Participants of the 40-person class join a network of more than 2,300 Riley Fellows across the state.
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Upon graduating this month from the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI), 40 leaders from across the Midlands have new tools and perspectives to help leverage diversity to improve organizational outcomes and drive social and economic progress in South Carolina.
These individuals, all members of the 13th DLI class to be held in the region, took part in intensive discussions and scenario analyses that allowed them to openly examine sensitive issues related to diversity and inclusion with fellow leaders, explore “blind spots,” and gain tools to develop diversity strategies within their own organizations. DLI has become a cornerstone of Furman University’s Riley Institute as more than 2,300 leaders from across the state have graduated since the program’s inception 17 years ago.
Graduates of DLI become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful cross-sector of South Carolinians that includes corporate CEOs, legislators, superintendents, religious and nonprofit heads, and business and community leaders.
While the class was originally scheduled to conclude in the spring after beginning in January, it was put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed virtually in September. The pandemic, along with the current call for racial justice, underscores the need for such a program, said Dr. Donald Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute.
“The extreme hardship brought on by the pandemic has exacerbated the existing social and economic divisions that we address through our Diversity Leaders Initiative,” Gordon said. “The road ahead will present its share of challenges, but our new group of Riley Fellows are uniquely positioned to create real-world solutions within their own enterprises.”
Classes are facilitated by expert Juan Johnson, an independent consultant who was The Coca-Cola Company’s first-ever vice president for diversity strategy.
DLI participants are selected through a rigorous application and interview process after being nominated by existing Riley Fellows. They are accepted based on their capacity to create impact within their organizations and communities.
As part of the program, participants work alongside classmates to develop a capstone project that addresses a specific community need.
One of the five Midlands groups is virtually connecting elementary-aged children with older adults through the joy of reading. Practicing fluency and pronunciation, students will record themselves reading storybooks aloud, and the resulting recordings will be given to residents of Lexington Medical Center’s Extended Care, many of whom have cognitive degeneration.
Another group will launch a four-part podcast in November that brings awareness to the interactions people with disabilities, specifically people of color with autism, have with law enforcement and explores solutions alongside policy experts.
In addition to the Midlands, DLI classes are selected annually in the Upstate and Lowcountry. Each class is crafted to reflect the diverse demographics in South Carolina.
The full roster of Riley Fellows is available online at riley.furman.edu. These are the graduates of the 13th Midlands DLI class:
President and COO
UCI Medical Affiliates
Chief Legal Counsel
Director of Licensing
South Carolina Education Lottery
Facility Personnel Manager
Director of Early Childhood Education
Sumter School District
Womble Bond Dickinson
Chair of the Board
Columbia Museum of Art
Director, Office of Personalized Learning
SC Department of Education
Manager for Municipal Advocacy
Municipal Association of South Carolina
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP
Asset Protection Manager
VP Financial Management & Integration
President and CEO
Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce
Training & Development Manager
BlueCross BlueShield of SC
Director, HR Operations
Chief Executive Director
Family Connection of South Carolina
Clyde & Co. US LLP
South Carolina Philharmonic
SC Future Minds
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
Director of Human Resources
SCRA - SC Research Authority
Aiken Technical College
Elliott Davis LLC
Marlboro County School District
President & Executive Director
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
President and CEO
South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities
South Carolina Arts Commission
Coordinator of Youth and Family Services; Chair
Lexington Richland School District 5; Richland County First Steps
Clover School District Two of York County
Audit Manager; Board Member
Moore Beauston Woodham; Goodwill Industries of the Upstate / Midlands
Meg Porter Stanley
Eat Smart, Move More SC
Town of Williston
President & CEO
Revolution D, Inc.
Conservation Voters of South Carolina
City of Darlington
SCBIZtv is part of the SC Biz News family, serving 100,000 high-level business execs throughout South Carolina. Click for more from SCBIZtv.
President & CEO
Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties
Nexsen Pruet, LLC
The R.C. Wilson Group, L.L.C.
Co-Interim Executive Director/Director of Capacity Building