40 leaders graduate from 30th Upstate Diversity Leaders Initiative class

Katie Quine
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Riley Institute at Furman University
864.294.3368; katie.quine@furman.edu



Class participants join a network of more than 2,300 Riley Fellows across South Carolina.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Forty leaders from across the Upstate have new tools and perspectives to leverage diversity to improve organizational outcomes and drive social and economic progress in South Carolina, gained through their participation in the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI).

These leaders, who graduated from DLI’s 30th Upstate class on December 8, 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. Since its inception 18 years ago, DLI has become a cornerstone of Furman University’s Riley Institute. More than 2,300 leaders from across the state have graduated from the program.

Graduates of DLI become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful cross-sector network of South Carolinians that includes corporate CEOs, legislators, superintendents, religious and nonprofit heads, and business and community leaders.

“Society faces enormous challenges on multiple fronts in 2021. Now more than ever, leaders must come together to identify ways to unite communities in the pursuit of better outcomes for all,” said Dr. Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “I look forward to seeing how our newest Riley Fellows continue to drive positive change in their workplaces and communities with the tools they’ve gained in DLI, even in these unprecedented times.”

DLI is facilitated by expert Juan Johnson, who was The Coca-Cola Company’s first-ever vice president for diversity strategy.

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. Each class is crafted to reflect the diverse demographics in South Carolina.

Class members worked together to develop capstone projects, partnering with nonprofit organizations to respond to real challenges and opportunities in their communities. These nonprofits included Disability Rights South Carolina, Let There Be Mom, Jasmine Road, the International African American Museum, and Beauty Marks for Girls.

The full roster of Riley Fellows is available online at furman.edu/riley. These are the graduates of the fall 2021 Upstate DLI class:

Amit Arora
CRM Director
Michelin North America
Greenville, SC

Katelyn Berry
Senior Director of Brand & Retail Marketing/eCommerce
Michelin North America
Greenville, SC

Joshua Buckley
Assembly Manager
BMW Manufacturing
Greer, SC

Mike Bundy
CEO – Prisma Health Baptist and Baptist Parkridge Hospitals
Prisma Health
Columbia, SC

Jackie Carson
Head Women’s Basketball Coach
Furman University
Greenville, SC

Eric Connor
Local Editor – Reporter
The Post and Courier
Greenville, SC

Robin Dease
Lead Pastor
The United Methodist Church
Bluffton, SC 

Jeremiah Dew
JDew Productions, LLC
Greenville, SC

Julia Dietz
Policy Director
Audubon South Carolina
Charleston, SC

LaTomya Doctor
Director of Human Resources
SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities
Greenville, SC

Basil Dosunmu
Senior Vice President – Administration and Finance/CFO
Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District
Greer, SC

Akili Franklin
News Director
WYFF 4/Hearst Television
Greenville, SC

Melanie Gearhart
Director, Business Services
Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands SC
Greenville, SC

Meredith Green
General Counsel
Furman University
Greenville, SC 

Paola Gutierrez
Lead Strategist
SC Office of Rural Health
Lexington, SC

Jeff Harris
Tribal Attorney
Catawba Indian Nation
Rock Hill, SC

Robert Hughes
Hughes Development Corporation
Greenville, SC

Allen Jacoby
Chief Strategy Officer & Sr. VP Corp. Development
Milliken and Company
Spartanburg, SC

Merle Johnson
Director of Economic and Community Development
City of Greenville
Greenville, SC

JaLisa Jordan
Live Healthy Spartanburg Program Manager
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
Spartanburg, SC

Jordy Kirr
Director of Administrative Projects and Operations
Clemson University Athletic Department
Clemson, SC

Kasel Knight
General Counsel
Milliken and Company
Spartanburg, SC

Cammie Mackie
Vice President of Marketing
Milliken and Company
Spartanburg, SC

Sylvia Martin
Executive Director
The Arts Council of Greenwood County
Greenwood, SC

Travis McDowell
Director, Advising & Retention
Greenville Technical College
Greenville, SC

Chuck McFadden
Associate General Counsel
Michelin North America
Greenville, SC

Smyth McKissick
Alice Company
Greenville, SC

Chelsea McNeill
Circuit Public Defender, 8th Judicial Circuit
South Carolina Public Defender’s Office
Greenwood, SC

Kevin Mertens
Director of Faith in Action
Christ Church Episcopal
Greenville, SC

Beth Messick
Executive Director
Jasmine Road
Greenville, SC

John Milby
Chief of Police
Furman University
Greenville, SC

Chunsta Miller
Regional Goodwill Ambassador
Washington Prime Group
Moore, SC

LaKeta Norwood
Inclusion Partner
Prisma Health
Greenville, SC

Katherine Pendergrass
Community Outreach
ReGenesis Health Care
Chester, SC

Catherine Schumacher
President and CEO
Public Education Partners
Greenville, SC 

Tracy Smoak
Manager Regional Steering, Market Operations
BMW Manufacturing
Greer, SC 

Hariette Stinson
Human Resource Manager
Spartanburg Water
Spartanburg, SC

Eric Vinson
City Administrator
City of Travelers Rest
Travelers Rest, SC

George Ward
Employee Relations Representative
Greenville County Schools
Greenville, SC

Heather Witt
Principal Consultant
Kulic Strategic Advisers
Boiling Springs, SC


About the Riley Institute at Furman University

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, hosting expert speakers to broaden perspectives on critical issues, supporting public education, and creating knowledge through community solutions-focused research. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at furman.edu/riley.