Office of the President

President’s Leadership 2020 cohort includes 15 staff members


Fifteen staff members from a wide range of divisions join 10 faculty members in the 2020 cohort of the President’s Leadership Institute. The PLI is a nine-month leadership development program that invests, supports and develops professional and personal leadership in a diverse community of faculty and staff. The institute enables participants to build individual effectiveness, understand the power of critical thinking and communication and embrace their own ability to lead.

PLI participants learn about the University’s structure and landscape from President Jim Clements, other leaders and each other; explore issues and opportunities facing Clemson and higher education; are exposed to perspectives of Clemson’s impact on the state, national and international level; and have dialogue and discussion on topics important to Clemson, its environment and constituents. Read more about the 2020 PLI here.

Below are the staff participants in this year’s cohort. The faculty members are profiled here.

Photo of Serita Acker
Serita Acker

Serita Acker was director of the Women in Science and Engineering program before becoming the PEER/WISE director in 2015. She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education in student support services, mentoring and diversity programs. She is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator and Life Coach. Acker earned her bachelor’s degree from Lander University and a Master of Education in Human Resource and Development from Clemson. She has won several state and national awards, including the Thomas Green Clemson Award, Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Mountains to Midlands, the James E. Bostic Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award, Clemson University Woman of the Year, Martin Luther King Jr. Award, Clemson University Board of Trustees Award, Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network Distinguished Service Award, Career Communications Magazine College Level Promotion of Education Award, National Association of Multicultural Engineering Advocates Award, Upstate Diversity Award and Calder D. Elhmann Outstanding Individual Award. She also served as MentorLinks Consultant for the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington, D.C., and sits on many state and national boards to promote STEM. She is the National Society of Black Engineers Student Chapter campus adviser. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and traveling.

Photo of Liz Bartges
Liz Bartges

Liz Bartges is the director of digital and social media strategy in University Relations, where she leads a team creating and sharing content amplifying Clemson’s academic profile. With more than 10 years of experience in advertising and brand management, she has led marketing for global, national and regional brands. Prior to joining Clemson, Bartges was a group account director at EP+Co leading work for brands like Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Lenovo, The UPS Store and eBay. As a digital marketer and brand strategist, Bartges enjoys exploring the interactions of human behavior, technology and creativity. She has a long-standing passion for storytelling and imagination, believing those to be the key ingredients of great content. Bartges is a graduate of the College of Charleston with a bachelor’s degree in English. When she’s not cheering on her two little girls in gymnastics, you can find her in an Orange Theory fitness class doing her best to hit a personal record on her all-out sprint.

Photo of Jon Clayton
Jon Clayton

Jon Clayton is the manager of executive and statewide information technology support for CCIT. After several years in private-sector IT positions, Clayton joined Clemson in 2004 and has held several positions in CCIT during his career. He is passionate about helping others leverage technology to improve day-to-day operations while building strong relationships. Clayton holds a Bachelor of Science in business with a concentration in computer information systems from Anderson University and a Master of Human Resource Development degree from Clemson.

Photo of Steve Cole
Steve Cole

Steve Cole, Ed.D., is the director of Regulatory and Public Service Programs for Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture. Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, he lived in Georgia for 14 years prior to coming to Clemson in 2012 as chair of the Department of Plant Industry. He has been married to his best friend, Jennie, for 29 years. Their son, Austin, 27, is a two-time Clemson graduate who lives in Atlanta. Cole earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate from the University of Georgia. He has worked in regulatory programs for the last 20 years and was previously an Extension agent and also worked in private industry. When he’s not working, Clayton enjoys travel, sports, exercise of all types and is an avid bowler.

Photo of Kryssa Cooper
Kryssa Cooper

Kryssa Cooper recently began her third year in Clemson University’s Division of Student Affairs. She became director of Corporate and Community Relations in October 2019 after a year as director of sponsorships. In her current role, she cultivates and stewards relationships among corporate, community and internal partners. Cooper serves as liaison to various boards, including the Vice President’s Executive Council, which provides insight, counsel and support to the Student Affairs vice president. She is spearheading a number of division-wide initiatives also. Cooper came to Clemson from California, where she was an independent professional for 10 years. Most notably, she was the brand strategist for the San Diego International Film Festival, increasing its portfolio by 42 percent. Prior to that, she worked for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. A native of Alabama, Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a nonprofit development certification from the University of California San Diego. She and her husband, Dave, have two sons, David and Bryan.

Photo of Lee Currington
Lee Currington

Lee Currington is the director of Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery for CCIT. She joined Clemson to build an IT business continuity/disaster recovery program. Her team is primarily focused on planning for and mitigating the effects of business interruptions. Currington is a member of Clemson’s Emergency Management Council and the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center. Prior to joining Clemson, she spent 11 years at one of the country’s largest banks, where she held technology positions and ultimately became vice president of IT eDiscovery Services. Currington earned her undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University and her Master of Public Administration Certificate in Emergency Management from Clemson University. She is a Certified Business Continuity Professional and a long-standing member of the Contingency Planners Association of the Carolinas. Currington is a South Carolina native and lives in the Upstate with her husband, Jerry, and their Boykin spaniel, Pal.

Photo of Tommy Fallaw
Tommy Fallaw

Tommy Fallaw is the director of Landscaping, Custodial and Recycling Services for University Facilities. Before coming to work for Clemson in September 2014, he spent 10 years as the Landscaping Services manager at the University of South Carolina. He also was a landscape supervisor for the South Carolina Budget and Control Board overseeing the grounds of various state-owned properties in the Columbia area. Before starting his career in state government, Fallaw worked in the private sector in commercial and residential landscape installation, irrigation and maintenance. A native of Batesburg-Leesville, Fallaw is a 1994 graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture. He and his wife, Beth, who also is a Clemson graduate, have one daughter, Kirkley, who is in high school.

