The Center for Women is just as relevant today as it was yesterday.

Friday was Jennet Robinson Alterman's last day as executive director of the center, a position she held for 12 years.

For many, she was the face of the 23-year-old center. Certainly no other name is more synonymous with women's empowerment and success in the Lowcountry. But as Alterman would be quick to tell you, she couldn't have done what she called “the best job in Charleston” so well for so long without the dedicated staff and board members. Those folks are just as crucial to the enterprise as she was, and just as committed, going full steam ahead as the center seeks its next executive director.

Alterman's new goal is to help others achieve what the center and its members have. “I have seen how empowered women make a powerful difference in communities all over the world and I want the same for my state and the rest of the country,” she said.

There was some confusion out in the community when Alterman announced her departure. “We're not doing anything differently,” she said. “Instead of talking about our programs, we're talking about why we do our programs.”

Strong reach

Lowcountry Women with Wings was established as a joint venture with the Center. The fourth annual Southeastern Beard & Moustache Championships, held a week ago, continues to bring awareness and funding to the ovarian cancer nonprofit.

The center also launched the South Carolina Women's Business Center, which helps women entrepreneurs here and in the Upstate.

Jane Perdue, board president and co-founder of the professional development firm Braithwaite Innovation Group, created the Women's Leadership Institute at the center in 2011.

And there's the Women and Power series, which just this week included Alterman's interview with CBS correspondent Martha Teichner, and has provided a peek into the lives more than a dozen fascinating women.

The center offers monthly and annual networking events, brown bag sessions, job training sessions — all geared toward helping women reach their goals.

'Zooming out'

Perdue explained it this way: Instead of zooming in to narrow the focus, they're zooming out, really letting people know what the center does and how its programs advance women's leadership and success.

“We're looking at women from that holistic standpoint,” Perdue said. “How do we leave behind some of the stereotypes and break down the walls? That's the zooming out.”

Perdue previously worked in the corporate world as vice president for Comcast and AT&T Broadband.

“As a woman who reinvented herself, I respect what Jennet is doing,” Perdue said. “That's kind of what we're all doing.”

The center is bigger than any one person, and remains necessary as long as women are struggling personally and professionally.

Soon, somebody else will get “the best job in Charleston” and take the center into its next phase.

Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or mbalog@postandcourier.com.