Women in Government

Tameika Isaac Devine 2017 HONOREE

Councilwoman, Columbia, South Carolina

Tameika Isaac Devine doesn’t take no for an answer. As an attorney prosecuting sexual assault cases across her state, she saw a need for her hometown of Columbia to establish criminal domestic violence courts. But the city rejected her proposal. Devine was outraged. So she ran for council, won and pushed through the new courts herself. “Now being on the inside, I kind of understand all the demands that they have in balancing the needs of the budget,” Devine says. “But at that time, I just thought, ‘How could they not feel like this is important?’” 

Just after her election, a 12-year-old child was shot on Devine’s porch by an alleged gang member. That devastating incident inspired her to start violence prevention programs that target at-risk youth. “It was a situation where you felt helpless and that the government can’t do everything,” she says. “But we can bring light and attention to issues.” As the first African-American woman to serve on the Columbia City Council, Devine says she’s learned not to be shy. “What I’ve found, the longer that I’m in office, is that it’s not self-serving to promote [your accomplishments], especially if it gives you a platform to further the work that you’re doing to help your constituency.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.