Head of The Duke Endowment Receives South Carolina’s Highest Civilian Honor

March 11, 2016

Head of The Duke Endowment receives South Carolina’s highest civilian honor during 2016 Nonprofit Summit

Pictured from (L to R): Rep. J. Derham Cole Jr., Rep. Rita Allison, Gene Cochrane and Rep. Eddie Tallon

Spartanburg, S.C. (3/11/16) – During the 2016 South Carolina Nonprofit Summit held at the Spartanburg Marriott today, Eugene “Gene” Cochrane Jr., president of The Duke Endowment was presented the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor. State Rep. Rita Allison of District 36 and Ted Hendry, chair of the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations (SCANPO), gave the award to Cochrane on behalf of Governor Nikki Haley.

Cochrane received the award in front of hundreds of nonprofit leaders from around the state gathering in Spartanburg for the statewide association’s annual 3-day conference. The award was given during the event because of The Duke Endowment’s significant support to South Carolina nonprofits over the years and a way for nonprofit leaders to personally thank Cochrane for his philanthropic leadership.

“This award has been bestowed upon you for your exceptional dedicated service to the Palmetto State,” read Rep. Allison from Gov. Haley’s letter. South Carolina Governor John West created the Order of the Palmetto in 1971 as a formal way to recognize individuals for extraordinary lifetime service and achievements of national and statewide significance. In order to receive the award someone must nominate the individual and multiple letters of recommendation must be sent to the Governor’s nomination committee. The award is an once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

“Gene has been not only a leader in our nonprofit sector, he has been a generous friend,” said Hendry. “His leadership spans so many levels and runs deep in our state. This award is especially meaningful because of The Duke Endowment's support of nonprofits, health care, families and education in South Carolina.”

For many years, The Duke Endowment, based in Charlotte, N.C., has been a huge supporter to nonprofit organizations in North and South Carolina. The foundation was founded in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke and focuses on supporting higher education, health care, child services and rural church life. Since 1925, The Duke Endowment has awarded more than $3.2 billion in total grants across the Carolinas.

Cochrane joined the Endowment in 1980 and served as director of health care and as executive vice president prior to assuming the organization’s head role in 2005. He is a health care advisory board member of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, on the Board of Trustees of the Council on Foundations, a board advisor at the McColl School of Business at Queens University and participates in many local community organizations.

Cochrane received an honorary doctorate degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and worked as a hospital administrator for eight years prior to joining The Duke Endowment. He holds an advanced degree from Appalachian State University.

SCANPO is the only membership organization focused solely on supporting and strengthening the state’s nonprofit sector through education, advocacy, networking and leadership. Founded in 1997, SCANPO is comprised of 700+ members representing nonprofit organizations, business partners, associations, foundations and academic institutions. To learn more, visit scanpo.org. Connect with SCANPO on social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+.

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Jessica Munday
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