Sheppard & The Girls

Advisory Board

Dr. Claudia WarrenDr. Claudia A. Warren is Professor of Education and Coordinator of the Birth-Kindergarten Education Program at Winston-Salem State University. She holds the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois; M.S. in Education and Guidance from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; and the B.S. degree in Elementary Education from Winston-Salem State University. Dr. Warren has served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Winston-Salem State University and the Chair of the Education Department at Johnson C. Smith University. She taught in the North Carolina High Point City Schools for seven years and she has also directed early childhood education center programs, including two initial Head Start summer programs.

Over the years, Dr. Warren has conducted in-service professional development workshops for teachers and others working with young children. Dr. Warren's areas of interest and research include early childhood education, child development, parent education, diversity in programs for young children and staff development. Community services activities include serving on the Smart Start of Forsyth County Board of Directors; and as a member of the Scholarship Committee of Smart Start of Forsyth County. In addition, Dr. Warren has served as Chair of the Diversity Committee of the Association of Childhood Education International. Currently, she is Chair-elect of the North Carolina Higher Education Birth through Kindergarten Consortium.

Tonya M. AtkinsTonya M. Atkins is the Operations Director for Forsyth Futures. She has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector where she has work for over 19 years. Her prior employment experience includes serving as Program Director for Forsyth Futures and Volunteer Center Director for the United Way of Forsyth County, NC. In addition to her role as Operations Director, Tonya serves as administrator for the FC Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. Her community involvement includes serving on the Forsyth County Child Fatality Prevention Team, Smart Start of FC Allocation Panel and as the Community Fellow for the Forsyth County Reclaiming Futures' initiative. She holds a bachelors degree from Winston-Salem State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She is also a graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem, NC. Tonya resides in Winston-Salem and has one son.

Juliet Brown Juliet Brown is a Literacy Facilitator with the Winston- Salem/Forsyth County Schools. She earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies from Winston-Salem State University and the Masters Degree from North Carolina A&T State University. She is licensed as a K-12 reading teacher by the state of North Carolina. Her community involvement includes being a member of the United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, Kimberly Park Chapter of the Winston-Salem State University National Alumni Association and the Winston Salem Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Carole Gillis-Cotton Carole Gillis-Cotton is the Parent Involvement Coordinator at Kennedy Learning Center, an alternative school program that provides the opportunity for students who have been previously retained to "skip" a grade (LEAP) by meeting attendance requirements, grade requirements, and testing requirements. Successful students LEAP from one grade to another in order to take high school credits with them to high schools. This program is a once in a lifetime opportunity to correct a mistake, begin afresh, and continue on target with their education. Other programs include the Gateway Acceleration Program and the ESL Academy (English as a Second Language.

Our focus is on greater parent participation. We strive for responsible parenting, two way home & school communication, parents are invited and welcomed to come to school, parents are knowledgeable of new academic standards, and the community is involved and is aware of what our school has to offer. Carole is a 1984 graduate of Winston-Salem State University. She is the owner of Carole's Creations; an original designed floral decorations business, a Carlson Craft distributor, NAACP member, the Winston Salem Urban League Guild member and the *WE CARE* Program which helps families strengthen family ties and bonds.

Shawan Gabriel Shawan Gabriel is currently the Executive Director for the Winston Lake Family and Community Outreach Services YMCA branches of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina association. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Guilford College and Masters of Public Administration from High Point University. Prior to his work with the YMCA, he served as the VP of Operations for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont for 3 years. He is a member of the National Professional Association on Mentoring and the African-American Executive Forum. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Shawan now resides in Winston-Salem with his wife Keisha and daughters Saniya and Aaryn.

Marilyn T. Odom Marilyn is a native of Winston-Salem having attended the local public schools. She graduated from NCSU in 1977 with a Bachelors degree in Speech Communications and received a Masters in Liberal Studies from UNC-Greensboro in May 2009. Her professional experience has been in the non profit and social services areas. She has served as childcare and women's studies director at the Glade Street YWCA, social worker for Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, program director of RSVP of the United Way, case manager at ESR, and service coordinator for older and disabled adults at the Housing Authority. Presently, Marilyn is program coordinator for family support and health programs at Smart Start of Forsyth County. She is a member of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, NC Cooperative Extension Advisory Council, the Forsyth Education Partnership, for The Children's Center for the Physically Disabled Board of Directors and Northwest Child Development Centers Board of Directors. She is also a member of United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church where she is the superintendent of the Sunday school, an adult class teacher and a member of the Drama Guild. Marilyn is also a 1998 graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem. She is married to David Odom and the mother of Alphonse, a graduate at NC A&T State University and Avery a senior at North Forsyth High School.

Jamilla T. Shepperson, M.S. Jamilla Shepperson is currently the Research Associate of the Winston-Salem State University Maya Angelou Institute for the Improvement of Child and Family Education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Masters of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Winston-Salem State University.

Her professional affiliations include the National Rehabilitation Council Association, Association, National Rehabilitation Association, the Institute for Dismantling Racism and the Institute for Operations Research & the Management Sciences, and the Parent Advisory Council for IMPRINTS. Her research interests include health disparities within communities of color particularly HIV prevention among African-American college students, and breast cancer education.

Julia Toone Julia Toone is Projects Manager for Imprints, a local non-profit that is committed to helping families with young children thrive. Imprints offers intensive parent education and support to families through personal visits and group meetings. Since moving to Winston-Salem in 2000, Julia has worked to enhance services for young children and families in Forsyth County. She worked for Work Family Resource Center for four years as a Provider Specialist and has served on several Smart Start of Forsyth County Committees including the Forsyth Early Education Committee, Child Care Matters Newsletter Committee, B-K Scholarship Committee and the More at Four Planning Committee. In addition to her work at Imprints, she is mother to two young children.

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