Recognized as a social entrepreneur, Gibbons has become one of the leading voices for issues facing family caregivers. When her mother and grandmother were struggling with Alzheimer's disease, she created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. Her training as a journalist united with her compassion and business savvy when she opened the foundation’s signature program, Leeza's Place, now known as Leeza's Care Connection, offering free services for family caregivers to encourage them to summon their strength for the long journey ahead. Gibbons is establishing a Care Connection Center in Columbia, S.C., in partnership with the School of Journalism and Communications at University of South Carolina, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in 1978.

Over the years, Gibbons has become known as a trusted friend, valued confidante, and source of inspiration and information, empowering women to show up for their lives with confidence and pride. Whether it’s her scrapbook line honoring the value of memories, her jewelry collection to symbolize transformation, or her cosmetic products to reveal inner and outer beauty, she develops programs and products to help women claim their strength and rewrite the story of their lives.

In 2013, Gibbons published "Take 2," a personal growth guide designed to help people recreate themselves and hit the reset button on their lives. The book was a New York Times best seller.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Steven Fenton. She has three children: a daughter, Lexi, and sons, Troy and Nate.

Mary A. Jackson

Mary JacksonMary A. Jackson is a native of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. She is married to Stoney Jackson and they are the proud parents of two children and grandparents of three grandchildren.

A descendant of the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina, Jackson learned to make Sweetgrass Baskets at the age of four from her mother and grandmother. She mastered the basic techniques of sweetgrass basket making while growing up therefore blossoming into a gifted artist.
Since the early 1970s, she has worked extensively with community organizations toward preserving sweetgrass, which has become increasingly threatened by large-scale development along the South Carolina coast. Working as an advocate for the tradition, Jackson's work has taken her across the United States lecturing at universities, museums, and organizations. She has been recognized by the Charleston community for her work in the preservation of the sweetgrass basket making tradition. In 1988, she became a founding member and president of the Mt. Pleasant Sweetgrass Basket Makers Association.

In 1984, the Gibbes Museum of Art along with the Charleston Chapter of Links, notably recognized Jackson by featuring her and her work with a major exhibition acknowledging sweetgrass baskets as an art form. The exhibition was the first of its kind in Charleston and the State of South Carolina. Her many awards and achievements include:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Women in Crafts, National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.)
  • Community Service Award for Outstanding in the Field of Economics, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (South Atlantic Regional Conference)
  • Award of Achievement, Toledo Chapter of Links, Inc. (Toledo, Ohio)
  • The first National Bronze Award of Arts Achievement and Excellence, International Council of Fine Arts Deans (2007)
  • Environmental Stewardship Award of Achievement, South Carolina Aquarium (2008)
  • United States Artist Donnelley Fellowship (2008)
  • Honorary Doctorate Letters of Humane Degree, College of Charleston (2009)
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (2008)

Her work is in the collections of Prince Charles of Wales, Princess Caroline of Monaco, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, The White House Collection of American Crafts, and the permanent collection of the United States Art in Embassies Abroad, for which she was honored during a formal ceremony at The White House in 2002. In addition, Jackson's work is in the following permanent collections:

  • Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC)
  • Museum of Art and Design (New York)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • College of Charleston Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture (Charleston, S.C.)
  • McKissick Museum University of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)
  • Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, S.C.)
  • Gibbes Museum of Art (Charleston, S.C.)
  • Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.)
  • South Carolina State Museum (Columbia, S.C.)

She has appeared in over 50 publications, including the Washington Post and National Geographic magazine. In 2007, she was featured in a landmark documentary for PBS – Craft in America – which received a Peabody Award as well as two Emmy nominations.

Barbara F. Livingston

Barbara LivingstonBarbara Livingston has been employed as director of human resources at Gregory Electric Company for the past 13 years. In this capacity she is responsible for payroll and employee benefits, employee safety and training programs, and legal and labor related issues for employees in nine states. She serves on the Columbia Electrical Council, which supports the electrical apprenticeship program for several electrical contractors.

