42 Lowcountry Leaders Selected to Become Riley Fellows


Claudia Winkler
Director of Marketing and Communications
The Riley Institute at Furman University
864.294.3368; Claudia.winkler@furman.edu



42 Lowcountry Leaders Selected to Become Riley Fellows

Participants will take part in the Riley Institute’s award-winning Diversity Leaders Initiative before joining a network of more than 2,700 graduates across the state.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Forty-two leaders from across the Lowcountry will participate in the Riley Institute’s intensive 5-month Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) program, learning the skills and perspectives necessary to leverage diversity in their organizations in ways that drive social and economic progress in South Carolina.

Participants of DLI’s 17th Lowcountry class were selected through a rigorous application and interview process after being nominated by DLI alumni. They are accepted based on a variety of factors, including their interest in and commitment to the program and their capacity to create impact within their organizations and communities. Each class is crafted to reflect South Carolina’s demographic makeup.

“Today’s leaders have an obligation to drive change across our state that impacts all levels of society, improving outcomes for everyone,” said Dr. Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “This class offers participants the tools and experiences to understand the nuanced challenges facing diverse segments of our community and to develop meaningful solutions.”

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

Throughout the fall, the class will engage in intensive discussions and scenario analyses that allow them to openly examine sensitive issues related to diversity and inclusion with fellow leaders, explore “blind spots,” and gain tools to develop strategies within their own organizations.

Class members also work together to develop capstone projects, partnering with nonprofit organizations to respond to real challenges and opportunities in their communities.

“Seeing the robust, impactful programs that the DLI participants develop in just a few months as part of their capstone is breathtaking,” says Gordon. “Many of these programs carry on for decades, benefitting communities across our state, and these capstones only provide a glimpse of what these leaders are capable of and will go on to do.”

Graduates of DLI become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful cross-sector network of over 2,700 South Carolinians that includes corporate CEOs, legislators, superintendents, religious and nonprofit heads, and business and community leaders.

Listed below are the participants of the fall 2023 Lowcountry DLI class.

Mahoganee Amiger
Founder / Entrepreneur / Artist
Responsible ARTistry, Inc.
Saint Helena Island

Dan Battista
Executive Vice President – Southeast Region Leader
Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group

Lauren Benton
The Bellamy Law Firm
Myrtle Beach

Katherine Bergmann
Head of Communications and Community Relations
Volvo Car U.S. Operations

Julie Binz
Coastal Reserves and Outreach Director
ACE Basin NERR/SC Department of Natural Resources

Drew Callaghan
Vice President

Linda Distlerath
Trustee, Executive Committee

Michael Eckard
Office Managing Shareholder
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Clare Fieseler
Climate and Environment Reporter
The Post and Courier

Mike Fuller
President and CEO
Berkeley Electric Cooperative
Moncks Corner

Traci Grant
Director Corporate Services & Corporate Secretary
Santee Cooper
Moncks Corner

Greg Habib
City of Goose Creek
Goose Creek

Grace Hamilton
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Charleston Metro Chamber

DJ Hampton, II
President and CEO
Trident United Way
North Charleston

Robin Hargett
Executive Director
Urban Land Institute South Carolina

Renee Harvey
Executive Director & Co-Founder; COO & Managing Partner
Their Future. Our Vote. & Their Future PAC / Bold South Strategies
Johns Island

Marilyn Hemingway
Founding President/CEO
Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce

Deion Jamison
Instructional Coach
Orangeburg County School District

Charles Jordan
Moore & Van Allen

Courtenay Lewandowski
Chief Advancement Officer
SC Aquarium

John Linton
Walker, Gressette Linton, LLC

Neil Lipsitz
City Councilman
City of Beaufort

Corey McClary
Workforce Development Manager
Berkeley County Government
Moncks Corner

Christine Messick
Director, Community Engagement
Reading Partners
North Charleston

Kevin Mitchell
Chef Instructor, Author, Culinary Historian
Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College
North Charleston

Kristen Nichols
Attorney, Shareholder, Executive Committee
Turner Padget Graham & Laney, PA

Phillip Padgett
Chief Financial Officer
South Carolina Ports Authority
Mt. Pleasant

Kevin Phillips
Schiller & Hamilton

Lee Pringle
Founder & Artistic Director
Colour Music Festival

Malika Pryor
Chief Learning and Engagement Officer
International African American Museum

Shelli Quenga
Chief Innovation Officer
Palmetto Project
North Charleston

Marcela Rabens
Publisher of Universal Latin News and Charleston Latin Guide
Universal LLC
North Charleston

Karen Riordan
President and CEO
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB
Myrtle Beach

Cassandra Robinson
Employee Relations Specialist
Charleston County Government-Human Resources Department
North Charleston

Sarah Schreiber
Senior Staff Attorney
Charleston Legal Access
North Charleston

Leslie Skardon
Global Prairie

Solomon Stevens
The Post and Courier
North Charleston

Emily Swanson
Board Chair
Reading Partners
North Charleston

 Willie Todd
President and CEO
Denmark Technical College

Brian Turner
President and CEO
Preservation Society of Charleston

Chito Walker
Interim Chief of Police
City of Charleston
Mt. Pleasant

Conrad Williams
Medical Director, Palliative Care
Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)




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, broadening student and community perspectives on critical issues, hosting expert speakers, 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.