John Browne

Executive Director/Early Head Start Director

John Browne has been working with children and young adults since 1990.  He completed his undergraduate work at the University of South Carolina and earned his master’s from Columbia College.  He owns the distinction of being one of the first Head Start children in the state of South Carolina.  He came to Vital Connections in the role of Behavioral Health and Quality Assurance Manager and is now the Executive Director/Early Head Start Director.  He has over twenty years of experience working in the non-profit world and is excited about the future of Vital Connections.  He believes that exposure to new ideas (A mind once exposed to a new idea never regains its original dimensions…Oliver Wendell Holmes) is one the keys to preparing children for educational and life success.

Althea Benson

Education Coordinator

Althea Benson has been working in the field of early childhood education since 2007. She has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina, a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, and a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies from Columbia College. She is a Certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider (TAP) with the S.C. Center for Child Care Career Development, an accredited provider for the Triple P Positive Parenting Program, a certified trainer for Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect, Certified to train First Aid and CPR, along with SCPITC Modules and the SC Infant and Toddler Field Guide.

Schafonda Byrd

Family Advocate/Male Involvement

Schafonda Byrd has been with VCM for more than three years and has an associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Midlands Technical College. She started at Tender Years as a teacher before moving into the Family Advocate/Male Involvement Manager role. Currently she also manages VCM’s Facebook page and Website. She is located at the Tender Years location in Hopkins. She has two children and enjoys spending as much time as possible with her family. Schafonda says, “I always knew I had the kind of heart that wanted to make a difference. Helping others and making a difference is what I succeed at best.”

Kim Capers

Behavior Health Quality Assurance Manager

Kimberly Capers is the Behavior Health Specialist at Arthurtown Early Head Start. She has been with Vital Connections for 2 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling: Crisis Response and Trauma from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the illustrious institution Benedict College. Kimberly is a mother of four children. During her spare time she enjoys shopping, spending time with her children, watching football, and volunteering with her Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc

Denise L. Harris

Center Director

Denise L. Harris has been a part of VCM since 1997 when the Tender Years location first opened. She started as a teacher and assistant director. She has served various roles and capacities at Tender Years and became Director in 2016. Denise has been married 42 years and has four children and 10 grandchildren. Daughter of an Army Veteran who served in Vietnam and a wife of a retired Army Veteran of 21 years served. Denise says, “I love doing what I do and serving our community.”

Melissia E. Miller

Center Director

Melissia E. Miller has been with VCM since 2014 and has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Allen University. She has an Infant and Toddler Certification from Midlands Technical College. Melissia has worked in disabilities and special needs for 21 years. She is a mother of two daughters, is an active member of her church, loves spending time with her family, participating in the performing arts and writing. Melissia says, “I love working with children. It gives me great joy and pleasure to help shape these young minds and prepare them to meet their future.”

Karen Noble

Human Resource Officer/Accountant

Karen Noble is Vital Connections of the Midlands Human Resource Officer and Accountant

Christy Rhodes

Christy Rhodes serves as the Center Director at Tender Years CDC. She has been with Vital Connections of the Midlands for over 8 years. She has worked with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and served as CACFP support staff.  Christy has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies Management from Southern Wesleyan University. Christy enjoys going to the beach, laying out by the lake, and taking care of her grandma.

Anita Robinson

Center Director

Anita Robinson serves as the Center Director at Children’s Garden and has been in the early childhood profession for 23 years, caring and educating children and collaborating with parents, staff, and multidisciplinary teams to help children reach their fullest potential. Anita has a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from Benedict College in Columbia. Anita lives in Irmo with her husband and three children and loves watching movies and spending time with her family and friends. Anita says, “The love of God, family, and friends fuels me to be the best person I can be. Therefore, I am able to share my love with the children and families we serve at Vital Connections.”

Charlene Sumpter

Family Advocate/Male Involvement

Charlene Sumpter is the  Family Advocate Male/Involvement Manager for two locations Arthurtown and Children’s Garden.  She has over 18 years of experience working in Head start with children, and families. She has a bachelors degree in Sociology from South Carolina State University.

Her professional life includes a commitment to serving the needs of children and families as a Family Advocate/Male Involvement Manager at Vital Connections of the Midlands.

Gloria Watson

Health Coordinator/Family Services/ERSEA Manager

Gloria Watson is the Health Coordinator, ERSEA Certified, and the Family Services Manager for Vital Connections of the Midlands. She currently serves as the Secretary of the South Carolina Health Network Association and a member of the South Carolina Public Health Association. She has a master’s degree in Health Administration from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from Benedict College.