Seven Midlands women to be honored as Women of Distinction by Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands

March 20, 2022

Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands will honor seven Midlands-area women at its 28th Annual Women of Distinction Awards Dinner on April 7, 2022, at the Cathy Novinger Girl Scout Leadership Center at 1107 Williams Street in Columbia.  The Women of Distinction Award recognizes local women of courage, confidence, and character, who exhibit exceptional professional and personal success, and have made a lasting impact in their communities. The evening pays tribute to the honorees with an inspirational night of success stories.

This year’s honorees are:

Col. Katherine Brown, USAF Retired

Judge J. Michelle Childs

Lt. Governor Pamela Evette

Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox, Superintendent, Sumter Public Schools

Ms. Virginia Peterkin, Community Leader and Girl Scout Champion

Senator Katrina Shealy

Ms. Kim Wellman, Vice President, Communications Strategies, BCBS of South Carolina

Col. Katherine Brown is co-owner of the award-winning Bloomsbury Inn and the founder/director of The Protocol Institute…A Division of Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury Inn has been named as one of the top ten bed and breakfasts in the Nation, Katherine was named as one of the top innkeepers in the Nation, and Bloomsbury earned the TripAdvisor Peoples’ Choice Award four times – top 25 properties in the US — and numerous Certificates of Excellence.    As a retired Colonel, USAF (25-year career military officer) with over 17 years of worldwide experience in the protocol/hospitality service industry, she has served as the director of protocol for four four-star general officers and as a protocol officer to two other four-star general officers. Her duties included event planning and management, strategic political-military planning; lodging; menu selection; provision of entertainment; transportation; public presentations; and security.  She has been responsible for conducting visits by the President and Vice-President of the United States, the Queen of England, senior military officers of all Services and Foreign Nations, to include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Senators, Congressmen, and Governors. She also has military experience in administration, personnel, budget and finance, intelligence, and communications.  Highlights of her career include being a member of the Commission for Women in Combat, an aide for the Presidential Transition Team Co-chairman, a senior fellow at the Library of Congress, and Commander of the Air Force Element in the Defense Intelligence Agency.  She has civilian experience in retail, instruction, and the hospitality industry.  Katherine Brown holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Language Arts from Arkansas State University and a Masters’ Degree in Human Resource Management from Central Michigan University. She is a graduate of the Washington School of Protocol®, and is a certified protocol/civility instructor.  She instructs at the Buckley School of Public Speaking.   She is the Chief Governing Officer of Select Registry; serves on the Board of Advisors for Camden Military Academy, the Kershaw County Accommodations Tax Committee, and on the Kershaw County United Way Board of Directors.

The Honorable J. Michelle Childs was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in August 2010. On December 23, 2021, President Biden nominated Judge Childs to United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Childs holds a B.S. in Management from the University of South Florida Honors College, a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law, a Masters in Personnel and Employment Relations from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, a Masters of Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law, and an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service from the University of South Carolina. Prior to serving as a U.S. District Judge, Judge Childs served as a South Carolina At-Large Circuit Court Judge, which included responsibilities as the Chief Administrative Judge for General Sessions and the Business Court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Richland and Kershaw Counties. Judge Childs also had the distinct honor of receiving gubernatorial appointments as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner and the Deputy Director for the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Labor. Judge Childs was formerly a partner with the law firm of Nexsen Pruet, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina, where she practiced in the areas of employment and labor law and general litigation. Judge Childs is very active with various local, state, and national bar organizations, as well as community organizations. She is the President elect of the Federal Judges Association, the former Chair of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division, and the former Secretary of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section. She also serves as a fellow with the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section and its Committee on the American Judicial System. Judge Childs is also a member of the American Law Institute, having served as an Advisor to the Restatement (Third) of Employment Law. Throughout her career as a practicing lawyer and judge, she has lectured and served frequently on panels regarding litigation and trial techniques, courtroom practices and procedures, e-discovery, expert witnesses, evidence, and various topics for new lawyers.

