Susan Dunn receives DuRant Award from SC Bar Foundation

Susan Dunn, longtime legal director of ACLU of South Carolina, is the 2024 DuRant Distinguished Public Service Award recipient for meritorious service to the law and community.

The South Carolina Bar Foundation announced the honor at the recent annual Bar Convention in Charleston.

“Ms. Dunn has had a long and distinguished career as a practicing lawyer, and I could spend all afternoon listing her accomplishments and honors,” said Foundation Board President John K. DeLoache. He went on to cite the praise in her commendation packet, including this passage: “She is brilliant, tenacious, and effective. She’s also a wonderful mentor. She always makes time for a call, and she freely shares her knowledge of the court system and her advice. Despite all of her work, Susan remains one of our community’s unsung heroes.”

The DuRant Distinguished Public Service Award was established in 1980 in memory of Charlton DuRant, a Manning attorney who served as state senator and special associate justice of the S.C. Supreme Court. This award is one of the most prestigious statewide honors that members of the Bar can bestow on a fellow attorney. Recipients are nominated by their professional peers and selected by the South Carolina Bar Foundation Board.

“Charlton DuRant was, without a doubt, a lawyer’s lawyer,” said Dunn in accepting the award. “He shared his talents with Manning, his hometown, and with the entire state. I am honored to receive this award, which carries on his legacy. And I am humbled to be added to the list of elite attorneys who have been chosen by the SC Bar Foundation for this award.”

Susan Dunn retired in 2021 after 12 years as legal director of the ACLU of South Carolina and more than 40 years as a civil rights lawyer in South Carolina.

Before joining the ACLU, she worked in private practice in Charleston. She was the 1998 recipient of the Jean Galloway Bissell Award, presented annually by the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association.

“Thanks to Susan, the ACLU of South Carolina has been at the forefront of the most important civil liberties fights of our time,” said Frank Knaack, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, upon her retirement. “Susan has made South Carolina a more just and equitable place for all.”

Sydney Gardner joins SC Bar Foundation as director of finance & development

The South Carolina Bar Foundation is pleased to welcome Sydney Gardner as its new director of finance & development.

It’s a new position at the Foundation, combining responsibility for both raising funds and managing them, according to Executive Director Olivia S. Jones.

“I’m excited about this dual role,” she said. “The most important thing that we do is manage funds and award grants to organizations making a difference in the lives of South Carolinians.” Both that and development are “very critical to our purpose and our mission.”

Gardner, who started with the foundation on Feb. 1, grew up in South Carolina, and graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in history in 2017. In 2021, she earned a master’s degree in public service and administration, graduating summa cum laude from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

She has worked since 2021 with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, rising through the ranks to serve as both event manager and office manager. Before graduating from the Bush School, she was a summer volunteer recruitment and training intern with Richland County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

“We’re really fortunate that we found her, because she has the background in finance, in addition to development, and has worked at nonprofits,” said Jones. “We want everyone to know what the Foundation is, and why it matters for people who are marginalized, forgotten – people who are outsiders. Sydney is the right person to help us make that happen.”