December 8, 2022
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Superintendent of Education-Elect Ellen Weaver announced the members of her transition committee today. The committee is representative of South Carolina in every way and will advise Weaver over the next month on key areas in preparation for her inauguration in January 2023.
“I am thankful to be joined by so many qualified, passionate South Carolinians who are deeply committed to serving our students,” Weaver said. “On the campaign, I made a promise that I would listen to educators, parents, and community members. This Transition Committee is another step in keeping that commitment to mobilize broad community support for our shared education future. This team will play a key role in helping set the agenda for 2023 and beyond.”
The Committee will provide advice to the superintendent-elect on future policy, and the development of innovation ideas to serve students. In addition, the Committee will provide input to the superintendent-elect to ensure effective and efficient communication channels for parents and teachers to the superintendent.
Ken Wingate, chairman of the Transition Committee, said, “I am honored to serve alongside Superintendent-Elect Weaver and this distinguished group of South Carolinians. I look forward to working for the betterment of education in our beloved state.”
The full Transition Committee includes:
Ken Wingate, Chair, Columbia
Mr. Wingate is a parent and grandparent with deep experience in South Carolina education having served both as chairman of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and as the Chairman of the South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness boards. Mr. Wingate also previously served on the South Carolina Jobs and Economic Development Board, and as interim State Treasurer. He is currently a Managing Member at Sweeny Wingate and Barrow.
April Allen, Columbia
Ms. Allen is a working mom who serves as a long-time business appointee to the South Carolina Education Oversight Commission. She was elected as the first female chair of the South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance in 2020 and is the Director of State Government Relations for Continental Tires.
Representative Rita Allison, Spartanburg
Ms. Allison has a distinguished record of public service, both as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1993 to 2002 and 2008-2022 and as an Education Advisor to Governor Sanford. She was appointed as Chair of the Education and Public Works committee in 2015, where she worked to streamline and modernize our education system. She has a daughter and three grandchildren.
Dr. Gail Awan, Spartanburg
Dr. Awan is the President/CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate with a deep passion to empower underserved individuals throughout the region. She previously led AmeriCorp’s City Year program in Columbia, mentoring at-risk students across the Midlands.
Sherrie Beaver, Charleston
Ms. Beaver is a veteran school counselor and science teacher who most recently served as Director of School Counseling at Wando High School before taking the role as School Counselor and Career Specialist Liaison at South Carolina Department of Education. Sherrie was honored with the 2021 Palmetto State School Counselor Association Advocate of the Year Award before retiring to found Beaver Educational Consulting.
Dr. Kristin Bohan, Georgetown
Dr. Bohan is a mom and passionate education advocate, having founded the first public Montessori charter school in Georgetown County. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and has worked with students of all ages throughout her career, bringing a wealth of child development experience to the table.
Peter Brown, Columbia
Mr. Brown is the founder and President of Colite International, and has deep experience in operations, finance, and strategic planning. Peter is the father of four girls who have experienced many different education options and has served on numerous state and philanthropic boards, including Edventure and as Chair of Invest SC and Provost Academy.
Suzanne Brown, Greenville
Ms. Brown was a teacher with a focus on special education in a Title I school prior to retiring to homeschool her own children. She subsequently founded and now serves as the Executive Director of the Upstate Homeschool Co-op (UHC), the largest in South Carolina. She also serves on the SC Home Educators Association board and Senator Tim Scott’s state Education Advisory committee.
James Burns, Rock Hill
Mr. Burns grew up attending public school, and in his work at Burns Chevrolet Cadillac as a small business owner, he has seen firsthand the importance of educating our future workforce. He is a recent member of the Rock Hill school board and his three daughters and son attend Rock Hill public schools.
Dr. Jane Cahaly, Pendleton
Since starting her career in education in 1966, Dr. Cahaly has served in a wide variety of roles as a 20+ year public school teacher, executive director of Anderson County Business and Education Partnership, and as the Director of Teacher Education at Anderson University. She founded and currently leads the Salt and Light Foundation and is a Senior Consultant for International Programs at the Consortium for Global Education.
Marquis Flemings, Greenville
Mr. Flemings is a father who has served as the Director of Miracle Hill boys shelter, as a school administrator, and as a special education teacher. His wife has been a kindergarten teacher for over 17 years. He most recently founded BEST Skills Academy, an independent middle school and learning center where students can have their unique needs met by individual educational mentors. He is also a board member of Odyssey Online Learning Charter Schools.
Krisila Foster, Spartanburg
Ms. Foster is a National Board Certified teacher with deep education experience, having taught 28 years in a public school classroom where she was named Spartanburg District 2’s 2002 Teacher of the Year. She subsequently spent six years teaching and has served the last five years in administration at Spartanburg Christian Academy. She is the proud mother of two children, one of whom has followed in her footsteps as a public school teacher in Landrum.
Dr. Vareva Harris, Columbia
Dr. Harris is the Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management at Benedict College and has experience as an English Learning Specialist and in government relations, corporate relations, and community relations. She is the mother and grandmother to six children and seven grandchildren, respectively.
