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Reflecting on Experiences in the Diversity Leaders Initiative Program

Foundation staff members Kevin Patten (Vice President for Finance and Administration) and Heather Sherwin (Vice President for Advancement) were selected to participate in the 2018 Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) program. The program brings participants together for one day a month for five months to learn how our differences impact the lives of individuals and enterprises and how prepared leaders can leverage these differences in support of their missions. The participants were divided into small groups and worked on community action projects which identified and developed real solutions for real issues facing their communities.

“The DLI experience, for me, was a great chance to connect with a room full of influential leaders throughout South Carolina with a common interest in advancing our wonderful state by increasing, recognizing and celebrating our diversity,” explains Kevin Patten.  “It was powerful to explore diversity through all of its lenses whether race, gender, age, ability or frankly an endless variety of differences that exists.”

Heather Sherwin described her DLI experience as, “meeting regularly with 42 business leaders from across the Midlands to examine diversity dynamics and how to make effective decisions was both enlightening and rewarding.  I made new friends while gaining useful knowledge and skills applicable to my work at the Community Foundation.”

DLI graduates come away with focused decision-making skills and deep knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients and constituents. Heather and Kevin join CCCF staff members JoAnn Turnquist (President  & CEO) and Erin Johnson (Vice President for Community Investment) as Riley Fellows. They will use their new knowledge to lead the Foundation in fulfilling its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

For more information on the Riley Institute Diversity Leadership, please visit

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