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Columbia Business Monthly

Four local women to be honored as Women of Distinction by Girl Scouts

Oct 10, 2017 02:09PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands will honor four Midlands-area women at its annual Women of Distinction Awards Dinner on March 1, 2018 at the Columba Metropolitan Convention Center. The Women of Distinction Award recognizes local women of courage, confidence, and character, who exhibit exceptional professional and personal success, and have made a lasting impact in the community. The evening pays tribute to the honorees with a night of success stories, inspiration, and call to action.

This year’s honorees are: Kathleen Lawson Gibson, director of Clarendon One Community Resource Center; Melanie Huggins, executive director of Richland Library; Erin McCaskill, vice president and private banker for First Citizens Wealth Management; and Molly Spearman, South Carolina State superintendent of education. 

Kathleen Lawson Gibson is the daughter of Faye Smith Lawson and the late Henry Lawson. Gibson always lets young people know that it is never too late to reach their goals. Gibson is a lifelong member of Historic Liberty Hill AME Church. She is the past-president of the adult choir and first chairperson of the Church’s Hostess Committee. Presently, she serves as assistant class leader to her mother, as a member of the Steward Board, and as a member of the Women’s Missionary Society. 

Gibson has been employed by Clarendon School District One for more than thirty years. She has worked in various capacities to include Para-professional, then upon graduation, director and teacher of Child Care for 18 years. She now serves as director of Clarendon One Community Resource Center.

Melanie Huggins is the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, which received the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor. A noted expert in the areas of strategic planning, collaborations, leadership development and library staffing, she is a frequent speaker and facilitator for other libraries and organizations. Huggins came to Richland Library in 2009 from St. Paul Public Library, where she served as the director. In her time at Richland Library, she has introduced a new focus for strategic planning that involves all staff, rebranded the library system based on customer feedback, and received nearly $6 million in grants.

Huggins is an active member of the American Library Association and a 2017 Liberty Fellow, Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network. She was also named the 2012 South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association. Huggins served as director-at-large for the Public Library Association from 2014-2017 as well as the Urban Libraries Council Executive Board from 2010-2016.

Erin McCaskill, vice president and private banker for First Citizens Wealth Management, has been involved in the banking industry and the Midlands community for more than 13 years. With years of experience in the financial services industry, Erin brings knowledge, professionalism, and an understanding of the financial landscape to her relationships. Having been a member of the First Citizens team since May, 2009, she is well known as a trusted, knowledgeable and innovative advisor, helping her clients do more with their assets and resources as they work to shape their future.

Erin is a member of the Financial Planning Association, holds a Certified Financial Planner designation and is extensively involved in numerous civic and philanthropic organizations. She currently is chair of the Lexington Medical Center Foundation Board, co-chair of the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, and vice chair of Women of Hope.

Molly Mitchell Spearman was elected as the 18th South Carolina State Superintendent of Education on November 4, 2014. Native to Saluda County, Mrs. Spearman’s childhood laid the foundations of family, faith, and hard work that transcended into her professional career as an educator and civil servant. Spearman’s career has spanned 18 years as a public school music teacher and an assistant principal.

In addition to teaching and administration, she has served four terms as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, six years as deputy superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education, and ten years as the executive director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. As the South Carolina superintendent of education, Spearman has the experience and relationships needed to move South Carolina’s education system forward. Spearman strongly believes the foundation for student success lies in effective classroom teachers and principals who facilitate personalized learning for every student, every day. Her vision is for every South Carolina graduate to be prepared for the next step after graduation.

This is the 25th year that Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands will honor women in the midlands who make impactful community contributions. For ticket and/or sponsorship information to this annual fundraising event, please contact LaTanza Duncan, Chief Advancement Officer, [email protected], 803-461-3731or visit

About Girl Scouts:

For more than 100 years, Girl Scouting has helped girls develop positive values and become active, responsible leaders in their communities. With emphasis on personal growth and leadership development through service to others, Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands serves 11,500 girls, grades K5-12, and 4,700 adults in 22 counties of central and western South Carolina, including Abbeville, Aiken, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, and Union.