July 10, 2017

Columbia Chamber Honors Coach Dawn Staley at Annula Gala

University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach Dawn Staley named Columbia Chamber’s 2017 Ambassador of the Year.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Columbia Chamber will host the 115th Annual Gala, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield, Thursday, September 28, 2017. The award, which is presented to a member of the community who exemplifies outstanding business ethics and has influenced positive promotion and preservation of the greater Midlands, will be presented to University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach Dawn Staley. Colonial Life is the sponsor for the Ambassador of the Year Award.

“The Annual Gala allows the Chamber to celebrate remarkable individuals who move our region forward in a positive fashion,” Carl Blackstone, Columbia Chamber President and CEO, said. “Dawn Staley is an influential role model – both on and off the court. Her leadership and work ethic is admired across the state, the nation and by people of all ages.”

Staley’s most recent outstanding achievement was leading University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball to the NCAA National Championship. Her career accolades as a player include being a three-time Olympian from 1996 to 2004, one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All-Time in 2011, and a five-time WNBA All-Star. As a coach, Staley has led the Gamecocks to four straight SEC regular-season championships and three straight SEC Tournament titles, has been named SEC Coach of the Year three times, and was named the head coach of the U.S. Senior National team through the 2020 Olympic Games.

Off the court, Staley is co-founder of INNERSOLE, which provides new sneakers to homeless children and children in need. INNNERSOLE ensures children go to school with pride and start off the new year with a new pair of sneakers.

“Colonial Life is proud to sponsor this year’s Ambassador of the Year Award honoring Dawn Staley,” Colonial Life President and CEO Tim Arnold said. “Coach Staley has brought so much pride to the University of South Carolina and the state of South Carolina with this year’s national championship win and through her philanthropic activities. Renaming the road in front of the Colonial Life Arena as Dawn Staley Way demonstrates her lasting impact on our city.”

Past Ambassador of the Year winners include John W. Folsom, Colliers International; Former-Governor Nikki Haley; Dr. Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina; Bill and Lou Kennedy, Nephron Pharmaceuticals; and Charles D. Beaman, Jr., Palmetto Health. Additional 2017 awards include the Young Professional of the Year, Elected Official of the Year, Military Advocate of the Year and Diplomat of the Year.

For more information about the Gala, please contact Rebekah Babovic at 803.733.1138. To become a partner or learn more about the Chamber visit

About Columbia Chamber The Columbia Chamber is a private, non-profit, Partner-driven organization comprised of 1,200 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals in Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties. The Columbia Chamber serves as the voice of its Partners and the business community at large on matters of economic, educational, social, cultural and political concern, as well as supports and promotes the success of its partners through networking, professional development, advocacy, and leadership. The organization has represented the interests of the local business community since 1902.
Rose Dangerfield, Vice President of Communications & Marketing, 803.733.1128

Back to all News