CHARLESTON, SC—Womble Bond Dickinson attorney Susan Smythe is the 2020 recipient of the James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award—the highest honor given by the Gibbes Museum of Art for service to the museum.

Smythe’s long-standing relationship with the Gibbes Museum began when she helped negotiate the first memorandum of understanding between the City of Charleston and the non-profit Carolina Art Association (CAA) regarding ownership of the Gibbes Museum facility. This memorandum of understanding led to the museum being awarded $3.9 million from the city for important renovations. She also helped the museum secure a $2.6 million Historic Tax Credit as part of that same capital campaign.

“Without her legal knowledge, hard work and dedication to the Gibbes, we would not have succeeded in either of these initiatives,” said Angela Mack, Executive Director of the Gibbes Museum. “We will be forever grateful to her for sharing her time, talent and professionalism with this museum.”  

In 2011, Smythe’s support of the museum evolved as she joined the Gibbes’ Board of Directors. Then, in 2018, she was elected Chair of the Gibbes Board. In that role, she led the revision of the board’s by-laws.

Each year the Board and staff of the CAA bestows on an individual or group the James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award. Gibbes was deeply devoted to the betterment of Charleston’s young creative minds in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Through his 1885 bequest of $100K, which in today’s dollars is valued at $2.5M, Gibbes launched what we know today as the Gibbes Museum of Art. His generosity and vision set the state for the visual arts in Charleston by providing the funds to build the oldest art museum in the South.

Susan Smythe has more than four decades of experience in wide range of practice areas, including real estate, mergers & acquisitions, finance, corporate and conservation easements. For example, her decades-long work assisting the developers of Daniel Island, S.C. involved drafting the first development agreement statute for South Carolina, negotiating the development agreement with the City of Charleston, assisting with the PUD zoning and participating in the myriad of strategic decisions made over the years.