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Advance Team

 The Riley Institute Advance Team 2018-19 with Ray Hinton and Jonathan Kubakundimana ('16)

The Riley Institute Advance Team

While events were on hold over the spring and summer as a result of the pandemic, that didn’t stop Advance Team members from connecting with notable leaders. In the video series COVID-19 Conversations, they hosted virtual discussions with past Riley Institute speakers that explored how COVID-19 has impacted many facets of life. View all COVID-19 Conversations episodes.

The Riley Institute Advance Team is a select group of Furman students interested in politics, government, and public policy. Members of the Advance Team work closely with the Riley Institute staff and the Politics and International Affairs faculty to execute a variety of events and programs and to host guests of the Riley Institute. These students act as ambassadors for Furman and the Riley Institute as they interact with local, national, and international leaders. Furthermore, Advance Team members meet together regularly not only to prepare for events, but also to present and discuss public policy issues, ranging from internet censorship in China to recent tax reforms to possible solutions for DACA and the Dreamers.

The Advance Team is a prime example of the Furman Advantage. Most visibly, the Advance Team provides indispensable aid to the Riley Institute by staffing public events such as panel discussions and addresses by distinguished individuals. In addition, each January, Advance Team members serve as hosts for the annual Wilkins Legislative Award Dinner in Columbia, an occasion attended by most members of the South Carolina Legislature as well as other notable leaders from across South Carolina. Additionally, Advance Team members assist as counselors for Emerging Public Leaders, a service-oriented leadership program for rising high school seniors. 

Indeed, the Advance Team experience is demanding, but its rewards are many. These students do not soon forget their breakfast with former Director of National Intelligence and head of the National Security Agency Mike McConnell, their conversation with Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne of Dublin, or coffee with Chuck Todd, moderator of “Meet the Press” and NBC News political director. They develop passions in areas of public policy by meeting public leaders and by learning together. Above all, Advance Team members profit from shared experiences as they develop leadership skills that enable them to make a difference in our community and in our world.

Quotes from Advance Team Members

The Riley Institute Advance Team gave me the opportunity to take the knowledge I gained in the classroom and use it to engage with world renowned politicians, scholars, and community activists. Much of my own understanding of the world and its complex political arena has been greatly influenced by my time on the Advance Team.” 

—  Advance Team member Christian Alexandrou ‘18

"Being a part of the Advance Team has been an enriching experience during my time at Furman. Whether partaking in meaningful political discussions with fellow members and guest speakers or meeting influential people like Chuck Todd, I have enjoyed growing personally and professionally from my membership.“ 

— Advance Team member Elizabeth Campbell, ‘18

"While I was studying in Ireland, I remember thinking how ridiculously lucky I was to have had breakfast with Dublin's Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne earlier that year at Furman. Not only was it a great experience to get to know her, but the insight she gave me helped enormously with my study of the Irish political system. I felt as if I had been given a bit of an inside track; something for which I give complete credit to the Riley Institute."

— Advance Team member Cory Pansing '11