“She is a fighter.
She is strong.
She is a mother.
She is a wife.
She’s a great professional who hasn’t just been good at anything—she’s been great at everything.”
– Governor Nikki Haley
“I have grown to admire Catherine enormously. She is a fine lawyer and a remarkable woman. She has poise, great intelligence, fortitude, enthusiasm, and great energy. She has the qualities of intelligence, integrity, and strength of character … plus that intangible quality of collegiality and good humor … in abundance.”
— Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
“She has a magical demeanor… When she listens to people, she is really listening. People like to be heard, whether you agree with them or not.”
– Eric Schweitzer, The State Newspaper
“Every bit of Templeton embraces her home life.”
– How a Thatcherite Mom Keeps Priorities in Focus,
“She’s the first director who isn’t entangled by webs of allegiance to the way things always have been done.
The first director who reflexive reaction to criticism isn’t to defend the agency—or to attack the critics—but to acknowledge fault.
The first director who walks that thin line between gratuitous government bashing and disarming candor…”
– Cindi Scoppe, Editor—The State Newspaper
WIFE, MOTHER, SOUTH CAROLINA GROWN
“Every bit of Templeton embraces her home life.”
– Charleston Mercury, How a Thatcherite Mom Keeps Priorities in Focus
Catherine Templeton has never run for office.
She is a mother of 3 and has been involved with her church and her community her entire life. She was the Sunday School Coordinator for her church, the Parents’ Association President for the preschool, handled the charitable foundation for the Women’s Council at the Gibbes Museum of Art, and even sold popcorn in her role on the Boy Scout Board.
She spent a lot of time traveling the country with US Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Sandra Day O’Conner as the National Coordinator of the Justice’s iCivics program that educates children on the importance of civic involvement and the role of the three branches of government. Before they were through, all 50 states had the free resource and teachers all over SC were using the curriculum.
Catherine has roots in York County, grew up in Lexington, spent her summers on the South Strand, worked and went to college in Spartanburg and Greenville, and raises her children with her husband Morgan in his hometown of Charleston.
“She has a magical demeanor, . . . when she listens to people, she is really listening. People like to be heard, whether you agree with them or not.”
– Eric Schweitzer, The State Newspaper
Catherine graduated from Wofford College with a degree in Political Economics and Philosophy. Her first job was working in the inspection department of a textile mill in Jonesville, SC. After she worked her way up to Training Manager and then senior management over multiple factories, she wanted to further her education and went to law school at the University of South Carolina.
Since then, Catherine has spent most of her life in the private sector advising Fortune 500 companies nationally and working in manufacturing locally.
“We’re going to fight the unions and I needed a partner to help me do it. She’s the right person to help me do it.”
– Ambassador (then Governor) Nikki R. Haley
Catherine led the Labor Department when Boeing was charged by the Obama Administration for taking union jobs to South Carolina. Catherine made it clear that South Carolina jobs were going to stay in South Carolina. As a result, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charged Catherine individually and the AFL-CIO sued her in federal court for her commitment to keep South Carolina jobs here. A fight she swiftly won . . . and the jobs have grown union free.
Catherine also fought against federal waste and abuse. She refused to allow the U.S. Department of Energy to ignore its obligations to clean up high level hazardous waste at the Savannah River Site by holding the Obama Administration to a $150 Million penalty other officials were reticent to enforce.
– Source – The New York Times, SC Threatens Washington Over Clean Up, Nov. 28, 2011.
Separately, she refused to take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for overreaching programs that were already responsibly and fully funded in South Carolina.
Catherine is also credited with authoring the only law in the nation cracking down on the employment of undocumented workers that withstood the constitutional attacks of the ACLU.
“What she did to clean up that agency and make it run like a private sector business – in just a year – was nothing short of miraculous. Her keen organizational insight and leadership by example was integral to restoring clarity of mission and expediency.”
– Dr. Louis Costa, Chairman, SC Board of Medical Examiners
Recruited by business leaders to join Governor Nikki Haley, Catherine agreed to serve as Secretary of Labor, one of Governor Haley’s first cabinet appointments, and then as the Director of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.
During her year at the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR), Catherine
- Cut the fixed costs of the agency by 25%
- Measurably increased customer service by reducing response time from 24 minutes to 32 seconds
- Put professional licensing online for convenience and transparency
- Returned millions of dollars to taxpayers
- Reduced fees
- Privatized non-government functions
- Pushed lawmakers in her testimony to eliminate government regulation of whole professions
“She pushed to de-regulate whole professions, repealed unnecessary and outdated requirements on the books, and pushed through streamlined processes for entire industries that had not been addressed in decades.”
