Meet Our Team
A dedicated team enables SCICU to successfully serve South Carolina’s independent colleges and universities. They are here to assist members, students and families, and the general public in all matters related to independent higher education in South Carolina.
L. Jeffrey Perez, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Dr. L. Jeffrey Perez is the seventh president and CEO of SCICU, having served since October 2018.
An accomplished public policy strategist and university communications professional, Jeff has led SCICU through major transformations, most recently those effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic, Jeff and his team have focused on campus support and deepening regular interaction and meetings with the presidents and senior leadership of SCICU’s 21 member colleges and universities. His Statehouse and General Assembly advocacy has produced major gains in funding commitments for the S.C. Tuition Grants Program and overall needs-based funding for all colleges and universities in South Carolina. He regularly and closely collaborates with the leadership of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, the S.C. Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission, the S.C. Technical College System, PASCAL, and other higher education-focused entities in South Carolina.
Under Jeff’s leadership, all eligible independent, non-profit colleges and universities headquartered in South Carolina are now members of SCICU. Fundraising for the 21 member institutions has expanded significantly to include new corporate scholarship programs and completion grants designed to assist students in persisting through unexpected financial difficulties and earn their degrees.
Collaboration with public colleges and universities is an important part of Jeff’s leadership. The decades-long SCICU student grassroots advocacy program integrating the Tuition Grants letter-writing campaign with Independent Higher Education Day at the Statehouse has now shifted to include collaboration with S.C.’s public colleges and universities in a Joint Higher Education Day at the Statehouse.
Jeff is active in public policy outreach with the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and other business-supporting groups, especially related to workforce development.
Recognized by executives of other higher education state advocacy organizations for his leadership, Jeff was elected and to serve as the chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities – State Executives (NAICUSE).
Prior to taking the helm at SCICU, Jeff’s extensive higher education experience included serving as vice president for university relations at Winthrop University, vice president for external affairs at The Citadel, and higher education leadership positions at Shawnee State University and System Administration of the State University of New York (SUNY).
In the K-12 education field, Jeff was director of public relations for the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, and director of research and government relations representative for the New York State School Boards Association.
Jeff holds a Ph.D. in American history from the College of William and Mary. He earned a master’s degree from Binghamton University and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. In 2013, he attended Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management.
Emma Reynolds Reabold, M.Ed.
Vice President for Development and Campus Services
Emma Reynolds Reabold joined the SCICU team in September 2023. As Vice President for development and Campus cervices, she oversees fundraising and development and works with leadership on our 21 member campuses to deepen SCICU’s support of students and faculty.
In this newly-created role, Emma draws on a decade of experience in higher education, most recently as Associate Director for Peer Leadership and Administration with University 101 at the University of South Carolina. Her leadership in the program helped it achieve U.S. News and World Report’s #1 ranking for First-Year Experience at a Public University. Her experience in higher education includes academic advising and coaching, peer leadership, curriculum and training development, and administration support.
Hailing from Darlington, S.C., Emma has deep ties to higher education in South Carolina. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from SCICU member institution Presbyterian College. Emma earned a Master’s in Counselor Education and Student Affairs from Clemson University in 2015. She is currently working on a Ph. D in Higher Education Administration at the University of South Carolina and anticipates completion in Spring 2026.
Brenda S. Torrence
Director of Finance and Administration
Brenda Torrence joined the SCICU staff in January 1988, serving as an administrative assistant, then later as office manager and vice president – business affairs.
Currently as director of finance and administration, Brenda manages all the accounting and financial functions of the organization, including the disbursements of scholarship and grant monies. Brenda also serves as the SCICU secretary and treasurer for the Board of Trustees and oversees other events and projects for the organization.
Prior to joining SCICU, she was assistant vice president and branch manager at First Union National Bank with responsibility for several Columbia branch locations. Brenda resides in Lexington and has one son.
Shay Shealy West
Director of Communications
Shay Shealy West joined the SCICU staff in July 2015 as media/communications specialist. Her responsibilities as director of communications include internal/external publications, specialty publications supporting legislative advocacy, monthly newsletters, social media management, website content curation and maintenance, database management, research, and technical support for marketing and special events/programs.
A native of Leesville, SC, Shay graduated magna cum laude from Erskine College in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and minor in government. She also earned an MBA with concentrations in marketing, management information systems, and finance in 1988 from the University of Georgia. Shay has served on the Erskine College Alumni Board of Directors and was named a Frances Cardwell Distinguished Alumni Lecturer, also at Erskine College. While at Erskine, Shay was a recipient of the E. B. Kennedy scholarship, editor-in-chief of The Mirror newspaper, and served two terms as president of the South Carolina Press Association-Collegiate Division.
Shay’s professional background includes marketing and research across multiple industries. She has led national marketing research and database marketing in the financial services and restaurant industries. Shay also serves as secretary for the Executive Committee of The ARC of South Carolina and advocates for children and adults with autism and intellectual disability.