President and CEO, Together SC
In 1997, as the Coastal Community Foundation’s newly hired president, Madeleine McGee attended a convening of South Carolina philanthropists. An out-of-state speaker made a startling comment.
“Basically, here in South Carolina, you’re educating about a third of your kids. You’re teaching children in larger communities, but not children of color and not children in rural communities.”
An older gentleman involved with a private foundation turned to McGee and said in a fervent stage whisper, “And it hasn’t hurt us thus far!”
She grows indignant at the memory.
“He was so very wrong,” said McGee. “What has held South Carolina back more than anything else has been generations who thought it was just fine to focus only on white kids. It wasn’t until the 2000s that our leaders began to show they really cared about public schools and investing in all our children.”
Born to privilege in Charleston, McGee has devoted her career to lifting up South Carolinians who are less fortunate. With her MBA from the prestigious University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, McGee has thrown her energies through the years into supporting community economic redevelopment, building philanthropic resources, and advocating for the work of all nonprofits.
Her ever-widening efforts to serve and consult in the nonprofit world culminated in 2011 in her current leadership position with Together SC. The influential South Carolina network focuses on strengthening, uniting, and advancing the state’s nonprofit and philanthropic community.
“We have 700-plus members,” explained McGee. “In addition to operating nonprofits themselves, these members include charitable and philanthropic organizations, consultants, academic and government partners, and a host of statewide associations and friends that all believe in the power of doing good together.”
Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) has been an important member of Together SC since TFASC Founder Josh Bell pitched in to support early development efforts. Current TFASC Executive Director Troy Evans recently participated in Together SC’s Carolina Leadership Seminars for new executives. The good goes around – Together SC has long been a staunch advocate for TFASC, rallying behind its decade-long effort to grow teacher numbers and presence in The Palmetto State.
McGee insists the need for organizations like TFASC is more urgent than ever.
“Programs like TFASC are essential in getting badly needed teachers into our classrooms,” she said. “This past fall, we had more teachers than ever in the South Carolina system, and we still fell 1,000 short of what we need. Without TFASC and its excellent teachers here, that alarming gap would have been even wider.”
“Educating students without teachers is impossible,” added McGee. “Educating students well without first-rate teachers is even more impossible.”
In her 30 years of nonprofit work, she has grown to be a fierce believer in the power of collaborative partnerships like those with TFASC and the coalition of other organizations in Together SC. At the core of McGee’s passion for this work? She’s a committed community advocate.
“South Carolina now has 5.5 million people … in one big community,” she said.
“The more progress we can show in building resources that connect Black and white, rural and urban, affluent and economically challenged, the more successful our state will be in the future.”