Board of Directors

Every aspect of Richland County Public Education Partners was formed with collaboration in mind, including the makeup of the board.

The membership of the board is divided equally among the county’s school districts. The superintendents of each district and the chairperson of each school district’s board are invited as ex-officio members of RCPEP’s board.

Riddhi Bais

Riddhi Bais is part of the Response to Intervention (RTI) team at Pontiac Elementary in Richland Two. Riddhi provides math and reading intervention support to students with learning needs. Prior to moving to Columbia, Riddhi worked as a 7th grade math teacher at an all-boys public middle school in Kentucky where she also completed her Masters in Education at Bellarmine University. Prior to teaching, Riddhi served in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Texas and her MBA at Columbia University. Riddhi resides in northeast Columbia with her two young children and husband.

Baron Davis

An educator for more than 20 years, Dr. Baron R. Davis is Superintendent of Richland School District Two and the first African American to hold this position.

Dr. Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from Francis Marion University. From the University of South Carolina, he earned master’s degrees in school counseling and educational administration, and Educational Specialist and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in educational counseling. He holds superintendent, school counseling, secondary principal and secondary supervision certifications. In addition to his formal educational training, Dr. Davis has participated and completed numerous educational leadership programs offered through the South Carolina Department January 23, 2019 of Education including the Tapping Executive Educators Program, the School Leadership Executive Institute and the South Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program, and the Riley Institute at Furman University Diversity Leaders Initiative.

Dr. Davis, a Columbia native, is a member of Brookland Baptist Church. He and his wife, Pamela, have two daughters who attend school in Richland Two and another who recently graduated from a district high school.

Falicia Harvey

Falicia Harvey, Ph.D. is currently the Assistant Dean for Pre-Clinical Curriculum at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine (Columbia). She has worked in education for 26 years including public and private higher education, state education agencies and a school district. Dr. Harvey’s professional work includes various experiences in teacher education as the Coordinator of South Carolina’s alternative teacher certification programs at the South Carolina Department of Education and as the Head of the Division of Education at Columbia College. She has researched, written, and interpreted education policy and regulations. Dr. Harvey earned her bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University in Forensic and Public Address and her Masters and Doctorate from the University of South Carolina in Higher Education. She and her husband, Chip, have a daughter who graduated from Dreher High School and now attends the University of South Carolina and a son currently attending Dreher High School. She is passionate about equal public education opportunities for all students.

Maria Owens

Maria Owens, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Richland School District Two, has served in education for over 15 years. After graduating from Clemson University with a degree in Management, Maria worked as a banking executive before switching careers to teach elementary music and later to serve as Outreach Officer for the Richland Two Institute of Innovation. In her current role, she seeks to build enduring and mutually-beneficial partnerships between the school district and community. Maria and her family live in Blythewood, SC.

Chynna A. Phillips

Chynna A. Phillips, MSW, MPH is the Director of Research and Policy at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC whose mission is aimed to reduce poverty in South Carolina. In this role she works on the Foundation’s public policy and advocacy work collaborating with leadership to strategically set policy priorities and bring awareness to systems-level poverty drivers. Additionally, she provides hands-on support to and interaction with community, state, and national stakeholders. Chynna previously lead the South Carolina Statewide Kinship Care Council. Currently, Chynna serves as an advisory board member for the South Carolina Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation at the University of South Carolina, a national advisory group member for Generations United, and Diversity Task Force Member of the Midlands Business Leadership Group.

Chynna Phillips has been recently named the State.com “Top 20 under 40, Young Adult Honorees” in 2020, only six months after she was named Columbia Business Monthly “Best and Brightest: 35 and Under” Class of 2019. Chynna also serves her community as the chair of the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee for the City of Columbia Appointed by Mayor Steve Benjamin. Chynna is a graduate of Xavier University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and the University of South Carolina where she obtained her Master of Public Health with an emphasis on Health Service, Policy and Management and Master of Social Work.

Cody Smith

Cody was born in Columbia, South Carolina is a proud graduate of Richland 1 and a father of 4. He lives in downtown Columbia and his children attend school in Richland 1. Cody is a Member at Rogers Lewis Jackson Mann & Quinn LLC. Cody’s primary practice area is the commercial real estate with a focus on the representation of wireless communications carriers and related industries. Prior to joining Rogers Lewis, Cody served as a Staff Attorney with the South Carolina Court of Appeals and practiced at the Pennington Law Firm.

Joel Smith

Joel spent nearly 30 years with Bank of America, advancing from his initial role as credit analyst to President of Bank of America East. Following his retirement from Bank of America in 2000, he was named Dean of the Darla Moore School of Business. During his seven-year tenure, the Moore School reached record levels in international rankings, enrollment and academic achievements. He retired in 2008 and was named Dean Emeritus. Joel has also been a visionary leader in the not-for-profit sector and a champion for vital issues such as economic development, education and the arts across South Carolina. Among the many honors he has received for his professional achievements and civic leadership, Joel was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award, in 2003, was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2001 and was named Humanitarian of the Year by the United Way of the Midlands in 2000. Joel holds a political science degree from the University of the South and graduated from the National Commercial Lending School at the University of Oklahoma and the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. He served as a member of the United States Navy and Naval Reserves, retiring in 1987 with the rank of Commander.

Troy Sheppard

Troy grew up in North Carolina and graduated North Carolina A&T State University in 1984. For well over a decade Troy has managed a number of financial institutions. Currently, he is the owner and mortgage loan originator at i3 Mortgage, LLC.

Aditi Srivastav

Dr. Aditi Srivastav is the Director of Research at Children’s Trust of South Carolina. She leads mixed methods research efforts on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), race equity, community mobilization, and public opinion to improve family and community resilience. Her research has has been published in several well-respected peer review journals. In her role, Dr. Srivastav oversees the South Carolina ACE Initiative and KIDS COUNT South Carolina, in which she directs all data dissemination and translates research for organizational strategy, community action and social change through community training, data visualizations, issue briefs, data profiles, blogs, and one-pagers.

Dr. Srivastav is involved in several Columbia area initiatives. In 2018, she helped launch Resilient Richland, a initative focused on addressing ACEs. She currently serves on the mayor appointed City of Columbia Complete Count Committee. She is also a new board member on Columbia Opportunity Resource. Finally, Dr. Srivastav volunteers as Chief Strategy Officer for Empower SC, a new social justice organization focused on a more equitable South Carolina.