Skip to Content

Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards Dinner 2012

The Eighth Annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards Dinner

TD Convention Center
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Riley Institute at Furman presented the eighth annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards Dinner on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at the TD Convention Center in Greenville. Presented by Spartanburg Regional, the event was hosted by the Riley Institute at Furman, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the Anderson Chamber of Commerce, and the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce. Over 500 Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) alumni and other community members were in attendance.

This year's keynote speaker was Lorri Unumb, vice president for state government affairs for Autism speaks.  Lorri Shealy Unumb is a lawyer and the mother of three children – Ryan (11), who has autism; Christopher (7); and Jonathan (4).  In 2005, she wrote ground-breaking autism insurance legislation for South Carolina (“Ryan’s Law”) that passed in 2007 and served as the catalyst for the national movement toward autism insurance reform. 

Lorri began her work in autism advocacy as a volunteer.  In 2008, she was recruited by the New York-based non-profit Autism Speaks, where she advocates full-time on behalf of individuals with autism.  As head of state government affairs, she has testified 75+ times on health insurance issues in legislatures around the country.

For her advocacy efforts, Lorri has been recognized with the Jefferson Award for Public Service; the Autism Society of America 2008 “Parents of the Year” award (along with her husband); the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s Michael Hemingway Award; and the California Association of Behavior Analysts 2012 “Leadership in Law” Award.  Lorri’s work has been profiled on CNN, on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and in Town&Country magazine, from whom she received one of three 2009 “Women Who Make a Difference” awards.

Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Lorri enjoyed a fulfilling career as an appellate litigator with the United States Department of Justice and then as a law professor at George Washington University Law School and an inaugural faculty member at the Charleston School of Law. 

A frequent keynote speaker, Lorri still teaches a health care law seminar at George Washington University Law School called “Autism and the Law.”  Last year, she and her husband Dan released the first-ever comprehensive textbook on legal issues related to autism, also called “Autism and the Law.”  Lorri has recently helped establish in Columbia the Autism Academy of South Carolina, a non-profit center serving the year-round educational and therapeutic needs of children on the spectrum.

Awards were presented to recognize three individuals, three organizations, and one K-12 school for their outstanding achievement in promoting diversity in the Upstate.

Award Winners:

Calder D. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual: Jada Charley, Coordinator, South Carolina Legal Services Language Access Program, Greenville (award sponsored by Juan Johnson Consulting and Facilitation)

Outstanding High School StudentBethany Mlinar, Emerald High School, Greenwood (award sponsored by BI-LO, LLC)

Outstanding College StudentLuis Gonzales, Furman University, Greenville (award sponsored by Michelin North America)

Outstanding Non-Profit OrganizationSpartanburg School District Seven, Spartanburg (award sponsored by BMW Manufacturing Co.)

Outstanding BusinessSmith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Greenville (award sponsored by Clemson University)

Outstanding Contribution to International DiversityJames H. Hendrix International Baccalaureate World School, Spartanburg (award sponsored by Denny's Corporation)

K-12 School: William “Bill” T. Wylie Valued Lives Award for School Excellence in DiversityPendleton High School, Anderson 

Press Coverage:

The Greenville News