Nancy Williams, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, announced Friday she will retire from the agency she has served for 21 years, effective Feb. 1.
Williams started volunteering with the agency in 1991 after moving to Hilton Head Island from Connecticut.
In 1996, she was named director of programs for English for Speakers of Other Languages, in which she increased the agency's satellite network, launched three family-literacy programs and secured grants for computerized English language instruction, according to a news release.
In 2002, she was named executive director of LVL, which serves about 700 adult learners each year at eight locations in Beaufort and Jasper counties. The agency has 14 paid staff members and 200 volunteers, the release said.
Under her leadership, LVL has launched Cooks & Books, the agency's main fundraiser. It moved its headquarters to Bluffton, where it also opened a learning center in 2008. It opened a Beaufort learning center this year with S.C. Works, a state agency that helps people find jobs and employers find workers.
It is the only literacy program in the state to have twice earned accreditation by ProLiteracy, the release said. It has also won four awards in recent years: the 2011 South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations Erin Hardwick Award for Nonprofit Excellence, the 2003 Organization of the Year Award from the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and two Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Civitas awards for outstanding nonprofit.
"I retire knowing that thousands of lives have been changed as a result of LVL's efforts to increase the skills of area adults," Williams said in the release. "We equip adults with the reading, writing, speaking and math skills they need to succeed in their families, their workplaces and the community. But there are still as many as 10,000 Beaufort County adults who lack basic literacy skills and many more with the most basic of skills. Although we've come a long way, there is still much work to be done."
LVL marks its 40th anniversary next year, and Williams said she might volunteer for the agency during her retirement. She also plans to travel and play golf and stay involved in the community, she said.
The LVL board of directors has appointed a search committee, which currently seeks Williams' successor. Plans are also under way for a gala sendoff for Williams, to be scheduled at a later date.