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Greenville Business Magazine

Upstate Diversity Leaders Honored

May 25, 2018 09:45AM ● By Kathleen Maris

Upstate diversity leaders were honored at the 14th Annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards Dinner. The event, hosted by the Greenville Chamber and the Riley Institute at Furman University in partnership with the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, recognized the following organizations and individuals for outstanding achievement in promoting diversity and inclusion in the Upstate:

  • Jim Dant - Calder. D. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual
  • Adahlia Nix - Outstanding College Student
  • Charlotte Capers Snoad - Outstanding High School Student
  • Adela Mendoza - Outstanding Contribution to International Diversity
  • GE - Outstanding Business
  • Monaview Elementary School - K-12 School: William "Bill" T. Wylie VALUED Lives Award for Excellence in Diversity
  • Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Carolinas - Outstanding Nonprofit Organization

The dinner featured a keynote presentation by Juan Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action.

“The Greenville Chamber is honored to work alongside the Riley Institute at Furman to celebrate and honor the diversity champions in the Upstate working tirelessly to build an inclusive community,” said Greenville Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips. “We are thrilled to highlight the outstanding accomplishments of these leaders, and hope it inspires others to ensure our region is an inclusive place where businesses succeed and people prosper.”


Calder D. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual Award: Jim Dant

Born Jewish, raised Catholic, and educated Baptist, Dant is an example of the benefits of diversity, exemplifying the best of each tradition. As senior minister of First Baptist, Dant is committed to making the church a place of justice and peace in Greenville for all people.

Dant extends welcome to individuals who may have felt excluded in places of worship. He points to our common humanity with a distinctive blend of genuine grace and firm conviction. Dant has guided First Baptist to become a place where members of the LGBTQ community are welcome to worship and serve without restrictions.

Dant's most recent book, This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians, takes each biblical challenge to this community and provides simple and understandable responses.

Outstanding College Student Award: Adahlia Nix

Nix is the founder of the For Frankie free laundry service. The initiative first began at the Coin Laundry on Poinsett Highway where, on Wednesday nights, homeless and low-income individuals can wash their clothes, have a conversation with volunteers, and enjoy a snack.

After being featured on Mike Rowe’s program “Returning the Favor,” Nix was given much needed resources to expand her organization, including a mobile laundry truck that will allow her to take her service to assist those in need where they are.

Nix works at the Miracle Hill Children’s Home in Pickens, where she serves as a house parent to children who must stay home from school. She’s also been involved with the SWITCH initiative in the Upstate that fights human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Nix is a student at Greenville Technical College in the Human Services Program.

Outstanding High School Student Award: Charlotte Capers Snoad

Snoad is a senior at Mauldin High School with a passion for justice and equality, particularly for women and the LGBTQ community.

In middle school as a Youth In Government delegate, she realized girls had not won a statewide election at the high school level and decided to confront this issue head on. She helped organize a Girls Leadership Conference, which included a trip to Washington, D.C. where they shadowed women making a difference in their organizations and communities.

As a high school student, Snoad has created a nonprofit organization called EmpowHER. Its mission is to inspire young women to seek leadership positions in every area of their lives: at school, in their extracurricular clubs, and in their communities of faith.

Outstanding Contribution to International Diversity Award: Adela Mendoza

Mendoza began her work in South Carolina in 2009 as the statewide program manager for the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, helping to establish international cooperative relations among foreign consulates and US organizations in order to increase access to legal services for immigrant victims of crime.

Mendoza currently works as executive director of the Hispanic Alliance Network, the largest Hispanic-focused network in the region. More than 2,500 individuals and organizations strong, it is representative not only of the Hispanic community, but of almost every nationality, cause, and perspective.

Mendoza created the Student Dreamers Alliance, a groundbreaking model for empowering Hispanic students to develop community, identity, and opportunity through knowledge and advocacy.

Outstanding Business Award: GE

GE created the Balance the Equation campaign to encourage more women into STEM careers and announced a goal of 20,000 women in technical roles by 2020. GE is committed to obtaining a 50-50 representation for all their technical entry-level programs. Other internal training programs, commitment to supplier diversity best practices, and employee affinity groups support GE’s efforts to ensure a positive work environment is created for all its employees.

Outside of the company, GE is dedicated to investing in students. GE Girls is a project connecting 28 female students from Greenville County middle schools with female GE employees in STEM careers, giving them the confidence to pursue careers in this field. GE’s Hispanic Forum organizes Junior Achievement engagement, often focusing on local schools with Spanish-speaking students. In addition, their African American Forum has organized tutoring with Southside High School.

K-12 School: William “Bill” T. Wylie Valued Lives Award for School Excellence in Diversity: Monaview Elementary School

Monaview has the highest Hispanic population in the Greenville County School district. The school’s atrium includes 23 large flags of each nation represented within the student body.

The school provides professional development for its staff that focuses on family engagement. Poverty simulations, book studies, and involvement with organizations like the Hispanic Alliance help teachers understand the needs of their diverse students and build collaborative partnerships with their families.

Monaview has created a Parent Resource Room that gives parents access to computers, programs, and technology to help them learn English. In addition, Monaview has a Hispanic psychiatrist who provides informative and welcoming workshops for parents after school.

Outstanding Nonprofit Organization Award: Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Carolinas

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Carolinas (VCOM) is a four-year osteopathic medical school offering the Doctor of Osteopathic Medical degree, providing licensing in every state and every field of medicine from family practice to neurosurgery. Their mission is to prepare globally-minded, community-focused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations and promote research to improve human health.

VCOM actively recruits minority students who are underrepresented in health care but very representative of the growing diverse communities in the US. Its student body is 27 percent non-white with 14 percent of its students identifying with an underrepresented population.

VCOM offers a variety of programs and opportunities for its students to work with underserved and rural communities, introducing them to the anatomical sciences and educating the community about its role in osteopathic medicine.