A trio of women who have found success in male-oriented fields — and then used their own stories to inspire legions of younger females — were honored Thursday for their excellence.
Former Greenwood County engineer Rossie Corwon, Piedmont Technical College associate vice president of assessment and compliance Donna Foster and state Commission on Higher Education member Bettie Rose Horne were named 2019 “Women of Excellence” at a Women’s Leadership Council-sponsored luncheon that also honored Faith Home co-founder Aileen Barnes and Greenwood District 50 teacher Amy Fennell. The program is an initiative of the Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce.
More than 200 people attended the function at Enchanted Acres event barn on Wingert Road.
A Ninety Six native, Corwon graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and received a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M. In 2008, she joined the county’s engineering department, becoming its leader in 2014 until her retirement last year.
Known for her eye toward conservation of natural resources and strong support of professional development opportunities for women, Corwon was introduced by her close friend, Boo Ramage, as a quiet leader and passionate public servant. Corwon made the protection of natural resources along Lake Greenwood a priority and helped to secure $3 million worth of grants for improvements to the county’s airport during her tenure.
“Rossie not only succeed in a male-dominated field, she thrived,” Ramage said. “Examples of her success are very well documented, and many of us in this room have seen her in action firsthand.”
Corwon put off retirement until construction was completed on a $3.1 million county animal shelter and Humane Society of Greenwood adoption facility, which opened its doors last summer.
“Rossie consistently goes above and beyond,” Ramage said.
In brief remarks, Corwon thanked family, friends and colleagues who have supported her career.
“I’m humbled and honored, and thank you,” she said.
Foster joined Piedmont Tech’s faculty in 1992 as developmental math coordinator, until she was promoted to her current position in 2012. A former Greenwood High School teacher and adjunct professor of math at Lander University and Piedmont Tech, Foster has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina.
She was named the governor’s professor of the year among two-year colleges in 1996 and has also received the South Carolina Business and Professional Women’s “Young Careerist of the Year” award.
Foster currently serves on the 12-member Million Women Mentors SC steering committee, which has pledged 5,000 mentorship commitments to support girls or young women pursuing STEM careers.
Foster also helped forge an articulation agreement between Piedmont Tech and USC-Aiken for students studying early childhood education.
“Professional, leader, volunteer, advocate, detailed and mentor are just a few words used to describe Dr. Foster. Leadership is second nature to Dr. Foster,” said Kris Burris, Piedmont Tech’s director of dual enrollment.
Foster, who is also active with the Women’s Leadership Council, praised the group and her colleagues for helping to instill confidence in young females as they pursue their professional aspirations.
“Y’all, this is the best thing going,” Foster said. “Please continue to support each other and grow yourself personally and professionally. Because of all of you, Greenwood is truly great.”
Bettie Rose Horne
Horne, a former high school English teacher in Lebanon, Kentucky, worked at Lander University from 1968 through 1986 as a professor of linguistics and English, and then from 1986 through 1995 as director of instructional services.
From 1995 until 2002, Horne was vice president and dean of academic affairs at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia and spent a year as an academic associate to the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents.
From November 2007 through July 2008, Horne was dean of enrollment management at Lander and currently serves on the state Commission of Higher Education. She’s also a mainstay among local civic groups, volunteering on 13 nonprofit boards.
“Bettie Horne is an advocate for the underrepresented and the underserved,” longtime friend Anne Hancock said. “It’s evident she enjoys being a mentor to others.”
Horne used her time to thank her fellow award winners.
“I stand in awe of all these women,” she said. “I am out of place up here.”