TCCC staff is growing and changing

LaTisha Vaughn

LaTisha Vaughn

LaTisha Vaughn has been promoted as chief operations officer (COO).  Marcus Trinidad has transitioned from working for TCCC as an AmeriCorps VISTA to a permanent full-time position as collective impact project manager. Mary Butz has joined the staff as administration and operations coordinator.

For the past two years, Vaughn has served as director of networks. As COO, she will oversee daily operations and administrative functions, creating a results-driven culture that is rooted in continuous quality improvement and collective impact. Reporting to the chief executive officer, Vaughn will work with staff and volunteers ensuring effective communication, policies, procedures and strategy that align with TCCC’s mission and vision.

Vaughn previously owned and operated Engineering for Kids Charleston and owned her own consulting business. She also served as director of education initiatives with Charleston Promise Neighborhood, assistant associate superintendent for the Charleston County School District and principal of North Charleston Elementary School.

Marcus Trinidad

She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Missouri, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Park College, now Park University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Georgia State University.

Trinidad came to TCCC last summer as a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA member after graduating from Oregon State University (OSU). As a VISTA, he worked to improve knowledge and awareness of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) among school district staff and the community. His skills and knowledge in data management, collective impact and racial equity proved highly valuable, and he was offered and accepted a permanent position.

Trinidad will report to TCCC’s COO. His new duties include management of collective impact projects, supporting the work of TCCC’s Kindergarten Readiness and Future Ready networks, researching and sharing best practice models, and establishing shared data, measurement and accountability for projects throughout the organization.

Trinidad graduated from OSU with bachelor’s degrees in mathematical economics and political science and a minor in statistics. He served as editor-in-chief for the school newspaper, The Daily Barometer. Additionally, Trinidad interned for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and for Portland’s Black Male Achievement initiative.

Mary Butz

Butz moved to Charleston in 2005 with her former husband and two children.  Together, they built Allied Reliability Group. In addition to Allied, Butz has experience working in the computer information systems, networking, web design, food and beverage, and real estate industries. She has a master’s degree in computer information systems from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, taking care of her two fur babies and traveling with her husband, Logan.

TCCC Board of Directors welcomes Kenya Dunn

Kenya Dunn

Kenya Dunn

Kenya Dunn, a motivational speaker, mentor and CEO of The Power Filled Woman, was recently elected to the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative Board of Directors for a three-year term.

Dunn has held executive leadership positions in customer service and retail organizations, including T-Mobile, where she built high performing teams. She has helped countless people grow their own careers and launch their own businesses. Dunn has spent the last several years mentoring and coaching minorities and women to lead at higher levels. She firmly believes that it is her responsibility as one of a few minority women executives to chart the course for others.

“I am honored to welcome Kenya Dunn to the TCCC board. With Kenya’s corporate executive experience combined with her motivational and mentoring experience, she will be an excellent asset to our board,” said Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group and chair of the TCCC Board of Directors. “I’m confident that her experience, leadership and perspective will enrich the Board in the years to come.”

Dunn grew up in Augusta, Georgia to a single mother. She graduated from the University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in management. Her professional career has taken her from Augusta, Georgia, to Charleston, Atlanta and Chicago. She currently lives in Charleston with her husband and their two children.

Lowcountry Center for Educational Leadership’s launch announced

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) and the Low Country Education Consortium (LCEC), a collaboration of superintendents from the tri-county region’s four school districts, are pleased to announce the launch of the Lowcountry Center for Educational Leadership (LCEL). The Center will create a pipeline of trained and certified principal candidates who are ready to fill vacancies as they occur within the school districts.

“Having a core of well-trained and ready instructional leaders in our region is central to the work my superintendent colleagues and I have undertaken,” said Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent of the Charleston County School District, in announcing the launch. “We are extraordinarily grateful to the LCEL’s Founding Sponsors, Blackbaud, Volvo Car, Robert Bosch and the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, for their support.”

“We are pleased to be a part of this important collaboration among our four superintendents. In our work to see that all children in the region secure a high-quality education, the role principals play is pivotal,” said Phyllis Martin, TCCC’s chief executive officer. TCCC was supportive in the formation of the LCEC in 2016 and continues to act as fiscal agent and fundraiser for this project.

Two years ago, the LCEC initiated this project to create a pipeline of aspiring principals ready and qualified to fill vacancies within the districts. High turnover, especially in the region’s most challenging schools, too often led to individuals being placed in these positions who were not yet ready for the daunting challenges. The superintendents were determined to do something about it.

After a national search was conducted by TCCC, with support from the Wallace Foundation, on behalf of the superintendents, the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) was selected to provide the evidence-based training program.

“Strong school leaders are essential to student success.  We know that well-defined leadership competencies, rigorous hiring processes and robust professional learning opportunities for school leaders positively impacts student learning.  Students benefit when we invest in talented leaders,” said Joe Pye, superintendent for Dorchester School District Two.

