Converse College welcomes six new members to its esteemed Board of Trustees: Sandra Hartnett ‘75, retired educator in Spartanburg, SC; Padrica Hopkins, M.D. ‘85, Medical Oncologist and Partner at Georgia Cancer Specialists in Stockbridge, GA; Lt. Colonel Karla Jones ‘85 (Ret.), Director of Customer Success at Dynamic Signal Technology in San Bruno, CA; Tina Rohner ‘07, Investment Specialist at the Asian Development Bank in Tbilisi, Georgia; Emily Jones Rushing ‘73, former Director of Communications and Marketing at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham in Birmingham, AL; and David Smart, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, SC.
Sandra “Sandy” Hartnett retired from 26 years of full-time teaching in 2001, and was a substitute teacher at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind in Spartanburg, SC in the preschool. Sandy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Education of the Deaf in 1975 from Converse. As a dedicated student-athlete, Sandy competed on the basketball and field hockey teams while at Converse and served on the Athletic Association as the secretary and vice president. Sandy has been an engaged alumna of Converse, serving as a member of the Alumnae Board (2014-2017), holding the 1970s Decade Representative and became the Spartanburg Alumnae Chapter Chair in May of 2017. Sandy is a staunch supporter of Converse Athletics through the Valkyries Club and can be seen at many Converse Athletics games. Sandy’s love of Converse and commitment to physical health is evident: in 2015 she funded a student weight training room in the Montgomery Student Center, open to all students, dedicated to fellow alumna and former Student Government Association president, Kayla Duran Manning ‘15. Because of her dedication to Converse, Sandy was awarded the Mae Elizabeth Kilgo Spirit Award in 2018. The Board looks forward to Sandy’s endearing love of the College to guide Converse through the exciting changes the institution faces.
Padrica Hopkins is a Medical Oncologist at the Georgia Cancer Specialists in Stockbridge, GA. Padrica graduated from Converse in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry, was a Junior Marshal, Academic Aide, and a member of Alpha Lambda Delta. Specializing in women’s health issues and breast cancer, Padrica earned her medical degree from the University of Florida, College of Medicine in 1990; completed her residency at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, CA; and completed her fellowship at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA in 1995. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Medical Association. The Converse Board is looking forward to Padrica’s expertise and perspective as a Board member.
Karla Jones is the Director of Customer Success at Dynamic Signal Technology in San Bruno, CA. After graduating from Converse in 1985 with her bachelor’s degree, Karla’s leadership and positive impact are evident in the accolades she has earned. Karla is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel after serving the Air Force for nearly 19 years, both in active duty and as a reservist. Karla also received her Masters in Military and Strategic Leadership from USAF Air Command and Staff College, serving as the Logistics Management Operations Officer (1998-2009) and the Inspector General Officer (2009-2016). During her time with the United States Air Force, Karla was highly decorated—awarded two Air Force Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Force Commendation Medals, the Air Force Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. She is affiliated with the Military Officers Association of America and the United States Air Force Silver Eagles. Karla also holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. She has two daughters: Gabrielle and Italia Woodson. The Converse Board is looking forward to Karla’s expertise and her focus of retaining African American students and enhancing the College’s goal of producing passionate and global leaders making positive, lasting contributions to the world.
Tina Rohner is an Investment Specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), based in Tbilisi, Georgia. She works for ADB’s Private Sector Financials Institutions Division focusing on development impact capital to banks and microfinance institutions in developing Asia. Tina received her Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Converse in 2007 summa cum laude. While at Converse, Tina had the opportunity to spend her summers studying at the American University in Dubai, Bard College and Georgetown University thanks to the Nisbet Honors Program and the Chapman Study Abroad Scholarship. Originally from Germany, Tina had never been to the United States prior to arriving as a freshman at Converse. While a student, Tina was part of the Converse Tennis team, the Nisbet Honors Program, Model Arab League, Model NATO, Rotaract, and the Presidential Leadership Program. She founded the International Student Organization, served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and was the Treasurer of the Student Government Association. Tina’s involvement earned her many awards and accolades including membership in Alpha Lambda Delta, Gamma Sigma, Honors in Economics, Honors in Politics, Mortar Board, Pi Gamma Mu, serving as a Junior Marshal, Presidential Ambassador, Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference All-Conference Academic Award, and the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for Outstanding Citizenship in 2007. After graduating from Converse, Tina pursued dual Master degrees in Public Policy and Public Affairs at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and at Sciences Po Paris, graduating in 2009. Tina then spent 5 years working for Goldman Sachs in Singapore and San Francisco before joining the Asian Development Bank in 2014. She is a CFA Charterholder, a 2016 Millennium Fellow with the Atlantic Council, and speaks English, German, French, and Mandarin Chinese. The Board is pleased to welcome Tina’s expertise and perspective to the Board.
Emily Jones Rushing retired as the Director of Communications and Marketing at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham in Birmingham, AL in 2013. Emily graduated from Converse in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature and earned her Master of Arts in Classics from the University of North Carolina. She has remained engaged in support of Converse as a past member of the Alumnae Board and past president of the Board of Visitors. Emily has been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnae Award in 1985 and the Converse 100 Award. Emily’s dedication to her alma mater is evident with her establishment of the Emily Jones Rushing Scholarship in 2001 for students with financial need and the support, with her husband Hugh, of the Converse Writing Center through the Jones-Rushing Endowment Fund. Her career began in local news reporting and editing, primarily at The Birmingham News. She remains engaged in journalism as a founding board member and current board president of the Alabama Institute for Independent Journalism/BirminghamWatch, one of more than 240 news nonprofits around the country. Despite retiring, Emily remains involved with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham as a donor and volunteer in the grant review process. Her current community activities in Birmingham include service on the vestry of St. Mary’s on the Highlands Episcopal Church and on the boards of Railroad Park Foundation, University of Alabama at Birmingham Visual Arts, the YMCA of Greater Birmingham and the Forest Park Neighborhood Association. The Board looks forward to Emily’s expertise and passion for the Converse experience.
David Smart is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, SC. David joined the company in July 2019 and is responsible for finance, accounting, tax, treasury, and information systems. Prior to joining Milliken & Company, David served as the Chief Financial Officer for the Pella Corporation and served on the Board of Directors with responsibility for strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, financial functions, legal, information technology, and business insights. David also served the company for three years as the Chief Information Officer. Prior to working for the Pella Corporation, David spent 20 years with the Ford Motor Company in senior finance leadership roles with responsibilities in both the United Kingdom and Australia. David is the past president of the Indiana University (IU) Kelley School of Business Alumni Association and belongs to the IU CFO Roundtable. Additionally, David holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Finance, Business Economics, and Public Policy from IU. The Converse Board looks forward to David’s expertise and continued partnership with Milliken & Company.
On behalf of Converse College and the Board of Trustees, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to those members departing from the Board: Ken B. Howard (2000-2010; 2012-2020), Kim Varnadoe Kent ‘97 (2012-2020), J. Patrick O’Shaughnessy (2012-2020), and Jayne Steward Reuben, Ph.D. ‘85 (2012-2020). Their collective impact has contributed to a lasting legacy at Converse to endure challenges and successes ahead and the College is grateful for their support and guidance over the years.