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Riley Institute Staff

Riley Institute Staff

Richard W. Riley
Richard W. Riley, for whom the Riley Institute at Furman is named, is the former U. S. Secretary of Education (1993–2001) and former Governor of South Carolina (1979–1987). Secretary Riley currently is a senior partner in the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and its affiliate, EducationCounsel, with offices in South and North Carolina, Georgia, Boston, Chicago, Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. He has been appointed distinguished professor at Furman, and serves as Advisory Board chair of the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Public Leadership. Riley earned his bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in political science from Furman in 1954 and received a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1959. In 2008, Riley was named one of the Top 10 Cabinet Members of the 20th Century by Time magazine.
864.294.3546 
Donald L. Gordon
Donald L. Gordon has been the Executive Director of the Riley Institute since its inception in 1999. Dr. Gordon is a Professor of Political Science at Furman where he specializes in African and Middle Eastern Politics. On leave from Furman, he served as a Chief of Staff and Committee Counsel in the US House of Representatives. Dr. Gordon received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida.
864.294.3546
Jacki Martin
Jacki Martin is Associate Director of the Riley Institute at Furman University, where she assists the Executive Director in developing and funding the spectrum of the Institute’s programs and in supporting the staff who are managing them. Jacki also serves as the leader of the Riley Institute’s Center for Education Policy and Leadership. Her background is primarily in policy and program management around community development issues, with an emphasis on management of large-scale, multi-county, multi-sector outreach initiatives. She has an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of South Carolina.
864.294.3578
Carol Asalon
Carol Asalon, who joined the Riley Team in 2003, is the institute’s Business Manager. Carol is a 2004 Furman University graduate with a degree in accounting. She is responsible for managing the institute's finances, overseeing marketing materials, and serves as webmaster for the Riley Institute websites.
864.294.3251
 
Jill Fuson
Jill Fuson is Assistant Director of the Riley Institute. She is responsible for overseeing and managing a substantial portion of the events sponsored by the Institute. Before coming to the Riley Institute, she taught five years in public high schools in Florida and South Carolina and for five years owned and operated Carolina Family Adventures. A graduate of Furman University, she received her Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University in 2012.
864.294.3280
 
Judy McKenney
Judy McKenney joined the Riley Institute in 2013 as the Administrative Assistant. She is responsible for providing direct and indirect support for all aspects of Riley Institute operations, including the Center for Education Policy and Leadership, Diversity Leaders Initiative and Policy Events and Conferences. Judy earned her B.A. in Humanities from Eckerd College and did post-graduate studies at Furman from 1993-1998.
864.294.3686


Center for Education Policy and Leadership Staff

Courtenay Laughlin Nantz
Courtenay Laughlin Nantz joined the Riley Institute in 2008 as Project Director for the Center for Education Policy and Leadership. In 2012 she began leadership of the South Carolina Investing in Innovation (i3) grant project, undertaken with KnowledgeWorks Foundation and funded by the US Department of Education. She is a 1989 Furman graduate and earned her M.A. in School Leadership and Administration at Furman in 2003. Courtenay is responsible for directing the implementation of the transformative New Tech method in high poverty, historically low-performing schools in South Carolina, and expansion of the method to districts across the state.
864.294.3541
Brooke Culclasure
Brooke Culclasure is the Center's Research Director. She completed her B.A. at the University of Richmond and earned masters degrees from the University of Virginia and University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Currently, Dr. Culclasure is the Principal Investigator of the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, and the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee. Dr. Culclasure also currently serves as a lead evaluator for the United Way's Middle Grades Initiative, the Pickens County Drug-Free Communities federal grant, and the Orangeburg District 3 Elementary and Secondary School Counseling federal grant. She also served from 2012-2014 as an evaluator for the Florida Race to the Top federal grant. 
864.294.3236
Scott McPherson
Scott McPherson joined the Riley Institute in 2012 as the Project Coordinator/New Tech Network liaison with the Center for Education Policy and Leadership at the Riley Institute. Scott is a 2005 Furman University graduate, with degrees in History and Political Science, and a 2009 University of Florida graduate, with a M.A. in African History. Scott is responsible for helping to coordinate the implementation of transformative New Tech High Schools in high-poverty, historically low-performing schools in South Carolina between the Riley Institute, KnowledgeWorks, the New Tech Network, and two new STEM high schools. In addition, he coordinates the WhatWorksSC web resource and the associated Dick & Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence, which honors innovative education programs across the state.
864.294.3368
Alexis Sprogis

Alexis Sprogis joined the Riley team in 2008. She is currently the Research Specialist with the Center for Education Policy and Leadership, where she is responsible for assisting with data collection, instrument and report creation, research logistics, and database compilation associated with several research projects, including the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee, and the Middle Grades initiative. She received a B.A. from Winthrop University in 2006 and is in the process of earning her M.A. at the University of Nebraska (Kearney).
864.294.3696

