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DEW Recognizes Women Leaders in its Workforce on International Women’s Day

Wed, 03/08/2023

DEW Recognizes Women Leaders in its Workforce on International Women’s Day

14 Women are Honored for Their Remarkable Contributions to State Government

Columbia, S.C. – Today, Wednesday, March 8, 2023, marks International Women’s Day, a global holiday that recognizes the professional and social achievements of women, as well as gender equality. Women have made significant strides in the workforce in recent decades, breaking down barriers and shattering glass ceilings in various industries. The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) would like to celebrate this observance by highlighting fourteen women in our own workforce for their commitment to public service and the roles they have in providing vital programs to South Carolinians:

  • Nina Staggers, Assistant Executive Director of Workforce Development
  • Erica Von Nessen, Research Economist
  • Ellen Andrews Morgan, Director of Governmental Affairs
  • Dorothy Weaver, Director of Communications
  • Katie Herrmann, Director of Human Resources
  • Jacqueline Lowe, Unemployment Insurance Integrity Director
  • Shannon Meadows, Call Center Manager
  • Lisa Long, Employment Services Area Director (Region 1)
  • Diana Goldwire, Employment Services Area Director (Region 2)
  • Romi Robinson, Appellate Director
  • Jadai Bergolla, Deputy Director of Communications
  • Christi Sheppard, Deputy Director of Human Resources
  • Amy Hill, Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding Manager
  • Abdalis Toro, State Monitor

Profiles on these honorees, including their reflections on working in state government and advice they have for other women wanting to follow similar career paths, are available below. These honorees are just a few of the countless, remarkable women that comprise our agency, including front-line staff who work in regional offices and SC Works Centers across the state. 

“Celebrating the phenomenal women who work at DEW is not a transitory goal for the month, but an ongoing endeavor that we prioritize every day of the year,” stated S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce Chief of Staff William Floyd. “Please join me in celebrating these fourteen women and all of the exceptional women in our workforce, from department heads to entry-level staff, that provide employment services, workforce programs, unemployment insurance, labor market information, and a myriad of support to help South Carolinians get back to work and our communities prosper.”

DEW encourages members of the press to interview some of our subject matters experts on specific programs our agency offers, including a few of the aforementioned honorees: Dr. Erica Von Nessen on the labor force and economy, Nina Staggers on workforce development programs, or Amy Hill on Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding programs. If you would like to schedule an interview with them, then please contact with your request.


Women in the Workforce Honorees Profiles


Nina Staggers, Assistant Executive Director of Workforce Development

Years of Public Service at DEW: 7 years and 11 months

“Working at DEW gives me a unique opportunity to serve the men and women of South Carolina. We look for creative and innovative solutions to help businesses and individuals thrive. The days are often long but, as a mother, I am proud to show my children the value of hard work and service to others.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“Walk through every door that is opened for you. Use these opportunities to gain knowledge and experience and to build your network. Do not ever be afraid of what you don’t know – do the research and find the answer – but always be confident in who you are as a person. Keep your ‘chin up’ even in the face of adversity and difficulty as this too shall pass.”


 Erica Von Nessen, Research Economist                                                                             

Years of Public Service at DEW: 12 years and 4 months

I love the fact that no day is ever the same at the agency. As someone who loves learning, this is a big perk of the job. Being able to mentor others during my time at the agency has been a highlight.”

Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“Finding someone who you can mentor or be mentored by is invaluable. There are many things that must be learned on the job as opposed to in school, and navigating that with a buddy makes the process more enjoyable. Having someone to bounce ideas off of is essential — even for someone who tends to like to work independently. The other women at DEW have been great collaborators over the years.”


Ellen Andrews Morgan, Director of Governmental Affairs                                          

Years of Public Service at DEW: 1 year and 3 months

“Looking back at my career, I have worked in the Emergency Management Division, Department of Health and Environmental Control, and now at DEW, which makes me realize that state government has always felt like a calling. I love being a public servant. Legislative work is complex, but I thrive in that environment and it’s always a fun, unpredictable day at work. It has certainly not always been easy and I’m no stranger to being the only woman in the room. What has changed – and will hopefully continue to change – is that those instances are happening less frequently. I am so grateful for the other women in state government, especially all of the amazing women breaking down doors.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“If you are becoming an attorney and planning to work in governmental affairs, then you know what you’re getting into! Learn as much as you can about the legislative process, familiarize yourself with the General Assembly, prepare for anything and everything, and never let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve a seat at the table.”


 Dorothy Weaver, Director of Communications                            

Years of Public Service at DEW: 7 years and 8 months

“Working in state government has been the most rewarding part of my career. I am fortunate to have a job that I love doing and is focused on doing for others. I think my favorite part of being a woman in state government is the privilege of working with and learning from so many talented women. I have forged wonderful relationships and am constantly inspired by the great work that they do. There is a real sense of camaraderie and innovation, and everyone has a collaborative spirit which keeps us thriving to do more and stay passionate about helping others.”

Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“Always be curious and keep learning. The communications field, in particular, rapidly changes and evolves. There is always new technology, new messaging opportunities, new behaviors, and new storytelling. You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Also, don’t underestimate the value of teamwork. You will accomplish more and produce better work in a community than isolating yourself and trying to do it all.”


  Katie Herrmann, Director of Human Resource

  Years of Public Service at DEW: 1 year and 2 months

“The importance of my role is to build a strong team that supports all of the employees, supervisors, and leaders in their work towards accomplishing the mission of the agency. It is important to me to provide Team DEW with solutions to problems or pressure points in a way that feels achievable. While it is nearly impossible to make monumental changes overnight, my goal for myself and my team is to do a little better each day.”

Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“A quote I always go back to is, “I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist." - Ginni Rometty (Executive Chairman, IBM)

In my personal experience, my philosophy on work has always been to help out wherever it is needed with no expectation of being rewarded. The rewards have always come when I work with this in mind and I think that is imperative for anyone working in Human Resources. We are support staff and we should never forget the people we support and the lives we can help along the way.”


Jacqueline Lowe, Unemployment Insurance (UI) Integrity Director                           

Years of Public Service at DEW: 3 months

“It is important to see women in the workplace. To be a woman working at DEW helps to validate the value that DEW places on diversity in the workplace. In some state government agencies, you may see more men than women; thus, it is important to promote and celebrate women when feasible. Women serve as great leaders and, by nature, are able to multi-task, managing multiple projects, to meet timelines. As the UI Integrity Director at DEW, I am responsible for directing the division’s fraud prevention, recovery, and compliance operations. This is a very important role to be in the forefront of preventing fraud and pursuing available efforts to recover funds that were fraudulently obtained. This work impacts South Carolina’s employees and employers.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“I would encourage women to pursue a career path in state government. There are many opportunities. The first one may not be a good fit. Don’t stop there. Try again. Women can re-evaluate and reassess to pursue a different path. My first path did not lead me to DEW. Based on prior state government experiences, I found another path that would be just as rewarding and would allow me to utilize my skills and abilities to contribute to the great work being done at DEW. More often, women are being recognized and celebrated in their leadership roles in state government.”

Shannon Meadows, Call Center Manager                                                                             

Years of Public Service at DEW: 1 year and 5 months

“I feel so blessed because my experience as a woman in state government has been so welcoming and rewarding. As the Call Center Manager, you can imagine how critical our call centers were during the pandemic to South Carolinians filing for unemployment, many of whom were doing so for the first time in their lives. We learned from the pandemic and I stepped into this oversight role to ensure that our call center representatives know how appreciated they are, feel fully educated and prepared to speak with claimants, and our call times remain low. I could not have successfully accomplished all of that without executive leadership having faith in me and supporting the call centers every step of the way.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“I never thought I’d work in state government and yet my dreams have come true because of this job. I work in downtown Columbia, I am a season ticket holder for my favorite sports teams (Go, Gamecocks!), and I live my life providing an incredibly important public service to others. My advice to women is that you cannot predict life and circumstances, but where you end up might be better for you than you could have ever expected. For anyone wanting to enter into a supervisory role like mine, never forget that we are often speaking to individuals who are going through possibly the worst times of their lives and customer service is paramount. I want people to feel hopeful and taken care of when they speak to us. Empathy goes a long way.”

Lisa Long, Employment Services Area Director (Region 1)                                             

Years of Public Service at DEW: Over 30 Years

“As a woman working in state government at DEW, I have a feeling of empowerment to assist in making great change for the citizens of South Carolina. It warms the heart when you can see the impact of the work that you do each day. I enjoy being able to travel around the state and speak with staff, customers, and employers to really understand the struggles that they have. This helps us to be able to constantly provide services needed.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“I started during a time when there were many more men in leadership than women. I set my goals and learned as much as I could, worked hard, and paid attention so that I could meet my goals. The work that we do is so important and everchanging. My advice would be to always have an open mind and be willing to learn from those above and below you. Listening is key!”

Diana Goldwire, Employment Services Area Director (Region 2)                                   

Years of Public Service at DEW: Over 8 years

“One of the best things about the workforce is that it never stays the same. I love getting to work with staff with so many different talents that make a positive impact on South Carolina’s jobseekers and employers.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“Never stop learning new technology, programs, and processes!”

