The President's Cabinet


Jenny Screen

Executive Assistant


Dr. Verna Orr

Chief of Staff


Mrs. Leandra Burgess

VP Institutional Advancement


Dr. Sharron Burnett

VP Finance and Operations


Mr. Yohannis Job

VP Enrollment Management


Mr. Jacob Koon

VP Student Affairs


Mr. Willie Washington

Athletic Director


Dr. Janeen Witty

VP Academic Affairs


Mrs. Martha Smith

Executive Director Human Resources

Mrs. Jenny Screen

Jenny L. Screen has served Benedict College since 1971. In her current role as Executive Secretary to the President, she exudes efficiency and poise in her responsibilities of managing the office of the Chief Executive Officer.

Mrs. Screen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Office Administration from Benedict College in 1980, and a business degree from the former South Carolina Area Trade School, now Denmark Technical College.

With a servant-leadership mentality, Mrs. Screen has dedicated her time and assistance in various capacities in her professional and personal life. Some of those roles include: Past Precinct President, Ward 7; former member of the Edgewood Foundation Board of Directors; former Commissioner of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority; Past Member of Richland County Planning Commission; Past Chairman of the Board, Columbia Bethlehem Community Center; Past Member, External Review Team, South Carolina State Department of Education; Past President, Barhamville Estates Neighborhood Association; Golden Life Member, Columbia (SC) Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Past Campus Advisor, Gamma Upsilon Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Past President, Professional Secretaries Association (PSA); former Ministry Leader of Ministers’ and Deacons’ Wives; and Leadership Council Past President of the Officers’ Wives Auxiliary.

She is a passionate supporter of her alma mater, and has demonstrated her commitment as a Major Donor and former Top Ten Contributor to the Alumni Annual Fund; a Purple Seat Benefactor in the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium; a consistent supporter and former Top Donor to the Faculty/Staff Campaign; a Life Member of the Benedict College National Alumni Association; a member of the Columbia Alumni Club II; and an annual UNCF ‘A Mind Is Society’ Inductee. In 1995,
she established the Jerry M. and Jenny L. Screen Endowed Scholarship Fund at Benedict with a corpus of 50,000 to provide assistance to students in Business.

As in all areas of her life, Mrs. Screen exemplifies servant­ leadership in faith. She is a member of Second Nazareth Baptist Church, the Jones/McClerklin Missionary Circle, and the Jubilee Choir Ministry Leader. She is married to Attorney Jerry M. Screen, with whom she shares two sons, Jerry, Jr. and Chadwick, and is the proud grandmother of two jewels, Maleah and Charleigh Screen.

Dr. Verna Orr

Dr. Verna Orr is a native of Jacksonville, FL and serves as Chief of Staff at Benedict College. In this role she represents the President in her absence and supports, coordinates, and collaborates on various initiatives on behalf of the President. Dr. Orr manages short-and-long term critical priorities and projects that represent the interests and priorities of the Office of the President.  Additionally, she is responsible for the overall leadership of the Office of Institutional Assessment, Institutional Effectiveness, and has oversight of the College’s Strategic Plan.

She is Co-Founder of the HBCU Collaborative for Excellence in Educational Quality Assurance (HBCU-CEEQA) and in 2020, she founded ORRiginal Solutions, a network of higher education and HBCU connoisseurs who lead positive change. Dr. Orr is a Fellow at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, where she completed a Post-Doctoral Research appointment. She earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also a three-time graduate of Howard University, earning a Bachelor of Music Education, a Master of Education, and a Doctorate of Educational Policy and Administration. Dr. Orr describes herself as an equity-minded thought partner. A higher education and K-12 scholar practitioner. A passionate strategic leader. Above all, Dr. Orr defines herself as a strong supporter of, witness to, and grateful inheritor of sincere sisterly bonds amongst Black women.

Mrs. Leandra Burgess

Leandra Hayes-Burgess has served as an advancement professional for higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations for over 25 years, with 19 of those years dedicated to service in upper administration. She currently serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. In her role, she oversees fundraising, sponsored programs, alumni relations, corporate/foundation relations, and communication and marketing.  Over the span of her career, Leandra has successfully assisted colleges and universities, secure over $70 million in support of their missions, programs and services. Prior to Benedict College, she previously served as Senior Development Director at the University of Miami, Assistant Vice President for Major and Planned Gifts at Claflin University, and the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Talladega College.

In addition to her current role at Benedict College, she serves as a Philanthropy Institute Subject Matter Expert for the UNCF. She is a former cabinet member for CASE District III, and previously served as the HBCU liaison. Leandra holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication arts from Johnson C. Smith University, a Master of Arts degree in philanthropy and development from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, a certificate in Management and Leadership from Harvard University, and she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive. She is married to Dr. Marcus H. Burgess, Interim President of Saint Augustine’s University. Together, they are the proud parents of three wonderful children, Marcus, II, Mariana and Tyler.

Dr. Sharron Burnett

Dr. Sharron Taylor Burnett is a native of Tennessee. She has over thirty-five years’ experience in accounting, auditing, and higher education and twenty-five of those years have been spent in higher education.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Lane College.  Dr. Burnett also holds Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Martin and an earned doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Memphis.  She is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Dr. Burnett serves as the Vice President for Finance and Operations/Chief Financial Officer at Benedict College. In this role, she oversees Accounting and Budgeting, Information Technology (IT), Facilities and Transportation.  