The LCEL’s training initiative has three components. The first component began last summer when 45 sitting principals from the four school districts began a year-long training conducted by CEL which was paid for entirely by the school districts. A second component will provide training for principal supervisors and will be delivered in the future.

The third component is the development of the aspiring principals training that will yield candidates who are not only state-certified, but well-equipped with the skills and dispositions to be principals. Candidates for this program would be identified by each district, and individuals completing the program will be in a candidate pool from which candidates will be given strong consideration to fill vacancies within each district. The program development is being supported by consultants working with CEL faculty and by representatives of all four districts to assure a common study program while still being responsive to the distinctive qualities of each district.

“I am excited about the potential that a talent development pipeline has for our region.  The tremendous community support that exists here from business and industry is a competitive advantage for the region,” said Dr. Kelvin Wymbs, superintendent of Dorchester School District Four.

With initial funding now secured, the superintendents plan a public campaign targeting private philanthropists and the business community to support the next projects of the LCEL.

“Our business leaders in Berkeley County and across the region know better than anyone how important it is to have strong principals for our schools, and they are the beneficiaries of effective public education,” said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of the Berkeley County School District. “When we call on them, I am confident they will respond as Blackbaud, Bosch, Volvo and others have done.”

Once fully established, the LCEL is intended to be self-funded through tuitions paid by the districts.

About the Low Country Education Consortium

The Low Country Education Consortium (LCEC) is comprised of four superintendents: Dr. Eddie Ingram, Berkeley County School District; Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, Charleston County School District; Joe Pye, Dorchester School District Two; and Dr. Kelvin Wymbs, Dorchester School District Four. The LCEC was formed in 2016 to create common agendas to serve the more than 100,000 children in public education in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.

Vaughn and Lawrence chosen to present at Collective Impact Convening

LaTisha Vaughn

Amanda Lawrence, TUW

TCCC’s LaTisha Vaughn and Trident United Way’s Amanda Lawrence have been chosen to present at the 2020 Collective Impact Convening event May 6-8, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN. Their proposal, addressing “authentic engagement,” was chosen by the Collective Impact Forum from more than 120 submitted proposals.

Vaughn and Lawrence submitted and were chosen to present their session, entitled “Engaging vs. Engagement” which explores the differences between “planning for” versus “planning with” a community that has its own lived experiences.

“For too long, organizations, although well intended, have planned for communities instead of planning with communities to solve problems,” said LaTisha Vaughn, TCCC’s Director of Networks.

“Communities of need do not lack insight into their barriers, challenges or solutions, they lack critical connections and resources to be able to effectively create and implement solutions.”

Planning with communities in need ensures that critical insight and first-hand, lived experiences lead to the right issues or barriers being tackled. It ensures the community is empowered to find solutions that work for them rather than an organization supporting a pre-determined and uninformed solution for a community.

Vaughn and Lawrence’s presentation will also explore tools and techniques to ensure authentic community engagement, creating initiatives using a lens of equity, and knowledge of what best practices work well and what roadblocks to avoid to maintain momentum for community engagement and improvement.

The Collective Impact Forum, an initiative of FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, supports the efforts of those who are practicing collective impact in the field. This year’s Collective Impact Convening will build on the success of the 2019 convening in Chicago that sold out in advance and attracted more than 800 funders, backbone leaders, and other collective impact community partners.

Congratulations Vaughn and Lawrence!

Remember TCCC on Giving Tuesday

Imagine you had a child entering kindergarten unprepared. I don’t mean without a backpack, but without the basic skills of how to hold a pencil, color within the lines, or identify simple ABCs. Sadly, in the past two years alone, more than 9,000 of our area’s children arrived for their first day of kindergarten just like this – fully unprepared to begin what should be an exciting time in their lives.

A solid education that begins in kindergarten and continues through middle school, high school, college, and beyond will provide children with the tools they need to reach their full potential.  Unfortunately, for thousands of our region’s children, circumstances beyond their control create barriers to education success. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

At Tri County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) we work to improve the odds for our children so they have a chance to succeed. By partnering as a community, aligning and leveraging resources, implementing transformative initiatives, and collectively working to change policies and systems that have created these barriers in the first place, we can make a difference and revolutionize the tri-county area. There is no better time to support this transformation than today, December 3, Giving Tuesday. 

Transformation is powerful and implies dramatic change is on the horizon. Not just any change, but the kind required to create equity in education that is necessary for all children to reach their full potential. Getting this right means our community will reap the benefits and our youth will be prepared for the 21st century workforce. This is the work of Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative.

As TCCC’s new CEO, I personally invite you to join the movement to ensure all our children are afforded an equal opportunity to succeed. Support TCCC on #GivingTuesday. Every donation, no matter how large or small, does make a difference.


Phyllis Martin


How To Donate to Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

  1. Through the StriveTogether Giving Tuesday 2019 campaign. Click on the orange Donate button, follow the prompts, and your contribution will come directly to us.

  2. On TCCC’s website donation page. Click on the yellow Donate button under Ways to Give and follow the prompts. You can donate on TCCC’s website anytime, not just on Giving Tuesday!

