Leadership: Building Capacity for Transformation

South Carolina LEADSsc leads logo

Traditional agriculture is changing, land use and forestry are becoming big issues as South Carolina becomes more urbanized and developers make offers to good to turn down to farmers and landowners.  Global interdependence is increasing.  Many of our world’s critical problems interface directly with agriculture, forestry, and natural resources.  Knowledge and understanding in a global context is essential.  Given the issues facing agriculture today, there is a need to provide intensive leadership development experiences for a promising new generation of leaders. However, South Carolina does not have a program in place to develop these leaders.  Therefore, the development of South Carolina LEADS, a statewide leadership program for agriculture, forestry and natural resources is underway.

Through strong partnerships, SC LEADS will provide intensive leadership development experiences for a promising new generation of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource leaders by utilizing the latest research models, theories and best practices both nationally and internationally.  The comprehensive and diverse curriculum and travel experiences focus simultaneously on personal improvement skills and on current social, political, organizational and economic issues.

This will be an educational opportunity for emerging leaders in both rural and urban environments that will enhance their capacity to understand and act upon critical current and future land issues facing agriculture, forestry and natural resources in our state, our nation and the world.

myChester: Empowering the Next Generation of Chester Leadership

myChesterChester County is losing population.  Between the years 2000 and 2005 the county showed a 2% decrease in population.  During this same time frame the State of South Carolina and neighboring York County population increased by 2.5% and 12.5% respectively.  Along with population decline, Chester County faces a challenge in developing the knowledge economy needed to attract new investment with only 9.6% of Chester County residents hold a college degree or higher.  Under this present scenario it is imperative to provide a venue for Chester County youth to be able to learn about contemporary issues facing the county, develop leadership skills, and have an opportunity to give back to their communities.

To provide an opportunity to empower future Chester County leaders the Chester County Economic and Community Development Agent and Chester County 4H agent collaborated to develop and deliver myChester – a new youth leadership program for Chester County High School students.  The goals of the program are to foster an increased awareness of community, equip Chester youth with leadership and team-building skills, stimulate proactive community involvement, and lay the groundwork needed to retain future leaders.   The myChester concept stems from our target audience (we want to reach the “myspace generation”) and the need to instill Chester County youth with a sense of ownership of their county.

In the short term, participants were able to reach out and touch their history by visiting the Lando Manetta Mills History Center, be engaged by local government while attending a Chester County Council meeting and learn more about themselves through leadership development exercises.  Participants have become more aware of the issues facing their communities and are learning how they can have an impact on their community both now and in the future.  This education will help participants develop a stronger sense of ownership in their communities and will create a new generation of leaders who are ready to make a difference.

Builders of Tomorrow – Inspiring Leaders, One Student at a Time

Builders of Tomorrow is focused on academic achievement, leadership and civic engagement for middle school students at risk of dropping out of school.  The mission is to improve academic achievement and graduation rates among participating middle school students.  Builders of Tomorrow provides tutoring services and youth leadership programs focused on developing life skills many students need.  The curriculum includes team building, leadership, communication, service learning and civic engagement.  The curriculum was designed to engage students in their own education, helping them develop a frame of reference for education and helping each student understand the importance of their role in society and our developing future.

South Carolina Women's Connection

Legislative Day

The purpose of legislative day is to broaden the civic knowledge of women through visits with legislators--past and present-- and other elected officials. To learn about how women are contributing to our communities, state and nation through public service.

The day began with a panel discussion, SC Women and Politics –  Views from Inside the “Dome” with The Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine, Columbia City Council and The Honorable Rita Allison, former member of the SC House of Representatives.  The panel was followed by a  “Conversation with the Parties:  Recruiting Women Candidates and Ways to Become Politically Active” with Jay W. Ragley, Executive Director, SC Republican Party and Joe Werner, Executive Director, SC Democratic Party.

The highlight of the day was during the keynote address and Leadership Lunch: “Why Women Matter” presented by the Honorable Elizabeth J. Patterson, former US Congresswoman. Ms Patterson shared her experiences and gave sound advice to women who are thinking of running for political office.South Carolina women need opportunities to learn why and how to become involved in public service so that they may be more motivated and confident to do so.  This event provided knowledge and experience of the political process, along with networking opportunities for those who would consider serving our state in a political forum.

Women Making A Difference

There are over 2 million women in South Carolina—accounting for 51.4 percent of the state’s total population.

SC Women’s Connection believes that every woman has the power to improve her life and the lives of those around her, thus creating a positive impact on communities, the state, the nation and the world. In order to help women learn about the impact that committed, caring individuals can make in the world, the “Women Making a Difference” leadership symposium was created. The series provides a platform to honor women who are making a difference every day—some in very big ways, others in smaller.

