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Mary Dean Brewer Woman of Distinction Honoree, Octavia Williams - Blake

Octavia Williams-Blake was born and raised in Florence county. She is a 1991 graduate of South Florence high school, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree,  Cum, Laudein Puublic Affairs & History from Columbia College and her Doctor of Law Degree from the University of South Carolina School of LAw. She completed the Harvard Business School HR Executive Education Program and is a member of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration.

She joined McLeod Health in 2002 as Assistant Director of Human Resources. Currently she serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, responsible for providing leadership for the daily operations of Human Resources and Occupational Health. Prior to joining Mcleod,  Octavia worked in various Human Resources roles for the State Budget and Control Board in Columbia, Sony Electronics in Park Ridge, New Jersey, and Pepsi Bottling Group in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as a legislative aide for the South Carolina House of Representatives

In 2008 Octavia was elected by the citizens of Florence is the first woman to serve on city council since 1953 and the first African-American to win an at-large council seat. She served at 12 years as a councilmember, including a term as President of the South Carolina Municipal Association. Octavia is a Liberty Fellow and a graduate of Furman University‘s Diversity Institute. She was appointed in 2022 by the South Carolina Supreme Court as a panel, member for the Commission on Lawyer Conduct. Octavia currently serves as a Board member for Trinity Collegiate School, First Reliance Bank, Antum Risk Insurance Authority and the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation. 

Octavia has been married for 23 years to local attorney Charlie Blake, and they have two daughters Hannah Ryan, who is 17 and Lydia Skye, who is four. In her free time,  Octavia enjoys cruises, going to the beach, watching college sports and spending time with her family.