Les Echols Becomes Riley Diversity Fellow

Staff Report From Florence CEO

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

Les Echols of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce joined thirty-nine leaders from the Midlands and surrounding area in completing the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) in June 2019.

Over the past five months, participants examined sensitive issues related to diversity and inclusion, explored “blind spots” and discussed how to suspend assumptions. Each class is expertly facilitated by Juan Johnson, an independent consultant and former Coca-Cola vice president.

As part of the program, participants worked in small, cross-sector groups to respond to real issues and opportunities in their communities through service projects. Les’ group, College Bound Kids, created a project that focuses on increasing education for parents and students about 529 college savings plans and developing resources to assist them which will give more students the opportunity to attend college.

DLI class members are identified through a rigorous process including a nomination, application, and interview. Individuals are selected to join the class based on their capacity to impact their organizations and communities. In addition to the Midlands, DLI classes are selected annually in the Upstate and Lowcountry. Each class is crafted to reflect the diverse demographics in South Carolina.