Latta High School Alumni Selected As Riley Fellow

Dr. Gerard Edwards of the Lee County School District, Latta High School graduate, joins other distinguished leaders from across South Carolina to participate in the Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI), an award-winning program of Furman University’s Riley Institute now in its 18th year.

Dr. Edwards is one of 45 individuals to be a part of the second statewide cohort in DLI history. Classes are typically organized by region, taking place in the Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry, but the need to transition to virtual programming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic created the opportunity for broader convenings unrestrained by geography. “While this difficult moment in history is one marked by physical distance and isolation, we must rise as one South Carolina to meet the challenges our communities face,” said Dr. Donald Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute. “This statewide class will be equipped with the tools and perspectives needed to bring forth real-world solutions for social and economic divisions exacerbated by the pandemic.”
DLI class members are selected through a rigorous application and interview process after being nominated by existing Riley Fellows. Participants are accepted based on their capacity to create impact within their organizations and communities. Dr. Edwards will take part in a highly interactive curriculum consisting of case studies, scenario analyses, and other experiential learning tools that maximize interaction and discussion among classmates and facilitate productive relationships. Working alongside classmates, Dr. Gerard Edwards will also develop a capstone project that raises awareness of community need.
DLI classes are facilitated by expert Juan Johnson, an independent consultant who was The Coca-Cola Company’s first-ever vice president for diversity strategy.
“DLI is unique among South Carolina’s leadership programs,” Johnson said. “In addition to developing new relationships and affecting positive change in their communities, participants gain deep knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead diverse workers, clients, and constituents,” Johnson said.
Graduates of DLI become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful cross-sector of South Carolinians that includes corporate CEOs, legislators, superintendents, religious and nonprofit heads, and business and community leaders.
“With more than 2,300 Riley Fellows statewide, each new class amplifies the impact of leaders willing to work together to make South Carolina a better place to live and work for all its residents,” Gordon said. To see a full list of participants and for more information about the Diversity Leaders Initiative, visit riley.furman. edu/diversity.
About the Riley Institute at Furman University
Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute broadens student and community perspectives about issues critical to South Carolina’s progress.
It builds and engages present and future leaders, creates and shares data-supported information about the state’s core challenges, and links the leadership body to sustainable solutions.
It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at