Two “Women Making a Difference” programs were held in fiscal year 2007-08. Over 165 women from across South Carolina attended the inaugural “Women Making a Difference” event on October 24, 2007, in Florence, SC. The featured speaker for this leadership symposium was Susan Retik, co-founder of Beyond the 11th, an organization founded to support Afghan widows affected by war and terrorism.  Honorary Chair for the event was First Lady Jenny Sanford who participated as a guest speaker.

The second “Women Making a Difference” leadership symposium was held May 14, 2008. Over 125 women from the Pee Dee Region and across South Carolina came to take part in the program. Former United Nation’s Ambassador Linda Tarr-Whelan and celebrity chef and author Nathalie Dupree were the featured speakers at the leadership symposium held in Florence, SC.


  • 165 women were educated about the plight of women in Afghanistan.
  • 125 women were educated about the status of women’s leadership roles globally as well as the roles they can play and strategies to help bridge the gap for future leaders.
  • 16 high school and two elementary school students had the extraordinary opportunity to meet and to learn from women who were state and national leaders. They learned the important lesson that anyone has leadership potential and can make a difference in the world.
  • A potential of more than 500,000 community members were educated via mass media.
  • SCWC awarded Beyond the 11th a financial contribution to support their work with women in Afghanistan.
  • Professional connections were made that will enhance participants’ professional and personal development and make them more effective employees.
  • Ultimately, participants will be motivated to make a difference in their communities and their state.

Chester County Palmetto Leadership


The Palmetto Leadership program has been building capacity in Chester County through local adult leadership development for almost 20 years.  Palmetto Leadership creates a core of skillful local leaders by providing a forum for increased community awareness and a venue to work collaboratively to cultivate positive community change.

The Palmetto Leadership program contains three important phases: leadership development training, community awareness, and a task force activity that address contemporary community issues.

  • Leadership Development includes skills development in leadership styles, communication, team building, conflict management, group dynamics, and self-understanding.
  • Community Awareness provides participants with the opportunity to learn more about their community including topics such as economic and community development, health-care, government and law, service, education, and communications.
  • Task Force Activity provides a team approach to addressing public needs.  Participants divide into “Task Force” groups to complete a class project that will improve the quality of life in their community.

Twelve Chester County residents took part in the 2008 Palmetto Leadership class. With a firm grasp on the opportunities and challenges currently facing their community, the class began work on a service project designed to address a pressing issue within the county.  For their project, the class has chosen to support Chester County youth by developing a mentoring program for members of the “King’s Crew” (at-risk youth) at Chester Middle School.  By working with “King’s Crew” youth the impact of the Palmetto Leadership program will be multiplied throughout the Chester County community for years to come.

Palmetto Leadership Beaufort County

Civic engagement is an important aspect of community well being.  Communities need volunteers to assist in committee work, task forces, and planning teams to address critical issues and help support a civil society.  In 2008 in Beaufort County, 33 individuals completed a three month program in leadership with an emphasis on civic engagement.  The mission of the program is to “develop well informed contributing members of the Beaufort Community.”  Sessions were held addressing education, economic development, human services, local government, public safety, arts, public health, and the environment.

As a part of the program, students had the opportunity to address community issues and produce a “White Paper” addressing specific policy areas in Beaufort County.  Specifically, research was conducted on insurance, sustainability, children in poverty, and immigration.  These policy papers are available online at www.lowcountryces.org and are provided to local officials.

Leadership Lexington County

In July of 2007, the recruiting process for Leadership Lexington County began. Thirty-four participants were selected and completed the course. Participants met once monthly for a daylong program with two programs (one retreat, one class) in January. The program ended in June with 33 graduates. Tuition was held at $395.00 by securing over 15 sponsorships, thereby allowing subsidized programming.

These graduates join the ranks of the over 500 over the last thirteen years. They are expected to plan and aid in the direction of the 2009 class curriculum and the perpetuation of the Leadership Lexington County Alumni Association and tangible projects. The Youth LLC program falls in this realm of this area with 24 rising juniors and seniors graduating in June of 2008.

The Class of 2007 is now completing a 9/11 Monument in September 2008 to be erected in the Judicial Complex Square right on Main Street proper. As the CD Agent, Monica Miller directed the graduates to identify the project, secure the funds, and personally secured the donated expertise of geotechnical/SCDOT engineer Katie Holland to ensure legal compliance and completion. The project estimated cost would be approximately $ 15,000.00 to date. Plans include inviting and funding NYC firefighters to participate in the dedication.