Senator Thomas Alexander and Lowcountry community health leader Roland Gardner to receive Riley Institute’s South Carolina leadership awards

November 22, 2021

Senator Thomas Alexander and Roland Gardner

Honorees will be recognized on January 18, 2022, in Columbia at the Riley Institute at Furman’s OneSouthCarolina Legislative and Civic Leadership Awards Dinner.

Furman University’s Riley Institute has announced that Senator Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee/Pickens) will receive the 2022 OneSouthCarolina Legislative Leadership Award. Roland Gardner, CEO of Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services (BJHCHS), will receive the Civic Leadership Award. The awards, formerly known as the David H. Wilkins awards, recognize outstanding leadership in South Carolina.

The awards will be presented at the OneSouthCarolina Legislative and Civic Leadership Awards Dinner on Tuesday, January 18 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This awards celebration builds upon a fifteen-year tradition of recognizing what can be achieved through empathy, collaboration, perseverance, and an overriding commitment to the wellbeing of South Carolinians.

“With the challenges brought on in the last two years, it’s more important than ever for the good of our state and its residents that we put aside differences to get things done and to celebrate those leading the way,” said Dr. Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute.

Gordon will co-host the event alongside former United States secretary of education and former two-term governor of South Carolina Dick Riley and Furman president Elizabeth Davis.

Senator Thomas Alexander, recipient of the legislative leadership award, has served at the Statehouse since 1987, first as a representative until 1994, and then as a senator. Currently the chair of the Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee, Alexander has advocated for expanded access to both healthcare and broadband throughout the state. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has garnered respect from colleagues, working across the aisle to distribute funds where they were most needed.

Roland Gardner, recipient of the civic leadership award, has dedicated his life to improving the lives of Lowcountry residents through increased access to quality healthcare. Under his leadership, BJHCHS grew from a start-up nonprofit into a multi-million-dollar corporation that spans three counties and serves over 17,000 patients.

The awards dinner begins with a reception for all registered attendees at 6 p.m. The dinner and awards presentation follow at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150 each and may be purchased by visiting or calling 864.235.8330.

The morning after the awards dinner, the Riley Institute will host a forum at which the inaugural OneSouthCarolina Partners in Progress Award will be given to a landmark collaborative achievement contributing significantly to social and economic progress in South Carolina. For more information on the forum, visit


About the Riley Institute at Furman University

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, hosting expert speakers to broaden perspectives on critical issues, supporting public education, and creating knowledge through community solutions-focused research. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at