Apparao Rao is currently the R. A. Bowen Professor of Physics and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and AAAS. He received his PhD in physics from University of Kentucky in 1989 and subsequently served as a post-doctoral research associate at MIT until 1991. Later, he joined University of Kentucky as a research assistant professor before coming to Clemson in 2000.
His laboratory is dedicated to understanding the atomic, magnetic, electrical, optical, and biophysical/biochemical properties of micro- and nano-structured materials. Apparao’s research interests include the characterization and applications of carbon nanotubes, semiconducting nanobelts, nanowires and thermoelectric materials.
His group's strength lies in the ability to synthesize several nano-structured materials (using various growth techniques such as electrical arc, chemical vapor deposition and pulsed laser vaporization) and explore the fundamental physics in nanostructured systems (using a wide range of characterization techniques such as Raman scattering, infrared, UV-visible, fluorescence, non-linear optical spectroscopy, harmonic detection of resonance method, atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy and electrical transport measurements).
In addition to two grants from NSF and one grant from DOE/SCUREF, he is presently serving as the principal investigator on NIH/NIEHS R15 grant to understand the interactions of nanomaterials with biomolecules.
Chase is a life long entrepreneur who's love for small business came from his Mom and Dad owning a gas station and restaurant. He grew up in a very small rural mid-west community which gave him the opportunity to see first hand the importance of small business to that community.
Having started his first business during college and his latest venture which is connecting small locally owned businesses with consumers brings the whole Buy Local concept to a new level. He has become a sought after speaker in the hyper-local marketing field and how Artificial Intelligence along with Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics can enhance how small businesses can attract and keep customers.
Being able to compete with chain stores, small businesses need to understand that consumers are mobile and most of their buying habits are truly about instant gratification. Being in business is just not enough to compete in today"s retail environment, consumers want better buying experiences and a relationship with the businesses they are customers of. He believes Main Street is where we should spend our money not Wall Street!
Dani Bostick is an educator, writer, and advocate in Winchester, Virginia. Her current work as a teacher and prior experience as a mental health counselor have given her unique insight into the impact of trauma on students and the importance of trauma-informed classrooms.
As a TED-Ed Innovative Educator, Dani is a part of a global cohort of educators chosen from around the globe to amplify innovative ideas in education. For her TIE project, Dani created a toolkit to help educators maintain a healthy classroom environment while facilitating emotionally-charged classroom conversations. (www.classroomconversations.org)
Dani's written work on education, mental health, and sexual violence has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Parenting, Marie Claire, and many other publications. Her first TEDx talk explored the use of the word 'victim' through the lens of her experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who first broke her silence and reported her perpetrator decades after the crimes occurred.
An attorney since 1975, Hank Ehlies is one of the nation’s leading legal authorities on criminal court cases involving the mentally ill. Twice in three years he has filed briefs in cases pending before the Supreme Court of the United States that involve the mentally ill and law enforcement. As lead counsel on a number of landmark cases, Hank is a highly regarded resource to lawyers around the country seeking assistance on how best to argue law enforcement cases that deal with the mentally ill.
Hank began advocating for the mentally ill early in his career after recognizing the inordinate number of individuals with mental illness incarcerated in our nation’s prisons and the high rate of recidivism that occurs among them. He firmly believes jails are not treatment facilities for mental illness and that using them as such invites a host of maladies. Under this premise, he established in 2017 a national non-profit organization called The Council on Law Enforcement and the Mentally Ill (CLEMI), which works to enact just and effective legislation and protocols to protect and serve individuals with mental illness, law enforcement officers and the public.
Hank has a full-time solo practice in Greenville, South Carolina. He has the rare distinction of being published as a practicing attorney in the S.C. Law Review, and has made numerous national and local media appearances in regard to legal case work related to mental illness. He has spoken at universities, in prisons, churches, and before a number of other groups.
Jaime Erin Fivecoat is a volunteer advocate. She volunteers for five organizations. She is on the Board of The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), which is a patient advocacy organization for the treatment of obesity, Secretary of Upstate Pride SC (UPSC) for the LGBTQ+ community, facilitates two SMART Recovery meetings for dealing with any form of addiction, is a member of the GHS Clinical University Patient Engagement Studio, and works on projects with Gender Benders a local Transgender Support Group.
She feels deeply that we are all equal and advocates for the rights of those who are marginalized, discriminated against, or are victims of any form of stigma. She has a BSEd. from Bowling Green State University and a MBA from Kent State University. Jaime is retired from a 38 year career with Michelin North America. She and her wife Karen have been married for 43 years and are moms to three dogs.
Jerry Blassingame is the Executive Director of Soteria Community Development Corporation and Senior Pastor of Soteria Christian Fellowship. He endeavors to empower individuals and the community through education, affordable housing, financial literacy, community and economic development, and entrepreneurship. His passion is assisting individuals who have been incarcerated through reentry and helping them to become productive citizens.
Jerry attended Columbia International University and studied architectural engineering at Greenville Technical College. Jerry received a 20 year prison sentence in 1995 and only served 3 ¬Ω years after being paroled in 1999. He is also a Social Entrepreneur who believes in social enterprise for the non- profit sector. Jerry has continued to fight for change in legislation since he was granted a pardon in 2004. One of his greatest accomplishments was to receive the Chuck Colson award from IPM through Wheaton College in 2014.
Jerry has served as PTA President for PJ Fisher Middle School. He is also Vice President of Correctional Ministries and Chaplain Association International based out of Wheaton College through the Institute for Prison Ministries. Jerry is currently Chair of the Greenville Reentry Coalition and 2016 fellow of JustLeadershipUSA
Jerry lives in Greenville South Carolina with his wife, Stephanie of 20 years and 3 of their 6 kids. He is an active part of the community and an advocate for economic and social justice.
Jessica Sharp is passionate about empowering underserved and minority communities, diverse representation and brain education. She is the Founder and Chief Brain Educator with Sharp Brain Consulting which works with public service agencies to provide education about the brain and its effect on organizational outcomes. She also serves as the Director of Volunteer Services at Meals on Wheels Greenville which delivers meals to homebound individuals in Greenville County.
Jessica is committed to improving her community. She does this through her involvement in a variety of organizations including the Greenville Chamber, the Junior League of Greenville and the United Way of Greenville. She is a graduate of Leadership Greenville and is a Diversity Fellow with the Riley Institute and has been recognized for her work to better the Greenville committee.
She regularly speaks about various topics related to the brain and is an active blogger for GenTwenty. Jessica is attending graduate school at the University of Missouri where she is obtaining a Master’s in Public Affairs and will continue her education at William James College in the fall of 2018 to receive a Doctorate of Psychology. In her free time, Jessica enjoys reading, listening to podcasts and spending time with friends and family.
Jonathan Parker is the Director of City Involvement for a large local church where connects the church to the city by removing barriers and building bridges between the two. Jonathan is also the President and CEO of Hymns and Hops, an organization that celebrates the gifts of community , song and drink.
June Bond has devoted her entire professional career to child/family advocacy in the adoption area. She is a national speaker that addresses the unique needs of the adoption triad- birth families, adopted children, and adoptive parents. In addition, she has published over 40 articles that address the adoption community. She has been awarded the Congressional Adoption Angel Award, as well as the SC Adoption Advocate. She is the Executive Director of Adoption Advocacy. She also serves on the Foster Care Review Board, as well as working as a Guardian Ad Litem in the Family Court System.
Her favorite motto is "There are no unwanted children ---- Just unfound families." Her speaking topic, "Orphans in Our Midst" highlights that 1) there are over 100,000 children in the US foster care system waiting to be adopted in a forever home and 2) how everyday people can bring these children to the attention of potential families. As she quips, " you do not have to go across the ocean to find an orphan --- the are right in our back door."
Laura Bogardus focuses her career on understanding and developing ways to remove barriers that interfere with individuals’ employment success. She developed her unique perspective on these issues by being heavily involved in both human resources and workforce development. Laura leverages her 20 years of experience to provide specialized consulting among businesses that seek to create or augment their disability employment initiatives.
Laura currently serves as Chapter Operations Director of the Greenville Society for Human Resource Management (GSHRM) and as HR Disability Employment Strategist for Greenville CAN, a role that is funded by the SC Developmental Disabilities Council. Laura earned her PhD from Clemson University, where she received the 2016 Kimbrough & Melton Parents Award for Outstanding Achievement in International Family and Community Studies and the 2017 Graduate Student Government’s Excellence in Engagement and Social Advocacy Award. She earned her MA in Human Behavior and Conflict Management from Columbia College and her BA in Political Science from Miami University.
She is a 2009 Marano Fellow of the Aspen Institute's Sector Skills Academy for innovative workforce strategies. Laura is a member of the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE), The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), The American Sociological Association (ASA), and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is a SHRM certified senior HR professional.
Michael is an engineer that discovered his passion in high school, solving problems by changing the status quo.
He also found love marrying his high school sweetheart. They are both mechanical engineers and have two sons, both future engineers, one at the Citadel and one in high school. They all live in Anderson, SC.
Michael’s mentor in college told him "Don't become a quality engineer in the automotive industry." After almost 25 years in the automotive quality industry he understands why, it is a challenging, fast paced, just in time environment. But he also realized it is never boring and the experience and knowledge he received would enable him to help others solve their biggest problems.
He has worked as a quality engineer or manager for the last 15+ years solving problems. He is a certified Shainin Red X Journeyman and has taught and coached Six Sigma. Drawing on this experience he now trains and coaches others to resolve problems with creative solutions.
“A coach encouraged me to start becoming uncomfortable. Next thing I know, I am auditioning for a TEDx talk, blogging, and working on my Distinguished ToastMasters.” The next step is to help others become uncomfortable by solving problems of significance like preparing our kids for the future.
All Def Poet, National Award Winning Host and Poet, Smart Arts Teaching Artist, Founder of the Making Words Move Initiative, Poetry Slam Master and Coach, Youth Chess Instructor, Hip-Hop Artist, and Visual Artist, Brand Ambassador, and Beard Model.
Sammy Dotson and Phillis Wheatley Repertory Theatre
Providing opportunity for young people to experience their self worth,
through participation in the performing arts, helps youth make the right life choices now and in the future.
Shivani is a local Greenville comedian and improviser with Alchemy Comedy Theater. Born Canadian, bred Sri Lankan and raised Southern at heart, Shivani’s humor is a healthy mix of what happens when East meets West. She is a social butterfly and best known as Upstate’s brown sound that gets around!
No sane person chooses the field of social work—there’s always pain behind the passion for the profession. TJ Rumler grew up on the mean streets of Greenville, SC, seeing first-hand the impacts of poverty, addiction, racism, and gentrification across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Two weeks after 9/11, he enlisted in the US Army. Deploying to Iraq allowed TJ to experience how difficult combat is on soldiers and their families, as well as many failures along the journey towards successful treatment of PTSD and moral injury. With encouragement from friends and family,
TJ left a successful sales career and went back to complete a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Since entering the social work field, he has served fellow Veterans, chronically homeless individuals, individuals with HIV/AIDS, children with extreme behavioral and mental health conditions, and currently serves the students and families of Greenville County through his role with Greenville County Schools.
When his social work cape is in the closet, TJ enjoys writing, cycling, hot yoga, traveling, and chasing great concerts. He believes in the saying, “life is short—buy the tickets.”