Pioneering Women 2016 Awards

Outstanding Upstate Women Recognized at 6th Annual Pioneering Women Awards Ceremony

As a prelude to Women’s History Month, Spartanburg Methodist College hosted the annual Pioneering Women Awards Luncheon on Friday, February 26. The awards acknowledge women of character, courage and commitment in the Upstate community. This year, SMC recognized eight women for their commitment and leadership in their respective fields of volunteerism, business, philanthropy, leadership, education and community advocacy.

“Every day, these women are changing the world around them,” says Leah Pruitt, Director of Alumni Relations and chair of the Pioneering Women Awards committee. “They inspire others with their leadership and selflessness, and I was honored to welcome this distinguished group to campus.” Over 100 women attended the event, which included a networking session, awards ceremony and luncheon.

“I’m in awe of the achievements of our award winners. These are strong, dedicated, smart and talented individuals,” says Scott Cochran, President of SMC. “Pioneers blaze a trail for others to follow. It’s what we expect of our students, and that’s the spirit we celebrate with this event.”

The awards ceremony was held in the Gibbs Auditorium of Ellis Hall. Kim Hutzell, President and CEO of Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands, Inc., gave a keynote address to the assembled winners and guests. As the head of one of the state’s largest nonprofit organizations, Hutzell coordinates the agency’s services to more than 12,000 girls and 4,500 adult volunteers throughout 22 counties of the Midlands and Upstate Regions of central and western South Carolina.

The 2016 Pioneering Award recipients (click name for photo and bio):

Volunteer Award: Marcia Murff, Public Relations and Development Manager, Spartanburg County Parks Department
Business Award: Dr. Kay E. Woodward, President and Owner, J.W. Woodward Funeral Home
Philanthropy Award: Susan R. Schneider, Director of Public Relations and Advocacy (retired), Girls Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands, Inc.
Community Outreach Award: Liberty Canzater, Founder/President, The Butterfly Foundation
Community Arts Award: Jennifer Evins, President, CEO & Director of Development, The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg
Education Award: Argyl Brewton, Principal, Woodruff Elementary School
Alumni Award: Sarah Melzer Gibson ’03, Youth Ministry Coordinator, Matthews United Methodist Church
Community Awareness Award: Tracey L. Jackson, Executive Director, Piedmont Care

Previous Pioneering Women Award recipients:

Pioneering Women Lifetime Achievement Award: Sheila Breitweiser (’14).
Alumna Award: T.K. Butler (’15)Elizabeth Hartley Renneker (’14); Jill Johnson (’13); Stacie Williams (’12); and Jessica Mack (’11)
Media Award: Kathie Bennett (’15); Christy Henderson (’14); Amanda Bass (‘13); Charmayne Brown (’12); and Keisha Kirkland (’11).
Public Service/Government Award: Mary Deku (’15); Sharon Porter (’14), Judge Ponda Caldwell (’13); Barbara Barnes (’12); and Hope Blackley (’11).
Missions Award: Melanie Watt (’15); Jean Bradley (’14)’ Jayne McQueen (’13); Julia Lyons (’12); and Lou Landrum (’11).
Philanthropy Award: Cyndi Beacham (’15); Betty Montgomery (’14); Mary Thomas (’13); Phyllis B. DeLapp (’12); and Dr. Charlotte Ellis (’11).
Political Leadership Award: Jane Hall (’15); Erica Brown (’14); Harriett Rucker (’13); Liz Patterson (’12); and Rita Allison (’11).
Business Award: Karen Knuckles (’15); Beth Jeter Hrubala (‘14); Sue Schneider (’13); Tammy Devine (’12); and Susan Bridges (’11).
Creative Leadership Award: Kathy Cann (’15); Betsy Teeter (’14); Peggy Magarahan (’13); and Mary Ellen Suitt (’12).
Education Award: Susan Burgess (’15); Penny Fisher (’14); Donna Christopher (’13); Margaret Peach (’12); and Melissa Andrews (’11).