Lt. Governor Pamela Evette was elected as the 93rd Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on November 6, 2018.  Prior to her election as the first female republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Evette founded Quality Business Solutions, Inc. (QBS), a payroll, human resources, and benefits services firm headquartered in Travelers Rest. Under her leadership as President and CEO, QBS has grown exponentially, going from start-up to earning a spot on the Inc. 5000 listing of the nation’s fastest growing small businesses. Her company has also been repeatedly honored among the fastest growing and best places to work in the State of South Carolina. Evette has been the recipient of numerous business and professional accolades, including the ATHENA Leadership Award®, which honors individuals who assist women in reaching their full leadership potential and provide community service; the Women’s Presidents Organization/American Express 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Award; and being honored as a member of the Impact 50, an annual ranking of the most powerful women leaders of Inc. 5000 companies. She is also a sought-after public speaker and nationally published author. A trained accountant and former CFO, with many years serving in a financial capacity at a wide range of organizations, Evette has demonstrated a keen focus on driving customer growth and a deep understanding of the regulatory issues and challenges facing small and medium sized businesses. Based on her years of experience in handling small business compliance, Evette was appointed to serve as a member of South Carolina’s Small Business Regulatory Review Committee, which is charged with reviewing and supporting or challenging proposed regulations that might impact small businesses’ ability to start-up, operate effectively or grow within the state. Evette has always been passionate about and focused on improving educational performance in the community, assisting the elderly and the young – especially those facing illness, and helping small- and women-owned businesses. She serves on the boards of directors of the St Francis Foundation (affiliated with Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital) and the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), where she is also an emeritus member of the state legislative committee. A native of Ohio, Evette is the granddaughter of Polish immigrants. Her parents, Jennie and Emil Gajoch, were first generation Americans who taught her the value of hard work and the importance of civic duty and giving back. Evette holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in accounting from Cleveland State University. Evette and her husband David, COO of QBS, attend Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors. The Evettes have three children, Amanda, 22, Joseph, 20, and Jackson, 11.

Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox currently serves as the superintendent of Sumter School District. Previously, she served as the Chief of School Climate and Safety, Community Superintendent for elementary, middle, and high schools, and Assistant Superintendent of Middle Schools for Baltimore County Public Schools. Dr. Martin-Knox earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Morgan State University, a Master’s degree in Education Leadership in Administration from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and a Doctorate degree in Urban Education and Leadership from Morgan State University. Focused on serving children, Dr. Martin-Knox proudly served as a teacher, department chair, assistant principal, and principal with Baltimore County Public Schools. She has taught instrumental music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She also has central office experience serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Middle Schools, Community Superintendent for 37 elementary, middle, she high schools, Chief of School Climate and Safety, and as the Superintendent for Sumter School District. Dr. Martin-Knox has received numerous awards during her tenure as an educator, as well as multiple nominations. Some of those awards and nominations include Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, Teacher of the Year, Walt Disney nomination for the All-American Teacher Award, and Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

Virginia Washington Peterkin was born in Sumter County. She is married to Donaldson Peterkin, and they have two lovely daughters, Shanikwa and Shayla. She is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University. A Licensed Social Worker, Certified Death and Grief Counselor and Certified Youth Mentor, Retired State Employee from the Department of Social Services as Program Coordinator for Child abuse and neglect. Virginia is a member of Northminster Presbyterian Church, an ordained Elder and Deacon. A Life Member of Presbyterian Women. She is the Co-Founder of PCAAY (pronounced PKAY) an annual statewide youth retreat Program for Presbyterian Middle and High School Youth, but open to all interested youth. The program was started to empower youth, increase self-esteem, enhance education/ social skills, and learn about the church, and develop Leadership skills. Virginia organized the first Child Abuse Prevention Walk-A -Thon at the Department of Social Services in 2004. Served as Community Organizer for Richland County Department of Social Services, founded and organized a 411 Fest inviting community organizations, agencies, schools, Law Enforcement, Pastors, Pharmacists and Physicians to Partner with the Department of Social Services. To inform families of available services in the community doing infomercials at the fest. The intent was to have families become familiar with and to seek assistance from resources that are available in their community as opposed to contacting the Department of Social Services. The Fests were held on a Saturday in a Richland County Community Park Gymnasium.

She was Co-founder and Vice Chair of the Midlands Foundation for Foster Children. Girl Scout Leader and a member of the GSSC-MM Service Unit 643. NAACP Youth Council Advisor, Life Member of the NAACP, planned and organized the First NAACP National Day of College Preparation in South Carolina (SAT Prep) in 2002 for High School students who did not have funds to enroll in SAT Prep classes. The program was held annually in partnership with Princeton review, USC, and the Local NAACP. Organized and Directed a SAT College Prep Lab at Northminster Presbyterian Church as a follow up to the College day of Preparation Program.

