team And Leadership

team of experts

Deb is an innovative leader who creates opportunities to make a difference through passion for early childhood and advocacy. Her strengths include organizational transformation, capacity building, fund development, collaboration, and financial management/compliance. 

She is experienced in for profit and nonprofit enterprises in human services, early education, higher education, and information technology. During her fifteen years as a resident of WNC, Deb has devoted her energy to the nonprofit sector. 

Her professional affiliations include working with the WNC Child Advocacy Network, a network of organizations who collaborate on policy advocacy to improve access to, and quality of, early childhood care and education programming in WNC counties. She is the statewide lead for the WNC regional Smart Start advisory committee, comprised of the western region Smart Start organizations. This provides an opportunity for best practice sharing, collaborations, and the ability to influence the statewide network.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wheaton College and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Suffolk University. She has completed the Duke University Nonprofit Management Certificate program as well as the Transylvania County Vision Leadership program. 

Her community service includes serving on the boards of the WNC Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Brevard / Transylvania Chamber of Commerce. 

When relaxing, she enjoys the natural beauty of Western North Carolina as well as traveling worldwide.


Rebecca Snurr has lived in Cedar Mountain since 2013 where she enjoys the outdoor activities nature offers. What she did not expect from her adopted home was the warmth and openness of the community which has inspired her to get involved, eventually leading her to the nonprofit world. She coordinates the free high-quality NC Pre-K program in Transylvania County in addition to other programs that support and advance early education.


Eileen found her way to Western North Carolina after living and working in Georgia and Tennessee cities for the past decade and she is thrilled to be back in a rural landscape and community. Growing up in a rural Appalachian community on the West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania borders, Eileen developed an early awareness to the challenges that individuals and families living in poverty face. Her background is compiled with work in communications, team and brand management, freelance writing and customer service. She believes that all people deserve the opportunity to thrive and she remains committed to using her skills to best serve her community's needs. Eileen brings her writing, social media and brand management skills to Smart Start of Transylvania County along with her experience as a parent of a young child.

Her passions and curiosities outside of her professional wheelhouse include gardening, reading, cooking, and exploring the mountains on hikes and runs.


Ansley Harron, a Transylvania County native, graduated from Brevard High School in 2016. She went on to continue her education at Western Carolina University, earning her Bachelor of Social Work in 2019 with high honors. She has worked the last nearly four years as an early childhood educator in both Transylvania and Jackson counties. She will be working as a Family Home Childcare Coach for Transylvania county.

Her passions include social justice and bringing resources to families in her community.


Aiyanna was raised in the upstate of South Carolina and spent many weekends of her childhood exploring the hiking trails of western North Carolina with her family. While pursuing her Bachelors of English at College of Charleston, she worked for a nonprofit serving at-risk children living in poverty and developed a passion for equality in early childhood education. She is especially driven to increase childhood literacy and wants all children to have access to the resources and foundational materials needed to thrive academically. She is delighted to have the opportunity to serve as an advocate for the families of Transylvania County, an area she's always considered a home.  

Her personal interests include writing, traveling, live music, and going on long walks with her pup, Nico.


Sonya and her family moved to Western North Carolina in 2010 after spending time living on the west coast. She is a Georgia native but honeymooned in Asheville almost thirty years ago, and she and her husband fell in love with the mountains, rivers, and all the area has to offer. When the opportunity to move to WNC arose, they could not think of a better place to raise their three children. Transylvania County has proven to be the perfect home for their family.

Having been a teacher for twenty-four years, Sonya has experienced all of the challenges and struggles that exist in education. She recognizes the need for early childhood development and the impacts it has on a child’s academic journey. Her commitment as a teacher has always been to help each child reach their fullest potential in the face of any and all obstacles in their lives.

In her free time, Sonya enjoys spending time with her family, kayaking, reading, and traveling.


Board Of Directors

Nicholas Iosue currently serves as Senior Commercial Lender for United Federal Credit Union. Raised in Hendersonville, Nicholas and his wife currently reside in Mills River where they raise their two daughters, Caitlyn and Nicole. As a socially concerned business leader, Nicholas has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations in our community, with a focus on supporting the youth in our area. In addition to serving on the board of Smart Start of Transylvania County, he has served or is serving on the boards of Brevard Academy, Pisgah Forest Rotary Club, the North Carolina Young Bankers Association, and the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce. Nicholas is a graduate of Western Carolina University, as well as the North Carolina School of Banking at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Stacy has a BA in Psychology and has  managed the Foster Grandparent Program at  Land of Sky for 15 years. Stacy currently  serves as a Board Member for the Southern  Cluster for the National Association of Foster  Grandparent Program Directors, has served  on the planning committee for the National  Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion and  RSVP conference for the past two years as  well, and has served as a Mentor of the  Corporation for National & Community  Service National Peer Mentoring Program. In  addition, Stacy serves on the Early Childhood  Initiative, CARE Coalition, and Madison  County  Children’s Collaborative.

