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Summer Series 2015 Speakers

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Jerry Adger’s extensive career spans over 30 years, including specializing in law enforcement tactics, program management, strategic planning, and achieving organizational goals. After serving at SLED for 23 years, Adger directed the newly established Office of the Inspector General at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in December 1999. In 2003, then DJJ Director William Byars appointed Adger to the position of Deputy Director, where he gained a national reputation for his work transforming the treatment of young women at Willow Lane, a gender-responsive facility. In 2011, he was appointed as Inspector General for the South Carolina Department of Corrections, and, in 2015, Governor Nikki Haley appointed him Director of the SC Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services.

Stuart Andrews, Jr. is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. In 2014, Andrews, along with Don Westbrook, won a lawsuit against the S.C. Dept. of Corrections for its poor treatment of 3500 mentally ill prisoners. He practices in Columbia where he was the founder of and currently leads the Firm’s South Carolina Healthcare Group. Andrews was the designer and first coordinator of the Firm’s nationally recognized Pro Bono Program and has engaged for 35 years in public-private partnerships to improve access to the courts for low- and moderate-income residents of South Carolina. Andrews graduated from Erskine College in 1972 and University of South Carolina School of Law in 1978.


For more than a decade, Amy Barch has been involved in jail programs and offender reentry work.  She has studied various programs throughout the country that attempt to reduce recidivism, learning from them what has worked and what has failed.  In 2011, Amy founded the Turning Leaf Project, a reentry and rehabilitation nonprofit organization serving the formerly incarcerated population in Charleston, SC.   Before moving to Charleston in 2010, Amy lived in Washington, D.C. and worked on a juvenile justice advocacy campaign.   Amy is a graduate of the University of Washington with a major in Law, Societies and Justice.  


Jerry Blassingame is the executive director of Soteria Community Development Corporation, which he founded after serving 3 ½ years of a twenty year prison sentence. In acting out its mission to support and assist individuals who have been incarcerated in reentering society, Soteria helps them to become productive citizens through education, affordable housing, financial literacy, community and economic development, and entrepreneurship.

Blassingame attended Columbia International University and studied architectural engineering at Greenville Technical College. He and his wife, Stephanie, have six children, and he has served as chair of the PTSA at Fisher Middle and A.J. Whittenberg Elementary Schools.

Darian Blue, a native of Gainesville, Florida and graduate of Florida A&M University, has served as senior pastor of the Nicholtown Missionary Baptist Church since February 2012. Under his leadership, the church membership has grown from 60 members to over 350. He currently serves on the At Worship Workgroup for LiveWell Greenville, the Board Planning Committee Faith Based Round Table of the United Way of Greenville and the Student Improvement Council of Sterling School. He has recently been appointed as executive director of the historic Phillis Wheatley Association and is committed to raising awareness and community funds to keep this historic landmark and its programs alive.


Raised in Alaska, Paton Blough is a mental health advocate and speaker based in Greenville, S.C.  Affected with Bipolar I Disorder, Blough works tirelessly as a voice for everyone who has dealt firsthand with the weight of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Paton is living proof that, with support and appropriate treatment, those suffering from mental illness can overcome their issues and lead healthy, happy lives. Paton ceaselessly works towards mental health reform in S.C. prisons and jails, such as his recent advocacy for the passing of the Mental Health Court Program Act and for teaching Crisis Intervention Training to local law enforcement. Paton has also nationally pushed for mental health reform in U.S. prisons and jails by speaking at a number of events and briefings in Washington, D.C.

Laura Bogardus is a Ph.D. candidate at Clemson University, earning her degree in International Family and Community Studies. She has worked in public, non-profit, and the private sector for nearly 20 years as a practitioner and leader in workforce development, career development, and human resources. She serves as the operations director for the Greenville Society for Human Resource Management (GSHRM) and is a member of the GSHRM Workforce Readiness Council and the Greenville Reentry Coalition. Laura's research interests include the intersections of employers' needs for a skilled and agile workforce and job seekers' needs for sustainable employment with advancement opportunity. She recently completed a pilot study on human resource professionals' perceptions of Ban-the-Box laws, which limit questions about criminal backgrounds on job applications.

Bruce Forbes is the Special Projects Manager of the Community Economic Development Division of Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources, Inc. (SHARE). SHARE is has helped low-income individuals and families and low-wealth neighborhoods achieve self-reliance since 1966. Forbes oversees SHARE’s 49 units of transitional housing for homeless families, their LADDER Job Training and Job Placement program with a special emphasis on partnering with manufacturers, and their Owner-Occupied Rehab program that serves very low-income homeowners with house repairs. He also works with Greenville Region Workforce Collaborative in creating a pipeline of trained entry level workers ready to be trained “the employer way”. Forbes leads the effort to implement in the community Circles, a research-driven model that increases social capital among people in poverty by enlisting middle and upper income volunteers as their allies.

