The Sophia Institute Board of Directors
We are proud to have such a dedicated group of people on our Board of Directors who exhibit mindfulness, wisdom, and contemplative practice within their service to our mission.
Alexandra “Sasha” Gifford likes to live by the meaning of her first name, Helper of Humankind. She is a Holistic Health Coach, Certified Kundalini yoga instructor and is trained in many other lineages of yoga. First and foremost, she is a family person, devoted to her husband, three adult children and their loves. Sasha’s passion in life is connecting people and their values to causes that espouse those values. She loves to surround herself with educators and artists. To that end she served three terms on the Board of The Thacher School in Ojai, CA and currently serves on the Board of the Ojai Playwrights Conference. When not interacting in the community she can be found tending flowers in her garden or hiking the beautiful open spaces of
California. Sasha splits her time between Ojai and Woodside, CA
Erin Harrington is a certified Functional Medicine Health Coach and Integrated Nutritionalist and Experience Yoga Teacher. Erin works primarily with women who are experiencing weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalances, auto-immune conditions, fatigue, brain fog, digestive problems, and sleep disturbances. She believes that the foods we eat are secondary to the things that really “feed” us - relationships, career, spirituality and the ways we move our bodies. Erin moved to Charleston from the Philadelphia area and is loving low country living.
Ellen Dressler Moryl served as the first director of the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs from 1978 through 1983. During that period of time, she designed and launched a number of the OCA’s on-going projects including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (which marked its 37th anniversary last Spring) and the City Gallery at the Dock Street Theatre. She was also a catalytic force in developing the Charleston Black Arts Festival (1979, 1981 and 1983) in cooperation with the Charleston chapter of the LINKS, Inc. and the Gibbes Museum of Art. In 1984, the Black Arts Festival evolved into the annual MOJA African-American and Caribbean Arts Festival, which celebrated its 33rd festival year in 2016.
From 1984 through 1992, she lived and worked in Portland, Oregon, serving as executive director of Artquake, Portland’s annual arts festival and also as director of communications at Oregon Public Broadcasting, a statewide network of public radio and public television stations. In 1992, Mrs. Moryl returned to Charleston to serve as development director for the arts for the City of Charleston and in 1993, she resumed directing the City of Charleston office of Cultural Affairs. In 2003, the OCA, under her direction, received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award in the government agency category.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Ellen M. Moryl received her undergraduate training in music at Portland State University with further study in early music performance at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. Her performance credits include the Portland Youth Philharmonic, principal cellist with Portland Opera Orchestra, and the Portland (now Oregon) Symphony Orchestra. She was formerly assistant principal cellist with the Charleston Symphony. Mrs. Moryl currently performs with several chamber music ensembles in the Charleston area including the Ensemble of St. Clare at Mepkin Abbey, which she helped to organize in 2001.
Mrs. Moryl’s community service activities have included serving on the Board of Directors for the Trident Urban League, the Charleston Rotary Club (she served as program chair for three consecutive years) and the Charleston Advisory Board for SCETV. She has served on the boards of several local arts organizations including the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra and Advisor to the Taylor Festival Choir, among others. In addition, she was the founding president of the South Carolina Arts Alliance in 1981 and now
serves as Board Member Emeritus of that group. Mrs. Moryl coordinates instrumental music for congregation KKBE, is coordinator of the St. Stephens String Quartet and the Ensemble of St. Clare at Mepkin Abbey. She is also Artistic Director Emeritus of the Spotlight Chamber Music Concerts for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
Heath Slane was the co-founder and co-designer of SLANE jewelry. Her philanthropic pursuits have been StreetPoets in Los Angeles which is a non-proﬁt poetry-based peace-making organization dedicated to the creative process as a force for individual and community transformation.
Also, Heath enjoyed being a part of Healing Seekers in High Point, NC which was to explore the most biodiverse and most remote regions of Planet Earth in search of medical treatments and cures; to create entertaining and educational documentaries and video compositions for school systems and higher education avenues; to stress conservation and preservation .
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Nikola Tesla
Kelley Andrews has spent years in marketing/PR for non-profit organizations in the Charleston, SC area. She is the founder of a local website design company that focuses on helping small businesses revitalize their public identity. Designing websites and planning events feeds her need to be creative while giving back to the community. As a silversmith, photographer, and artisan, she has practiced in many different mediums. Traveling and cooking with her husband of 33 years and her two children, brings constant inspiration.
Jennie M. Johnson is the President of JMJ Partners, a business consulting company. She was the Founding Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship. Having led the program from its inception in 2004 until 2015, she is responsible for establishing the unique mosaic and symphony of voices that is the hallmark of Liberty Fellowship and that which reflects the rich diversity of South Carolina. Jennie previously was president of Liberty Insurance Services, the largest Third Party Administrator for life insurance companies in North America and executive vice president of RBC Liberty Insurance. Her prior experience includes the presidency of Pierce National Life Insurance Company; strategic planning for Liberty Corporation and Ashland Oil; and planning for United Way. An active civic leader, Jennie currently serves on the Board of Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head. She previously was on the Strategic Coordinating Organization of the Greenville Health System, and the board of the Aspen Institute-affiliated Health Innovators Fellowship. She is the former chair of the Area Commission for Greenville Technical College. She chaired the South Carolina Research Authority and the Greenville Humane Society and was a member of the Board of Visitors of Wake Forest University’s Graduate Business School, the Board of Advisors for the College of Arts and Sciences of Miami University. She also has served on the board of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts. A graduate of Miami University with a degree in Political Science, Jennie earned her M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Virginia and her M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. Jennie was awarded the Order of the Palmetto for her community service to the state. She resides in Hilton Head.
