Sponsor Neda Beal fixes a Rotary pin on Sean Powers’ lapel, symbolizing the recent University of South Carolina Honors College graduate’s induction into Capital Rotary club. Powers earned his BA in Business Administration in May, majoring in operations and supply chain, marketing. He’s CEO and president of Pinkish Flamingo Incorporated, a start-up apparel company, and president of The Local Company, LLC, which will be opening a coffee shop called Local Coffee and Tap. Powers was founder, CEO and president of EClubSC, a 40-person educational programs and events management team. He also had supply chain analyst internships with Boeing and BMW. He’s been a member of the Growth Summit, the Columbia Worlds Affairs Council, the Dean’s Council at USC, and was service chair and scholarship chair for Alpha Kappa Psi professional fraternity.
Dr. Harris Pastides – retiring soon as the University of South Carolina’s 28th president – told Capital Rotary on June 12 that he has enjoyed “a career well-lived” in higher education. Dr. Pastides (at left in photo with Rotarian Tommy Phelps) reviewed USC’s record of high achievement and unprecedented growth including (1) its Honor College ranked No. 1 among similar institutions in the nation; (2) continual top national academic rankings for 56 current programs in undergraduate and graduate international business, public health, engineering, nursing and others; (3) record levels of research funding; and (4) surpassing a $1 billion capital campaign goal. Dr. Pastides noted his signing of 117,662 USC diplomas over the past 10 years and forming personal relationships with so many students – “just by being yourself” – are among his most satisfying accomplishments. His retirement goals include travel, more time for friends and family, continued community service and engaging with young people to encourage them to vote. A native of Astoria, NY, Dr. Pastides has led USC’s flagship system of eight institutions in 20 geographic locations since 2008 and served on numerous committees for academic and nonprofit organizations.
Longtime Rotarian Gene Oliver (left in photo) has been recognized by Capital Rotary for 55 years of membership in the service club. President Philip Flynn also honored Oliver as a major donor to the Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding. Major donors are those whose cumulative contributions total $10,000 or more. Oliver – a retired college administrator nearing his 93rd birthday – joined the Capital club in September 2009.
Eric Davis (right in photo), an assistant governor for Rotary District 7770 in eastern South Carolina, congratulates Columbia Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn for the club’s achieving Two-STAR status. This signifies annual Rotary Foundation contributions of at least $200 per club member. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation promoting world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational and cultural exchange programs. It’s supported solely by voluntary donations from Rotarians and friends who share the vision of a better world. Capital Rotary’s per capita giving averages $277; the club topped its donation goal by more than 28 per cent.
Since completing acquisition of beleaguered SCANA Corp. in January 2019, Dominion Energy is focused on growing the economy in South Carolina. That’s the message Capital Rotary heard April 3 from guest speaker Kristen Beckham (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Gloria Saeed). Beckham, an external affairs manager for Dominion, said the Virginia-based utility has been “on the road” for economic development seminars across the Palmetto State. Beckham leads the regional Community Investment Board for Dominion’s Charitable Foundation, where plans are to increase corporate and charitable giving by $1 million per year for at least five years. She said Dominion is committed to keeping a headquarters campus presence in Cayce, plus maintaining compensation levels for employees of SCANA and its subsidiaries until at least July 2020. Long-term rate relief means monthly electric bills for the typical residential electric customer are now 15% lower, Beckham said, while noting that Dominion gives priority to recruiting and retaining military veterans in its workforce. A graduate of and board member for Leadership South Carolina, Beckham also chairs the Junior League of Columbia’s public affairs committee, is sponsorship chair of the United Way of the Midlands and serves on the Alumni Association of the College of Charleston’s board.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club is backing University of South Carolina junior Alexis Vetack’s application for a Global Grant Scholarship award to earn a master’s degree in public policy. Vetack (in photo), a member of the USC Honors College Class of 2020, is a Charlotte, NC native. Her major – Public Health and Social Justice in Developing Countries – combines the fields of public health, social justice and public policy on a premed track. She hopes to become a Centers for Disease Control physician specializing in infectious disease. Vetack is president of USC’s Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity and volunteers at the Good Samaritan Clinic serving Latino patients in the local community. She also works with Carolina Survivor Clinic, a local nonprofit providing holistic healthcare to refugees who have survived torture. Vetack has received an Honors College Exploration Scholars Grant of $4,500 for research as an undergraduate assistant at the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab. Global Grant scholarships support graduate-level study in one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus: peace, disease prevention, water and sanitation, maternal/child health, education, and economic/community development.
