As SC’s coastal communities grow, not all have access to economic opportunities. We’re exploring how to fix that.

While many of South Carolina’s coastal places are thriving economically, many communities – and particularly minorities – are not sharing in the success. That’s what Coastal Community Foundation heard when we conducted dozens of small-group listening sessions across our nine-county service area last year, which includes Horry and Georgetown counties.

Nearly a third of the people we spoke to during this process said access to economic opportunity is one of their main concerns, which is why it’s one of the three top focus areas in our Civic Engagement Agenda. The others are affordable places & inclusive spaces and education.

In one community conversation, a man living on the East Side in downtown Charleston asked why natives of his neighborhood rarely have access to enough capital to invest in their own community projects, but outside developers do.

“I think that embodies the frustrations of the African-American community, especially those of us with an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.

The Civic Engagement Agenda crystallizes the systemic issues and inequities burdening our region and it will guide how we work as community leaders moving forward. This year, we’ve begun taking the first steps by engaging our donors and fund holders in conversation to share the wealth of knowledge we’ve gleaned over the past 18 months through our community conversations as well as through research conducted by USC Upstate’s Metropolitan Studies Institute.

On Tuesday, March 19, CCF hosted the second Philanthropy Engagement Session to explore the topic of access to economic opportunity: the circumstances that exist throughout our region, and what we can do together to improve them. The event, sponsored by Blackbaud, was held in three strategic locations simultaneously across our service area to engage a range of our donors and localize the issue with different speaker panels of community stakeholders and experts.

We took this approach because we realize our large service area encompasses different communities with different needs, even if they’re impacted by the same general issue.

Events were held at USC-Beaufort, Waccamaw Community Foundation in Murrells Inlet and Blackbaud’s World Headquarters on Daniel Island, where the first portion of the presentation was livestreamed to the other two locations.  The second half of the session was dedicated to a panel discussion with local experts. Insights from each location’s event are detailed below.

President and CEO Darrin Goss and Vice President of Grantmaking & Community Leadership Edie Blakeslee began the session with an overview of the research that underscores the economic inequities in coastal South Carolina.

For instance, commuting patterns across our nine-county service region revealed that only the most heavily-populated areas offer enough employment options for people to work where they live. Berkeley, Dorchester and Jasper counties have a large percentage of residents who commute to work in other places, while Beaufort, Charleston, and Horry counties have a large portion of residents who live and work in the same county.

People without employment or affordable housing options in their communities are then forced to spend more time and money commuting, putting strains on families, their finances and their capacity to truly participate in the communities where they live.

At the same time, each corner of our service area is expecting employment growth over the next five years. However, given that African-Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed in South Carolina than white and Hispanic workers, clearly more needs to be done to ensure all people are equally equipped and considered for new jobs.

Those themes were further explored by the local panelists. While moderators’ prompts were the same in each location, the discussions varied. One theme that consistently emerged was the rapid growth of South Carolina’s coastal communities and how to ensure everyone reaps the benefits of those changes.

In Murrells Inlet, the panelists were Sarah Smith, Executive Director of Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments and Pam Martin, Executive Director of Georgetown RISE. They discussed the limited availability of moderately-priced homes in comparison to the growing number of homes in the $250,000-$400,000 price range. In addition, they discussed the added and escalating costs of flood insurance, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires in the highest-risk areas.

The Waccamaw region of Horry and Georgetown counties faces the dual challenges of growth and affordability in certain places, while also grappling with access to capital and opportunity for lower income and rural populations. The same is true in the Southern Lowcountry counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper.

That reality drove the conversation in Beaufort, where the panel explored the systemic barriers to opportunity, such as credit scores and a lack of financial literacy. The panel in that region was comprised of Larry Holman, President & CEO of the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce; Edward McKelvey, Senior Vice President of South State Bank who serves as a Community Reinvestment Act officer; and Kyle Player, Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship.

In the Charleston region, the speakers were Anna Lewin, CEO of the South Carolina Community Loan Fund; Bernie Mazyck, President and CEO of South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development and Jamee Haley, Executive Director of Lowcountry Local First.

The discussion centered on the policy and planning decisions needed to enhance the quality of life for people of all backgrounds as the region grows. They emphasized the role zoning rules play in securing inclusive and affordable places within hotbeds of economic activity. They also shared ideas on how to support minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs by enhancing transportation options and access to resources and technical services.

We thank our panelists in Charleston, Beaufort and Murrells Inlet for sharing their perspectives and expertise. We look forward to our next Philanthropy Engagement Session in May to explore the challenges facing our education system.