J. Goosby Smith serves as the University’s inaugural vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer. Guided by God's call to unite God's people, Smith approaches her specialty areas of human diversity, inclusion, and belonging with intellectual rigor, methodological soundness, patience, a healing spirit, a love for humanity, and a good-natured sense of humor.
Before rejoining Pepperdine, where she had previously served as a faculty member in Seaver College’s Business Administration Division, as a member of the Seaver College Diversity Council, and as inaugural faculty co-chair of the university diversity council with Edna Powel, and as an adjunct member of the Graziadio faculty, Smith served as a faculty member, assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and director of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. She also taught at California State University, Channel Islands and Butler University.
A nationally sought-after public speaker, educator, and consultant, Smith has worked with a wide range of organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic, KeyBank, the United States Navy ROTC, and the US Department of Agriculture. She is an active member of Greater St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where she formerly served as a steward, Young People's Division director, and as a virtual education teacher. She is a member of Mensa America, Jack and Jill of America, and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, having previously served as inaugural faculty advisor and later graduate advisor for Pepperdine’s Tau Lambda chapter.
Smith earned a BS in computer science from Spelman College and an MBA and PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University. In spring of 2022, she expects to complete her MDiv from the Interdenominational Theological Center.
Board of Directors / Teaching Faculty
Henk Brandt is the author of Sleeping with Sophia, a collection of poems, and The Heart of a Pilgrim, a spiritual memoir. Henk is part of a new breed of speakers and consultants who are working to bring soul into the workplace and heart into the way we conduct ourselves in the world. Henk’s innovative fusion of Western empiricism and Eastern wisdom offers a new vision for embodying dynamic growth at every level. As a mindfulness-based counselor, Henk has developed a non-pathological system that empowers practitioners to transmute painful experiences into expressions of natural growth. According to Henk, mindfulness provides a proven process for overcoming adversity by moving beyond the victim-perpetrator dyad. In this way, permanent solutions are achieved, instead of temporary ones. He emphasizes that the obstacle is the path: “People need to learn how to minister to themselves by changing how they use their minds so that over time they actually rewire the way their brains function. Mindfulness-Based Counseling enables people to find the light inside the dark, to dwell on the frontier of unknowing and to engage in mature intimate relationships that are consciously committed to mutual growth.”
A Time for Awakening: Mindfulness Training and Heart Callings
Board of Directors
Cam Busch is Founder and President Emeritus, Tennessee Art Therapy Association; Licensed, registered, and Board Certified Art Therapist; Recently retired Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist; exhibiting artist and photographer of 40 years; Distinguished Fellow, Global Alliance for Arts and Health; National consultant with the SAHCS (Society for the Arts in Healthcare Consulting Services) and owner of Art Therapy Consults and Studio in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Currently Minister of Transition at Jubilee! Community in Asheville, NC, Laura previously served congregations in Rochester, NY, Takoma Park, MD and Mills River, NC. She’s been a hospice and a trauma chaplain, worked in transitional homes for people coming out of prison and off the streets, directed a small retreat center, and done nonprofit grant and communications work. She has served on boards for inner-city ministries, grassroots climate action, Guilford College Alumni, and affordable housing. She is mother to a young adult son, and enjoys hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with her four-legged sidekick, Zoey.
Dwayne Green is a trial attorney with over 20 years of experience. In addition to handling cases for various plaintiffs, Dwayne has tried dozens of personal injury cases on behalf of insurers such as Allstate, State Farm and Liberty Mutual. As a result of this experience, Dwayne has a unique perspective on evaluating and settling personal injury cases on behalf of his clients.
He has also received advanced litigation training after law school with the International Association for Defense Counsel and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, which helps him in his negotiations of personal injury claims. Dwayne also has been admitted as a life member to the Million Dollar and Multimillion Dollar Advocates Forum, a selective organization recognizing attorneys who have previously obtained individual verdicts or settlements in excess of one million dollars for their clients. In the event that a case must go to trial, this experience also helps him to seek the maximum value on behalf of his clients.
Dwayne also handles parole and pardon cases on behalf of clients in need of those services. As a former member and board chair for the South Carolina Board of Probation, Pardon and Parole, Dwayne uses his extensive knowledge of the pardon and parole process to advocate for clients with those applications.
Lastly, Dwayne has received continuing legal training and education for DUI defense. As a former city attorney and a member of the National College for DUI Defense, he uses his training and experience to defend clients who have been charged with DUI and DWI offenses.
Dwayne grew up in the West Ashley area of Charleston and attended school at St. Andrew’s Elementary, Blessed Sacrament, and Porter Gaud. He graduated from Princeton University in 1991 and attended the University of Iowa Law School where he graduated in 1995.
Dwayne is also a guest columnist at the Charleston City Paper – view his articles.
Connect with Dwayne
Board of Directors / Teaching Faculty
Carolyn Rivers is Founder and Director of The Sophia Institute. As a teacher, visionary, and spiritual mentor, her work centers on personal, interpersonal and societal transformation that fosters the emergence of Feminine, cultivating wisdom and mindfulness, for a more just, sustainable, flourishing world. Carolyn has worked professionally with many of the transpersonal leaders of our time, who are now on the faculty and National Advisory Board of the Sophia Institute. Carolyn is taking a stand for educating women to be change agents in creating a more conscious and compassionate world.
Carolyn Rivers' remarks at the 2017 annual luncheon