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Riley Institute and Duke Energy renew partnership to advance diversity leadership

ConnectionsSC imparts strategies to educators and law enforcement to help them lead effectively in their increasingly diverse communities.

The Riley Institute at Furman University has received a $75,000 grant from Duke Energy to expand ConnectionsSC, a program that advances diversity leadership among education and law enforcement professionals across the state.

The grant marks Duke Energy’s second investment in ConnectionsSC. The Riley Institute first received a pledge of support from Duke Energy in 2015 in the wake of the tragic church shootings in Charleston.  Duke Energy officials engaged in conversations with stakeholders across the state to find ways to help promote diversity and civic engagement in South Carolina.

“There are no quick solutions for the deep legacies of racism,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s state president in South Carolina. “We are continuing to invest in the long-term approach of the Riley Institute’s diversity leadership work because we expect that over time it will help drive systemic change in the state.”

Modeled after the Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative, ConnectionsSC brings educators and law enforcement officials together over the course of five months to participate in discussion and case studies designed to help them gain tools to lead effectively in their increasingly diverse communities. Grouped together by school district, educator and law enforcement teams work together on action projects that benefit students and the community.

“Educators and law enforcement professionals are strongly linked in their interaction with and impact on community members, especially young people. ConnectionsSC brings together professionals from both groups who are best positioned to help build cultures that support diverse communities,” said Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute.

The inaugural ConnectionsSC class graduated in 2016.  The graduates launched several successful community initiatives, including Project H.O.M.E. in North Charleston, an initiative to provide housing and a home environment to students who become homeless while still in high school.

The new funding expands the program further into Duke Energy’s South Carolina service area, adding 31 additional education and law enforcement professionals and six school districts, nearly doubling the number of impacted school districts in the state.

ConnectionsSC 2017 participants began orientation Aug. 22 in Columbia. They will attend five day-long sessions through December of this year. The participants are:

Tim Ayers, Lieutenant, Community Services Unit Supervisor, Rock Hill Police Department

Robyn Caldwell, Principal, The Academy for Teaching and Learning, Chester County School District

Calvin Carter, Deputy Sheriff and School Resource Officer, Chester County Sheriff’s Office

Eric Childers, Principal, Sims Middle School, Union County School District

Cameron Collier, Assistant Principal, Spartanburg High School, Spartanburg District 7

Kito Crank, Sergeant, Chester County Sheriff’s Office

Rebecca Ford, Principal, Johnakin Middle School, Marion County School District

Shannon Gibson, Principal, Union County High School, Union County School District

Shane Goodwin, Principal, Sullivan Middle School, York School District 3

Daris Gore, Principal, Marion High School, Marion County School District

Duane Graham, Principal, Chester Senior High School, Chester County School District

Scott Griffin, School Resource Officer, Union County School District

Sheka Houston, Principal, Chester Middle School, Chester County School District

Carl Jennings, Chief of Police, Town of Jonesville, Union County

Michael Johnson, School Resource Officer Supervisor, Rock Hill Police Department

Ken Kiser, Principal, Dorman High School, Spartanburg School District 6

Dean Ledford, Jr., Principal, Fairforest Middle School, Spartanburg School District 6

Al Leonard, Principal, South Pointe High School, York School District 3

Don Mims, Director of Student Services/Hearing Officer, Spartanburg District 7

Margaret Peach, Principal, McCracken Middle School, Spartanburg District 7

Martina Rush, Student Services Specialist, Marion County School District

Tawanda Scott, School Resource Officer, Chester County Sheriff’s Office

Jay Seegars, Principal, R. P. Dawkins Middle School, Spartanburg School District 6

Andrew Smith, Deputy Sheriff, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office

Carl Stokes, Corporal; School Resource Officer, Marion County Police and Marion County High School, Marion County School District

Kathy Taylor, Principal, Jonesville Middle School, Union County School District

Machelle Thomas, School Resource Officer, Spartanburg City Police Department

Nicole Thompson, Principal, Carver Middle School, Spartanburg District 7

Betsy Trakas, Director of Student Services, Union County School District

Norris Williams, Principal, Dutchman Creek Middle School, York School District 3

Kevin Wren, Director: Risk, Security, Emergency Management, York School District 3

For more information about the ConnectionsSC program, visit riley.furman.edu, or contact DLI program manager Megan Dodgens at 864.294.3253.

Duke Energy

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the United States. Its Electric Utilities and Infrastructure business unit serves approximately 7.5 million customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. The company’s Gas Utilities and Infrastructure business unit distributes natural gas to approximately 1.6 million customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Its Commercial Renewables business unit operates a growing renewable energy portfolio across the United States.

Duke Energy is a Fortune 125 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.

Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Riley Institute at Furman

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute broadens student and community perspectives about issues critical to South Carolina’s progress. It builds and engages present and future leaders, creates and shares data-supported information about the state’s core challenges, and links the leadership body to sustainable solutions. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change.

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