Mac Bennett, president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands, was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, on Tuesday, March 7 during the statewide 2017 South Carolina Nonprofit Summit.
State Representative Beth Bernstein and Tom Keith, president of Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, presented the award to Bennett on behalf of Governor Henry McMaster.
Bennett’s career spans 37 years in the Midlands, spending the last 12 years as the head of United Way. Among his many accomplishments, he is a founding organizer of the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the state’s largest nonprofit association for nonprofit professionals.
Bennett received the award in front of hundreds of nonprofit leaders from around the state gathering in Columbia for the association’s annual three-day conference.
“Mac has been not only a leader in our nonprofit sector, state and local community, he has been a loyal and generous friend,” said Keith. “His leadership spans so many levels and runs deep in the Midlands and beyond.”
Bennett announced his retirement last October. In a press release, Holt Chetwood, board chair of United Way said, “Mac is a humble, servant leader who is always eager to share credit for his accomplishments with staff and volunteers.”
Under Bennett’s leadership, United Way has experienced continued growth in improving the lives of Midlands residents through the organization’s education, financial stability and health initiatives in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Calhoun, and Fairfield counties.
South Carolina Governor John West created the Order of the Palmetto in 1971 as a formal way to recognize individuals for extraordinary lifetime service and achievements of national and statewide significance. In order to receive the award someone must nominate the individual and multiple letters of recommendation must be sent to the Governor’s nomination committee. The award is an once-in-a-lifetime achievement.