New Capital Rotary member Le Frye (center in photo) is welcomed to the club by president Philip Flynn and sponsor Lee Ann Rice after induction ceremonies Feb. 6. Frye, a Saluda native, has spent her life in the Midlands and graduated in 2002 from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications, public relations. She is the managing partner at Starboard Communications, an advertising and public relations firm that specializes in political affairs. Frye has over 15 years of planning, managing and executing various aspects of successful political and advocacy campaigns in the Palmetto State.
Since its beginning in 1854 Columbia’s YMCA has aimed to be a community servant in the Midlands, helping families and individuals “grow in mind, body and spirit,” says Bill Price, the organization’s CEO since 2016. Price (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Jack Williamson) was Capital Rotary’s Jan. 9 guest speaker. He said the Y now operates in six locations – downtown, Ballentine, Irmo, Lake Carolina, Red Bank and Orangeburg – and expects to break ground later this year for a new full-service facility in Kershaw County’s Lugoff-Elgin area. YMCA programs range from swimming lessons to afterschool learning activities, from youth and adult sports to support for cancer survivors. The Y’s mission – to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all – remains unchanged, Price said, along with its core values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith. Price, a Wofford College graduate with a BA in government, was a longtime YMCA volunteer and board member before assuming the CEO’s post.
The University of South Carolina collaborates with school districts to keep new teachers on the job – hoping to resolve a staffing crisis in public education. So says Dr. Jon Pedersen, dean of USC’s College of Education and Capital Rotary’s Nov. 28 guest speaker. Dr. Pedersen (at right in photo with Rotarian Trey Boone) touted the Carolina Teacher Induction Program, known as CarolinaTIP. It’s a three-year “bridge of support” for recent graduates moving from college student to successful schoolteacher. CarolinaTIP includes group workshops and experienced educators acting as the new teacher’s confidant, coach and mentor to promote “practical application of teaching theory in the classroom,” Dr. Pedersen said. The goal is better student learning, increased teacher efficacy and teacher retention. Dr. Pedersen said the rising tide of teachers quitting the profession causes not only staffing vacancies but also costs districts $23 million yearly for additional recruiting, hiring and training. A 25% boost in retaining teachers would equal $11 million in savings. CarolinaTIP’s outcomes are impressive: (1) 100% of participating teachers in 2017 came back to work for the 2018-19 school year; (2) they reported job stress went down and job satisfaction went up; and (3) 100% said the program had positive impact in their classrooms and on their decision to continue teaching. Dr. Pederson said USC’s College of Education is the state’s largest teacher preparation school and CarolinaTIP, the only program of its kind, demonstrates the university’s commitment to graduates’ success.
Capital Rotarians heard the story of a unique boutique that helps cancer survivors feel whole again from the business founders – Sherry Norris (standing in photo) and Kim Neel (seated) – guest speakers at the club’s Oct. 10 meeting. The pair opened Alala LLC in 2006 to serve women who’ve had all types of reproductive cancers. The company specializes mainly in mastectomy prosthetics and bras, as well as compression pumps for cancer survivors. Alala also offers compression garments and wig refurbishing, shampooing, conditioning, setting and styling. In addition to their retail operation, Norris and Neel started a nonprofit organization in 2008 – the Alala Cancer Society – that helps provide women with donated mastectomy bras and wigs that would otherwise be unaffordable. The enterprising pair met while working with the local Girl Scouts and remain active community and church volunteers. Norris received business administration training at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, while Neel earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC.