Board and Staff

Board of Directors   

Chris Verenes, Chair
Security Federal Bank  

Nella Gray Barkley, Chair Emeritus
Crystal-Barkley Corporation     

David Cote,  Vice Chair 
Vice President Human Resources
BlueCross BlueShield SC

Patrick M. White, Treasurer
Vice President, Supply Chain

Susan Heath, Secretary
SC Bishops Public Education Initiative                                

Katelyn Brewer
President & CEO
Darkness to Light

Ken Childs
Duff & Childs LLC

Karla Hawkins
Deputy Superintendent
SC Department of Education

Audrey Lane
Founder and Principal Consultant for Lane Equity Enterprises
Executive Director Royal Foundation

Jon E. Pedersen
Dean, College of Education
University of South Carolina

Scott Price
Executive Director
SC School Boards Association

Jim Rex
Former South Carolina Superintendent of Education

Jim Stritzinger
Center for Applied Innovation and Advanced Analytics
USC Office of Economic Engagement

Jeff Maxey
SC Teacher of the Year, Anderson School District 3   

Harrison Goodwin
SC Superintendent of the Year, Chesterfield County


Caroline Mauldin
Executive Director    

Caroline is a lifelong advocate for equity and social justice with over a decade of experience in public policy, communications, and social enterprise.

Prior to returning to her native South Carolina, Caroline served as special assistant and speechwriter at the U.S. Department of State, where she led interagency work on financial inclusion and helped launch the Open Government Partnership. Previously, Caroline worked for leading social impact organizations including the Omidyar Network, Oxfam America, the Carter Center, and Accion International, where she helped launch the Center for Financial Inclusion.

Caroline holds a MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, a MPA from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she was a Zuckerman Fellow with the Center for Public Leadership, and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. She is fluent in Spanish and a fellow with the Riley Institute at Furman University as well as the Truman National Security Project in Washington, DC.

In Charleston, Caroline is a Reading Partners tutor at Mary Ford Elementary and serves on the boards of The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina, the SC Arts Alliance, and Charleston Legal Access. She also sits on the Steering Committee of TransformSC, the SC Coalition for Math & Science, and the Community Impact Committee of Trident United Way.  In 2018, she was named to Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” and Columbia Regional Business Journal’s “Thirty-Five Under 35.”

Debbie Jones  
Assistant Director  

Debbie has always been very interested in the continued improvement of all aspects of public education in our state. Her three children having all attended public school fueled that desire even further. Debbie took the opportunity to volunteer at all levels of the public school system and was provided a firsthand view of public education. She is a “how can we improve” person and has a deep passion for education reform and excellence in education for our children.  She used her degree in Marketing from Meredith College to lead school fundraising efforts and to help promote the “good news stories”.  Debbie has served in various leadership roles within local and state parent organizations as well as volunteered at The School Foundation, one of the top local education foundations in the state. Debbie provides support to our Executive Director and is thrilled and motivated to have the opportunity to help improve our public education system in South Carolina.


Jacie Rex
Policy Fellow

Jacie grew up in rural Utah and that is where her passion for education started. She attended a school with limited resources and decided that she was going to do her best to fight for educational equity. She graduated with a BA in history from Utah State University. She was heavily involved in her community there and volunteered at after-school programs. She joined Teach For America and was placed in South Carolina where she currently resides. Even though she is a transplant she believes in the bright future of children across the state. She currently teaches Social Studies at Manning High School and is the Beta Club advisor. Jacie is passionate about doing her part in making the education system better for her students by attending many different professional developments and researching new teaching methods.