Virginia is president of the Columbia Alumni Chapter of Johnson C. Smith University. Past member of the LM Atkinson’s Boys and Girls Club and Past Member of Richland School District Two Superintendent’s Committee.

Elected in November 2012, Senator Katrina Shealy was the only woman in the South Carolina Senate at that time and is now one of only five women in the South Carolina Senate.  Senator Shealy serves as Chairman of the Family & Veterans’ Services Committee and sits on the Finance, Corrections & Penology, Rules, and Labor, Commerce & Industry Committees in the Senate.  She is also a member and past chair of the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, co-chair of the State Suicide Prevention Coalition, the State Child Fatality Advisory Committee, and the State Domestic Violence Advisory Committee.  She is chair of the Southern Legislative Conference Human Services and Public Services Committee and chair-elect of the National Foundation for Women Legislators. Senator Shealy is the founder of Katrina’s Kids, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which strives to give “Every Chance to Every Child” in foster care and group homes.  She has been a champion of children’s and women’s issues for many years, having formerly served as the Chairman of the Board of the South Carolina Friends of Juvenile Justice, the Women’s Advisory Board for Lexington Medical Center and as a board member for the Girl Scouts of the Congaree. Senator Shealy is an insurance executive who has been in the insurance industry for the past 40 years.  She works as an insurance consultant for Keenan & Suggs of Columbia, SC.  She is married to Jimmy Shealy and resides in Lexington, SC.  They have three daughters, five grandsons and they are active members of St. James Lutheran Church in Red Bank.

Kim Wellman is Vice President of Communications Strategies for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. Kim joined BlueCross 27 years ago as a communications specialist and was promoted through the ranks to her current position in which she oversees brand management and the Corporate Marketing Communications department. This department is responsible for providing communications services, public relations, and community relations for the entire corporation. Kim earned an undergraduate degree in Journalism/Public Relations and a Master of Mass Communications (Integrated Marketing Communications) degree from the University of South Carolina. In 2001, she earned and has since maintained the Accredited Public Relations (APR) designation. She is also a 2001 graduate of Leadership Columbia and has also completed the Women of the New South leadership program at Columbia College. Over her career, Kim has won numerous professional awards from the South Carolina chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (SCPRSA), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC-SC) and the American Advertising Federation of the Midlands. In 2015, Kim received a Tribute to Women in Industry (TWIN) award from the Palmetto Center for Women for her achievements in community service. She also chaired the record-breaking United Way Workplace Giving Campaign for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina in 2019, leading employees to raise more than $2.8 million dollars. Kim’s community service resume reflects her lifelong passion of being an advocate for children. She has served and held president/chairman positions on the board of directors for Children’s Trust of South Carolina, which works to prevent child abuse and neglect; Palmetto Place Children’s Emergency Shelter, which provides a safe haven for children who have experienced abuse or neglect; and Katrina’s Kids Foundation, which offers support to children in foster care. She also was a guardian ad litem for Lexington County, advocating on behalf of abused or neglected children as their cases were adjudicated in the court system. Believing that education is the great equalizer, Kim also supports children’s literacy programs. In fact, Kim has been known to resort to very creative measures to encourage children to read. She once showed up to read to children at Homeless No More’s “space week” summer camp — dressed in a home-made astronaut costume. She’s also channeled Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, sporting his infamous red-and-white striped top hat while reading to children for Read Across America Day. Kim has been a volunteer with the Midlands Reading Consortium as well as the Friends of the Lexington Main Library’s Book by Book program. She currently participates in the United Way’s Always United “Pony Express” pen pal program, in which she corresponds with elementary school children in special reading programs. Kim was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina — where she was a Brownie and Junior Girl Scout! She has lived in Lexington County with her husband, Jim, for the last 30 years. For fun, Kim and Jim proudly support the USC Gamecocks at football and women’s basketball games, and are currently taking shag dance lessons and “raising” a miniature schnauzer named Millie.

We encourage everyone to celebrate these women of distinction.  Event tickets and sponsorship information can be found on our website at or by contacting Lee Ann Maley at [email protected] or (864) 208-2709.


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