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Advance Team 2015-16

The 2015-16 Advance Team with Peter D. Hart, Leading Pollster and Public Opinion Expert

Meet the 2015-16 Advance Team members! The 2015-2016 Riley Institute Advance Team is compiled of 33 students from many different hometowns in the United States and different countries with a variety of academic interests, and personal passions. 

This year's Advance Team leader is Gray Johnson ('16), a Political Science major from Aiken, SC.

To kick-off the fall semester, the Advance Team hosted the Riley Institute's first guest speaker, Chuck Rosenberg, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration on September 28th. He spoke about some of our greatest challenges as a nation in his address, "Battling ISIS and al Qaeda abroad and Heroin Addiction at home."

In addition, the A Team designed and implemented an event regarding the media’s role in the 2016 presidential election that featured NPR reporter and Advance Team alum, Jessica Taylor.

On January 11, 2016, the advance team traveled to Columbia to attend the Eleventh Annual Wilkins Awards Dinner at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This event was especially poignant. Senator Clementa Pinckney was awarded the 2015 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership (posthumously). First elected to the legislature at age 23, Senator Pinckney served with empathy for opposing views while firmly presenting his own views until his assassination at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church on June 17, 2015. His widow, Mrs. Jennifer Pinckney, accepted the award, along with her daughters, Eliana and Melana. Governor Nikki Haley and Mayor Joe Riley were awarded the 2015 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership. In the wake of the shooting of nine worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Governor Haley and Mayor Riley demonstrated unselfish, decisive, and critical leadership during a time of enormous grief and angst in South Carolina. Their responses to this tragedy have helped bring healing to our state.

The Advance Team also had the opportunity to spend time with Woodrow Wilson visiting fellow and national pollster Peter Hart, who discussed trends among the American electorate and what that could mean for the results of the 2016 election in his address, “The Mood of America 2016: The Presidential Race.”