Pam Pallas is currently enjoying her second career as the owner/innkeeper at The Bromfield Inn in Brevard, but her first career and first love was early childhood special education.  Growing up with a sister with developmental delays, she began working with children with special needs by volunteering for ARC summer camps. She began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher and started working with younger and younger children as research and experience confirmed the need for intervention and support beginning as early as infancy. Pam earned a Bachelor’s in elementary education, a Master’s in special education, and a PhD in early childhood special education.  She taught pre-service teachers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida and was the director of several child care centers over the years. The last 13 years she was the director of Baby Gator Child Development and Research Centers at the University of Florida where she developed three fully inclusive centers serving over 350 children ages birth to five.  Pam shares innkeeper duties with her husband Abe. In her free time, she enjoys visiting their children Molly and Christopher and doting on grandchildren Charlie, Jacob, Josiah and Isabel, reading a good mystery and making quilts.

Lisa Sheffield is the Adult Services Librarian at the Transylvania County Library and is serving her second term on the Smart Start Board. She wears many hats at the Library including responsibilities for programming for adults, collection development, IT support, supervision of Reference, Outreach Services, and Technical Services, and staff training. She grew up in Albany, GA, attended Georgia Southern for a BA in History, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for her Masters in Library and Information Science. She and her husband Scott have one daughter, Emily, who attends the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and three cats, London, Luna, and Thalia. She loves to read books of all types, be outside in our beautiful mountains, and to spend time watching the Atlanta Braves play baseball.

Jeanette Chapman grew up in Swain County, North Carolina. She attended Mars Hill College earning an associates degree and then earned a bachelor of science degree in Education from Western Carolina. She taught in Transylvania County for 6 years before starting a family. Once she raised her children, she joined Transylvania County Child Development where she worked for 28 years in the capacities of teacher and director of a child care center. Since retiring, Jeanette has enjoyed her three grandsons and spends her time helping family, neighbors, community and church wherever and whenever needed!

Liz Dobbins-Smith is a Raleigh native but  recently moved to the mountains of North  Carolina. She resides in Brevard with her  husband Joe and their energetic kids (4 year  old son Elliot and 1 ½  year old daughter  Eleanor) who tirelessly keep their parents  running in circles! Liz currently serves as one  of the co-managing directors for the North  Carolina Economic Development Association  (NCEDA) where she oversees membership  engagement and programs. Her  partner- in- crime, Lawrence Bivins, oversees  policy & public affairs. They both love being at  the heart of NCEDA and working to  strengthen the association every day. Liz has had great opportunities in her career  working for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of  Commerce, Leadership North Carolina (LNC),  the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the North Carolina Bankers Association and  the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging  Association.

Mark Ellenberger is a lifetime resident of Transylvania County. He attended Straus Elementary, Brevard Elementary, Brevard Middle and graduated from Brevard High School in 1990. In addition, both of Mark's parents retired from careers at Transylvania County Schools. He attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he received a degree in Criminal Justice. Upon graduation, Mark retyrned to Transylvania County and began his role as an Adult Probation/Parole Officer. After working in that capacity for two years he then accepted an appointment as a magistrate judge in Transylvania County. He was a magistrate for ten years before moving to the  Transylvania County Sheriff's Office. For 13 years Mark served as the School Resource Officer at Brevard High School. Most recently, Mark moved to the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff's Office where he currently serves as the Sergeant in that division. His wife of 25+ years, Missy, is also a lifetime resident of Transylvania County and has worked her whole career with the Transylvania County Schools. She currently is the Director of Curriculum for grades 9-12, Director of Safe Schools and the Director of Student Services. They have two boys, Tanner and Luke. Both went on to play college football after they graduated from Brevard High School. Tanner played at Appalachian State and graduated in May 2020. Luke is currently in his 3rd year playing football at Coastal Carolina University.

Chuck is a lifelong resident of Transylvania County.  Chuck is married to his wife April and they have two beautiful daughters.  He graduated from Brevard High School in 1994 and then graduated from Mars Hill College with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology with a concentrate in Criminal Justice.  Chuck started his career in law enforcement in 2002 when he swore in with the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office.  Chuck has held the position of Deputy Sheriff, School Resource Officer, Sgt. in the Patrol Division and is now the Professional Standards and Training Lt.

Kimberlee Dodson is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church of Brevard, with her certification in Christian Education.  She is a graduate of Furman University and Scarritt Graduate School.  After working in Naples, Florida and Durham, NC, she and her husband, Marcus, moved to Brevard in 1993. Kim served as a full time educator from 1993-1998. When her second child was born, she became a full-time mother while also continuing her work leading an adult Sunday School class, teaching, and helping with other community endevours. In 2006, Kim returned to a part-time role in which she still serves today. She has three children, Maggie, Jeremy, and Emilee, who were all born and raised here in Brevard and are now spreading their wings in the world.

Allison Sturtevant-Gilliam (she/her) is a collaborator, believer of infinite possibilities, lover of big ideas, and mama to five phenomenal beings.  Allison’s experience as a social worker in the field of child welfare and in raising a family united through birth, foster care, kinship and adoption has created a wholehearted appreciation for the beauty and messiness of raising humans in a complex world.  Allison knows that young children are significantly impacted by numerous systemic factors and deeply believes in the communal responsibility of cultivating a world in which families are supported and the next generation can thrive.

Allison believes that curiosity and insight of natural responses to stress, trauma and oppression gives context to individual and communal actions and strengthens connection within communities.  Allison is skilled at influencing social support systems to be trauma responsive, racially just, and healing focused through her training, facilitation, and consultations. Through Murmuration Consulting, she shares the message and tools of healing, equity, and change to families, professionals, and organizations.