Our President & CEO

Mr. McLawhorn has been the president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Urban League since 1979. He is recognized nationally as a leader in race and community relations and has appeared in hundreds of articles, news, and public affairs programs addressing topics such as race and social policy. Currently, he is a featured blogger for The State newspaper, the largest newspaper in South Carolina, and a recipient of the National Urban League’s ‘Whitney M. Young, Jr. Race Relations Award.’ Mr. McLawhorn was a chief planner of the ‘King Day at the Dome,’ march and rally held on January 17, 2000. One of the largest civil rights demonstrations in the history of South Carolina, the march and rally drew more than 50,000 people to downtown Columbia to protest the flying of the Confederate flag atop the South Carolina State House.​

​Also prompted under Mr. McLawhorn’s leadership, the League publishes The State of Black South Carolina: An Action Agenda for the Future. The State of Black South Carolina is a widely-respected annual report on the most pressing issues affecting the status of African Americans in South Carolina. In 1985, he founded the National Black Family Summit, a premier action forum on family issues with an emphasis on the African American community. He has received numerous awards for his outstanding leadership, including the prestigious Order of the Palmetto, the highest award given to a civilian in the state of South Carolina.


Our Board Chair

M. Allen Williams.png

Allen Williams is the Sr. Market General Manager for PepsiCo Beverages North America leading the Carolinas Market Unit. The market consists of 11 distribution centers spanning South Carolina, North Carolina & Georgia. His team consists of approximately 1000 employees that make, move, and sell Pepsi Beverages across his geography.  His business generates revenues above $350mm annually. The top brands in his portfolio include Pepsi, Mtn. Dew, Gatorade, Tropicana Juices, Aquafina, LifeWtr, Starbucks, and Lipton, to name a few. 


With over 23 years of experience with Pepsi, Allen has held several leadership roles to include Director of Retail Sales, Food Service Sales Director, and Unit Sales General Manager.


He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Marketing with a Minor in Sociology.  He attended school on a four-year, full-tuition-paid athletic scholarship for football.


Allen currently serves the community through his leadership with several organizations in South Carolina.  He serves as Board Chair for the Columbia Urban League and the South Carolina Beverage Association.  


Allen resides in Columbia, SC, with his wife Karina, son Maxwell and daughter Devyn. He enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf, attending lacrosse tournaments as his son competes, as well as orchestra concerts and competitions as both Maxwell & Devyn play the Violin.