Jennet Robinson Alterman
Center for Women jennet

Jennet Robinson Alterman and the Charleston, SC Center for Women are an inspiring Give BIG story.

Jennet is the Executive Director for the Center for Women, the only comprehensive women's development center in South Carolina. The Center for Women is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to make personal and professional success an everyday event for women in the Lowcountry.

What does the Center for Women do? We help women succeed every day. We connect thousands of women across the Tri-County area to professional sources for practical help by providing educational programs on important issues such as small business development, financial literacy, life transitions, discrimination of all types, multiculturalism, family issues, career and business.

We also provide counseling, peer support groups and referrals. We create a network for women to come together and address the issues in their lives. One thing we know for sure is that women deserve equal pay and equal rights.  

Share some highlights of what the Center for Women has done. We’ve helped hundreds of women start their own businesses. Through our micro-loan program we’re helping to create jobs. Our job coaching program helps women to find a job. In 2010 the Center conducted over 110 programs and events, and reached 6,000 women, bringing the total of women we’ve touched since the Center was founded in 1990 to 70,000.

In February 2006 the Center was recognized by Oprah Winfrey with an Oprah’s Angel Network Grant. The Center was honored in 2009 with the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce 1773 award for the Public/Non-Profit Sector and People Against Rape’s Outstanding Victim Service Program.

What’s your goal for the Center? To see it recognized as the premier resource in the community for women entrepreneurs and for all business owners seeking both professional and personal development opportunities for themselves and their employees.

Tell us about your background.  I’ve worked in television broadcasting, state and federal government – where I experienced firsthand the difficulties that the few women in the legislature had in being accepted as equals – and the non-profit sector.     

I have extensive background in international development having served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan, Peace Corps Country Director in Swaziland and the Interagency Coordinator for Peace Corps worldwide. During my tenure with the Peace Corps, I worked on projects in over 40 countries. I saw firsthand over and over again that where women are disenfranchised the overall economic and social health of a country is adversely affected.  

What’s next for you and the Center? I want to open up an ongoing dialogue about women and power and encourage my sisters in this community to take their rightful place at the public policy and boardroom tables. I am willing to share what I learned at Harvard to teach all of us how to develop the power to bring about the changes we need to have a sustainable quality of life. Traditionally, power has been seen as something to have "over" someone or something. I propose that women seek the power "to" achieve a common goal.

As Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote in Half the Sky, the great moral imperative of the 19th century was the abolition of slavery, in the 20th century it was the end of totalitarianism and in the 21st century it is women's rights.

I want to be a powerful force in achieving that moral imperative, and I want lots of company doing it.

"I will leave you with the words of Abigail Adams, wife to a president and mother of a president. When John Adams was away in Philadelphia writing the Constitution, she wrote to him: 'Remember the ladies. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a revolution, and we will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.' It’s time to listen to the message."

More about Jennet’s extensive and worthy contributions…

She serves on the Spaulding Paolozzi Foundation Board of Directors, the Board of the Trident Urban League, the Regional Advisory Board of the Leadership Institute of Columbia College, the Advisory Council of Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding, the Advisory Board of the Junior League and the Advisory Council of the Lowcountry Graduate Center. In 2003 she was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Carolina Lowcountry Girl Scouts, and in 2004 she was chosen as one of the Skirt! Magazine 10. In December 2008, Jennet gave the College of Charleston commencement address and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.


Subscribe to our enewsletter!

You'll find information and inspiration on leadership as well as workplace tips and pointers in our monthly enewsletter. Subscribe now! Our Privacy Policy affirms our commitment to never, ever sell your email.