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Urban League of the Upstate announces new President & CEO


After conducting a national search, The Urban League of the Upstate recently announced the appointment of Dr. Gail Wilson Awan as President and Chief Executive Officer of the organization effective September 20. The Urban League is a nonprofit organization that provides education, employment, and housing services for economically disadvantaged Upstate communities. Dr. Wilson Awan is an experienced nonprofit leader, fundraiser, and solutionary focused on upholding the vision of the ULU to achieve impactful and measurable results. She has worked to improve the lives of children and families and advocating for a more just society for over 20 years. She is replacing interim Sean Dogan, who completed his tenure on June 30. Dr. Wilson Awan previously served as Executive Director and Vice President of City Year in Columbia, SC. City Year is a national education-focused AmeriCorps program that unites young adults from diverse backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time service.


“I am honored to join this iconic American civil rights advocacy organization and lead the movement here in the Upstate. As the ULU prepares to celebrate 50 years of commitment to service, I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with residents, stakeholders, policymakers, and corporations to elevate the overall quality of life for underserved individuals and communities throughout the region.”


Prior to her time at City Year, Dr. Wilson Awan has lead nonprofit organizations, including early childhood, mental and behavioral health, domestic violence prevention, and programs supporting student academic success. Gail received a B.A. in education from Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC., M.S. degree in Leadership and Policy, from Wheelock College, Boston MA, a Ph.D. in Management and Decision Sciences, Walden University, and Schott Foundation Fellow, Cambridge, MA. Gail is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


Gail started her nonprofit career with S.C. Arts organizations and museums. She moved to NYC, studied theater, and toured her original one-woman show documenting her family history and the African American experience in the Old West circa 1890. The production toured the southeast and was featured at the Smithsonian, Washington DC Women’s History Month festival.


Gail has authored two books, Drink Small: The Life & Music of South Carolina’s Blues Doctor and Carolina Bluegrass: A High Lonesome History by Arcadia Publishing/The History Press. She is a small business owner (recycle collection and secure document destruction) serving the Midlands and PeeDee regions. Her 2017 TEDxCharlotte talk, The Tao of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, describes her theory on caring for the environment and humanity.


If you have ever visited an S.C. historic plantation, you have probably met Gail’s mother, the late Kitty Wilson Evans, a well-known and highly regarded storyteller and historic rein-actor. Evans passed unexpectedly in November 2020.


When not working, Gail enjoys reading, camping, and spending quality time with family.

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