Women in Business

Experience Columbia SC

1010 Lincoln Street

Columbia, SC 29201

Phone: 803.545.0000

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Seated: Danna Lilly, Kelly Barbrey. Standing: Cheryl Swanson, Amanda Cusaac

At Experience Columbia SC, women represent nearly 70 percent of the workforce. These women-led departments manage day-to-day activities and significantly contribute to the overall success and well-being of the organization. “Not only are women well represented on our staff, but our current board chair, Jana Medlin, is female as well,” says President and CEO Bill Ellen. “They all possess unique skillsets that keep us at the top of the tourism field in knowledge, effectiveness, performance, and outcomes, and they improve the overall quality of this organization.”

Sitting at the helm of four departments are Amanda Cusaac, vice president of finance; Kelly Barbrey, vice president of marketing and communications; Cheryl Swanson, vice president and general manager of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center; and Danna Lilly, vice president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. These women manage with innovation, creativity, critical thinking, and diverse perspectives and provide a unique outlook on business.

“Daily, we challenge the status quo while also understanding that the path for us is constantly evolving,” she said. “We understand the importance of being a part of a movement that is changing the narrative of women leaders.”

Overall, four of the seven departments at ECSC are all female – finance, marketing and communications, the CVB, and the Columbia Visitor’s Center. Twenty-four female employees hold managerial positions or above. Swanson said the support for women in tourism has shifted in a positive direction.

“As the general manager of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and an experienced venue manager, I have seen this historically male dominated industry shift to actively support women in leadership roles,” Swanson said.

Looking into the future, Swanson said the gender mix in hospitality programs affirms that women will continue to be a strong force and provide leadership in this industry.