Photo of Jonathan Gantt
Jonathan Gantt

Jonathan Gantt has more than a decade of experience working in public relations and digital media and marketing, both in business and in higher education. As associate athletic director for creative solutions for Clemson Athletics, Gantt began leading its digital transformation in 2013, helping the Tigers earn national recognition as trendsetters in creative content from major publications including Forbes, the Sports Business Journal and Sports Illustrated. Under his leadership, Clemson Athletics’ social media audience grew from 300,000 fans and followers to more than 3.5 million during a span in which the football team appeared in four of five National Championship games. Prior to his time at Clemson, Gantt worked for the Tampa Bay Rays, Ripken Baseball and Disney. He has two amazing daughters who are vastly more important to him than anything written above.

Photo of Lili Gehring
Lili Gehring

Liliana Gehring joined the College of Science in March 2018 as chief of Strategy and Operations. Gehring has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business. She’s currently pursuing a Doctorate in Public Health Leadership from the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University. She has certifications as a Six Sigma Black Belt, a project management professional and in health economics and outcomes research. Gehring started her career at Ford Motor Co., then retired in December 2017 from Eli Lilly and Company, where she held leadership roles across engineering, manufacturing, human resources, product research and development, project management, customer engagement and health outcomes.

Photo of Amber Lange
Amber Lange

Amber Lange is the executive director of the Office of College Preparation and Outreach in the Division of Inclusion and Equity which focuses on exposing and preparing students for higher education. Lange attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she received a Bachelor of Science in business administration. She also earned a Master of Public Administration degree at Clemson. After working at American University in Washington, D.C., Lange returned to Clemson to run the Emerging Scholars program, working with rural students of color along South Carolina’s I-95 corridor for 13 years. She has helped raised more than $3 million in private funds for Emerging Scholars, increased the number of student participants and helped create three initiatives that expose underrepresented students to higher education. Lange is a part-time student in the Educational Leadership doctoral program at Clemson also.

Nalinee Patin
Nalinee Patin

Nalinee Patin is the Institutional Review Board administrator for the Office of Research Compliance. She joined the Division of Research in May 2007 and has almost 20 years of regulatory experience. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Clemson. Prior to joining Clemson, Patin was the database administrator for medical professional boards in the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Patin also served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 2000. She met her husband in the Marine Corps and they have two children. Her family loves to travel, visiting historic sites in the U.S. and the filming locations of their favorite movies.

Photo of Kyle Shields
Kyle Shields

Kyle Shields is director of premium seating and major gifts officer for IPTAY. His primary responsibility is overseeing the sales and marketing of Athletics’ premium football, basketball and baseball seating inventory. He also solicits and stewards major gift opportunities for IPTAY and Athletics. Shields received his undergraduate degree in hospitality administration from Georgia State University and is pursuing a master’s degree in athletic leadership from Clemson. Since joining IPTAY in 2014, he has helped raise more than $20 million for IPTAY scholarships, facilities and academic support. Shields and his wife of 20 years, Tina, live in Central with their 14-year-old twin boys, Coleman and Connor. The Shields family enjoys any activity they are able to share together.

Photo of Laura Stoner
Laura Stoner

Laura Stoner is the director of the Office of Land and Capital Asset Stewardship. She works with University departments and outside consultants regarding issues and decisions impacting land and capital assets owned by the University and its affiliated organizations. Stoner is responsible for navigating the state processes related to leasing, acquisition and disposition. Previously, Stoner was the director of real estate for the University’s Real Estate and Land Stewardship foundations, where she managed all properties donated to, owned and held by the foundations, including the property at CU-ICAR. Stoner received both her bachelor’s degree in financial management and master’s degree in real estate development from Clemson University. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute, the Clemson University Advancement Board for Real Estate Development and the March of Dimes Real Estate Development Executive Leadership Team.

Photo of Steve Warner
Steve Warner

Steve Warner joined Clemson University as assistant vice president for Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives to develop enterprise-level education, research and economic development opportunities with leading private sector companies. Previously, he was chief strategist at the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, a regional economic development partnership serving as a catalyst for long-term regional prosperity. While there, Warner led multiple strategic initiatives with public, private, higher education and nonprofit stakeholders resulting in 57,000 new jobs and $4.8 billion in capital investment. He also spent 25 years providing strategic and brand-planning services for global companies including Ritz-Carlton, Dow Corning, CNN and Coca-Cola. As a community volunteer, Wagner serves on the boards of directors of the Charleston Parks Conservancy and Charleston Regional Development Alliance. A South Carolina native and College of Charleston graduate, Warner and his wife, Jan, enjoy travel, hiking and live music.

Photo of Allison Monyei
Allison Monyei Whaley 

Allison Monyei Whaley, J.D., is the Clemson University ombuds for staff. She earned her Juris Doctor from Mercer University School of Law and received dual undergraduate degrees in health science and criminology from the University of Florida. Monyei has trained extensively as a mediator, facilitator and conflict coach, and is certified by the Mediation Training Institute as a trainer in workplace conflict resolution. Prior to joining Clemson, she was the associate ombudsman at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products. Before that, she worked as an attorney for the National Veterans Legal Services Program advocating on behalf of our nation’s veterans and their families. Monyei is a Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner and an active member of the International Ombudsman Association, the American Bar Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.