Paula Harper Bethea is stepping down as executive director of the South Carolina Education Lottery.
Bethea, of Bluffton, was an original member of the lottery commission when it was formed in 2001. She has served as director since 2009.
The resignation will be effective Oct. 31.
The lottery commission is in the process of concluding a 10-year request for proposals for vendors to provide terminals to print out lottery tickets, Bethea said. The end of October marks a convenient window for a change of leadership before discussions begin to award the contract, she said.
"You want the conversion to go smoothly," she said. "You don't want to step out in the throes of the contract. But it's been almost 7 1/2 years. That's a long time to leave home on Sunday night and drive to Columbia and leave Columbia on a Friday night and drive to Bluffton."
Lottery legal services director Hogan Brown will serve as interim executive director after Bethea's departure. "He will be there until the contract is awarded ... early next year," Bethea said. "It will be an orderly transition."
Bethea, 61, is known statewide for her frequent appearances in lottery commercials. She was also active in helping bring the Confederate flag down from the State House dome in 2000.
Bethea said she is not retiring. "I don't know what I want to do," she said. "But I have a lot of energy and I want to share it with someone. But all my energies in the meantime will be for the South Carolina Education Lottery."
Bethea said she hopes her legacy is one of competence and effectiveness. "Whether or not you agree there should be a lottery, my job is not to change your mind," she said. "My job is to be the best caretaker of a public trust I can be. I hope that when I leave they can say that was accomplished."
Bethea is former chairwoman of the Columbia College board of trustees; former president of the USC Alumni Association; and former chair of the board of the state Chamber of Commerce. She is chairman emeritus of the United Way of America's Board of Governors and a former member of the board of directors of United Way International.
In 2006, she and her husband, Bill, were named South Carolina Business Leader of the Year.