Cathy Stevens
Cathy Stevens is the Program Director for the White-Riley-Peterson Afterschool Policy Fellowship, focused on improving policy in support of afterschool and summer learning across the country. She is also working on the development of a new teacher certification in project-based learning for South Carolina's teachers. Cathy assists in developing the overall strategic direction for the Center for Education Policy and Leadership. From 2005 to 2007, she helped direct the Riley Institute's Hewlett Foundation financed research project on public education, the most comprehensive systematic study of public education ever done in South Carolina. She has a B.A. from Furman and an M.Ed from Clemson University. 
864.294.3265
Tracy Waters
Tracy Waters manages the comprehensive evaluation of the Middle Grades Initiative, as a part of the Social Innovation Fund grant secured by the United Way of Greenville County. She received her B.A. from Central Michigan University and her Ph.D. from Clemson University, and has extensive experience in diverse nonprofits and education research and evaluation. Dr. Waters previously served as Research and Grants Manager for the United Way of Greenville County, and has helped plan and implement data collection for several research studies, including an NIH-funded study on rural teen dating violence and a mixed-methods examination of children's neighborhood and civic engagement.

864.294.3803 

 

Diversity Leaders Initiative Staff

Megan Dodgens

Megan Dodgens, who joined the Riley Institute in 2011, is the Manager of the Diversity Leadership Programs. Megan oversees a variety of diversity programs at the Riley Institute, including the Diversity Leaders Initiative and the annual Diversity Awards Dinner. She earned her B.A. in English from Clemson University in 2005. 
864.294.3253

Juan Johnson
Juan Johnson is a Senior Fellow in the Riley Institute as well as the facilitator for the Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiatives. After an illustrious career of 21 years with Coca-Cola, Inc., where he served as the company's first ever Vice President for Diversity Strategy, Johnson launched his own business, Juan Johnson Consulting and Facilitation.
404.578.6447
Calder Ehrmann
Calder Ehrmann joined the Riley Institute in 2005 as a Senior Associate in the Riley Diversity Leaders Initiative. After 30 years with Michelin North America, Inc., he retired as the Vice President of Diversity, during which time he was responsible for launching Michelin's Corporate Diversity function.
864.421.5777
John Simpkins
John Simpkins is Deputy General Counsel, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President. He has an AB in Government from Harvard College, law degrees from Duke University, and a Ph.D in International Comparative Politics from the University of Melbourne.
 
Benny Walker
Benny Walker is a Senior Associate with the Riley Institute. He is a 1971 Furman graduate and earned his MBA from the Clemson/Furman program in 1975. Formerly a Vice President at Furman, Benny is responsible for strategic planning and diversity leadership program development.
864.414.2488

 

Director, Richard W. Riley Operations, Washington, DC

Sandy Rinck
 
Sandy Rinck serves as Special Advisor to former Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. She was educated at the University of Maryland and has decades of experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. On Capitol Hill, she has worked in the offices of several members of Congress where she served in all of the casework, legislative, press, administrative, and staff leadership positions there. Ms. Rinck returned to the public sector as Special Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley during the Clinton Administration. During that time, she worked on the whole gamut of education issues coming before the Secretary – early childhood, elementary and secondary, postsecondary, international, research, as well as Congressional affairs, and internal Education Department matters. Since the end of the Clinton Administration, Ms. Rinck has represented Secretary Riley on public education matters in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere throughout the country. 
202.712.2811 

 

 


Senior Distinguished Fellows

 Deedee Corradini
Deedee Corradini is a Senior Distinguished Fellow in Urban Politics and Women and Politics with the Riley Institute, and she is the former Mayor of Salt Lake City and former President of the National Conference of Mayors
James Guth
James Guth is a Senior Distinguished Fellow in Religion and Politics with the Riley Institute and is a William R.Kenan, Jr. Professor of Political Science at Furman.  Dr. Guth earned his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.  His field of interest is American Politics (Interest Groups, Political Movements).
864.294.3330
Juan Johnson
Juan Johnson is a Senior Distinguished Fellow in Diversity Leadership with the Riley Institute as well as the facilitator for the Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiatives. After an illustrious career of 21 years with Coca-Cola, Inc., where he served as the company's first ever Vice President for Diversity Strategy, Johnson recently launched his own business, Juan Johnson Consulting and Facilitation.
404.578.6447
 
Jim Micali
Jim Micali Senior Distinguished Fellow in Political Economy and Leadership Management. Micali was the Chairman and President of Michelin North America, Inc. and was named a Senior Fellow with the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Public Leadership at Furman University.  As a Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Economy and Leadership Management, Micali will serve as a member of the Riley Institute Advisory Council. In addition to working with the Institute to develop programs in political economy, leadership management and public policy, he will present lectures, lead seminars and participate in conferences.