In 2007-2008, her husband and CEO of Gregory Electric – Major General Robert E. Livingston Jr. – deployed to Afghanistan as the commander of 9,000 service members. In his absence she served as the primary adviser for operations of Gregory Electric.

She has worked extensively with military families and organizations that support troops and their families. She has been instrumental with the following organizations as board members or members, and activities, among others:

  • Board member of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and was instrumental in establishing the first chapter of the United Service Organization (USO) to the South Carolina National Guard training center in Eastover
  • Board member of the Military Child and Education Coalition, a group to ensure inclusive and quality educational opportunities for all military-connected children affected by mobility, family separation and transition, and was chairman of a related steering committee that increased awareness and action on behalf of South Carolina’s military-connected children
  • Board member of the National Guard Association of South Carolina Auxiliary; Adopt-a-Guardsman Foundation; Hidden Woods a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide peace of mind and comfort for military personnel suffering combat stress injuries such as PTSD, TBI and other psychological postwar challenges
  • Member of the South Carolina National Guard Office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense organization; South Carolina Joining Community Forces; Red Cross – Tiffany Circle – a Society of Women Leaders and Philanthropists; and South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Advisory Board, a national youth program of the National Guard; among others
  • Worked directly with the South Carolina Governor to proclaim May 9, 2014, as Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and organized associated events across the state
  • Organized and hosted and the 2013 Adjutants General Association of the United States and the Guard Senior Leader Conference and developed a training program for spouses.

Livingston has prior professional experience working in the banking industry at Virginia National Bank in Farmville, Va., and in higher education at Hampden-Sydney College in the counseling center. She Livingston earned a bachelor's degree in guidance and counseling from Baptist College in Charleston, S.C., in 1977.

She has been married for 34 years; she and her husband have four children and one grandchild.

Anne L. Matthews

Anne MatthewsAnne L. Matthews, Ed.D., is president of Matthews and Associates, an educational consulting firm in Columbia, South Carolina. She has three earned degrees: a bachelor’s from Coker College, a master’s in business from Appalachian State University and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Coker College.

She is an educator by profession, a published author, an education accreditation commissioner and a public speaker. Matthews has taught business subjects at the high school, technical college and university levels. She also worked in management roles for the South Carolina State Department of Education.

She served as president of several educational organizations, including the South Carolina Business Education Association, the Southern Business Education, and the National Business Education Association. She has been elected to numerous boards, including Coker College. She served on the Advisory Education Board for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Delta Pi Epsilon Research Foundation Board, Southern Education Board for High Schools That Work, Technical Education Consortium of States Board of Directors, and was elected to the corporate board of directors of the Center for Occupational Research and Development in Texas.

She is the recipient of many honors: two appointments from President Ronald Reagan, Key to Lake City, South Carolina, The Distinguished Alumni Award from Coker College, the John Robert Gregg Award from McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, Outstanding Administrator in Business Education in the Nation, Diamond Award from the Columbia YWCA, Woman of Distinction from the Girl Scout Council, founding member of the Business Advisory Council of the Governor’s School for Science and Math in South Carolina, and the Florence County School District Three Hall of Fame.

She has spoken in all 50 states and in 35 foreign countries on educational issues and the Rotary International Foundation. Matthews served as president of the Rotary Club of Columbia East and Governor of Rotary District 7770, and has served in numerous capacities at the district, zone and international levels in Rotary International, including as a trustee of the Rotary Foundation and on the Rotary International board of directors. She was the first woman elected to serve as the vice president of Rotary International and is the only woman elected to serve both as a trustee of the Rotary Foundation and on the Rotary International board of directors. Matthews has been recognized with several honors from Rotary International, including the Citation for Meritorious Service, the Distinguished Service Award, and Rotary’s highest honor, the Service Above Self award.

She is an avid football fan supporting the University of South Carolina as a scholarship donor and serves on the board of directors for the Richland County Gamecock Club. She is a widow, a member of Kathwood Baptist Church in Columbia, and serves in developing countries helping with humanitarian causes.