The interim director of the South Carolina lottery now has the job on a permanent basis. Paula Harper Bethea of Bluffton will be the organization’s Executive Director. She has served as Interim Director since July, when Ernie Passailaigue left to head up the Arkansas lottery.
Bethea’s annual salary will be $226,829, the same as Passailaigue.
The Lottery Commission was unanimous in choosing Bethea, who had served on the Lottery Commission. Commissioner Edie Rodgers says Bethea knows how South Carolina’s lottery operates, so she won’t need training.
“Mrs. Bethea is exactly the leader South Carolina needs to continue our lottery’s success. She has the experience, focused enthusiasm, ability to motivate, presence in the business community, diplomatic style, and untarnished integrity to serve in this important position of public trust. All South Carolina stakeholders should share our excitement in Mrs. Bethea’s willingness to serve,” remarked Board Chairman Tim Madden.
Bethea said she is honored by the position. “Because of the lottery’s success, 708,000 scholarships have been awarded with more than $2.2 billion appropriated for education in our state. I will devote full energy to the continued success of this rewarding undertaking. One item has become evident to me, we have the right team in place at SCEL, and I am thrilled to be associated with all the employees who work here.”
Officials say Bethea was an inaugural Board member chosen to establish the Lottery in 2001 and an instrumental part of its start-up.
Most recently, Bethea was the External Relations Director for the McNair Law Firm, P.A. Among her many professional achievements, Mrs. Bethea serves as Chair Emeritus of the United Way of America’s Board of Governors. She is Vice-Chairman of the Board of First Financial Holdings and is a Founding Board Member of the Palmetto Institute where she serves as Secretary. Mrs. Bethea is Vice Chairman of the Board of Presbyterian College and a former member of the S.C. State Ethics Commission.
Mrs. Bethea was born in Hampton County and graduated from the University of South Carolina with honors.
SCEL is governed by a nine-member commission with three appointments by the Governor, three appointments by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and three by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.