Jennifer Parker Selected to Become A Riley Diversity Fellow

January 23, 2018 at 11:01 am

Dr. Jennifer Parker

Jennifer Parker, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Center for Child Advocacy Studies at the University of South Carolina Upstate, is one of 42 leaders from across the Upstate and surrounding area selected to participate in the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) this spring.

“Though we are a diverse population, discovering ways in which differences can be a strength in our organizations is of utmost importance as we seek to grow and support a thriving economy and rich culture,” said Dr. Donald Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute.

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.

Over the course of five months, Parker will learn about diversity and inclusion “blind spots” and how to suspend assumptions. She will also work in small, cross-sector groups to respond to real issues and opportunities in the community through a service project. The DLI classes are expertly facilitated by Juan Johnson, an independent consultant and former Coca-Cola vice president.

“DLI is unique among South Carolina’s leadership programs. In addition to the opportunity to develop new relationships and take part in positive action in their communities, participants gain deep knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead diverse workers, clients and constituents,” said Johnson.

DLI graduates become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful, cross-sector, statewide leadership network that includes CEOs of corporations, mayors, city and county council members, legislators, school superintendents, pastors and rabbis, non-profit heads, chamber of commerce directors, and community leaders. In addition to the Upstate, DLI classes are selected annually in the Midlands and Lowcountry.

“We now have more than 1900 Riley Fellows statewide. Each new class further extends the reach and impact of leaders willing to work together to make South Carolina a better place to live and work for all its residents,” said Gordon.

In addition to her duties with the Center for Child Advocacy Studies, Parker is also the founding director of USC Upstate’s Child Protection Training Center. The facility provides training for child protection workers both locally and nationally and is one of only four centers of its kind nationally.

The center offers participants the rare opportunity for multi-disciplinary team members to hone their skills by following real world scenarios from intake to prosecution. Comprised of both a mock house and a mock court room, the center presents its participants with hands on opportunities to improve their skills in detection, reporting and responding. Trainings provided by similar centers, have proven to improve competence and confidence levels of participants, which leads to improved prevention, investigations and prosecutions, as well as lower employee turnover.