Murrells Inlet 2020 elected Renee Williamson as the new executive director Friday morning, marking the first change in leadership in several years.
“I’m very excited and very honored to have been chosen,” Williamson said.
The organization’s board of directors met Friday morning in hopes of finding a replacement executive director for Sue Sledz, who is retiring after 12 years of serving the marshy community. Williamson, who moved to Pawleys Island two years ago, wanted to get back into nonprofit work when she learned of MI2020’s opening.
“I really wanted to get involved with a nonprofit again, and I’ve worked with nonprofits in my hometown, and I was looking for a leadership role where I could learn a lot and benefit the community,” Williamson said.
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Williamson said the first few weeks as executive director will serve as relationship building blocks between board members, volunteers and area businesses. Though she isn’t planning any new goals or missions for the group yet, Williamson said she’s excited to see how she can help best.
“They already have kind of a working list of goals, and so I’m really just going to work with board to see where they’re looking to move forward,” Williamson said. “As I get to know things a little better I’ll be able to step up and make decisions about new events or goals.”
One of her first priorities, of course, is “learning as much as I can from Sue (Sledz) for the last month she’s there.”
Williamson has previous marketing and event planning experience. She has worked as membership and marketing director at Wachesaw Plantation Club, as well as membership and marketing director at the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce.
“Out of 250 applicants, I’m honored to be chosen and I’m really looking forward to working with 2020 and everyone in the community,” she said.
A search committee was elected earlier this year and selected three final candidates for review out of the pool of 250 applicants, said Sandra Bundy, vice chairman. The committee then presented the board with its final selection, and “the board voted unanimously to elect Renee,” Bundy said.
“We are very excited to have Renee lead in pursuit of the never-ending mission of this great community organization,” Sean Bond, chairman of Murrells Inlet 2020, said in a statement.
“The quality of the applicants this term speaks great volume to the strength of the organization and success its members and volunteers have endured since 1997,” Bond said.
Murrells Inlet 2020 is a community revitalization group that works to improve infrastructure and beautification, provide environmental education, and preserve the creek and traditions surrounding it. For more information, or to find out how to volunteer, visit www.murrellsinletsc.com or call 357-2007.
The other two finalists for the position were Nina Akin, of Myrtle Beach, and Beth Stedman, a Murrells Inlet resident and MI2020 volunteer.
Sledz, who first visited the area from Cleveland, Ohio, where she was an IT manager, fell in love with the marsh and never looked back. She became a full-time resident in 1999, started volunteering with Murrells Inlet 2020 in 2002 and became executive director in 2004. She plans to retire in July, but will stick around for a while to teach Williamson the ropes.