It may be too late to land on the North Pole nice list for 2013, but there’s still time for inclusion at the Women’s Leadership Conference and Celebration of Inspiring Women to be held Feb. 26-27 at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
ESPN reporter and host of “NFL Live,” Wendi Nix is among a group of women selected to speak at the fourth annual event hosted by Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina University.
All chosen for their commitment and contributions locally and globally, Nix will join Paula Harper Bethea, Mary Ann Bishop, Nathalie Dupree and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson as they are honored for their achievements.
They all have “strong South Carolina ties, and have contributed in so many ways,” said Beth Stedman, the associate director for Women’s Initiative and Programs at Coastal Carolina University and WIPL conference coordinator.
In addition to the honorees, speakers are invited “whose compelling stories will urge you to get involved and make a difference,” said Stedman. The speakers include Betsy Bailey, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Lori Free, Sassy Henry, Chris Linnares, Barbara McAllister, Joujou Safa and Katherine Switzer.
The conference, which “educates, motivates and challenges women to lead change in their own lives, their communities, and the world,” is a chance for women “to come together, connect, learn and be inspired,” said Stedman.
Nix, 39, a Socastee High School alumna, was a “very local and interesting choice” due to her groundbreaking work in choosing a career normally considered a “man’s world,” noted Stedman, who said the committee conducted research, accepted nominations and is an “ongoing” and “rolling process” for selecting speakers and honorees.
While Nix has likely given local fans more than a few reasons to be proud, her impact on a “man’s world” extends well beyond the Grand Strand. Michael J. Kraska, president of Linglestown Fire Company in Harrisburg, Pa., and a “fanatical die-hard” Notre Dame fan, quickly responded to the question: “Do you know who Wendi Nix is?” with “Uh, yea.”
Prior to the career that has currently spanned 14 years, Nix studied economics and French at Wofford College, was the captain of the golf team and obtained a master’s in sports management from the University of Mass-Amherst in 1997.
But, for those who have known her longest, Nix’s impact comes as no surprise.
“Wendi has been a positive role model to her friends and peers all her life. The daughter of Wayne and Donna Nix was taught to always live in a positive way and that she would always be judged by her actions,” said Andy Lanier, longtime Myrtle Beach resident and sportscaster for 103.1 who also works at Socastee High.
Principal Dr. Paul Browning said he wasn’t there when Nix attended, but noted he’d heard a lot of good about her then quickly found a few others who shared similar sentiments.
Coach Timothy Renfrow, athletic director at Socastee High who said he and Nix “go way back,” also said she used to baby-sit his children.
“We (all) think so much of Wendi,” he said. “When I’d see her at games, reporting from the sidelines, I just knew she was going to be successful someday. I didn’t know then what she’d end up doing the rest of her life, but, looking back, it seems obvious.”
Nix, who started her career at ABC affiliate, WPDE Myrtle Beach/Florence covering news, NASCAR and high school sports, said she never “had a crippling thought,” adding she was always told “if you want to do it, you can do it.”
Influenced by teachers, friends and a family of which sports was always a part, Nix said she always believed “of course I can do it.”
Nix said the message she’d like to give kids is: “they’re an important part of the world. Be aware and decide where you fit.”
When Nix goes to the podium at the Women in Philanthropy Leadership Conference in February, her message, along with the others slated to speak, will echo a powerful and resounding theme: leading the change for the Grand Strand.
“The conference,” said Stedman, is a “unique opportunity” for women of all ages and professions to come together and share their experiences.
Leslie Moore, editor at Strand Media Group, said: “I go to the WIPL conference every year, courtesy of Sasee. It’s awesome and well worth the time. The speakers are always so inspiring. I’ve already put my name in the pot to go for the next one.”