Board of Directors

SC Equality is led by an active Board of Directors who are strategically positioned throughout the state.


Jeff Ayers, Chair

Jeff Ayers lives in Charleston, SC. Originally from Lake City, SC, Jeff is a former funeral director and is now an independent consultant for US Airways, for which he created the TLC program.  A former board chair of Charlotte's Metrolina AIDS Project, he has also served with such organizations as The Names Quilt Project, Rotary International and was former President of the Lake City Fire and Rescue Squad.

 Jen Bennett

Jen received her first Masters degree in 2003 from the University of Colorado in Sociology, where she focused on gender, sexuality and identity development.  She was the co-organized a third wave feminist student group called The Next Wave, and volunteered for The Center, Denver's primary LGBT resource center.  She served on the Leadership Board of AFFA served as Chair of their Diversity Committee. Jen is in her final year of studies at the Citadel for another Master's degree, this time in Clinical Counseling.  She and lives with her loving partner, Sue in Charleston, SC.

Malissa Burnette, C4 Chair

Malissa Burnette lives in Columbia and is a Partner at the law firm of Callison Tighe. Certified by the SC Supreme Court as a Specialist in Employment & Labor Law, she has been practicing law for 33 years. Malissa is experienced in all aspects of civil rights and discrimination law as well as family law. She has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America. Malissa joined the Board of Directors for SC Equality in 2009 and serves the organization as a project manager and member of the Nominating Committee.

Amy Garbati

Amy is the Director of Charleston Area Transgender Support (C.A.T.S.), a local peer support group for transgender individuals. She grew up in Springfield, Vermont, and has lived in the Charleston area since 1997. Amy has a degree in engineering, and currently works as the Director of Engineering at a large area hotel where she transitioned on the job in 2009. Last yearís recipient of the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA) Groundbreaker award, Amy is a guest speaker on transgender issues, and has spoken at the Medical University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, University of South Carolina, We Are Family, and consulted with My Sisterís House regarding extending services for victims of domestic violence to transgender females.

Dianne P. Odom, Treasurer

Dianne Odom is a Certified Public Accountant, practicing in Irmo South Carolina.  She has been licensed for 18 years and graduated from the University of South Carolina.  She joined the board of South Carolina Equality in 2009. Dianne serves as the Board Treasurer and lives in Irmo with her family.

B. Dean Pierce

Dean Pierce is General Counsel and CEO of Reba Management (a Hilton Head Island based property management company) and Coral Resorts, LLC (a Hilton Head Island based real estate development and sales company). Before moving to Hilton Head, Dean practiced law as an associate and later as a partner at the Columbia law firm of King & Vernon, P.A. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Furman University in 1990 and his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1993. Dean is currently serving as Chair of the Board.

Veronica Walters

Veronica Walters resides in Myrtle Beach, SC. She attended UNC-Wilmington and received her BA in Theatre. Her background in local theatre production is extensive and includes several movies. She currently operates her own business, V. Walters Services. In 2005, she co-founded the T-Time support group and has been a presenter at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. Veronica was a Board member and past President (2009-10) of The Center Project LGBT community center in Myrtle Beach. Besides now being part of SC Equality, she is currently Vice President of Red Ribbon Friends, a LGBT fund raising organization that supports Careteam of Horry/Georgetown, who provide services to directly assist persons with HIV/AIDS. Veronica joined the board in 2011.

Ann Willbrand, Secretary

Ann Willbrand lives in Aiken with Pat, her partner of 14 years. After teaching organic chemistry for 22 years as an Associate Professor, in 2007 Ann retired from the University of South Carolina in Aiken. In 2004, Ann began working with SC Equality as a delegate from the CSRA Rainbow Alliance. She participated in the Fairness for All Families campaign in 2005-2006 and officially joined the SC Equality Board of Directors in June 2007. Ann now serves as the Boardís Secretary. 

C. Douglas Yates

Doug Yates lives in Columbia where he is an anesthesiologist in practice with Anesthesiology Consultants of Columbia.  He has been in the practice of anesthesiology for 25 years.  He received his B.A. from the University of Arkansas, his M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine, and his specialty training in anesthesiology from Wake Forest University.  He joined the SC Equality Board in 2009 and serves on the nominating committee.