Dean's Council

The Deans Council provides advocacy, professional expertise, community leadership and financial support to assist Dean Knotts in accomplishing the stated mission of the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Council members are alumni, community members and prominent professionals who value written expression and collaborative research in a liberal arts and sciences setting.

Our current members include:

Esther Adams '11


Esther Adams is manager of Strategic Initiatives with the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation. In this role, Ms. Adams develops, oversees and helps implement programs and projects that support the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation vision and goals. Previously, she was a planner with Berkeley County Planning and Zoning Department, and a site plan reviewer for the City of North Charleston.  She has a broad knowledge of real estate having been a real estate paralegal and title insurance underwriter.  Ms. Adams has a passion for government as well as the nonprofit sector.  She has worked for a nonprofit serving the economically challenged population with energy assistance, rental/mortgage assistance, budget consulting, developing the curriculum for the youth summer leadership program, and senior farmer's market vouchers program.  Esther has also worked in a local hospital with the uninsured population seeing if they qualify for Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security Disability.

Esther received a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina in political science and a master’s degree from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina in public administration.  While receiving her master’s degree, Esther also received a graduate certificate in urban and regional planning from the College.  Ms. Adams is very active in her community.  She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and White Hall Chapter #132 Order of the Eastern Stars.  Esther resides in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Bess Brockington Bluestein '02

Bess Bluestein is a Learning Specialist with Porter-Gaud School in Charleston where she supports students with learning differences in order to achieve success. For the past two bessschool years, Bess has worked in the Upper School at Porter-Gaud.  She has a broad knowledge of psycho-educational testing, diagnoses, academic strategies, accommodations, and solutions for time management. Mrs. Bluestein has a passion for psychology, mental health awareness, and student self-advocacy. 

Bess received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Charleston in Psychology. While at the college, she conducted research in her classes with Dr. Garrett Milliken, as well as at the Medical University of South Carolina with both mice and rats. She received a Master’s degree and a Specialist in Education degree in School Psychology from The Citadel. Prior to becoming a Learning Specialist, Bess served as a School Psychologist in Dorchester District II schools for six years. Bess resides in Sullivan’s Island, SC with her husband, Brett (College of Charleston class of 1997) and two children, Libby and Jack. Bess and her family are big fans of College of Charleston’s Men’s Basketball. Go Cougars! 

Brandon Cochran '04

Brandon Cochran BioBrandon Cochran is a Regional Director of Development for the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, securing private support for the College’s top priorities and initiatives. Having approximately 10 years of fundraising experience, primarily in the higher education sector, his expertise encompasses donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, major gifts and annual fund, campaign management, program development, event management, development communications and marketing.

Brandon received his Bachelor of Art in Communication and his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the College of Charleston in 2004, and earned his MBA from Charleston Southern University in 2010. While at the College, he worked in the Office of Admissions and served as the vice-president of the Charleston Forty Student Ambassadors, leading prospective students and their families on tours throughout the College’s impressively gorgeous campus. Additionally, Brandon served as an Orientation leader for New Student Programs, helping new and transfer students transition smoothly to life at the College. Lastly, Brandon was a founding father for the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Prior to becoming a development officer, Brandon worked nationally as a travel consultant for the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and spent almost five years in business-to-business sales with a Fortune 100 company. Brandon lives in Easley, SC with his gorgeous wife, Cara. They have two beautiful girls, Vivian and Georgia, and a fluffy fur-child, Kenzie.

W. Joshua Cooper '10

Josh CooperAfter graduating from the College of Charleston with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2010, Josh returned to his hometown and joined his father at the Cooper Financial Group of Raymond James.

Josh and his team work diligently with their clients around the country toidentify their unique goals, concerns and situation, and then create a financial  plan for pursuing their long-term objectives. Josh and his team are focused on developing lasting relationships with clients centered around exceptional client service and a disciplined approach to investing.

Actively involved in his community, Josh is a 3 term member of the board of trustees of Fredericksburg Academy and a former board member and finance committee chair for The Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Additionally, he enjoys volunteering with The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region and also serves as a mentor for students at the VCU School of Business.

Josh and his wife Elly live in Richmond, VA with their dogs, George and Lola. Outside of the office Josh enjoys spending time with his family and friends, reading, cooking, and traveling.

Neel Ellison Woollen '93

Neel Ellison Woollen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology with a minor in communications at the College of Charleston. While at the neelCollege, Neel was an active member of the Student Alumni Association and the Zeta Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega Sorority. After graduation, she became a life-time member of the College of Charleston Alumni Association. Neel is a very proud of supporter of her alma mater - whether it be time and talent, philanthropically or attending sporting events, particularly the men’s basketball games, and CofC Charlotte Alumni events. Since graduation, her professions have included being a litigation paralegal and a small business owner.

