Girl Scouts honor local “Women of Distinction”

By Jana E. Pye, Editor,

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Carolina recently honored eight women as recipients of the 2015 Mary Dean Women of Distinction ceremony, including two women from Darlington County Denny W. Neilson of Darlington, and Andrea Dickey of Hartsville.

The Mary Dean Brewer Women of Distinction honors are given in memory of a former chairwoman of the GSESC, who wished to recognize outstanding women and their achievements to help inspire young girls to do the same.

Denny Neilson of Darlington with Belinda Copeland, Board Chair.

Denny Neilson of Darlington with Belinda Copeland, Board Chair.

Belinda Copeland, chairwoman of the board of the Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina, was pleased with this year’s women.

“Each woman nominated is certainly a woman of distinction. They all give so much of themselves to their community.”

“I’ve received many awards through the years, but this is an extreme honor to receive this one from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Carolina,” said Denny Neilson. “I would also like to say thank you to another outstanding leader and friend, Belinda Copeland.”

Neilson represented Darlington and Chesterfield in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1984 through 2012, serving as Chair of the S.C. Ethic Committee. She pursued Post Graduate studies at the University of South Carolina and Nova University; earned her MS from Winthrop University in 1975, her BS from Coker College in 1973. She was given an Honorary Doctorate from Francis Marion University, and is a Board Member of Anderson University, and on the Advisory Committee at Coker College. In her position as District Technology Student Job Placement with the Darlington County School District, she was instrumental in helping many young women reach their career goals.

Neilson has received numerous awards including: SC Order of the Palmetto, the SC Woman of Achievement by the Miss SC Pageant, SC Retired Educators Service Award, the Darlington Lions Club Goodfellow Award, and the SC Distinguished Teacher-Citizen Award, and the Legislator of the Year from the SC Federation of Older Americans to name a few.

Andrea Dickey of Hartsville.

Andrea Dickey of Hartsville.

“Woman make up one-half of our population, it’s important for us to encourage our young woman and they determine so much of our society.” said Neilson. “Women look at things from a different perspective, and it is vital to our government that we are included as we make our laws in our state.”

“Because the Girl Scouts of America is the most outstanding group for young girls in the US, they share as their promise and theme that I have held dear to my heart, to serve God and country,” said Neilson. “There can be no greater promise than that.”

Andrea Dickey of Hartsville grew up in Rembert, S.C. and was a member of the Girl Scout Troop 572 as a Brownie, Junior and Cadette. She earned her BS in Business Operations from DeVry University in Atlanta, and currently serves as the Plant Manager for JBE, Inc. of Hartsville SC, who annual revenue is over $30 million. She has also worked for Honda of South Carolina, and the United Parcel Service Corporate Headquarters in Atlanta, GA.

Dickey volunteers at the following organizations: United Way, Habitat for Humanity, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Lee County Disability and Special Needs Board, Big Brother & Big Sister of Metro Atlanta, among many more. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and co-owns Ultimate Designs wedding and event planning service.

“The Girl Scout motto ‘Be Prepared’ is my platform for life,” said Dickey. “To help out whenever needed, willingness to serve anyone without reservation, and determined to do a job well done, regardless of the situation.”

The other honorees were: Denese Tyler of Loris; 
M. Hannah Horne of Hilton Head Island; 
Ann R. Binnarr of Florence;
Alma Brough of North Myrtle Beach;
 Joyce F. Shaw of Florence;
 and Dawn M. Corley of Kiawah Island.

To learn more about how to volunteer as a troop leader, or to enroll a girl, visit:

Author: Duane Childers

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