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Meet the Speakers 2013, contd

Richard W. Riley
Former South Carolina Governor and United States Secretary of Education

Often referred to as “one of the great statesmen of education in the century,” Riley has worked throughout his lifetime to bring significant, widespread change to education in South Carolina and the United States. In 2009, he was named one of the top ten cabinet members of the 20th century by Time magazine, and he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2010. Riley, for whom the Riley Institute at Furman is named, is the former U. S. Secretary of Education (1993–2001) and former two-term governor of South Carolina (1979–1987). He is now senior partner in the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and its affiliate, EducationCounsel. He works on complex business, governance, financial, legal, education, government process and advocacy matters for local, state, national, and international clients. With the full support of the firm, Riley remains an ambassador for improving education in the United States and abroad. He chairs the Board of Trustees at Furman and serves as Advisory Board chair of the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Public Leadership. Riley has been named distinguished professor at the University of South Carolina, and the College of Education at Winthrop University bears his name, as does the College of Education and Leadership at Walden University. 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. He is the recipient of numerous education and other public service awards, including Leadership South Carolina’s inaugural Dick and Tunky Riley Legacy of Leadership Award, and of honorary degrees from universities and colleges in the United States and abroad.

Juan Johnson
President, JDJ Consulting and DLI facilitator


Juan Johnson is president of Juan Johnson Consulting and Facilitation, a firm he launched in 2006 after concluding an extraordinary 21-year career with Coca-Cola Company and is facilitator of the South Carolina Diversity Leaders Initiative. Johnson holds an MBA from Atlanta University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Southern University in Baton Rouge and has achieved certifications as both a CPA and CMA. In 2001, he partnered with Dr. R. Roosevelt Thomas to create the Diversity Leadership Academy, a leadership development program for executive level business and community leaders. After a successful launch in Atlanta, the program expanded under Johnson's leadership to numerous other markets around the country. Through the Academy, Johnson facilitated sessions with hundreds of leaders across a multitude of industries, in the process building a wealth of knowledge which he applies in his consulting and facilitation practice. Prior to joining Coca-Cola, Johnson worked in a number of industries and companies over the course of his career including utilities, technology, transportation, and retail. He has served on many local and national boards and has been an adjunct professor of Strategic Diversity Management at Penn State University. Johnson is a trustee of Furman University and received an honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree from Furman in 2010.

Mark Quinn
Director of Public and Member Relations, Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina

Mark Quinn is director of Public and Member Relations at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and has had a long career as a professional journalist in South Carolina. Quinn worked in television journalism for more than 16 years, 13 of which were spent in Columbia, South Carolina. For 11 years, he worked in various on-air capacities for one of the most successful NBC affiliates in the country, WIS-TV. In 2007 he began work with South Carolina Educational Television and is the former host of ETV and ETV Radio’s weekly news and public affairs program, The Big Picture and The Big Picture on the Radio. Among the highlights of his tenure with SCETV was his on-site coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions of 2008 and the statewide gubernatorial, congressional, and constitutional officer debates in 2010.

Jerry B. Adger
Inspector General, South Carolina Department of Corrections

Jerry B. Adger, after serving twenty-three years with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), came to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in 1999 to direct the newly established Office of the Inspector General.  In 2002, Adger became South Carolina’s first nationally certified inspector general (CIG). He received his certification at the American University in Washington, D.C., through the Inspectors General Institute.  In 2003, then DJJ Director Bill Byars appointed Adger to the position of deputy director in which he served for eight years.  During that time, Adger gained a national reputation for his work transforming the treatment of young women at Willow Lane, a gender-responsive facility for young women.  In 2012, South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) Director Byars appointed Adger to his current position as SCDC Inspector General. Adger holds a master of criminal justice degree from the University of South Carolina and is currently an adjunct professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina. 

William J. (Bill) Byars
Director, South Carolina Department of Corrections

Bill Byars has an extensive record of leadership around legal issues that touch children, families and communities in South Carolina. He is director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, where he has served since January of 2011 following an eight-year tenure as the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Under his supervision, DJJ experienced significant reductions in juvenile crime, long-term secure population and recidivism. His extensive experience in legal issues involving children and families includes serving as a family court judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, director of the Children’s Law Office at the University of South Carolina and president of the South Carolina Conference of Family Court Judges. He chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice and co-chaired the South Carolina Truancy Task Force. From 1995-1999, he served on the Coordinating Council on Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention at the United States Justice Department. His awards and honors include, South Carolina’s highest civilian award, the “Order of the Palmetto,” given by Governor Jim Hodges in 1999 for leadership in juvenile justice and children’s law reform. He also received the Governor and Mrs. Richard W. Riley Award for Excellence in Dropout Prevention from the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University. He earned his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and upon graduation, entered the United States Army as a military intelligence officer during the Vietnam War.

