Founder and president of DNA Creative Communications, Debbie Nelson, is one of 46 leaders from across the Upstate and other regions throughout South Carolina selected to participate in the 16th Upstate class of the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI).

“Our Fellows represent a wide range of professional, community and personal interests. They have very different experiences and perspectives and they work and live in very different settings, but they are all established community leaders and all share a desire to help move South Carolina forward,” said Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute.

Poised to join 1200 Riley Fellows from across the state, Nelson will meet with class members over the course of five months in a format driven by timely, relevant case studies and other experiential learning tools designed to maximize interactions and productive relationships among program participants. DLI is expertly facilitated by Juan Johnson, an independent consultant and former Coca-Cola Vice President.

“The DLI provides a unique opportunity for a broad cross section of leaders to come together to build additional leadership skills, develop new relationships, and contribute to building better communities throughout South Carolina,” said Johnson.  As part of the program, leaders work in cross-sector groups to respond to real issues and opportunities in their communities through capstone service projects.

Participants reflecting South Carolina’s demographics and representing the corporate, nonprofit, education, faith-based and government sectors are chosen by nomination and application.

“The frames of reference and skills that DLI graduates share provide a remarkable platform for working together to help South Carolina compete in the 21st century,” said Gordon.



DNA Creative Communications

DNA is the leading communications expert in South Carolina for non-profit and government organizations that enhance quality of life in their communities. We build relationships with key audiences through branding, public relations, event management and online strategies. Our partners are organizations within the education, human services and sustainability sectors.

Founded in 1997, DNA has worked with more than 230 organizations and is the proud recipient of numerous awards from the Association of Marketing & Communication Professionals, the South Carolina Public Relations Society of America and the American Advertising Federation. Annually, DNA offers our Live Here Give Here program and Shine the Light on Your Nonprofit educational series, featuring training and workshops for non-profit organizations. For more information, call 864.235.0959 or visit