Neel’s passion is working with non-profit organizations. Over the years, she has volunteered with a variety of groups with an array of missions. She enjoys the sense of accomplishment by working with others towards a common goal.

Neel is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Charlotte, N.C. Throughout her 10 active years with the League, she held a variety of roles: committee member, council manager, focus area chair, Management Team and Board of Directors member. The League taught Neel a lot of valuable skills, including: organizational, leadership, training, strategic planning and policy. The Junior League of Charlotte’s focus on enhancing early childhood education and promoting healthy child initiatives was extremely rewarding and fulfilling for her.

In 2010, Neel completed the Charlotte Arts and Science Council’s “Cultural Leadership Training Program”. The 9-month curriculum introduced the ASC-funded organizations while teaching the structure of non-profits and board member expectations. After completing the program, Neel was a 2-term board member of Historic Charlotte, a small ASC-funded, working board. Historic Charlotte focused on educating the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community on local points of historical significance and historical preservation.

Neel has been an active volunteer and supporter of a local, grass-roots non-profit “Go Jen Go” since its inception in 2012. The non-profit’s memorial namesake, Jen Pagani, was a dear friend of hers with an inspiring and unique vision to financially assist those fighting breast cancer in metro-Charlotte.

Neel lives in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband, Kemp Woollen, and their 2 cute, spoiled dogs. Neel and Kemp enjoy traveling and attending live music and sporting events.

Dr. Shanelle Fields '02


After completing high school, Dr. Shanelle Fields matriculated to the College of Charleston and received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Secondary English Education. Her first job was teaching in Charleston County School District and she has been educating students for 15 years.  Continuing her love of knowledge, she furthered her education at the Citadel Military College of SC and earned a Master’s Degree in Counselor Education. It is at this point that she found her calling of helping others find solutions to their problems. After her Master’s Degree was completed, she began working as a Professional School Counselor and found her niche.

Even with a busy three-year old, Dr. Fields found the time to complete a lifelong dream, and on March 15th, 2014, she completed her doctoral degree in Counseling Studies from Capella University. Presently, Dr. Fields is working on her LPC to practice counseling outside of the school. She attributes this accomplishment to God, her family, and a host of many others who encouraged her along the way.

Dr. Fields truly believes in the impact that education can make.

Sabra Horne '87


Sabra Horne is the Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She leads agency efforts for ensuring the effective sharing of cyber information with the private sector, as well as state, local, tribal and territorial entities. 

Prior to this role, she served at the National Security Agency (NSA) as the Deputy Chief for Information Sharing and Collaboration, facilitating the sharing of NSA’s most highly classified intelligence. She was Senior Advisor to NSA Threat Operation Center leadership and led its effort to share unclassified cyber threat information with other government agencies and the private sector.  She began her NSA service as a core member in the standup of the Media Leaks Task Force, which led the agency response to the public leaks of classified information in June 2013.

Ms. Horne was previously Director of Communications at the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, responsible for all legislative, public, and intergovernmental affairs.  She began her government career at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships for Open Source, driving collaboration across the sixteen intelligence agencies in their use of open source intelligence.  While at the ODNI, she also served as the Chief of Staff in the standup of the National Maritime Intelligence Center and lead development of the Unified Intelligence Strategy for the National Intelligence Manager for Cyber, unifying intelligence collection and analysis across ten agencies.  She was also detailed to DHS to support the Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection in increasing information sharing with to the private sector. 

Prior to her government service, she had an 18-year career in academic publishing, the last 12 as Senior Executive Editor for the largest list of academic criminal justice publications at Wadsworth Publishing.  Ms. Horne has a Master in Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Captain Victor M. Ott '85


Victor “Vic” Ott leads Pratt and Whitney F135 Sustainment interests within the Navy and Marine Corps and is located at the Pratt & Whitney Headquarters in East Hartford, Connecticut.  In this position, he and his team are responsible for setting vision, informing strategy, determining priorities, and making decisions through a collaborative effort with the Joint Program Office and the Navy/Marine Corps team.  Other areas of responsibility include chairing the USN/USMC IPT to meet the requirements of the warfighter and insure their ability to execute mission as well as manage the global Navy/Marine Corps base field service representatives.

Vic joined Pratt and Whitney in October of 2017.  Prior to his current role, he held multiple leadership positions, while serving a 30 year career in the United States Navy and retiring as a Captain (O6).  Entering the Navy in 1987, Vic quickly earned his Surface Warfare designation (SWO pin) and then elected to transition to Naval Aviation.  He earned his Navy pilot “Wings of Gold” in 1991 and flew the H-60F/H/S aircraft through multiple deployments and in unit command.  Vic had a diverse Navy career serving as the Chief of Air Operations at US Special Operations Command; Aircraft Defense Trade Agreements Officer in the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls at the US Department of State.  It was in this role where he also served as the Department of State’s lead for the JSF/F-35 program.  Vic also served as the Chief of Regional Affairs in the International Engagement Office on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and as the Deputy Director of Intelligence and Plans at the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency.  His career culminated at the US National War College in Washington D.C. where he taught Strategy and Policy, Deterrence and US Strategy and the South Asia elective with an emphasis on India.

