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Murrells Inlet: 2020 director takes job with education foundation

By Jason Lesley

Executive director Renee Williamson will be leaving Murrells Inlet 2020 by the end of the year for the S.C. Governor’s School of Math and Science Foundation.

She has accepted a job as director of career services, a new position with the school. Her office will be in Columbia. The school, a two-year, public, residential high school for 288 juniors and seniors in Hartsville, specializes in the advanced study of science, technology, engineering and math, with an emphasis on economics and entrepreneurship.

Williamson said her job will be to build relationships with the state’s CEOs, businesses, governments and think tanks to provide internships, and ultimately jobs, for Governor’s School graduates. “These students are the best and brightest in South Carolina,” Williamson said. “They go to college at NYU, Duke, Yale or Harvard and do great things and have incredible careers, but they generally do not come back to South Carolina.” She said the Governor’s School board is “very forward thinking” and leaders of South Carolina’s major corporations want to bring the graduates back to the state.

Williamson has been executive director of Murrells Inlet 2020 for three years. “I’ve met some really great people, not only professionally but personally,” she said. “I have some really close friends here, and I’m going to miss this area. It was a very hard decision for me.” She said Columbia will be closer to her parents in Augusta, and two of her four daughters have plans to move to Columbia next year. “The stars aligned,” she said. “I love this foundation. It’s run by a talented, empowered group of women.”

Williamson said her proudest accomplishment for Murrells Inlet 2020 is its strategic plan. Two projects that have come from the plan include new crosswalks at the Marsh Walk and the Inlet To Intracoastal bike path. “They can take the plan and run with it for the next five years,” she said.

Whitney Hills, who chairs the Murrells Inlet 2020 board, said the Governor’s School job is a career opportunity that Williamson could not pass up. “She certainly has served us well,” Hills said. “We have accomplished a whole lot with the strategic plan and many other things. I hate to see her go, but I’m really happy for the opportunity she has for a career. I think she will enjoy being in a big city atmosphere, and I know she’ll do a bang-up job.”

The board will begin searching for a new executive director next year. “It’s an undertaking,” Hills said. “It’s not something we can do overnight.” Part-time employee Mary Lou Avant has agreed to work full-time to keep the office open in the interim.

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