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Advance Team 2018-19

Meet the 2018-19 Riley Institute Advance Team! Welcome to new and returning members, and, as always, the Riley Institute is looking forward to each of you joining us during the year at Riley events! The Advance Team plays an important role in the success of our events. 

This year's Advance Team leader is Jack Ligon ('19) from Atlanta, GA (Politics and International Affairs).

The 2018-19 academic year was off to a busy start for the Advance Team with the annual Riley/OLLI Summer Series: StraightTalk. The series was titled "Who Gets to be American? Immigration and the Fight for America’s Future" and was held August 30, September 6 and October 1. The three-part series examined current and recent immigration enforcement policies and their impact, the effect of immigration on jobs and our economy, and what the changing demographics of the United States mean for our politics and elections. Many Advance Team members enjoyed lunch with Whit Ayres, Peter Hart and Jessica Taylor and inquired how they personally felt about immigration issues. 

Another highly debated topic, "Turning Right: The New Supreme Court and Issues of Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage, and Mass Incarceration," was discussed at the Constitution Day event held of September 18. The panel included Glen Halva-Neubauer, Teresa Cosby and David Fleming from the Politics and International Affairs department. 

Several Advance Team members were in Greenville to attend the fourteenth annual Wilkins Awards Dinner held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on January 8, 2019. Senator John W. Matthews, Jr. received the 2018 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership and Charlotte Berry was awarded the 2018 Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership. House Speaker Jay Lucas gave remarks on principled leadership.

In addition to providing support during events presented by the Riley Institute each year, the Riley Institute Advance Team works collaboratively to conceptualize, plan, and implement an event from beginning to end. This year the Advance Team invited Anthony Ray Hinton to speak at Furman and he accepted. Ray Hinton spent thirty years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Wrongly convicted in the state of Alabama for two capital murders with erroneous evidence and inadequate representation, Hinton was eventually exonerated after more than a decade of litigation by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) on his behalf. Ray Hinton spoke to a captive audience of more than 1,600 in McAlister on February 27th, 2019. Congratulations Advance Team for a successful event!

The Riley Institute's final event for 2018-19 was "Crisis and Response: Stories of Leadership" as part of our Alumni-in-Residence Program. The Advance Team provides logistical support essential to the success of each event. Their interest and knowledge in current events and public policy act as a foundation to engaging and relevant discussion with the Riley Institute’s guest speakers. As the Riley Institute seeks to broaden student and community perspective about issues critical to South Carolina’s progress, the enthusiasm and professionalism of the Advance Team continue to be pivotal in the Institute’s reach and accomplishments. 

Additionally, each year the Student Diversity Council (SDC) presents a Diversity Award to a Furman organization not affiliated with the council who has supported "the mission of spreading awareness around issues minorities, and diverse population faces in our community." This year it was announced that the SDC chose the Riley Institute Advance Team, in large part for their endeavor in bringing Anthony Ray Hinton and the issue of criminal justice reform to the community.

In regards to the selection process for the award Muhammad Zakaria, the President of SDC communicated the following: "The process is every SDC organisation nominates an organisation and then the council gets together to vote on it. This year, all SDC organisations including the council executives nominated the Riley Advance Team. There has never been in our history a more unanimous consensus on which organisation should win this award." 

The Advance Team will be presented with the award at the Student Diversity Council banquet on April 23, after which the award will be proudly displayed in the Riley Institute offices. Congratulations to all Advance Team members!