3655 S. Hwy. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

843-357-GIVE (4483)

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Waccamaw Community Foundation is an affiliate of Coastal Community Foundation.

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Fundholder Alert

To guarantee that your grants are distributed by the end of the year, please submit your requests by Friday, December 9th at 3:00p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact Shawna Mosley-Foster at 843-357-4483 or


Dennis L Wade

Dennis Wade is a native of Lancaster, SC and a graduate of the University of South Carolina. Mr. Wade has been President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jackson Companies since 2001. The Jackson Companies is a diversified tourism, hospitality and real estate development company located in the South Strand of Myrtle Beach. For more than five decades, the Jackson family has instilled philanthropy and community service into their multifaceted group of businesses. Dennis is a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand XIX and a Waccamaw American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow. He currently serves on the Coastal Educational Foundation Board of Directors, the Board of Visitors for the Wall College of Business at Coastal Carolina University, and the Conway Medical Center Board of Trustees. He is also chairman of the Board of Directors of Coastal Carolina Bancshares, Inc. and a director of Coastal Carolina National Bank. Dennis and his wife, Marie, have two children, Erica and Taylor, and have called the Grand Strand home since 1997.

Allen Jeffcoat

Allen Jeffcoat has been practicing law in Myrtle Beach since 1977. His areas of practice include real estate, estate planning, probate administration, environmental law, corporate and business law, and bankruptcy.  He serves as an expert witness in cases in these areas of practice. He is licensed to practice law in SC and NC. He has served as chair of the Real Estate Practices Section of the SC Bar.

Allen’s relationship with Waccamaw Community Foundation began many years ago, when he would advise his estate planning clients to invest their funds to benefit their philanthropic interests, such as education, the arts, and environmental protection. After working alongside his clients and WCF, Allen joined the Foundation’s board of directors in 2007 and served as director until 2016.

In addition to his professional to his professional interests and his involvement with WCF, Allen has a history of supporting coastal and statewide conservation efforts. In 1985, Allen joined the South Carolina Nature Conservancy board of trustees, and fulfilled a variety of leadership roles- including a stint a chairman— from 1987-1989. Allen also served on Governor Carroll Campbell’s Freshwater Wetlands Forum, and continues to apply his experience in environmental and real estate law to help preserve and protect natural resources and ecosystems vital to the local community.

Allen is also a founder and first president of the YMCA of Coastal Carolina.

Allen has resided in the Grand Strand since 1977 with his wife, Mary. They have two grown children and a granddaughter.

Tim Whitten


A native of Alabama, Tim received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Auburn University and a master’s degree in religion from Lenoir-Rhyne University. He brings to WCF a background in grant writing and in disaster recovery most recently serving the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Tim resides in Galivants Ferry with his wife Julie and their four children.

Phillip Anderson


Phillip Anderson is a Senior Vice President & Senior Lending Officer for Asheville, North Carolina-based HomeTrust Bank, serving the coast of South Carolina. Throughout his 22-year banking career, he has served in commercial banking, trust administration, retail banking, and market leadership roles with mid-size and regional banks in South Carolina and Georgia. He has always embodied the community banking model of building strong local relationships and being active in numerous non-profits and promoting their causes.
He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, GA, the Cannon Financial Institute’s Trust School, The Stonier Graduate School of Banking and Wharton Leadership program. He is also a graduate of several Chamber of Commerce Leadership programs over his career.
Phillip resides in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, with his wife Mary Beth and daughter Carolina. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and playing golf.

Ellen Barney Sycks

Stewardship & Communications Officer

Ellen serves the Foundation as its Stewardship and Communications Officer, responsible for communicating with fund holders on a regular basis and providing advice when needed, particularly around fund development as well as relevant field of interest information.

A native of Hillsboro, Ohio, Ellen provides more than three decades of non-profit leadership experience, focusing on creating major gift and planned giving opportunities to support organizations’ programs, special projects and capital campaigns. Ellen received her B.A. in National Security Policy from The Ohio State University. She lives in Murrells Inlet with her husband Jay and their two cats, Mabel and Murray.

Chris Hanna


Chris Hanna is a Senior Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. Born and raised in Myrtle Beach, he started in the real estate business in 1993. Chris is a member of the Coastal Carolinas, South Carolina and National Associations of REALTORS and is an active local community member as well, having served on various boards such as the Horry County Zoning Board of Appeals, the Coastal Carolina Athletic Foundation, and Horry County school district Carolina Forest Advisory Board. He is a member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality and Oceanview Baptist Church. Chris is a graduate of Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, and he received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina at Coastal Carolina in 1992.

