Celebration of a Lifetime

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Foundation for Leadership Education hands out Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards

The Foundation for Leadership Education hosted the 2019 Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards dinner on Jan. 12, at Tabby Place in downtown Beaufort. The annual black-tie affair honored nine local citizens and their lifetime contributions to the Lowcountry. Honorees were vetted and selected based on their community service, leadership roles, community advocacy, pioneering and innovative efforts, and mentoring.

The Foundation for Leadership Education’s (FLE) primary objectives are to support leadership education, promote leadership awareness, and to maintain the Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards program. The FLE was founded by local leaders of Beaufort County that represented business, community development, education, management, and the military. Armed with a vision to help “Prepare Tomorrow’s Leaders,” the group committed itself to supporting programs with an unwavering commitment to developing well-rounded, open-minded critical thinkers preparing to be the problem-solvers of the future. In addition, the founders were dedicated to honoring the history of leadership in the Lowcountry by recognizing individuals and organizations that have contributed to the general welfare and development of the community. 

As a result, the foundation is committed to partnering and funding the following project types:

  • Scholarships for students at schools or organizations fully committed to providing a full program of curriculum and activities dedicated to developing leadership skills in youth. Such programs must include credit-bearing courses that lead to a complete course of study.
  • Academic scholarships for students entering college who have demonstrated strong leadership skills in high school. Honorees must be enrolled at an accredited educational institution.
  • Community Leadership Conferences and/or workshops for youth and adults. 
  • The Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards. These awards are presented annually in January. The award honors individuals and/or organizations that have contributed to the general welfare and development of the Lowcountry community. Honorees are vetted and selected based on the following criteria: Community Service, Community Leadership Roles, Community Advocacy, Community Pioneering and Innovative Efforts, Community Role Model.

This year’s award ceremony was hosted by Charles Tumlin, President of the Foundation for Leadership Education, and board member Alice Beddingfield Moss, with local educator David Nagel serving as master of ceremonies. The crowd of 320 attendees was treated to an eloquent dinner and a program designed to highlight the lives of nine of the Lowcountry’s cherished servant leaders.  According to Tumlin, “The evening was an excellent opportunity to not only honor these deserving awardees, but to also remind our community of their selfless contributions to the Lowcountry.”

Receiving the 2019 Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards were Thomas C. Barnwell Jr., Thaddeous Z. Coleman, Ronald and Natalie Daise, Dorothy P. Gnann, Rachel Crane Mather, Joseph A. Mix, William C. Robinson, and Robert V. Wardle. 

A Hilton Head native, Thomas Barnwell was recognized for his commitment to community service. His work at Penn Community Service, Inc., Beaufort Jasper Hampton Economic Opportunity Commission, Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, the National Consumer Cooperative Bank, the United Way and the N.A.A.C.P. were just a few examples of Barnwell’s commitment to service.

Thaddeous Coleman, a former Beaufort County educator, began working for the Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services in 1970. As the president of the National Demonstration Water Project, he dedicated himself to ensuring the improvement of water and sewer service for rural residents.  Because of his exceptional efforts, the Thad Coleman Fund was created in his name and is administered by the Beaufort Jasper Water and Sewer Authority.

Ron & Natalie Daise

Ron and Natalie Daise began their professional partnership with the creation and touring of the multimedia show Sea Island Montage, which was based on Ron’s book, Reminiscences of the Sea Island Heritage.  Since the 1980s, they have presented storytelling, music, history and lectures about Gullah heritage, faith and creativity. They have authored and published cultural books and produced recordings, programs, presentations and cultural products. Ron and Natalie both starred and served as cultural consultants for Nickelodeon’s “Gullah Gullah Island.”    

Dot Gnann

Dorothy Gnann’s service is reflected in her time with the Beaufort County Council, South Carolina Association of Counties, Beaufort County School Board and the Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Service Board. Gnaan has always worked for the betterment of Beaufort County, especially in the area of land preservation, improving issuing and updating existing schools and the rural and critical land program.

The Mather School Alumni

Rachel Crane Mather was the founder of the Mather School, originally a boarding school that had as its goal to educate the daughters of former slaves. In 1932, the school added a high school. By 1954, a junior college was added, and male students were admitted. The 1970s saw the Mather School become known as the Beaufort Regional Training Center and later the Beaufort Technical College. The school’s impact on Beaufort County’s history continues today as the Technical College of the Lowcountry. 

Lin Mix and Stephen Mix in honor of Joseph Mix

Joseph A. Mix boosted Beaufort’s claim to fame by restoring historic buildings. Most visible is the “grand old bank building” on Bay Street that had been the Breeze Theater and is today Panini’s on the Waterfront restaurant. Known as “Mr. Boys & Girls Club,” Mix was known for his devotion to developing a teen center.  According to an editorial, “If you know Joe Mix, then you know that he has dedicated much of his life in Beaufort to making the Boys & Girls Club a success.”   

William Clark Robinson was a loyal servant to the betterment of Beaufort County. He served as Commodore of the Beaufort Water Festival, a member of the board of trustees for Beaufort Memorial Hospital Endowment, board of directors for Beaufort Charities, United Way Chairman, President of Beaufort Rotary, board of directors for the YMCA.  He was also president, treasurer and director of the Boys & Girls Club and on the board of directors of the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club.

Lowcountry Montessori School

Robert V. Wardle was the founding member of the Wardle Family Foundation and involved with many of the projects the foundation supported in Beaufort County.  Mr. Wardle was a founding member of Secession Golf Club and developer of the Ocean Creek Golf Course on Fripp Island. At the dedication in 1994 of the former Boys & Girls Club facility on Boundary Street, the gymnasium was named to honor him and his family.  The YMCA branch in Port Royal was named the Wardle Family YMCA in 2004.       

Robert Smalls International Academy

Robert Smalls International Academy received a grant for its Leader in Me leadership model. The school was represented by assistant principal Davina Coleman and principal Jennifer Morillo.

The evening also included the recognition of three local schools for receiving the Foundation for Leadership Education’s Leadership Development Grants.  The grants were awarded based on the schools’ commitment to programming that support the development and practice of leadership skills. The grant recipients included Lowcountry Montessori School, Robert Smalls International Academy, and May River High School.  

May River High School

Lowcountry Montessori School was recognized for its work with the Montessori Model United Nations program. Representing the school at the ceremony were director Amy Horn and assistant director Sarah Fox. 

May River High School was also provided support for the development of a Model United Nations program. Representing the school was social studies teacher Mr. Michael Campbell.  

To learn more about The Foundation for Leadership Education, please visit their website at www.LowcountryLeaders.com or email info@lowcountryleaders.com.

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