Romi Robinson, Appellate Director                                                                                    

Years of Public Service at DEW: Over 29 years

“Being a woman, in particular a woman of color, I have seen how providing leadership to diverse personalities and groups has had its challenges. I am hopeful for the future as I see more women leaders and diversity in the workforce than there was a decade ago, and I hope that this is a positive reflection of more to come. My career-long service at DEW has allowed me to witness and be part of many changes to this Department and to experience its growth, in terms of both the important work we do and the work culture we experience. My job in the Appeals Division is to be responsible for ensuring DEW’s stakeholders receive due process throughout the appeals process and truly believing their issues have been fully and fairly addressed.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“My career track is unusual these days, because most people no longer stay at one agency throughout their career. For me, I found an area that interested me, where I knew we were doing important work for the citizens of SC, and where I felt I “fit.” It’s great if you want varied work experiences and employers, but if you happen to find one place or area where you fit, don’t be afraid to stay and grow where you feel you can make the most difference. I also think some sage advice is to overcome imposter syndrome, which many women have. You were hired for a reason. You do what you do because of your talent. Do not let anyone ever make you feel like you do not belong or deserve success.”

Jadai Bergolla, Deputy Director of Communications                                                      

Years of Public Service at DEW: 1 year and 5 months

“There is still a long way to go in both the public and private sectors regarding progress in many forms. There are amazing women at DEW. More than that (and selfishly), they are also lovely people and I am grateful for the friendships that I have made. What we do is purposeful work that positively affects the lives of millions. The fact that I am in a position where I can amplify these women’s voices is something that I do not take for granted.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“I am going to echo and add a deafening “ditto” to Abdalis’ advice. She hit the proverbial nail on the head (and I’m her #1 fan, obviously). As a writer, there are so many jobs out there that you can pursue and the most rewarding ones are often hidden in the most random of workplaces. Any job can help you network and you never know where it might lead you. Hone your craft. Read that Ira Glass quote about beginners until it becomes embedded in your hippocampus. Be considerate. Don’t confuse being kind with being a pushover. Representation matters. If you work on a public relations project or are lucky enough to have some semblance of clout in the workplace, ask yourself whose perspective or life experience is missing. Who can you open the door for that has never been in the room before? Also, dye your hair funny colors at least once every decade of your life. That’s less professional advice and more of a personal request. Be the old lady with purple hair carrying a fat pug in a baby Bjorn.”

Christi Sheppard, Deputy Director of Human Resources                                               

Years of Public Service at DEW: 6 months

“I am excited to be back in state government after almost 20 years in the private sector and see the number of awesome women in leadership positions across state government and here at DEW.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“My advice to anyone entering the HR field is to understand that employees will always be the most valuable asset to any business and HR is there to make their lives easier.”

Amy Hill, Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and Federal Bonding Manager     

Years of Public Service at DEW: Over 9 years

“It is up to each individual to create their own path to success at DEW. Whether you are a woman or not, success comes down to the time, effort, determination, focus, and reliability put forth. Our department works hard to incentivize businesses willing to hire South Carolinians facing barriers to employment.

The WOTC program issues tax credit certifications to participating employers doing business in South Carolina that are willing to hire individuals with barriers to employment opportunities. The program offers the potential of preventing millions of dollars from leaving the state’s economy each year in the form of owed federal general tax liability. The most recent three-year average (2020, 2021, 2022) of federal general tax liability monies potentially being retained in the state economy was $102,970,333.

Federal Bonding is a fidelity insurance program that helps employers confidently hire jobseekers who are considered “at-risk.” The program provides risk mitigation for employers willing to hire employees who may be hard-to-place due to circumstances such as judicial involvement. The fidelity insurance coverage can be issued from $5,000 to $25,000 for the first six months of employment at no cost to either the employer or the employee.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“Have a heart for service, set lofty goals, be dedicated, and love what you do."

Abdalis Toro, State Monitor                                                                                                                    

 Years of Public Service at DEW: Over 6 years

“Being a woman in state government involves making a difference and changing perceptions one day at a time, working with resilience and humor, navigating complex webs of expectations, biases, and obstacles; and remaining steadfast in my commitment to serve and to break down barriers. I am honored to play a crucial role in ensuring the economic and occupational wellbeing of individuals throughout SC. From ensuring compliance to federal standards of service to providing vital support during times of crisis, my work is deeply rewarding and impactful. I have the privilege of working with communities & individuals who have been historically marginalized to ensure their voices are heard, that their rights are protected, and that they receive adequate help to navigate complex systems to access the resources they need.”

 Her Advice to Women Following a Similar Career Path:

“If you are interested in becoming a Monitor Advocate, my advice would be to focus on building a strong foundation of knowledge and skills in areas such as advocacy and communication. Seek out opportunities to volunteer or work with organizations that serve marginalized communities, and learn as much as you can about the challenges and barriers that these communities face. It is also important to cultivate strong relationships with other advocates, community leaders, and policymakers, as these connections can help you navigate complex systems and create positive changes. Finally, remember that this work can be emotionally and mentally taxing, so be sure to prioritize self-care and find ways to recharge and stay motivated. With dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to justice, you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people you serve as a Monitor Advocate.”