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Wilkins Legislative and Civic Awards Dinner 2016

(l-r) Elizabeth Davis, Dick Riley, Swati Patel (accepting award for Gov. Nikki Haley), Joe Riley, 
Jennifer Pinckney, David Wilkins and Paula Harper Bethea

Senator Clementa Pinckney received the 2015 Wilkins Award
for Excellence in Legislative Leadership (posthumously)

Governor Nikki Haley and Mayor Joe Riley were awarded the 2015 Wilkins Award
for Excellence in Civic Leadership

The Eleventh Annual Wilkins Awards Dinner
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
January 12, 2016

Sponsors of the 2016 Wilkins Awards Dinner; to view this year's program, click here.

Video of Interview with Gov. Haley and Mayor Riley

Held on the first night of the legislative session each year and attended by political, community, and business leaders, the Wilkins Awards Dinner promotes citizenship, public service, and bipartisan governing. Each year we honor the leadership, courage, vision, and integrity of one South Carolina legislator and, this year, two South Carolina civic leaders. For the program and biographies, click here.

Senator Clementa Pinckney was awarded the 2015 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership (posthumously). First elected to the legislature at age 23, Senator Pinckney served with empathy for opposing views while firmly presenting his own views until his assassination at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church on June 17, 2015. His widow, Mrs. Jennifer Pinckney, accepted the award, along with her daughters, Eliana and Melana.

Governor Nikki Haley and Mayor Joe Riley were awarded the 2015 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership. In the wake of the shooting of nine worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Governor Haley and Mayor Riley demonstrated unselfish, decisive, and critical leadership during a time of enormous grief and angst in South Carolina. Their responses to this tragedy have helped bring healing to our state.


The evening was hosted by Ambassador David Wilkins, Secretary Dick Riley, and Furman President Elizabeth Davis. Along with dinner, there was a video of a moderated conversation with our civic award winners, Gov. Haley and Mayor Riley, about their response and actions following the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church. 

Interview with Gov. Haley and Mayor Riley:



Many thanks to our generous sponsors of the eleventh annual Wilkins Awards Dinner:

Silver Level

Bronze Level

Table Sponsor

Our great thanks to these Sustaining Sponsors, who support the work of the Riley Institute throughout the year:

  • Dick Riley
  • Lindsay and Billy Webster

Press Coverage

Furman's press releaseThe Greenville NewsLowcountrybizSC

More information on the David H. Wilkins Legislative Leadership Program