The Rev. Sh’Kur Francis, senior pastor of New Hope United Methodist Church, Anderson, is joining a network of more than 2,300 leaders committed to creating social and economic progress in South Carolina.
Francis joins other distinguished leaders from across South Carolina to participate in the Diversity Leaders Initiative, an award-winning program of Furman University’s Riley Institute now in its 17th year.
While DLI classes are typically sorted by state geographic region, the fall 2020 class is the first-ever statewide cohort. The intensive four-month program will be held virtually because of COVID-19, a pandemic that underscores the need for such a program, said Dr. Donald Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute.
“The extreme hardship brought on by the pandemic has exacerbated the existing social and economic divisions that we address through our Diversity Leaders Initiative,” Gordon said. “The road ahead will present its share of challenges, but our new group of leaders are uniquely positioned to create real- world solutions within their own enterprises.”
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.
Francis 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, Francis 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 Coca-Cola’s first 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 DLI, visit riley.furman.edu/diversity.