The Honorable Bruce (Brucie) Hendricks was sworn in as United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina in 2014. Judge Hendricks has been the supervising judge of the District’s drug court program, the BRIDGE, since the program’s inception in 2010. The BRIDGE program has been nationally recognized for its work in the field of drug rehabilitation and crime prevention, including visits by the United States Attorney General Eric Holder and the Committee on Criminal Law of the United States Judicial Conference. Judge Hendricks speaks regularly concerning issues in criminal justice and was recently asked to serve on the Southeast Regional Committee on Reentry courts. It has also been her privilege to partner in this work with the Medical University of South Carolina and the Riley Institute, Former Education Secretary Dick Riley’s policy organization at his alma mater Furman University, here in South Carolina. Judge Hendricks graduated from College of Charleston in 1984 and University of South Carolina School of Law in 1990.

Sheriff Leon Lott has been the sheriff of Richland County since 1996. Upon taking office, Sheriff Lott turned the direction of the Department to Community Oriented Policing. The success that the department has had in the community since that time can be measured by the 41 civic and community oriented boards and committees that have asked for Sheriff Lott’s participation. Richland County is unique because it conducts internal investigations of police shootings (instead of through SLED), citing its internal crime lab and investigative expertise and pointing to the transparency of its 18 member citizens review board. Sheriff Lott earned a degree in Police Administration at University of South Carolina -Aiken, a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a Master’s of Criminal Justice from University of South Carolina – Columbia. Later, Sheriff Lott graduated from the FBI National Academy, FBI National Executive Institute, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Furman University's SC Diversity Leadership Academy.

Senator Gerald Malloy has represented District 29, including Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee and Marlboro counties, in the South Carolina Senate since 2002. Malloy chaired the Sentencing Reform Commission and was responsible for drafting the bipartisan Sentencing Reform Act which passed in 2010. The Act allows non-violent offenders rehabilitative opportunities, thus allowing prisons the resources to keep the violent offenders off the streets. Malloy also serves as chair of the Sentencing Reform Oversight Committee which monitors the law’s implementation and generates new policy reforms and chair of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Task Force. A graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina School of Law, he is an attorney at Malloy Law Firm in Hartsville, S.C. 

Brent Metcalf, a supervision officer in the Post-Conviction Unit of the U.S. Probation Office in Greenville, is responsible for overseeing Greenville’s Federal Drug Court Program.  Metcalf has also served on numerous committees within the U.S. Probation Office to help develop programs to assist the offender population in their efforts to change.

Officer Metcalf recently completed the Leadership Development Program through the Federal Judicial Center for the United States Probation and Pretrial Services Officers. As part of the program, Metcalf completed a temporary tour of duty with the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy, which gave him executive level exposure to how policies are implemented in our judicial system’s response to substance abuse. A graduate of USC-Spartanburg with a Master’s from Converse College, Metcalf is an adjunct professor of criminal justice at USC-Upstate.

Kirby Mitchell is senior litigation attorney at South Carolina Legal Services, the state-wide legal aid office. Kirby represents low-income clients in a wide variety of civil cases in South Carolina’s state and federal courts, including the family, probate, circuit, appellate, and magistrate courts, as well as in administrative proceedings and in the U.S .Tax Court. He teaches a popular “Poverty and The Law” class at Furman (2011-2015) and received Furman’s Alumni Award in 2009. The SC Bar Foundation and South Carolina Access to Justice Commission honored Kirby as their Legal Services Lawyer of the Year Award in 2013, and SC Lawyers Weekly named Kirby as its Leadership in Law award honoree in 2015. He received a B.A. in economics in 1990 from Furman University and a J.D. in 1996 from the School of Law at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.

Gregory G. Mullen, a retired Air Force veteran, is chief of police of the Charleston Police Department. During his ten years as chief of police, Mullen has cultivated relationships and worked with teams to create opportunities and solve problems. He has implemented strategic changes that have led to enhancements in the areas of crime reduction, excellence in policing, community support and outreach, and technology advancements. Through programs such as Camp Hope and Friday Night Lights, Mullen strives to establish strong community relationships throughout the city with the goal of strengthening relationships between the citizens of Charleston and their police department.

Chief Mullen graduated with Honors from Saint Leo College and received a Master’s from Old Dominion University. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, Mullen’s work as chief has been recognized recently for his organization of the Citizen Advisory Groups to foster better communication between the police and citizens. 

