Headlines in the Midlands
Cathy Novinger: Executive, Business Owner, Community Leader, Activist, Philanthropist, Mother, Grandmother and Cancer Survivor.
by Robin Gorman
Cathy Novinger grew from file clerk to Executive Vice President of SCANA. While this is seemingly impossible, Cathy attributes her success up the corporate ladder to smart, hard work. "I found early on that I had to learn new skill sets in order to advance. I observed those ahead of me and the skills that made them successful." I was also very fortunate to work for a corporation that believed in promoting from within," Novinger stated. "SCANA was very supportive of women and minorities and encouraged growth and development among these groups," she further noted.
After retirement from SCANA, Novinger had fully planned to retire and enjoy her antique business. She also had formed the consulting business, Novinger QTR. However, Bill Amick of the Palmetto Business Council approached about becoming their Executive Director. "I realized that I truly love to work, so I accepted the challenge," stated Novinger. Soon, thereafter, John Lumpkin asked her to coordinate and to serve as a member of the Midlands Business Leadership Group, a group that works with local governments to focus on economic development.
This past year, 2008-2009, Cathy has served as Chairman of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. In this role she has been at the helm of navigating the Midlands from Good to Great. The outcomes of this program have been successful.
"Internally, we spent time and resources on those things where chamber members can find value in their membership. Externally, we concentrated on more regional and governmental corporation," Novinger stated.
Novinger has been a community leader and activist in a number of initiatives. Currently she is Chair of the Midlands Housing Alliance, which plans to build a homeless transition center. "This is vital to the social, financial and viability of our city, stressed Novinger. "We have had financial support for community churches and organization to match the $5million grant from the Knight Foundation. The hurdles are crossed and we plan construction to begin in October 2009."
What advice would Novinger offer to those who think there are hindrances to success? "There is no such thing as the 'glass ceiling' in my book," according to Cathy. " People have to learn to communicate and work with diverse groups in addition to skill sets. Also, by all means, look the part and set aside trends", she stressed. "I learned from human resources that 65% is how one communicates and 35% is how one looks the part."
Life has had very difficult moments for Novinger. In 2002, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "I was told I had little chance of survival beyond 3 years. I knew I had to challenge the statistics and with the help of family, friends and lots of prayers from many, I have outlived the expected time." According to Cathy, she is doing very well and is healthy today.
Novinger took her typical approach to this new challenge by founding the South Carolina Ovarian Foundation Riverbanks Region to help educate and fund research for ovarian cancer. Unfortunately the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be insipid and not well known. Many times there a misdiagnosis until the cancer has grown into stage 4. "We want mothers, daughters, sisters, and the men in our lives to be knowledgeable of the symptoms so that anyone of these can help with an early diagnosis," stated Novinger. To help with more promotion and awareness, Patricia Moore Pastitides has agreed to serve as the Honory Chair of the Foundation.
Will there be a cure? "This would be one of the most rewarding events of my of my life." stated Novinger. "Think of the many lives this would save!"
When ask about her greatest joys in life, Cathy emphatically stated, "My husband Bob, son, Travis, grandchildren Abbey and Taylor, and, yes, work. "I believe my professional accomplishments are a result of my work ethic and willingness to continue learning every step of the way. Also, people have learned they can trust me."
When asked, what do you consider your greatest accomplishment in life? Without hesitation, Novinger stated. "My son, Travis, is my greatest accomplishment. He is a successful medical doctor and a beautiful Christian. I can look at his life and know that my life has been blessed.