Cayce’s mayor told a group of business executives and community members that women excel in business and government once they see opportunity open to them.
Mayor Elise Partin gave the keynote address Thursday at the 2018 Women of Influence luncheon in Columbia hosted by the Columbia Regional Business Report. The event honored 22 women from various sectors across the Midlands.
Partin encouraged the honorees to support each other and be examples of success in tangible ways.
“Congratulations on being recognized for the positive difference that you make in our region," she said. "What you do matters. It matters to the fabric of our community. It matters to those who serve. It matters to those who come behind you.”
Partin said that before she became mayor, she attended a Cayce City Council meeting as a member of the public upset about a local issue.
When she spoke at that meeting, she was not thinking of running for office, but then something extraordinary happened: Someone asked her to.
“If women are asked to run, to help, we will. I did,” Partin said. “And when we do run, we win at the same rates that men do.”
When she began her first campaign, she received encouragement and money from other women, some of whom were already in elected office and understood what she was embarking on.
She said that support was critical in getting her first campaign off the ground when funds were scarce and her comfort zone was so far in the distance she couldn't see it any longer.
“It also helped seeing these women not just in the role but successful in it. Your leadership has the same inspiration for those around you,” she told Thursday's honorees.
Partin was recently asked by a group of students if she would consider seeking higher office. She said she didn't like the intense partisan divide that can characterize public service at that level. A student suggested that might make her the best person to confront that divisiveness, which gave her pause.
She still isn’t sure about seeking higher office, but she does recognize the value of leaders pushing past their expectations to solve problems in business and government and find answers that benefit everyone.
“We all need to continue to challenge ourselves to step out further,” she said. “Our state needs us. Every one of the fields represented here need us to take the next step. We need the best minds solving our state’s problems and creating opportunities for business and solutions that aren’t there yet. That means we need both men and women at the table, leading.”
2018 Women of Influence:
- Roslyn Artis, president, Benedict College
- Mary Beth Branham, vice president, LS3P
- Chappelle Broome, director of human resources and diversity, Columbia Metropolitan Airport
- Laura Derrick, president, S.C. Association of Realtors
- Tameika Isaac Devine, attorney, Jabber & Isaac, and Columbia city councilwoman
- Lorie Gardner, CEO, executive producer and founding partner, Mad Monkey Inc.
- Melanie Huggins, executive director, Richland Library
- Ashley Hunter, CEO, MPA Strategies
- Elizabeth Igleheart, vice president of advancement, Transitions Homeless Center
- Jan Jernigan, first vice president, Morgan Stanley
- Erin Johnson, vice president for community investment, Central Carolina Community Foundation
- Michelle Lucas, director of financial services operations, The Cason Group
- Kathryn Moorehead, director of the Violence Against Women Act and Human Trafficking Programs, S.C. Attorney General’s Office
- Rita Patel, co-owner, Hotel Trundle
- Susan Pretulak, vice president of economic development, S.C. Technical College System
- Beth Renwick, owner, Green Energy Biofuel
- Julie Smithwick, executive director, PASOS
- Kimberly Snipes, young lawyer division and diversity coordinator, S.C. Bar Association
- Mullen Taylor, owner, lead attorney, Mullen Taylor LLC
- Teresa Wardlaw, president, Cool Care Heating & Air
- Mze Wilkins, regional president, Ameris Bank
- Sheila Willis, attorney, Fisher Phillips, and president of the S.C. Women Lawyers Association