Mr. Yohannis Job

Yohannis A. Job is a distinguished leader in higher education with a rich background in advancing enrollment growth, executing strategic fiscal management, and fostering impactful community engagement. Specializing in supporting Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Mr. Job brings invaluable expertise to his role as the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. His leadership extends across key university departments, including the Office of Recruitment and Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, the Office of International Programs, and Upward Bound I and II, ensuring cohesive strategies for student engagement and success.

Before his tenure at Benedict College, Mr. Job significantly contributed to the enrollment successes at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, as Vice President and Dean of Enrollment Management. He also enhanced institutional visibility and student access in his roles as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Admissions at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Job holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration – Marketing from Huston-Tillotson University, a Master’s in Public Service from the University of Arkansas, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This comprehensive educational background, combined with his hands-on experience in higher education leadership, equips him with a unique perspective on developing and implementing dynamic enrollment strategies that resonate with diverse student populations and meet institutional goals.

Mr. Jacob Koon

Mr. Jacob Koon is a native of Newberry, SC. He is a spring 2013 graduate of Benedict College where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Music. He has since then completed a Master’s in Higher Education Administration. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership where he plans to broaden the scope of leadership and development.

Mr. Koon currently serves as the Vice President for Student Affairs for Benedict College. He is responsible for providing strategic vision, leadership, and direction for the student affairs departments to include Residential Life, Student Activities, Health Services, Counseling and Self-development, Campus Police, Religious Services, Judicial Affairs, and Food Services.

Mr. Willie Washington

Mr. Washington is entering his 34th year as Athletic Director at Benedict College. During his illustrious career, Benedict has expanded its athletic program from 8 to 14 sports, including the return of football, and saw Benedict rejoin the SIAC after years of success in the NAIA’s EIAC conference. In 2010 the Athletic Department won the NCAA Division II National Community Engagement Award of Excellence. Mr. Washington arrived on the campus of Benedict College in 1988 as the head men’s basketball coach and athletic director, and took the Tigers to immediate success. He guided the Tigers to the NAIA national tournament four times, and won eight consecutive EIAC Coach of the Year Awards. During his tenure as basketball coach, his team’s never had a losing season. The Benedict athletic program won six EIAC Commissioner’s Cups, the hallmark of excellence for the school with the best athletic program during its stay in the EIAC.

Mr. Washington has served or currently serves on a number of athletic committees, boards and foundations. Washington served on the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Committee, and is a former member on the NCAA Division II Management Council, Chairman of the SIAC Athletic Director Committee, the NCAA Honors Committee, and the NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In recognition of his dedicated service in the advancement of youth in our community, the S.C. State Conference of the NAACP awarded Coach Washington the Presidential Citation Civic Leadership Award in 2012. Washington also serves as Chairman of the Board of Laurinburg Institute, an historic African American preparatory school in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He was inducted into the Laurinburg Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Finney Hall of Fame by the Renaissance Foundation in 2018. He is also a member of the Allen University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Benedict College Athletic Hall of Fame and the EIAC Hall of Fame.

Dr. Janeen P. Witty

Dr. Janeen Paige Witty started her career as a public-school teacher in Virginia where she developed an early interest in the success and resilience of African American students. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she is a graduate of Hampton University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Witty completed postdoctoral studies at the University of South Florida and served in faculty roles at North Carolina Central University and Norfolk State University prior to joining the Benedict College family. She started her tenure at Benedict College as associate professor of early childhood education in 1998. She was appointed to the position of director of teacher education in 2000 and served as the founding dean of the School of Education from 2002-2008. Dr. Witty was appointed to the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2008 and is responsible for the following units in that division: Four academic schools (Business & Entrepreneurship; Education, Health & Human Services; Communication, Arts and Social Sciences, & Science & Engineering); Library, ROTC, Honors, Center for Teaching and Learning, Accessibility Services, Student Success, Registrar, Career Development Services, Research, and the B.E.S.T. Lives Center.

During her 30-plus years as an educator, Dr. Witty has secured multiple grants and directed projects designed to support students, families, and teachers, including a Saturday STEM academy for male middle school students. As faculty member, Dr. Witty’s first grant project at Benedict College led to the establishment of Professional Development School partnerships with local elementary schools in Columbia. During her tenure as dean, Dr. Witty led the teacher education program through its initial national accreditation with the National Council for the Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) and its second NCATE accreditation visit in 2008 that resulted in the institutional report being cited as an exemplar and in the selection of Benedict College as an NCATE training site. In her current role as vice president, she has provided leadership and support for new and continuing national accreditations in other disciplines including business, studio art, environmental engineering, environmental health science, and social work.  Dr. Witty established the Center for Teaching and Learning to provide direct support to full- and part-time faculty to increase their teaching effectiveness to enhance learning outcomes for Benedict College students. Dr. Witty has served as chair and member of numerous accreditation visits and regularly volunteers with church, community, and public school initiatives. 

Mrs. Martha Smith

Martha Scott Smith serves as Executive Director of Human Resources for Benedict College. Retired after a successful career at AT&T, she brings a wealth of experience in the areas of Human Resources and External Affairs. She serves as an Ex-Officio member of the President’s Cabinet.

As Executive Director of Human Resources, Smith is the liaison between the President/ Cabinet and the larger employee body. Her main responsibilities are talent acquisition, compliance, payroll, employee engagement, policies/ procedures, compensation, insurance, and strategic workforce development. She works closely with the College’s legal team on worker’s compensation, EEOC, and other employee-related legal issues.


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