Vic earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Charleston and a Master of Arts in National Affairs and Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College.  Vic had the distinct honor of being awarded an honorary Master of Science in National Strategic Studies from the US National War College for his academic achievements while on the War College faculty.  He has also completed the US Naval Post-Graduate School’s Senior Leader Seminar.    

Raised in a Navy family, Vic calls Charleston, South Carolina home.  He and his family live in the Hartford, CT area.

Chris Piedmont '14


A native-Charlestonian, Chris Piedmont is a 2014 College of Charleston graduate, with a Bachelor of Arts in communication. While at the College, Chris was student body vice president and leader of the campus chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. He was also heavily involved with the Department of Communication Advisory Council and Bully Pulpit Series.

He is currently a director of communications and insights with Slide Nine, joining the team hot off Pete Buttigieg's history-making presidential campaign where he was an organizer in Horry and Georgetown Counties. In his current role, he brings the mind of an analyst paired with a passion for data, strategy and storytelling to connect with audiences on behalf of clients in the B2B, energy, manufacturing and healthcare spaces. He cut his teeth in mid-sized New York City agencies with strong College of Charleston ties, where he spent nearly six years honing his expertise in account management, media relations, issues and crisis management, reputation building, community engagement, social media strategy and employee communications. Working across a variety of industries from global manufacturing to leading consumer brands, Chris has prepared clients for meetings with the 45th president of the United States to interviews with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He thrives on the unexpected and helping clients navigate their own unique challenges.

Chris currently resides in New York City, splitting his time between Columbus, Ohio. When not working, he can be found at the stove cooking, catching a Broadway show, stressing over Clemson football or volunteering for causes and campaigns he’s passionate about.

Joe Rively '89joe

Joe Rively attended high school in Sumter, S.C. and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the College in 1989.  During his time at the College, Joe interned and worked at WCSC –TV in the newsroom.  Upon graduation, he interned at CNN and worked at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta.  He made the transition from broadcasting to media and public relations, volunteering for the 1996 Olympics and working for the High Museum of Art.  Joe began his career in fundraising at the museum. 

He held fundraising positions at AID Atlanta and Nashville CARES, both AIDS service organizations, and he made the transition to higher education fundraising at Vanderbilt University.  Currently, Joe is Managing Director, International Development for the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he has lived and worked since 2007. In his current role, he travels the world to engage international alumni and parents of current students with supporting the fundraising priorities of the university.

Barbie Schreiner '13

Barbie brings more than 15 years of community outreach experience to the HSS Dean's Council. From her work with large scale nonprofits like United Way and American Red Cross, to regional organizations like Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy and the College of Charleston, her commitment to the greater good is ubiquitous. Also committed to life-long learning, Barbie earned her Masters of Public Administration for Nonprofit Management from the College of Charleston and has taught as an adjunct professor in the program.

Prior to that, she received her bachelor's degree in Public Relations from Ferris State University. Barbie is passionate about connecting people, resources and opportunities throughout our community to create a sustainable impact. She lives in Charleston,SC with her husband, daughter and rescue dog. 

Laura Zagby-Dye '03


A graduate of the College of Charleston, Laura Zagby-Dye triple majored in Philosophy, Corporate Communication, and Religious Studies and received a minor in Business Administration.

She is currently an Account Manager II with the American Red Cross and has been with the organization for almost 15 years.  Her passion is raising awareness about the need for blood in our community and she works throughout the Lowcountry to implement life-saving blood drive programs at businesses, schools and religious institutions. She engages a variety of audiences from elementary schools and board rooms, to news rooms and pulpits. Her mission is to educate people from all walks of life about the many reasons one should become a blood donor and the varied hospital patients who are counting on them to do so!

Her success at mission fulfillment has landed her in the top 10% of her colleagues nation-wide and in 2015 Laura was awarded one of the non-profit’s highest honors when she was selected as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence.

Outside of work, Laura is a volunteer mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Carolina Youth Development Center.  She is currently the Vice President of their Advisory Council and has been a council member for 5 years. She enjoys hanging out with her “little sister” and believes that we can make our community stronger one child at a time through the power of mentorship!

Laura is an animal lover and in her free time she and her husband Darrell enjoy spending time with their seven adopted dogs and pet ball python—Lilly, Roxy, Emma, Judy, Buddy, Scooby, Tater 2.0 and Sir Lancelot!