Nathalie Dupree
Southern chef and author, Charleston

Nathalie is a best-selling author and James Beard Award winner. She has published 11 cookbooks and hosted more than 300 television shows for The Food Network, PBS, and The Learning Channel.She has been prominently featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune as well as Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Better Homes and Garden, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping. She has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Morning Show, and CNN Good Morning. She has been a spokesperson for Wild American Shrimp, The Catfish Institute and many other organizations. She currently writes for the Post and Courier in Charleston, as well as Charleston Magazine and other publications. She was recently named Grande Dame, the highest award from the leading women’s international culinary association, Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Don Gordon
Executive Director, The Riley Institute at Furman

Don Gordon has been the Executive Director of the Riley Institute at Furman since 1999. Prior to that, he served as Chair of the Department of Political Science and Director of Furman’s award-winning study away programs in East and Southern Africa. Gordon’s academic training is in African and Middle Eastern Politics, State and Local Government, Political Economy, and Methodology. His main academic focus is on the political economies of distressed areas. With his spouse April Gordon, Professor of Sociology, he is the author and editor of, Understanding Contemporary Africa (now in its fourth edition), the nation’s most frequently chosen text focused on contemporary Africa, and the principal text used by the US State Department in training political officers for Africa. Gordon is a graduate of the University of South Florida with masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida. A native of Tampa, he has been a resident of South Carolina since the early 70s. He resides in Rock Hill, Greenville, and Mt. Pleasant and considers all South Carolina to be home.While on leave from Furman, he has served as executive director and chief of staff of a congressional office (FL-5th) and Counsel for the House Sub-Committee on the City of the Banking and Urban Affairs Committee.

Kaye Hearn
Justice, South Carolina Supreme Court

Justice Kaye Hearn was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court in May of 2009, becoming its second woman member in history. Prior to her election to this state’s highest court, Justice Hearn was a member of the South Carolina Court of Appeals for fifteen years, serving as its Chief Judge for ten years. During her tenure as Chief Judge, Justice Hearn served as President of the Council of Chief Judges, a nationwide network of chief judges of the intermediate courts of appeal. From 1986 until her election to the Court of Appeals in 1995, she served as a Family Court Judge. Prior to going on the bench, Judge Hearn was a trial attorney with the firm of Stevens, Stevens, Thomas, Hearn, and Hearn, and served as a member of the South Carolina Board of Bar Examiners. Immediately upon graduation from law school, she was law clerk to The Honorable Julius B. Ness, Associate Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Judge Hearn received her B.A. degree, cum laude, from Bethany College in 1972 and her J.D. degree, cum laude, from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1977. She received an L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia’s Graduate Program for Judges in May 1998, an honorary Doctor of laws Degree from the Charleston School of Law in 2010, and an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Francis Marion University in 2011.  She was named the 2012 Woman of Achievement by the South Carolina Commission on Women. Justice Hearn also serves as Chair of the Chief Justice's Docket Management Task Force. Justice Hearn is married to the Honorable George M. Hearn, Jr., a Conway attorney and former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. They have one daughter, Kathleen, who is a student at the Charleston School of Law.

Ken May
Executive Director, South Carolina Arts Commission


A panelist, presenter, consultant, and facilitator for local, state, and national arts organizations, Ken May is executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, where he has served in several positions since 1985. He has been a panelist and site -visitor for the National Endowment for the Arts and is a regular guest lecturer in the arts administration program at the College of Charleston.  May is a member of the board of South Arts (formerly Southern Arts Federation), serves as treasurer of the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance board, is a member of the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee for the City of Columbia, and is an alumnus of the Diversity Leaders Initiative of the Riley Institute at Furman University. Before beginning his career in arts administration, May worked in the for-profit world, holding positions with ARA Services Magazine and Book Division and McGraw-Hill.  Prior to his long sojourn in the realm of day jobs, he worked as a professional musician.  Ken received his undergraduate and masters degrees in music history and musicology from Florida State University.

Doug Pardue
Projects Report, The Post and Courier

Before joining the Charleston newspaper, Doug was investigations editor for USA Today, where his team handled the recount of the Florida presidential election with The Miami Herald and the crash of the space shuttle. The team also produced a multi-part series on what happened inside the South Tower of the World Trade Center between the time the first hijacked jetliner hit the North Tower and the collapse of the South Tower. His work has won a Robert F. Kennedy Citation; four National Headliner Awards, one of those for coverage of the Sofa Super Store fire that killed nine Charleston firefighters; a Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business reporting for coverage of underground coal mining; a Gerald Ford Award for distinguished coverage of national defense; ASNE's Best Newswriting Award for spot news reporting by a team, and first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for both breaking and non-breaking news. He was on a five-member team of reporters at The Roanoke Times who were finalists for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the year-long Pittston Coal strike. He also has been investigations editor for The State newspaper and The Tampa Tribune. He and his wife, Judy, have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

Bryan Stevenson
Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative

A widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, incarcerated and condemned, Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. EJI recently won a historic ruling in the United States Supreme Court holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger unconstitutional. His work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, the NAACP Ming Award for Advocacy, the Gruber Prize for International Justice and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 13 honorary doctorate degrees, and is also a professor of law at the New York University School of Law.

Joseph Von Nessen
Research Economist, Division of Research, Darla Moore School of Business 

Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen is a research economist in the Division of Research at the Darla Moore School of Business where he conducts a wide variety of economic impact analyses, survey research, and other applied work involving regional economic modeling. In addition, he is responsible for the preparation and presentation of the University of South Carolina's annual statewide economic forecast. Dr. Von Nessen also specializes in housing economics and residential real estate and provides economic and marketing research to clients in both the private and public sector through his family business, RESH Marketing. He regularly speaks to business and government leaders throughout South Carolina about the housing market and the local economy. Dr. Von Nessen earned his B.A. at Furman University and his Ph.D. in economics at the University of South Carolina.