Heather has over 15 years of experience working in the field of early childhood special education. While earning her BS in special education at Winthrop University, she was convinced that she wanted a career working with middle school or high school aged students with learning disabilities. After one year teaching middle school, she realized middle school teacher was not her life’s calling.
She saw an advertisement for an open position as an Early Interventionist in the Post and Courier and found her passion for working with young children with disabilities and their families. Heather spent six years in Charleston and Berkeley counties providing early intervention services to children and families in natural environments including child care settings.
She went to the University of Texas at Austin and earned a M.Ed. in special education with a concentration in early childhood special education. She missed South Carolina so much she moved back to Columbia and completed her PhD in special education at the University of South Carolina in 2011.
Heather believes child care providers play an important role in supporting children with disabilities/developmental delays and their families. She is passionate about supporting providers to increase their skills and knowledge related to including children with disabilities in their programs. She is also interested in participating in the broader system of supports for young children and their families in South Carolina.
Heather is married with one child. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, watching really good movies, and baking Christmas cookies.
Lauren Brooks joined the Inclusion Collaborative team in December 2012 as an Administrative Coordinator. Lauren supports us in our work to support child care providers. She ensures that our office runs smoothly on a daily basis. She is a valuable asset to the team and enjoys working with her co-workers.
Lauren earned her Bachelors in Business Marketing from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2007. After graduating, Lauren moved to Seattle, where she met her husband. She has held several positions in the customer service field, which have given her valuable experience working with people and solving problems. She also has experience as a nanny for adorable twin girls. We are lucky that she and her husband decided to move to South Carolina last year and join the Gamecock nation.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys watching sports with her husband, taking walks with their dog, and making attempts at being crafty.
Referral and Outreach Coordinator
Carrie Trivedi joined the Inclusion Collaborative in January 2013 as a Technical Assistance Specialist. In 2017, Carrie is became the Program Coordinator for the Inclusion Collaborative. She provides support to our Inclusion Specialists and coordinates our developmental screening initiatives.
Carrie earned a BA in Psychology from the University of South Carolina.She loved being a Gamecock so much that she returned to earn her Masters of Arts in Teaching in EarlyChildhood Education. Carrie taught Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten for seven years before joining our team.
Carrie holds a South Carolina Professional Teaching Certificate as well as being a Certified Trainer andTechnical Assistance Providerwith the South Carolina Center for Child Care Career Development.
Carrie has been married since 2009. She and her husband have a beautiful daughter that they spoil everyday.In her free time, Carrie enjoys Gamecock Football, shopping for cute clothes for her daughter and playing with the family dog.
Karen B. Johnson is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. She joined the SC Inclusion Collaborative in January 2013 as a Technical Assistance Specialist. Prior to joining the Inclusion Collaborative, She worked in many facets of Head Start, serving as both an Education Specialist and Center Coordinator for 22 years. She has worked with both Aiken Barnwell Head Start and GLEAMNS Human Resource Commission.
Additionally, she was a Grantee Performance Support Specialist with STG International, Inc. providing training and technical assistance throughout Head Start Region IV.
She received her Masters of Arts in Human Behavior and Conflict Management from Columbia College. In addition, she received a certificate of 40 hours in Civil Mediation Training from Columbia College.
Karen has an A.A. in General Studies from North Greenville College. She received a BS in Child and Family Development from Benedict College. While attending Benedict College, she received a Certificate in Child Protective Services from the Social Work Department. She is also a President’s Trophy Scholar. She is a Certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider through the South Carolina Center for Child Care Career Development.
She has received many professional training hours, certificates, and honors. She is a member of NAEYC and The High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.
Karen enjoys traveling, shopping, listening to music, especially jazz, and photography. Her personal motto is “The sky is the limit.”
Karen provides training and coaching to child care providers in Child Care Licensing Region 3.
Kim McCollum joined the Inclusion Collaborative in December 2014 as a Technical Assistance Specialist. Prior to joining our team, Kim taught Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten for 17 years, served on the board of First Steps of Pickens County for 2 years, was a child care trainer for Lifelong Learning of Greenville County for 3 years, and was a Preschool Director for 3 years. Kim has experience in private and public schools and child care facilities.
Kim earned a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Southern Wesleyan University in 1993 and her Masters of Education specializing in Teacher Leadership from Walden University in 2013.
Kim holds a South Carolina Professional Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood as well as being a Certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider with the South Carolina Center for Child Care Career Development.
Kim has been married since 1991 and they have four children. In her free time, Kim enjoys spending as much time as possible with her children, family, and friends or going to the movies and reading.
Kim provides training and coaching to child care providers in Child Care Licensing Region 1.
Phines J. Black, is a native of Florence, South Carolina. She joined the SC Inclusion Collaborative January 2018 as an Inclusion Specialist. Prior to joining the Inclusion Collaborative, she worked as a 4K Preschool Lead Teacher for 3 years with South Carolina First Steps. In 2016, she was awarded 4K Teacher of the year, in her regional area. She has worked in the education field for 15 years.
She received her BS from Grand Canyon University in Elementary Education with a dual Major in Special Education, and a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is a certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider through the South Carolina Center for Child Care Career Development.
She has received many professional training hours, and certificates. She is a member of SCECA (South Carolina Early Childhood Association) and SCEA (South Carolina Education Association).
Phines enjoy cooking, spending time with family, and traveling.
Phines provides training and coaching to child care providers Child Care Licensing Region 4.
Nichole Hudgens joined the Inclusion Collaborative in January 2018 as an Inclusion Specialist. Prior to joining the Inclusion family Nichole served as a Quality Coach with the South Carolina Childcare Resource and Referral Network for four years. Nichole earned a BA in Early Childhood Education from Clemson University and received her Master’s Degree in Education from Ashford University. Nichole also taught pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, an upper elementary school. Nichole holds a certifications as a Certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider with the South Carolina Center for Child Care Career Development. Nichole is a firm believer that “You can’t do life alone”, so to stay connected she and her daughter are involved at Newspring Church- Columbia Campus and enjoy spending time with their small group. Nichole enjoys, Broadway, traveling, Clemson Football, and enjoying new experiences with her daughter.
Nichole provides training and coaching to child care providers in Child Care Licensing Region 2.