August 30, 2017

Columbia Chamber Honors Local Leaders at Annual Gala

Five Midlands Leaders to be Recognized at 115th Annual Gala

COLUMBIA, S.C. – On Thursday, September 28, 2017, the Columbia Chamber will honor five remarkable individuals at the 115th Annual Gala, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center at 6:00 PM. Honorees include the 2017 Ambassador of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, Public Servant of the Year, Military Advocate of the Year and Diplomat of the Year award winners.

“The Annual Gala gives the Chamber an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable individuals in our community who move our region forward through positive changes,” says Carl Blackstone, Columbia Chamber President and CEO, “These honorees are the leaders in our region who work tirelessly to aid the Chamber’s mission of creating and promoting an environment where businesses can flourish.”

This year, the Columbia Chamber is privileged to present the prestigious Ambassador of the Year award to Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach. In addition to her successful career as a basketball player and coach, Staley continues to give back through INNERSOLE, a national and international initiative that makes a positive difference in the lives of homeless or in need children through the donation of shoes.

The Ambassador of the Year award is given to an individual in the community who exemplifies outstanding business ethics and influences the positive promotion and preservation of the greater Columbia region. Past Ambassador of the Year winners include Governor Nikki Haley, Harris Pastides, Lou and Bill Kennedy, Charles D. Beaman, Jr., Ray Tanner, Ed Sellers and John W. Folsom.

“Staley’s leadership is an inspiration to all,” says 2016-2017 Columbia Chamber Chairman, John Singerling, “Her determination on the court has brought a national spotlight to the University of South Carolina Athletics Department and her devotion to help others off the court has brought hope and joy to many children in need.”

2017 Honorees:

Ambassador of the Year | Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach Award sponsored by Colonial Life

Young Professional of the Year | John Griggs, NBSC
Award sponsored by BB&T

Public Servant of the Year | Bobby Hitt, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce
Award sponsored by Colliers International

Military Advocate of the Year | Kevin Shwedo, South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
Award sponsored by AQuate II

Diplomat of the Year | Phyllis Wood, Palmetto Solar Pros
Award sponsored by Willoughby & Hoefer, P.A.

Attended by over 800 Midlands business leaders, the fast-paced agenda will celebrate the successes of
the past year, and look ahead to the upcoming season. In addition, the Chamber will recognize the
leadership of the Board of Directors and the changing of the Chairman.

For more information about the Gala, please contact Rebekah Babovic at 803.733.1138 or visit

To become a partner or to learn more about the Columbia Chamber, as well as its events, programs and initiatives, visit
Rose Dangerfield, Vice President of Communications & Marketing, 8037331128

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