Dr. Michael Johnson, Columbia
Dr. Johnson served as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development from 2016-2022 and currently serves as the Associate Dean of the College of Education at Columbia International University. He has served as a superintendent, school principal, district curriculum and staff development director, elementary teacher, and special education program assistant with unique perspective on the unique needs of rural communities.
David Koch, Longs
Mr. Koch serves on the Horry County School Board. He currently is the Director of Young Adult Services at Sea Haven, serving youth and young adults who are experiencing housing insecurity or in crisis situations.
Evelyn Lugo, Greenville
Ms. Lugo is the President and Founder of South Carolina’s first and only Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. With a background in business administration working for corporations like Eastman Kodak, Abbott Pharmaceutical, and 3M, Ms. Lugo has served her community as a business owner and a member of several philanthropic boards. She has two sons and is a passionate advocate for the needs of South Carolina’s growing Hispanic community.
Dr. Anne Matthews, Columbia
Dr. Matthews is a committed community leader and life-long public educator, originally hailing from South Carolina’s Pee Dee. Anne has served as the first female vice president and the first female member of the Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees and the Rotary International Board of Directors. Dr. Matthews is the President of Matthews and Associates, an education consulting firm.
Pastor Bill Monroe, Florence
Pastor Monroe is the pastor of the Florence Baptist Temple and the Founder and President of Florence Christian School, which currently serves over 600 students. He is a prolific author and the proud father and grandfather to three children and eight grandchildren, respectively.
Angela Muirhead, Mount Pleasant
Ms. Muirhead has a distinguished professional background in real estate and is a mother, educational collaborator, therapy assistant, and medical case manager for her special needs son. She is a relentless advocate for all children with development disabilities and autism, most recently founding the Beautiful Gate Center in North Charleston to serve children who need a broader range of more intensive learning supports than traditional environments offer.
Alexia Newman, Spartanburg
Ms. Newman is the executive director of the Carolina Pregnancy Center, where she serves young women and their families. Ms. Newman also serves as a member of the South Carolina First Steps board of trustees and as the Spartanburg Republican Party National Committeewoman.
Cresent Railey, Greer
Ms. Railey has served as an educator since 1991 and began her career teaching third and fourth grades in Charlottesville, VA. Upon returning to her home state of South Carolina, she served as a fifth grade English Language Arts teacher, literacy specialist and literacy interventionist for kindergarten through fifth grades. Ms. Railey has been a National Board Certified Teacher since 2001.
Dr. Frank Rodriguez, Beaufort
Dr. Rodriguez currently serves as the superintendent of the Beaufort County School District. He previously served in the South Florida education system in a variety of roles, including as a teacher, principal, and working for the Florida Department of Education. He now resides in Beaufort County with his wife and their two children.
Sheriff Jody Roland, Edgefield
Sheriff Jody Rowland grew up in Edgefield County and has worked the majority of his law enforcement careerwith the Edgefield and Aiken County Sheriffs’ Offices. Since his election in 2020, he has focused on improvingschool security, retaining dedicated deputies, shortening response times, and reducing domestic violence.
Pastor Doug Slaughter, Aiken
Pastor Slaughter is the senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Aiken. He is the founder of a Christian preparatory school, serving children from two years of age through the fifth grade. Pastor Slaughter is also the founder and board chair of the SBC Community Development Corporation.
Yvette Rowland, Columbia
Ms. Rowland has over 35 years of combined experience in the private sector and with local, state, and federal government. Rowland has previously served as Midlands Regional Director to Senator Lindsey Graham, and has served on many local boards and commissions throughout her career. Yvette and her husband are the parents of three children and have a one-year-old granddaughter.
Joe Semsar, Greenville
Mr. Semsar leads the East coast capital markets portfolio at the New York Stock Exchange. Before serving in this capacity, Joe served as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the International Trade Administration, a 2,200-person agency tasked with export and foreign direct investment promotion. Joe is a former public school educator having taught in Charleston County public schools. Joe, his wife Jenna, and daughter Charlotte live in Upstate South Carolina.
Lillie Smith, Florence
Ms. Smith is a senior at West Florence High School and is active in her community and state.
Dr. Karen Whitley, Berkeley
Dr. Whitley is currently serving as the deputy superintendent of the Berkeley County School District and has served BCSD for more than 45 years. Her extensive school-based experience includes serving as a first grade teacher, reading specialist, Title I facilitator and principal. She is the mother of a son and a daughter and the proud grandmother of six South Carolina publicly-educated grandchildren.
About Superintendent-Elect Weaver
Born and raised in Greenville, Ellen Weaver has a unique and personal understanding of the power of a great education. Prior to her election as superintendent of education in 2022, Weaver served as president and CEO of Palmetto Promise Institute, a policy organization focused on improving the lives of South Carolinians through student-focused education policy and taxpayer-focused decision making in state government. Weaver also previously served on U.S. Senator Jim DeMint’s staff for more than a decade, much of that time in a senior staff role. Weaver earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Bob Jones University and she lives, works, and worships in Columbia.