Helping protect our most vulnerable voices
Deborah joined the board in 2018 and served as vice president before becoming the current Friends president. Deborah made a major career change in 2018 when she trained to become a paramedic for Richland County Emergency Medical Services. Previously, she led communications, training, and development efforts for a variety of government, corporate and non-profit organizations. Her interest in the MetCAC dates back 15 years when her children volunteered to be interviewed as part of the MetCAC's forensic interviewing course for multidisciplinary teams. "I was so impressed with the kindness and child-centeredness of the staff, and was glad to know vulnerable children in our area had access to such an excellent child advocacy center. I'm glad to bring whatever skills I have to ensure our community has this valuable resource for many years to come."
Abby joined the board in December 2019 and currently serves as Treasurer. She graduated from Winthrop University in 2007 and was awarded the CFP® in 2011. She has worked as a financial advisor at Abacus Planning Group for 13 years and earned her master's in accounting from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2020. Abby first learned of the MetCAC through fellow board members Eme Crawford and Melanie Baker. She was immediately interested in supporting and promoting the MetCAC's essential work in helping children suspected of neglect or abuse. "I am grateful to be on the board and look forward to using my skills to raise awareness and ensure the MetCAC has the funding needed to continue supporting child abuse victims and their families."
Elizabeth Perkins joined the board in April 2019, but first became aware of the MetCAC in 2017 when she attended a fundraising event and learned about the organization's mission. A colleague who works with the MetCAC let her know when a board spot came available, and she volunteered to serve. Elizabeth is also the vice president on the executive committee of the Earlewood Community Citizens Organization (ECCO). She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law. "I am looking forward to helping coordinate another successful Ugly Sweater Holiday 5K fundraiser, and responsibly allocating existing funds to promote the continuity and growth of the MetCAC."
Melanie Baker is a retired community health nurse. She worked for many years in continuing education for nurses and also in the area of HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention with the University of South Carolina School of Public Health, the US Department of Defense, and NIOSH (a division of CDC) before retiring. Since retiring she has served on many local boards (McKissick Museum, Jewish Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, and Auntie Karen Foundation) and been an active community volunteer. She received a Master's degree in Community Health Nursing from the University of South Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, traveling, and reading. She and her husband have three grown children and four grandchildren. They divide their time between Columbia and Mt. Pleasant.
Ellis Creel learned about MetCAC's mission through both friends and neighbors in his area. "The prevention and cessation of neglect and violence towards children is a critical step towards having a just society," said Ellis when asked why he is interested in the board's mission.
Ellis is a full-time IT consultant for Palmetto Computer Consulting, where for the past 12 years he's helped both non-profit and profit-oriented businesses in the Columbia area meet their IT needs. He works with non-profits such as WREN, New Morning, the Columbia Museum of Art and the YMCA. He also currently serves as vice-chair for the Forest Acres Planning Commission and has been on the Commission for the past seven years. He holds a two-year Associate in Arts from Midlands Technical College and for fun, recently got his FCC-certified ham radio license.
Keith Jones first came in contact with the Met CAC in his work with abused and neglected children while leading a children's service agency in South Carolina. "I am very familiar with the mission and purpose of the Met CAC and am looking forward to again being part of a group of people who have such a strong commitment to serving children," said Keith.
Keith is currently Director of Clinical Operations at Cooperative Health Centers and has spent the better part of the last two decades working in non-profit and children's services management in various leadership and clinical roles. He received his bachelor's degree from Erskine College and his master's of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Keith is also a licensed therapist with experience treating abused and neglected children, adults and children with developmental disabilities, and adults with substance use disorders.
Denise spent the better part of her early years as a military wife and traveling the world on the Army's dime and notice. During that time she volunteered for and within the military community and received the 2010 Military Intelligence Golden Rose award as well as Fort Jackson's 2018 Spouse of the Year. Denise now spends her days homeschooling her two boys and leading Women's ministry at Earlewood Baptist Church. Denise connected with Friends of Met CAC through her local outreach endeavors in her Elmwood Park Community and it seemed like a perfect fit for her passion to serve people. She became a member of the board in May 2022. When Denise isn't traveling and experiencing new dining adventures with her husband, she can be found writing as a published author, gardening or enjoying time with her fur babies.
Clyda joined the Friends board in 2022. After spending the first 17 years of her adult life raising her children, Clyda returned to college in 2010 and completed her degree in social work at Columbia College. During an internship with Columbia Police Department Special Victims Unit, she became aware of the Assessment and Resource Center (now known as The Metropolitan Children&aposs Advocacy Center) During that time, Clyda found her passion for victims advocacy with a focus on child advocacy and developed long-standing relationships with MET CAC Staff. In her free time, Clyda enjoys traveling, spending time with her grandchildren, and volunteering with different organizations.