– Mark Nix, Executive Director, South Carolina Home Builders Association
After successfully cleaning up corruption and reforming LLR, Catherine was asked to lead South Carolina’s largest and most complex agency, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
“We needed a reformer to safeguard public health and to protect the environment while making it easy to do business in South Carolina. We did a national search and we knew Catherine was the person with the depth and breadth of knowledge to get the job done.”
– Allen Amsler, Chairman of the Board, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
Charged with protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our population, among a myriad of other important programs like nuclear facilities and controlled substance enforcement, DHEC commands a $600M federal and state budget, 3600 employees, and over 100 locations around the state.
In her first 18 months at DHEC, Catherine
- Expanded healthcare services and access statewide
- Reduced the time it takes to get an environmental permit by 40%
- Deregulated or reformed regulations that had been in place for decades
While creating these efficiencies and service enhancements
- Cut the budget $68M
- Maintained all services during the federal government shutdown
- Operated under sequester
- Refused overreaching bailouts from the federal government.
“Time is money. Catherine has reduced the time it takes to get a permit from DHEC by 40% and those decisions have integrity because the appeal rate has not increased. That means real money to businesses and real jobs for South Carolinians. Remarkably, she helped create a positive business climate while safeguarding our natural heritage.”
– Mikee Johnson, Chair (fmr), South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.
“Catherine has steered her own course, attempting to accomplish environmental goals without getting bogged down in the excesses of process or political accommodation. Her common sense and candor have been fresh breezes in an agency often embattled and distrusted by both the public and the regulated community.”
– Dana Beach, Executive Director, Coastal Conservation League.
“Director Templeton has been a visionary in addressing the disease that kills the most South Carolinians, makes the most sick, and if prevented would save the state the most money in health care costs. Her leadership on this issue will positively impact every rural and metropolitan community in South Carolina.”
– Dr. Lee Pearson, Institute of Medicine.
During her time at DHEC, Catherine directed public health efforts to obesity, the one issue that
- Kills the most South Carolinians
- Makes the most sick
- If prevented would save the state the most money in healthcare costs
In September 2014, the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that South Carolina dropped from No. 7 to No. 10 in adult obesity.
DHEC was also lauded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for its response to a tuberculosis exposure and Templeton was commended for the Incident Command she created.
As a result, when South Carolina was faced with Ebola, the agency was in the forefront of the nation in its hospital and public health preparedness, even drawing praise from the Senate Medical Affairs Committee that had investigated the tuberculosis exposure. At the Governor’s Roundtable on Ebola, Senator Harvey Peeler (R – Gaffney), S.C. Senate Majority Leader and Chairman Medical Affairs Committee, said,
“Quite frankly, if you ask me what would make us more comfortable – if the President would name Catherine Templeton as the Ebola Czar, I’d feel more comfortable.”
“She’s the first director who isn’t entangled by webs of allegiance to the way things always have been done. The first director whose reflexive reaction to criticism isn’t to defend the agency — or to attack the critics — but to acknowledge fault. The first director who walks that thin line between gratuitous government bashing and disarming candor.”
Cindi Scoppe, Editor, The State Newspaper
Referred to as a “consensus builder,” Catherine also enjoys a reputation as a plain spoken reformer. She was one of five people placed on Governor Haley’s short list to become a United States Senator from South Carolina upon the resignation of Senator Jim DeMint.
When Catherine dealt with the legislature she called balls and strikes and never lied or surprised anyone. She always said we have to do business for the people of this state and even when she disagreed with lawmakers, it was done professionally.
“I respect Catherine. Least she rattles ‘fore she strikes!”
– Representative Mike Pitts (Chairman, House Ethics Committee, R-Laurens)
After Catherine left government, she was summoned to Trump Tower during Cabinet appointments to meet with President Trump, Vice-President Pence, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus. She was offered a job in the US Labor Department, but declined so she could focus on South Carolina.
She received the University of South Carolina School of Law’s highest award, the Compleat Lawyer, and was recognized by her peers as one of the nation’s Best Lawyers. In her vetting by the SC Bar, her fellow lawyers noted her ability to listen and build consensus.
Among other boards and committees, Catherine sat on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Governor’s Savannah River Committee, First Steps board, State Emergency Response Council, South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind board, the SC Health Care Coordinating Council Board of Directors, and the National Oceanic Council – representing FL, GA, SC, and NC.
“She has made government more accessible and transparent for every one of us. We can only hope she will decide to return to leadership in government again one day.”
– John Uprichard, President & CEO Find Great People and (fmr) Chairman, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
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