Senior Associates

Jim Darby
Jim Darby joined the Riley Institute in 2012 as Senior Associate for Community and Economic Development. After 25 years as Executive Director of the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Government located in the city of Sumter, he recently retired. During that time he oversaw the subsidiary public non-profit corporation, the Santee-Lynches Regional Development Corporation, which was committed to private business capitalization, regional economic growth and new job creation. He earned his B.S. from Presbyterian College and his M.S. from Clemson University. 
803.491.7642
Calder Ehrmann
Calder Ehrmann joined the Riley Institute in 2005 as a Senior Associate in the Riley Diversity Leaders Initiative. After 30 years with Michelin North America, Inc., he retired as the Vice President of Diversity, during which time he was responsible for launching Michelin's Corporate Diversity function.
864.421.5777
John Simpkins
John Simpkins is Deputy General Counsel, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President. He has an AB in Government from Harvard College, law degrees from Duke University, and a Ph.D in International Comparative Politics from the University of Melbourne.
Benny Walker
Benny Walker is a Senior Associate with the Riley Institute. He is a 1971 Furman graduate and earned his MBA from the Clemson/Furman program in 1975. Formerly a Vice President at Furman, Benny is responsible for strategic planning and diversity leadership program development.
864.414.2488



Program Coordinators


APEC/Virtual Trade Mission Project

Cleve Fraser
Cleve Fraser is the coordinator of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference. Dr. Fraser oversees the process that allows 4-6 students attend this conference. Dr. Fraser is a Professor of Political Science at Furman where he specializes in American Foreign Policy and Comparative Politics in the Western hemisphere. His B.A. is from the University of Arizona, M.A. from the University of Toronto and Ph.D. from Northwestern University.
864.294.3185
Ken Peterson
Ken Peterson assists with the coordination of the annual trip to to the APEC meeting. Dr. Peterson is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Furman. Dr. Peterson's teaching interests include microeconomic theory, urban economics, population economics, environmental economics, and research methods. He earned his Ph.D. at SUNY-Stony Brook.
864.294.3043

 

Coordinator, Emerging public Leaders Program

Melanie Armstrong
Melanie Armstrong is the Director and Fundraiser for the Emerging Public Leaders program.  Melanie is a 1994 graduate of Furman with a B.A. in Psychology. She has worked for Furman’s Alumni Association from 2001 – 2013. During that time she focused on projects ranging from Homecoming to alumni events across the country. Prior to Furman, she enjoyed coordinating logistics for the Sundance Film Festival. She has a Master of Science from the University of Utah.  
864.294.3688
Alexis Sprogis

Alexis Sprogis
 joined the Riley team in 2008. She is currently the Research Assistant with the Center for Education Policy and Leadership, where she is responsible for assisting with data collection, instrument and report creation, research logistics, and database compilation associated with several research projects, including the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, and the Education Oversight Committee's TransformSC evaluation. Alexis is also the Logistics Coordinator for the Emerging Public Leaders program. She received a B.A. from Winthrop University in 2006 and is in the process of earning her M.A. at the University of Nebraska (Kearney). 

 

Coordinator, South Carolina United

Jill Fuson

 

Jill Fuson is Assistant Director of the Riley Institute. She is responsible for overseeing and managing a substantial portion of the events sponsored by the Institute. Before coming to the Riley Institute, she taught five years in public high schools in Florida and South Carolina and for five years owned and operated Carolina Family Adventures. A graduate of Furman University, she received her Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University in 2012.
864.294.3280

 

Coordinator, Teachers of Government Program

Liz Smith
Liz Smith is the coordinator for the Richard W. Riley Summer Institute for Teachers of Government and is actively involved with Furman's Summer Internship Program in Washington, DC. Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Furman and earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Smith's fields of interest include American Politics and Women in Politics.
864.294.3674

 

Executive Manager, U.S./China Executive Institute and China's Global Rise Series

Kate Palmer Kaup
Kate Palmer Kaup is the coordinator and executive manager of the U.S./China Executive Institute and China's Global Rise Series. Dr. Kaup is James B. Duke Professor of Asian Studies and Political Science at Furman. She earned her B.A. at Princeton University, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Dr. Kaup's area of expertise is Comparative Politics of Asia.
864.294.3150

 

Coordinator, Wilkins Fellowships Program

Glen Halva-Neubauer
Glen Halva-Neubauer is the coordinator for the Riley Institute's Wilkins Fellows Program, a program that exposes 10-12 Furman students to South Carolina's legislative process through internships during the General Assembly's annual session. Dr.Halva-Neubauer, a state politics specialist, coordinates the placement of the Wilkins Fellows in the offices of state lawmakers and with organizations closely associated with the General Assembly. Wilkins Fellows take courses under Halva-Neubauer's direction that focus on state politics, interest groups, and legislative politics. Dr. Halva-Neubauer is Dana Professor of Political Science at Furman.  He also serves as Director of both the Mock Trial and the Public Service Internship Programs. A native of Iowa, Halva-Neubauer earned his B.A. from the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
864.294.3608