Connections are what's important in Minor Mickel Shaw's leadership roles in Greenville County and the Upstate.
She's involved in numerous civic, education and arts organizations and has been over the years, she said.
"You hope you've had an impact," she said. "It's very humbling to be included in this group of people" as one of Greenville's top leaders.
What she hopes to do through the organizations in which she's involved is connect people with opportunities, she said, and to help people leverage their time, dollars and ideas.
"I can help connect people with each other," she said. "Some of my involvements are overlapping."
For instance, her work with both the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the United Way involves education and work force development.
Gary Schlansker, president of the Greenville YMCA, said Shaw, its chairwoman, has helped the organization be aware of others in the community with whom it can collaborate.
"She's provided us with a wealth of contacts," he said. When Shaw looks at all her involvements, she sees the overarching theme of quality of life.
She credits her parents, Minor and the late Buck Mickel, with encouraging her to give back to her community, wherever she was.
Even though her parents were not natives of Greenville, "they became part of the community. They have always been involved in the community," she said. "We've always been taught to give back."
She practiced that philosophy during her high school years here, and in college and in other towns in which she lived before returning to Greenville in 1979.
"I've always been involved. It's just a basic part of my community," she said. "I really enjoy being an integral part of my community."
Leadership can flow from community involvement, she said. A leader must be aware of the needs and "be willing to take a stand on the issues and be willing to work hard."
A leader, she says, attempts to build consensus on potentially divisive issues. That's become even more apparent since the tragedies of Sept. 11.
"As horrible as it was," said Shaw, a baby boomer, "the United States has come together in a way we can't remember. "I believe it's made people focus on what's important in life and concentrate on what is better for the community as a whole," she said.
A strength of Greenville's leadership, she said, is its diversity, its openness to new people and its encouragement of young people to become involved.
But the city's growth has made reaching consensus more difficult.
Her motivation for her volunteer work, her efforts as chairman of the Daniel-Mickel Foundation and her work with Micco, a family real estate firm, is her family and her enjoyment in taking part in many different things.
"I really enjoy challenges," she said. "I enjoy putting pieces of puzzles together and making things happen."
Schlansker agrees that Shaw makes things happen. "Minor is just dynamite," he said. "My observation of her is that if she says `Yes,' she throws herself into the project. She's a wonderful lady. She does a great job for our community."
Shaw said she worries that some of the issues facing Greenville could divide the community and that people don't always look at what is best for Greenville as a whole.
But she's optimistic. She said she finds that optimism in today's young people.
"You see how intelligent they are and their motivation. I'm constantly amazed at their motivation and their knowledge. That should give us all optimism," she said. "Young people want to make a difference."