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Wilkins Legislative and Civic Awards Dinner 2020

Representative Gary Simrill received the 2019 Wilkins Award
for Excellence in Legislative Leadership 

Nella Barkley was awarded the 2019 Wilkins Award 
for Excellence in Civic Leadership

The Fifteenth Annual Wilkins Awards Dinner
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
January 14, 2020

SPONSORS of the 2020 Wilkins Awards Dinner

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. The Wilkins Awards are named for former Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives and Ambassador to Canada, David H. Wilkins, and honor the leadership, courage, vision, and integrity of one South Carolina legislator and one South Carolina civic leader. Click here to view this year's program; click here to read Furman's News Release.

Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York) received the 2019 Wilkins Award for Legislative Leadership.

Currently the House Majority Leader and Vice-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Simrill is described by his colleagues as hard-working, knowledgeable, and personable--a leader who consistently embraces ideas that move the state forward regardless of from which side of the aisle they originate.

As chair of the House Infrastructure Committee, he shepherded through an infrastructure bill with strong bipartisan support, and he later served on the conference committee for the eventual bill that was passed in 2016 by both House and Senate.

Known for his integrity and grit, he is highly respected by his peers at the State House.


Nella Barkley, president of Crystal-Barkley and community leader, received the 2019 Wilkins Award for Civic Leadership.

Nella Barkley has spent much of her life in leadership roles in numerous organizations devoted to improving the lives of South Carolinians by elevating education, sustaining and improving the arts, and creating opportunities for marginalized populations.

She was founding chair of SCETV, SC Educational Communications, City of Charleston Commission on Redevelopment and Preservation, Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts, and Horizon House, an alternative to institutionalization for delinquent boys.

Moreover, she has held regional leadership roles with United Way, Junior League, City of Charleston, Spoleto, and The Charleston Education Network.

Fifteen Years of Wilkins Award Winners on Leadership, Service and Bipartisanship

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


Partner Sponsors

Friend Sponsors

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 News Release