Chandra Dillard `87 has always had a deep appreciation for good representation by government leaders.
A student of the political process, she developed a passion for the topic while in high school. During her time at Greenville High, she was a part of student government. Education officials recognized her drive and selected her to attend Palmetto Girls State, a government leadership training program.
Within a dozen years of graduating from Winthrop where she majored in business administration, Dillard ran and won a seat on the Greenville City Council from 1999 to 2008. Dillard then made the leap to the S.C. House of Representatives representing District 23 in Greenville.
She found her grounding in municipal government helpful for her state work and to assist her constituents.
As one of the few female legislators in the Palmetto State, Dillard is a big proponent for more women running for office. She tells young women to “Go for it!” “I encourage them to jump in after they’ve done their homework,” said Dillard, who works as the director of community relations at Furman University. “We need more women’s voices at the table.”
Dillard was among several female legislators asked in May to address the first class of NEW Leadership college women from across South Carolina. The inaugural program to train the next generation of female leaders is sponsored by Winthrop and the College of Charleston.
The legislators, including Dillard, told the NEW Leadership class that they find that most female legislators are hard workers and great multi-taskers who are genuinely interested in solving problems. Dillard has spent much of her time advocating for affordable and workforce housing, early learning opportunities for children and financial stability for S.C. families.
She does her best to balance the legislative work with her day job at Furman where she is responsible for enhancing relations between Furman and the community at-large. Her office is the clearing house and collaborator for community contacts and opportunities for Furman to match appropriate resources for both internal and external projects. Thanks to technology, she can perform some of her university duties while in Columbia.
Dillard remains appreciative of her time at Winthrop. “I had a great Winthrop experience and I tell young people considering higher education that every time I get the opportunity,” she said. “I remember the faculty being very interested in my learning experience. Winthrop prepared me to appreciate diversity and to think analytically – both of which I employ as director of community relations for Furman University and in my legislative work.”