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Our Leadership

Our President & Chief Executive Officer

Mr. James T. McLawhorn, Jr. has been the president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Urban League since 1979. He is recognized nationally as a leader in race and community relations and has appeared in hundreds of articles as well as news and public affairs programs addressing topics such as race and social policy. Currently, he is a featured blogger for The State newspaper, the largest newspaper in South Carolina, and a recipient of the National Urban League’s ‘Whitney M. Young, Jr. Race Relations Award.’ Mr. McLawhorn was a chief planner of the ‘King Day at the Dome,’ march and rally held on January 17, 2000. One of the largest civil rights demonstrations in the history of South Carolina, the march and rally drew more than 50,000 people to downtown Columbia to protest the flying of the Confederate flag atop the South Carolina State House.​ ​Also prompted under Mr. McLawhorn’s leadership, the League publishes The State of Black South Carolina: An Action Agenda for the Future. The State of Black South Carolina is a widely-respected periodic report on the most pressing issues affecting the status of African Americans in South Carolina. In 1985, he founded the National Black Family Summit, a premier action forum on family issues with an emphasis on the African American community. He has received numerous awards for his outstanding leadership, including the prestigious Order of the Palmetto, the highest award given to a civilian in the state of South Carolina.

Our Board Chair

Mr. Hughes is the President of the Celerian Group, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. Celerian Group is comprised of six companies, and an operating division recognized nationally for their extensive knowledge and expertise in administering government programs, especially federal and state health insurance and public health programs. This expertise includes information technology, claims processing, customer services, program integrity, data analytics, public health, and program technical assistance functions. Mr. Hughes is a graduate of Clemson University with a degree in accounting and received his MBA from the University of South Carolina. Mr. Hughes has served in numerous community leadership and governance roles. He holds or has held board leadership or advisory positions with the Central Carolina Community Foundation, Columbia Urban League, Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, Greater Midlands Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Midlands, and the Central South Carolina American Red Cross. He is also a graduate of Leadership South Carolina and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative.

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