Attorney Bill Nettles was sworn in as the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina in 2010. Immediately prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney, Nettles was a member of Sanders & Nettles, LLC in Columbia where he concentrated his practice in criminal defense, including the defense of “white-collar” crime, “street” crimes, as well as several court-appointed capital cases. He has received the President’s Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the President’s Award from the South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers, the NAACP Foot Soldier in the Sand Award, and the NAACP Outstanding Legal Service Award. Nettles graduated from the Citadel and Widener University School of Law.


Speaker Pro Tempore Thomas E. “Tommy” Pope has served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for District 47 since 2010. As Speaker pro tempore, Pope has been actively involved with a variety of committees in the House this past session, especially related to domestic violence and body camera legislation. Previously, he was assigned to the Judiciary and Ethics Committees along with the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs committee. He also served on the House Republican Caucus Ethics Reform Study committee, the House Republican Caucus Tax Study committee and as the House Republican Floor Leader. 

The former Solicitor for Union and York Counties, Representative Pope has over 25 years of law enforcement and prosecution experience and is a managing partner of Elrod Pope Law Firm in Rock Hill. Pope received a Bachelor of Science from the University of South Carolina in 1984 and a Juris Doctorate from the School of Law in 1987. He also attended the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy where he graduated with honors.

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.

Michele Sedney is the senior director for central recruitment services for The Johns Hopkins Health System Corporation. In this role, she works collaboratively with the health system’s six hospitals, insurance program, community physician practices and home care program to plan, direct, manage and guide recruitment activities. 

Sedney began her career as a human resources assistant with Catholic Charities, quickly moving into an HR generalist position. After two years, she moved into the academic arena and worked in recruitment at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she became the assistant employment manager. Sedney then returned to Catholic Charities as a senior human resources manager, working with a number of its nonprofit programs. After taking time off to start a family, she returned to the workforce in 1999 as the human resources director for a nursing home. In 2002, she became the director of employment at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and was responsible for recruitment, career development, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and affirmative action.

Judge Charles “Chuck” Simmons serves by designation of the South Carolina Supreme Court as a Special Circuit Court Judge for the 13th Judicial Circuit. He also serves as the Judge for the 13th Circuit Adult Drug Court for defendants charged with state drug crimes. He has served as president of the South Carolina Equity Court Council and as president of the South Carolina Drug Court Association. He is also the former chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals in Washington, D.C., which is the leading organization promoting drug courts and providing research and resources for those wishing to implement them. 


Glenn Smith is the Watchdog/Public Service Editor for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. He is a veteran journalist who spent much of his career as a crime reporter. Smith is a member of the four-person team that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the George Polk Award and several other honors for their series on domestic violence in South Carolina, titled “Till Death Do Us Part.”  He is a 2014 H.F. Guggenheim Journalism Fellow and was named South Carolina’s Journalist of the Year for 2012. Smith has received three National Headliner Awards and a New England Associated Press Newspaper Executives Association’s public service award. He also was part of a team that won the Society of Professional Journalists 2008 Sigma Delta Chi awards for deadline and non-deadline reporting, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Jesse Laventhol Prize for deadline news reporting by a team for coverage of the tragic Sofa Super Store fire in Charleston. He and his wife have a daughter.

Bryan P. Stirling was appointed the director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) by Governor Nikki Haley in 2013. SCDC houses just under 22,000 inmates and employs some 5,700 security and non-security personnel who work at 26 prisons around the state and at various facilities based in Columbia. As a new director charged with cleaning up years of abuse, Sterling has overseen the opening of a fully staffed self-injurious behavioral unit, a place where inmates who hurt themselves can get the help they need. He's also started crisis intervention training, where corrections officers get the proper training on how to deal with inmates who have a mental illness. A graduate of USC School of Law, Stirling is the former chief of staff for the Haley Administration and served as deputy attorney general during the six years prior.


Heather Ann Thompson, Ph.D. is professor of history at in the departments of Afro-American and African Studies and History at the University of Michigan. Thompson writes about the history as well as current crises of mass incarceration for numerous popular and scholarly publications. Her work can be found in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Salon, and The Huffington Post,  and she has appeared as well on NPR, Sirius Radio, and various television news programs here and abroad. Several of Thompson’s scholarly pieces, including “Why Mass Incarceration Matters,” have won best article awards, and her popular piece in The Atlantic, “How Prisons Change the Balance of Power in America,” was named a finalist for the Best Media Award given by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Thompson is a Soros Justice Fellow, sits on the board of the Prison Policy Initiative, and recently served on a National Academy of Sciences blue-ribbon panel to study causes and consequences of incarceration in the United States. In that capacity she has presented to various policy organizations in Washington, DC, has given briefings on incarceration to Congressional staff, and participated in a historic bipartisan summit on criminal justice reform in March, 2015. Her books include Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its Legacy (Pantheon Books, forthcoming), Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City and the edited collection Speaking Out: Protest and Activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Thompson was also named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.

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