Board of Directors

SC Equality is led by an active Board of Directors who are strategically positioned throughout the state.


Jeff is the Chair of the Board of SC Equality, the statewide political advocacy and educational outreach organization for LGBT equality in South Carolina.  For over 20 years, he has been an innovative thinker and leader in business technology, having led the design and implementation of the TLC program for USAirways (now American Airlines).  He first became an LGBT activist in the 1990’s, serving with The Names Project (AIDS Memorial Quilt) and in October, 1996, was part of the organization when the entire quilt was displayed on the National Mall in Washington. While living in Charlotte, NC he served as board chair of the former Metrolina AIDS Project, a local AIDS service organization in the greater Charlotte-metro area which once served over 1400 people infected with AIDS. 
 
In 2010, Jeff moved to Charleston (where he still lives) and with the encouragement of Linda Ketner, founder of SC Equality, he joined the board in 2011. Shortly after, in 2012, he became board chair and during his leadership, SC Equality has grown into the largest LGBT equality organization in South Carolina and was instrumental in the implementation of the Post DOMA Litigation Task Force and the TransAction Task Force. Most recently, Jeff lead the charge and was a vital part behind the strategy of the now historic lawsuit filed in the federal courts which brought marriage equality to South Carolina for the first time in history in November of 2014.  In 2015, he was a permanent fixture at the South Carolina State House, successfully fighting anti-LGBT legislation and supporting pro equality bills that would protect LGBT South Carolinians in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.  “My goal has always been that, at some point in my lifetime, marriage equality would be the law of the land and would not be an issue any longer, and that everyone will be treated equally under the law.  Last year, I witnessed the constitutional right of all same sex couples in South Carolina with the right to marry the person they love.  And as we continue to march down this long hard road for equality, we pause to celebrate our recent victory, however, the movement is far from over.  In South Carolina, you can still be fired because of who you are (or love), can be turned away because a business owner doesn’t agree with your lifestyle and you can be refused housing.  Our LGBT teenagers are still bullied in our schools, with some of the highest rates of any state in the Union.  And transgender South Carolinians are still discriminated against and deserve the right to live as they choose. For those who continue to stand against these civil rights, they look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”
 



  

Malissa Burnette lives in Columbia and is a Partner at the law firm of Callison Tighe. Certified by the SC Supreme Court as a Specialist in Employment & Labor , she has been practicing law for 33 years. Malissa is experienced in all aspects of civil rights and discrimination law as well as family law. She has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America. Malissa joined the Board of Directors for SC Equality in 2009 and serves the organization as a project manager and member of the Nominating Committee.



Susan Smith, president of the SC Democratic Women's Council, Southern Regional Director of the National Federation of Democratic Women has from childhood held an interest in GLBT issues. Growing up in a small town in NC, she heard conversations about 'those people,' yet realized when those conversations included someone they knew, it changed the conversation. She is passionate about repairing the threads that bind us all together. She has made coalition building her mission as a Democratic Party office holder.



Dianne Odom is a Certified Public Accountant, practicing in Irmo South Carolina.  She has been licensed for 18 years and graduated from the University of South Carolina.  She joined the board of South Carolina Equality in 2009. Dianne serves as the Board Treasurer and lives in Irmo with her family.


 

Ann Willbrand lives in Aiken with Pat, her partner of 14 years. After teaching organic chemistry for 22 years as an Associate Professor, in 2007 Ann retired from the University of South Carolina in Aiken. In 2004, Ann began working with SC Equality as a delegate from the CSRA Rainbow Alliance. She participated in the Fairness for All Families campaign in 2005-2006 and officially joined the SC Equality Board of Directors in June 2007. Ann now serves as the Board’s Secretary.



Veronica Walters resides in Myrtle Beach, SC. She attended UNC-Wilmington and received her BA in Theatre. Her background in local theatre production is extensive and includes several movies. She currently operates her own business, V. Walters Services. In 2005, she co-founded the T-Time support group and has been a presenter at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. Veronica was a Board member and past President (2009-10) of The Center Project LGBT community center in Myrtle Beach. Besides now being part of SC Equality, she is currently Vice President of Red Ribbon Friends, a LGBT fund raising organization that supports Careteam of Horry/Georgetown, who provide services to directly assist persons with HIV/AIDS. Veronica joined the board in 2011.


