Coker Elects Five to Board of Trustees

Introducing incoming board members Christopher Dawson, Danny Johnson, Jr., Christopher Ragain, Sarah Jo Safrit & Valerie Speakman.

Coker College recently elected five members to its Board of Trustees: Christopher Dawson, Danny Johnson, Jr., Christopher Ragain, Sarah Jo Safrit, and Valerie Speakman.

Dawson, a Coker alumnus (‘93), is a producer for CNN Special Projects where he works on a variety of sponsored series for CNN and HLN, as well as CNN’s Impact Your World initiative. In addition to his work with CNN, Dawson has won numerous awards, including the 2011 ShelterBox USA Global Media Award for his coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, the 2013 InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting for his work informing U.S. audiences about humanitarian affairs. Dawson received an honorary doctorate of letters from Coker College after giving the commencement address in 2014. He resides in Peachtree City, Georgia, with his wife and two children.

Johnson, a Coker alumnus (‘04), is vice president of North Industrial Machine, LLC, and runs three additional South Carolina-based businesses—Sun Superior; Chafin, Johnson & Associates; and Precision Components & Services.  Earlier this year, he received Coker College’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award. In 2016, he was recognized by the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce as the 2016 Business Person of the Year. He has twice been Mason of the Year (2010 and 2008) for the Hartsville Masonic Lodge.  His civic activities include serving on the architectural review board for the city of Hartsville, Coker College’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship Advisory Council, Florence-Darlington Technical College’s Machine Tool Advisory Board and the Superintendent’s Business Cabinet for the Darlington County School District. He resides in Hartsville, South Carolina, with his wife, Brandy, and their two daughters.

Ragain, is the founder of Ragain Financial, Inc., operating since 2001, and the creator of Tax Planner Pro, which is available on the Intuit (owner of QuickBooks and TurboTax) app store. In addition to serving clients, he also helps other accountants save time and increase profitability through webinars and speaking engagements, including speaking at QuickBooks Connect. In 2016, he was noted by CPA Practice Advisor as one of their Top 20 under 40. He volunteers his time with charities that promote free enterprise and the importance of accounting, including ENACTUS, Junior Achievement and several financial literacy projects. He resides in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with his wife, Christine, and their daughter.

Safrit, a Coker College alumna (‘71), has been elected to the Board of Trustees for a second time. She was the 2016 recipient of the Coker College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award, which is presented to a graduate who has highly demonstrated their commitment to Coker’s ideals of character, culture and service. She established the Sarah Jo Wood Safrit Endowed Scholarship and has contributed to the college’s capital programs, including the All-Steinway Initiative, the Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center and the Charles W. and Joan S. Coker Library-Information Technology Center. She belongs to the college’s Linville Family Lifetime Giving Society and the Major James Lide Coker Society. She resides in Beaufort, North Carolina, with her husband, Leonard.

Speakman is general counsel for the Arlington Community Schools Board of Education in Arlington, Tenn. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Memphis State University, she went on to earn her juris doctor degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In addition to working as general counsel to community school boards, Speakman has also worked in private practice and is admitted to practice in U.S. District Courts in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and D.C. Circuit Courts. She is a Memphis Bar Association Fellow. She resides in Lakeland, Tennessee, with her husband, Aubrey Oliver.  

The members’ three-year term begins with the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees on October 26-27, 2017. The Coker College Board of Trustees meets quarterly and maintains broad responsibility for the mission, long-range direction, policies and financial condition of the institution.

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