Meet the Team

Meet the Dillon County First Steps Team

We’re excited to introduce you to the Dillon County First Steps Team and executive board members. This dedicated group of people works hard to serve the county’s families, childcare providers, staff, and partners.

Shirleen Lewis, M.A., Education Specialist Certification
Executive Director

Shirleen Lewis became the Executive Director of Dillon County First Steps in May 2017. She has over 12 years of experience in management of early childhood programs in the non-profit sector to include Smart Start and Head Start. In addition, Shirleen serves as a Psychology Professor at Bladen Community College. She has a master’s degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership. She is a Certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider with South Carolina Endeavors. Shirleen is a member of the National Association of Education for Young Children and the National Head Start Association.

Shirleen and her husband Ja’Coby, reside in Dillon County, with their daughters Kennedie and Kyleigh.

Shantel McRae, Parenting Supervisor

Shantel McRae, has been employed with DCFS since September 2018 and serves as the Parents as Teachers Supervisor. She is a Certified Technical Assistance Professional with the Quality Enhancement Program.

Shantel’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Business/Child Development from South Carolina State University. She is a Master Certified Trainer and a Generalist II Technical Assistance Provider with the Center of Child Care Career Development.

Shantel is married to Terry McRae. Although she did not birth her children she is the mom of four Step children (Torez, Tinaya, Tyquzz, and Braylon) and five adopted children (Daniel, Damond, Arnasha, Jamez and Adrianna). She has been blessed with five grandchildren (Ja’Ziyah, Daniel, Damauri, Zayden and Damiyah).

Shantel has always had a passion for children. Her personal and professional lifestyle has impacted her love and passion for children and their families.

Angela Coward, Finance Manager

Angela Coward joined Dillon County First Steps at its inception in 2000. Angela began her duties at DCFS as the Administrative Assistant. She has held various positions to include Program Assistant, Program Director and currently Finance Manager. Angela is the DCFS Finance Manager. Angela coordinates the Child Care Training Program and the Raising A Reader Program. Angela is Parents As Teachers and Nurturing Parenting certified and serves families in the Nurturing Parenting program. Angela is a graduate of Northeastern Technical College. Angela and her husband, Jerry, reside in Dillon. They have three children, Jason, Justin (Denise), and Jordan Coward.

Geraldine Ellis, Parent Educator

Geraldine Ellis is originally from Chesterfield S.C. She is a graduate of Chesterfield High School , and takes proud in still holding on to her Mascot (Chesterfield Golden Ram) for life. She moved Dillon in 2007. Since then she pursued her education in Early Childhood at Ashford University in Iowa. She is now hired with Dillon County First Steps as a Parent educator. Geraldine has a passion for children and her motto is “If you don’t  love children, then don’t pursue a job in working with them.” 

Geraldine is married to Apostle Johnny Ellis Sr. and together they have six children, Sharell, Isha, Johnny (Bugga), Randy, Desmond, and Shyquinda. There are seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Geraldine loves her family and her extended family: Dillon County First Steps Staff. 

Shannon Hargrove, Parent Educator

My name is Shannon Hargrove and I began my journey as a Parent Educator with Dillon County First Steps in January 2022. I was a Parents as Teacher and Nurturing Parenting Program participant with DCFS with all of my children. I have over 15 years of experience in Childcare Facilities. I served Dillon Christian Preschool and Childcare for 14 years, holding both full time and part time positions. I had the privilege of working with children ages 6 weeks to 3 years old. While I was home, I operated my personal childcare services for about a year. I am a 2005 graduate from Dillon High School where I reside. In Summer 2023 I will graduate from Florence-Darlington Technical College with an Associate Degree in Science with a minor in Early Childhood. I am a mother to three wonderful children, Kenaz and Kenijah, 12 and Brandon, 3. My vision is to serve families by establishing trust and building relationships with them by sharing my story.

Meet the Board

NameBoard Category
Kenneth L. Smith
Non-Profit Organization That Provides Services to Families and Children
Dr. Michael McRae,
Vice Chair
Dillon School District Four
Preston Greene, III
Business Community
Millie Odom
Assistant Secretary
Childcare and Early Education Development Education Provider
Tierney L. AlfordDillon County Library
Lisa ArmstrongFamily Education, Training, and Support Provider
Beryl CollingtonPre-Kindergarten Through Primary Educator
Karen EnglishDSS
Chevella GermanHead Start
Akeesha LeggetteParent of Preschool Children
Carla ShelleyDillon School District Three
Gabriel Salmon, Sr.Faith Community