 

Doug Yates lives in Columbia where he is an anesthesiologist in practice with Anesthesiology Consultants of Columbia.  He has been in the practice of anesthesiology for 25 years.  He received his B.A. from the University of Arkansas, his M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine, and his specialty training in anesthesiology from Wake Forest University.  He joined the SC Equality Board in 2009 and serves on the nominating committee.



Michael McCord, a passionate democrat and small business owner originally from Abbeville, South Carolina, currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina with his partner of three years and their two-year-old son. He is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Human Resource. Michael has spent time volunteering for multiple nonprofit organizations, as well as volunteering in Haiti in 2010. He proudly joined the Board of SC Equality in 2016.



As a student in high school I never saw myself as someone who would be an activist- I never wanted to stand out. In fact, all I wanted was to blend in and get by. When I got to college however everything changed. I no longer found myself concerned with other people's opinion of me- instead I found myself increasingly more interested in the rights of me and my friends who identified as LGBT. After becoming an Officer in EROS, I found myself more and more invested in fighting for and protecting these rights. It only seems natural that as I step away from EROS that I step towards another organization that impacts change in this way.



Representative John King has served SC District 49 since 2009 and is the incoming chair of the SC Legislative Black Caucus. A 1997 graduate of Moorehouse College, he is a funeral director and owner of Christopher King's Funeral Home. He also owns N. M. King's Bail Bonding Co.

Among the professional and advocacy organizations he serves as a member are;

SC  Funeral Director's Association, SC Funeral Directors' and Mortician's Association, Moorehouse College Alumi Association, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, York County Optimist Club and the Rock Hill Branch of NAACP. We look forward to Rep. King's wealth of knowledge and long history of advocacy to enhance and help shape our board for years to come.



Jessica Bright is a native of Walterboro, SC. She attended Clemson University and received her Bachelors of Science in Health Science, and is currently attending the Medical University of South Carolina were she seeks to earn her Masters in Health Informatics. Jessica is also currently employed at the Medical University of South Carolina where she manages several research projects like E-Visits, Video Visits and Tele PReP ( Pre- exposure prophylaxis) program or the Department of Family Medicine. She is a passionate advocate for adequate health services for the rural, minority and in the LBGT populations.  Jessica seeks innovative solutions to work towards decreasing the healthcare barriers.

Jessica is also an active Democrat with in her county and on the state level. Where she has worked and managed several local and state wide elections. Jessica currently serves as the executive councilwoman for Colleton County and is the Outreach Director for the Young Democrats of South Carolina. Jessica was elected as a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  Jessica was chosen to be a 2017 Clyburn Fellow. 



Roy's love of people and community drive his passion for life.  In that vein he is a trial lawyer focusing his professional career representing individuals whose lives have been upended due to catastrophic injury, death of a loved one, or the unfair and bad faith practices of insurance companies and other corporate miscreants.  But Roy recognizes that while his individual work on behalf of individual clients helps to level the playing field and ensure equality for all, large scale impact is most quickly accomplished through the political realm.  In that vein Roy also serves as Special Counsel and Advisor to the Mayor of Charleston and is involved in a host of community and political activities.  In his spare he enjoys spending time with his wife Kelsey, son Penn, and their Boykin Spaniel Sullivan in Charleston where they live. 


 

Bryanta Booker Maxwell, a native of Laurens South Carolina, is a 2006 graduate of South Carolina State University where she received her B.A. in Political Science with a pre-law concentration. Upon graduation, Bryanta went on to pursue her master’s in Public Administration from Walden University. Bryanta currently serves as a legal researcher for Richland County.

Currently Bryanta sits on the Generation Progress #Fight4AFuture Network board. This board consists of organizers and activist across the country who works towards solutions dealing gun violence and criminal justice reform. Bryanta currently serves as the triggering justice leader where forums and seminars as well as research are conducted on these gun violence and criminal justice reform. In Columbia SC, Bryanta sits on the Talented Tenth Columbia Board of directors; which is a group of young professional who work to create opportunities for other young professionals within the Columbia SC area. She’s a 2013 graduate of the New Leaders Council which is an organization focused on progressive political entrepreneurship. She also serves as a current Congressman James E. Clyburn fellow as well as President of the Young Democrats of South Carolina and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. She is the wife to Terrell Maxwell and mother to Julian A. Maxwell.