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About the Center for Diversity Strategies

Leadership, Knowledge, Impact

“Success in the 21st century – in the broader economy, the workplace and the community – will belong to those who lead most effectively in an increasingly diverse environment.”

—Dick Riley, former South Carolina governor and United States Secretary of Education

South Carolina’s businesses and citizens compete not just with other states for jobs and economic growth, but with countries around the world. To thrive in the global economy, South Carolina must maximize the potential of all its people.

Successful enterprises – business, government, nonprofit, education, and community – are those whose leaders understand how to leverage the talent and creativity of diverse people to optimize performance and outcomes. The Center for Diversity Strategies takes this challenge on through a number of initiatives. 


LEADERSHIP/KNOWLEDGE Carefully selected, established leaders from all sectors of South Carolina society take part in the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative, a unique, highly interactive, multi- award winning program that imparts deep knowledge and skills to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients and constituents. DLI graduates become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful, cross-sector, statewide network, who gather at OneSouthCarolina®, the statewide gathering of Riley Fellows, to examine issues critical to the state and how they can drive positive change in the state. The Riley Institute also partners with Upstate chambers to recognize excellence in diversity leadership in the Upstate at an annual awards dinner.


IMPACT DLI participants work in small groups to identify and develop real solutions for real issues facing their communities. Among the 160 projects are those that create safe summers for underserved children in Charleston; team with high school students in Summerton to break down racial barriers and foster service leadership, and bring bikes, mentorship and adventure to at-risk youth in the Upstate. The Riley Institute collaborates with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the Greenville Chamber and many organizations to collectively develop innovative approaches to attract and retain diverse professionals and executive talent in South Carolina-based organizations. It worked with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville to create an advisory council which advises in the establishment of the diversity, inclusion and cultural competency agendas and the emerging strategic diversity plan for the new school of medicine. 

For more information please call Megan Dodgens, Manager of Diversity Leadership Programs at 864.294.3253 or