17 South Carolina professional and civic leaders named to prestigious education policy program

COLUMBIA – Seventeen (17) professional and civic leaders from across South Carolina have been selected to participate in the SC Education Policy Fellowship Program (SC-EPFP) for 2019-20.

SC-EPFP is a 10-month intensive professional development program for established and emerging leaders in education and related fields to help equip them in working toward sound education policy and practice in South Carolina. SC-EPFP Fellows participate in a variety of activities to promote leadership, develop professional networks, demystify education policy, and foster greater understanding of the roles of government and the community in education.

Members of the SC-EPFP class for 2019-20 are:

Dr. Delia B. Allen – Research Associate, The Riley Institute at Furman University
Parker Morse Andreoli – Graduate Assistant, Clemson University College of Education
Michael C. Cates – School Board Trustee, District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties
Cassandra L. Davis – Principal, Mayo Elementary School, Spartanburg County School District Two
Betty Gardiner – Director of Grantmaking and Development, South Carolina First Steps
Andrew J. Hart – Chief Business Officer, East Point Academy Public Charter School, West Columbia
Jill Hulsen – Vice President of Operations and Programs, Charleston Promise Neighborhood
Dr. Ayesha A. Hunter – Principal. Bates Middle School, Sumter County Schools
Chanda F. Jefferson – 2020 South Carolina Teacher of the Year
Debbie Sanders Jones – Interim Executive Director, South Carolina Future Minds
Tara R. Jones-Martin – Senior Claims Analyst, SC School Boards Insurance Trust
Cathy A. Kovacs – Program Manager, Early Care & Education ABC Quality, SC Department of Social Services
Dr. Brian Newsome – Principal, Gray Collegiate Academy Public Charter School, West Columbia
Dorothy M. Priester – Executive Director, Cherokee County First Steps
Julie I. Putnam – Coordinator for Media and Web Services, Kershaw County Schools
Austin T. Rhodes – President, Rhodes Branding, Columbia
Dr. Ivory T. Thigpen – SC House of Representatives, District 79, Richland

“Once again this year, our SC-EPFP class includes a cross-section of the most talented and committed leaders we have in The Palmetto State,” said Scott T. Price, Executive Director for the SC School Boards Association and SC-EPFP Advisory Board Chair. “Over the next 10 months, they will work together to gain new perspectives, build on their professional skills, and make vital connections to take positive steps for the future of South Carolina through meaningful education improvement and reform.”

South Carolina Fellows will meet monthly throughout the academic year for full-day dialogues, exercises, and group projects, in addition to an overnight in-state Fall Leadership Forum and a four-day Washington Policy Seminar in the nation’s capital in March.

SC-EPFP operates under the auspices of the national Education Policy Fellowship Program of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) in Washington, DC, which oversees Fellowship programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia. In South Carolina the program is coordinated by the SC School Improvement Council, located in the Center for Educational Partnerships of the University of South Carolina College of Education.

Since its inception in South Carolina, SC-EPFP has produced nearly 220 program graduates from a variety of professional backgrounds.

SC-EPFP is supported by an advisory board providing cross-disciplinary leadership representing the state’s K-12 education, higher education, and business communities.

For additional information on the SC Education Policy Fellowship Program, visit the SC-EPFP page online at

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