Malissa Burnette is an award-winning attorney and advocate for equal rights for all. She is co-founder of the Burnette Shutt & McDaniel law firm in Columbia. She waged a legal battle to change the rules and allow women to attend The Citadel. She successfully challenged a rule that barred young girls from playing football. More recently, she and Nekki Shutt, another of the firm’s founding partners, were lead counsel in the case that made same-sex marriage legal in South Carolina. Since 1993, she has been a South Carolina Supreme Court certified specialist in labor and employment law. Burnette learned about equality early on from her grandfather, as a child growing up in a small town in North Carolina. “We’d go to poor black families homes, and he would take clothing and so forth. Not everybody would do that in the 1950s. He treated everyone like family, and he was generous and kind to everyone,” she said. Burnette has served in a number of appointed positions, including the Governor’s Domestic Violence Task Force. She was former Lt. Governor Nancy Stevenson’s chief of staff.