Quoting her mother and father, Elizabeth Colbert Busch frequently says, “Don’t be afraid. Take every legitimate adventure.” While Elizabeth has had her share of adventure—and adversity— she recognizes that fear caused by uncertainty can be difficult to overcome, especially for today’s families.
That is why Elizabeth has decided that the dysfunctional display in the halls of Congress must end. She believes that this is our time. This is our time to recognize that our differences and diversity can also be our greatest strength. Her professional life is a testament to her uncanny knack of bringing together a wide range of individuals, groups, and institutions to create great economic opportunities.
Elizabeth is the eighth of 11 children born to James and Lorna Colbert. Her father was a physician and educator whose work at the Medical University of South Carolina was so visionary that it was honored for laying “…the groundwork that guided the University into the 21st century.” Elizabeth’s mother is a woman of great strength with a gentle, yet determined, focus and commitment to the success of her family.
Unlike this Congress which has been described as “lacking the responsibility to do the job,” Elizabeth has known great responsibilities even from the earliest stages of her life, and has always done “the job.”
Elizabeth was just 19 and a student at the University of South Carolina, when her father and two of her brothers were killed in a plane crash on 9/11/1974 in Charlotte, NC. Elizabeth immediately moved back home to Charleston, to be with her mother and two of her brothers. Her widowed mother, whom Elizabeth describes as her greatest inspiration, guided the Colbert family through enormous challenges, but taught her children that “… life is good, and you never ever give up.”
That was advice Elizabeth would soon find herself drawing upon again and again. A marriage that produced three beautiful children—Mary, Robert, and Catherine—would end in divorce.
Suddenly a single mom with three children to support, Elizabeth realized she needed to enhance her academic credentials to ensure a career with as much economic opportunity and challenge as possible. So, that is exactly what she did. Upon graduating from the College of Charleston in 1988, with a concentration in Supply Chain and Logistics, Elizabeth went to Washington, D.C. to more clearly understand government’s role in the maritime industry.
After leaving D.C., Elizabeth went on to work in Charleston and eventually became Director of Sales and Marketing for one of the top 10 ocean carriers in the world, Orient Oversea Container Line, Inc. (OOCL). While there, Elizabeth was responsible for trade done on an international basis, and in the U.S. Southeast and Gulf regions. Helping to lay the groundwork for her success in negotiating, she also served as liaison between OOCL, the federal government, and several states throughout the country. During this period, Elizabeth was honored to be named as the Chairwoman for the Maritime Association of South Carolina, and the S.C. International Trade Conference. She presently sits on the Brookings Institute’s Advisory Council on Exports and the World Trade Center Charleston at the Metro Chamber of Commerce. In recognition of the excellence of her work, Elizabeth was named Woman of the Year by the prestigious Charleston Women in International Trade, and one of the Journal of Commerce’s Top 20 Women in Transportation.
Inspired by her parents’ commitment to education, Elizabeth proudly serves as an advisor to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Coalition (STEM,) dedicated to attracting under-represented and financially-disadvantaged youth to those fields of study. She also sits on the Charleston School of Law’s Maritime Institute Advisory Board, as well having been a former member of the Advisory Committee of the College of Charleston’s Intermodal Transportation and Logistics Management Program.
For the past five years, Elizabeth has been the Director of Business Development at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute at the former Naval Shipyard in North Charleston in South Carolina. As Director, she has played a key role in bringing about the world’s largest wind turbine/grid simulator facility–recognized internationally for both its technology and unique capabilities. Elizabeth also spearheaded the South Carolina Wind Industry’s Economic impact findings, which concluded that this sector has already generated thousands of jobs and millions in wages and revenue for SC, with projections of exponential increases in all three areas over the next few years.
Elizabeth wants this generation and the next to be able to embrace the adventures and challenges of tomorrow without the level of uncertainty we are struggling with today. She understands what it is going to take to develop the modern American economy and recognizes that “This is Our Time.”
Elizabeth and the “love of her life,” husband Claus Busch—who was born and raised in the Charleston area—dote on the three children they’ve raised together. They are blessed with three grandchildren, with one on the way. They reside in the Charleston area.