40 Midlands leaders graduate from the Riley Institute’s award-winning diversity program

Midlands classMIDLANDS LEADERS GRADUATE FROM THE RILEY INSTITUTE’S AWARD-WINNING DIVERSITY PROGRAM

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:

Jon Belsher
President and COO
UCI Medical Affiliates
Columbia

Shannon Bobertz
Chief Legal Counsel
SCDNR
Columbia

Cynthia Brown
Director of Licensing
South Carolina Education Lottery
Columbia

Dan Bruinsma
Facility Personnel Manager
Michelin
Lexington

Karen Buffalo
Director of Early Childhood Education
Sumter School District
Sumter

Bryant Caldwell
Attorney
Womble Bond Dickinson
Columbia

Allen Coles
Chair of the Board
Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia

Stephanie DiStasio
Director, Office of Personalized Learning
SC Department of Education
Columbia

Casey Fields
Manager for Municipal Advocacy
Municipal Association of South Carolina
Columbia

Amy Flanary-Smith
Special Counsel
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP
Columbia

Eddie Goff
Asset Protection Manager
Michelin
Lexington

Iris Griffin
VP Financial Management & Integration
Dominion Energy
Cayce

Chris Hardy
President and CEO
Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce
Sumter

Dominique Hardy
Training & Development Manager
BlueCross BlueShield of SC
Columbia

Lin Hearne
Director, HR Operations
Prisma Health
Columbia

Amy Holbert
Chief Executive Director
Family Connection of South Carolina
Columbia

Janice Holmes
Senior Counsel
Clyde & Co. US LLP
Lexington

Rhonda Hunsinger
Executive Director
South Carolina Philharmonic
Columbia

Gavin Jackson
Reporter
SCETV
Columbia

Debbie Jones
Executive Director
SC Future Minds
Florence

Jim Lehman
Managing Partner
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
Columbia

Yolanda Lewis
Director of Human Resources
SCRA - SC Research Authority
Columbia

Forest Mahan
President
Aiken Technical College
Aiken

Scott McClelland
Shareholder
Elliott Davis LLC
Columbia

Gregory McCord
Superintendent
Marlboro County School District
Bennettsville

Rusty Monhollon
President & Executive Director
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
Columbia

Jeff Perez
President and CEO
South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities
Columbia

David Platts
Executive Director
South Carolina Arts Commission
Columbia

Davida Price
Coordinator of Youth and Family Services; Chair
Lexington Richland School District 5; Richland County First Steps
Little Mountain

Sheila Quinn
Superintendent
Clover School District Two of York County
Clover

Sharon Ray
Audit Manager; Board Member
Moore Beauston Woodham; Goodwill Industries of the Upstate / Midlands
West Columbia

Meg Porter Stanley
Executive Director
Eat Smart, Move More SC
Columbia

Jason Stapleton
Mayor
Town of Williston
Williston

Jim Stritzinger
President & CEO
Revolution D, Inc.
Columbia

John Tynan
Executive Director
Conservation Voters of South Carolina
Columbia

Kelvin Washington
Police Chief
City of Darlington
Darlington


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Charles Williams
President & CEO
Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties
Orangeburg

Marguerite Willis
Attorney
Nexsen Pruet, LLC
Columbia

Roscoe Wilson
Owner/CEO
The R.C. Wilson Group, L.L.C.
Hopkins

Mike Young
Co-Interim Executive Director/Director of Capacity Building
PASOs
Columbia