Rick Elliott


Rick Elliott is president of his family business, Elliott Realty, one of the most prominent real estate companies in North Myrtle Beach. As a native of Horry County, he has always made giving back to the community a part of his approach to business. Each guest who stays with Elliott Realty is given the option to add an additional $1 per night to their bill to be donated to the Elliott Realty Charitable Community Fund at Waccamaw Community Foundation, which invests in causes throughout the surrounding community. Rick brings this commitment to community philanthropy to his service on the Waccamaw Community Foundation Board of Directors. He has also served as the chairman of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Tyler Easterling


Tyler Easterling is a native of Marietta, Georgia and has resided in Georgetown County since moving to the area in 2002. Tyler is the president and COO of The Brandon Agency, an integrated marketing agency headquartered in Myrtle Beach. She is the current board chair for Coastal Montessori Charter School and serves on the boards of Helping Hands of Georgetown and Young Presidents’ Organization Southern 7 Chapter. She is a member of the 2018 Liberty Fellowship class.

Tyler holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Mississippi and a Masters of Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina. She is an active member of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church and enjoys spending time with her husband, Marshall, and two daughters, Julia and Anne Marshall.

Terri DeCenzo


Terri serves as executive director of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina University (WIPL). She is married to Coastal Carolina University President David A. DeCenzo, and when he joined the university in 2002, she became passionately involved with the life of the university, taking an active role in issues relating to student government and NCAA athletics, among others. Previously Terri has served on the boards of the American Red Cross and the Foundation for Georgetown Hospital System and was an adviser to the Safe Families Initiative that established Family Justice Center of Horry and Georgetown Counties. In 2016, Terri was awarded the Order of the Silver Crescent by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. A graduate of St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing and Towson University, she spent most of her career practicing in critical care. The DeCenzo’s have four children: Mark (his wife Jen), Meredith (and her husband Ryan Daley), Gabriella and Natalie; and one beautiful grandson, William Mason Evans.

Executive Director, Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina University (WIPL)

Dr. Tracy Bailey


Dr. Tracy Bailey earned a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Language and Literacy at the University of South Carolina in May of 2013. She is a Teaching Associate with Coastal Carolina University teaching Intermediate Literacy Development and Instructional Practices for Early Literacy.

Dr. Bailey began her career in education as a high school English instructor and has worked in both rural and urban educational settings. After realizing the impact professional development and community literacy had on her personal and professional growth, she wanted others to experience this. She is the founder and executive director of Freedom Readers, Inc., a nonprofit company dedicated to promoting literacy. Tracy seeks to instill in teachers, students, and the community at large the belief that every student can learn and every learner has the responsibility to pass on new knowledge to another.

Dr. Bailey earned her BA from The College of Charleston- majoring in English Education- and a Masters in Secondary Education from Coastal Carolina University. She is married to award-winning writer, Issac J. Bailey, and is the mother of two wonderful children, Kyle and Lyric.

Brent Groome


A 1987 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Brent came to the Grand Strand area in 1989. After a 31 year career with HTC (Horry Telephone Cooperative), he retired in 2021.  In addition to his current role with WCF, he also serves as a member of the Board of Commissioners for HGTC. He is also active with his church; serving as a Sunday School teacher and congregational song leader.  He and his wife, Dana, live in the Conway area.

Shawna Mosley-Foster

Service and Operations Officer
843-357-4483 x200

Shawna, a native of Jamaica, NY, has more than 15 years of experience working in the hospitality and tourism field. Since relocating to South Carolina in 2004, she spent a few more years working with a local hospitality company before joining WCF’s staff.  While a native New Yorker, Shawna has a rich heritage right here in the Waccamaw area. Her mother was born and raised on Sandy Island, and her father is from Bucksport. She enjoys cooking, stargazing with her family, cruising and once retired….RVing! Shawna and her husband are empty nesters and resides in Myrtle Beach. 

Mike Mancuso

Executive Director

Mike is a veteran business leader with more than 30 years of experience as an innovative problem solver and change agent for nonprofit, banking and small business organizations. Mike is a skilled economic developer with background in community development, downtown redevelopment, industrial development and strategic planning. His passion is helping Communities and Businesses thrive and grow. Most recently Mike served as the President and CEO of the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Foundation in Johnston County, NC and as Executive Director for the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, Inc in Salem, OH. Mike and his wife Christine make their home in Little River, SC. They have 3 children and 5 grandchildren living in Charleston, SC, Atlanta, GA, & Austin TX. Mike enjoys boating on the ICW, tinkering in his workshop/garage and spending time with family and friends.