Academic Magnet High and Military Magnet Academy named champions of TCCC’s College Cash Campaign

Awards recognize schools’ efforts to build a college-going culture by
exceeding FAFSA completion goals

Academic Magnet High School and Military Magnet Academy have been named champions of Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative’s College Cash Campaign for increasing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) completion rates by at least 5 percentage points. Academic Magnet received “MVP” honors after leading the entire school district with 83 percent completion. Military Magnet’s 71 percent completion rate and its 9-percentage-point improvement from last year won them the “Most Improved” designation.

TCCC’s Future Ready Network launched the College Cash Campaign to provide support for tri-county high schools during the 2018-2019 school year, with the goal of increasing FAFSA completion and college enrollment rates. TCCC staff worked alongside school guidance counselors, administrators and teachers to build a college-going culture, host financial aid literacy workshops and outreach events, and provide FAFSA completion and college application assistance.

“Completing FAFSA is a pivotal part in many students’ decision to attend college because it tells them the Federal scholarships and grants to which they are already entitled,” said John C. Read, TCCC’s chief executive officer.  “We can do better as a community to encourage our students, particularly those who are in the greatest need, to take advantage of Federal and state supports for a postsecondary education.”

In 2019, only 52 percent of tri-county students filled out the FAFSA application, and even fewer students from high schools in low-income areas applied for financial assistance.

Filling out the FAFSA is the first step for students to access federal grants and loans as well as both state and institutional grants and scholarships. FAFSA funds can be used to pay for tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies.

The 2020–21 FAFSA form is now available for students to complete. Some states and schools have limited funds, so students should talk with their school’s guidance counselor or visit the FAFSA website at to apply as soon as possible.


TCCC launches CQI Initiative for local childhood service providers

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) and national consulting group Root Cause recently launched the Tri-County Continuous Quality Improvement Initiative to provide coaching and strengthen evidence-based results for seven local early childhood service providers.

With funding from The Duke Endowment, the initiative will take the seven participating organizations through a 12- to 15-month continuous quality improvement (CQI) process to collect, analyze and use data to improve the quality of services being delivered. Root Cause will help the providers strengthen their capacity to collect and use data and improve their programs, with the ultimate goal being to increase kindergarten readiness among children in the community.

“This CQI initiative is another step being taken to strategically align with the work of the Kindergarten Readiness Network convened by the Trident United Way and sponsored by TCCC, to achieve the goal that all children are ready for kindergarten regardless of race or zip code,” said Thetyka  Robinson, TCCC’s Director of Facilitation.

The organizations selected to participate in the CQI initiative are Communities in Schools Charleston; Father to Father, Inc.; Berkeley County First Steps; Charleston County First Steps; Dorchester County First Steps; Florence Crittenton; and PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy) Charleston. These organizations provide services in planned and well-timed pregnancies, healthy births, on-track development, school readiness by kindergarten and success by third grade, as well as other services.  The programs directly serve families in Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and two other counties in South Carolina.

The goals of the CQI initiative are to help childhood service organizations build capacity to collect and use data in ways that go beyond compliance with funder requirements or other external performance standards; be intentional about clarity of vision, goals, and measurement; improve communication within and across teams; and create a culture that fosters learning and a spirit of inquiry.

TCCC announces Phyllis Martin as new CEO

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative announces the appointment of Phyllis Martin as its next chief executive officer (CEO).

Martin joins TCCC after three years as the vice president of Community Impact for the United Way of Northeastern Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. Prior to that, Martin served as the vice president of Impact Strategies for the United Way of Greenville County in Greenville, S.C. She is replacing John C. Read who has served as CEO for the past five years and had advised TCCC’s board one year ago of his intent to step down.

“I am very pleased that Phyllis has agreed to take the helm of our organization and continue the work to assure that every child, from cradle to career is able to succeed,” said TCCC Board Chair Anita Zucker.  “Phyllis’ experiences working in leadership positions for large, regional United Way organizations will serve her well in connecting with education stakeholders in the Lowcountry.”

Darrin Goss, CEO of Coastal Community Foundation who chaired the TCCC CEO search committee, said Martin stood out as someone with a distinctive ability to build lasting relationships throughout the community given her experience across multiple sectors.

Martin was elected CEO at the board meeting held October 16 and will also serve as a member of the board of directors. She will step into her new role effective November 18.

The 2019 Excellence in Mathematics Teaching award winners announced

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative’s (TCCC) Math Pathways Project Team (MPPT) announced the winners of the 2019 Excellence in Mathematics Teaching awards at a dinner celebration on Monday, October 14 at Charleston Southern University. To honor and recognize mathematics teachers and administrators who work tirelessly to train our future work force, MPPT recognized 38 nominees with 16 winners receiving a trophy and a financial award for professional development.

The event brought together 175 people, many of them math professionals from across the four county school districts serving the greater Charleston area, as well other professionals and family members who wanted to honors these teachers.

The keynote speaker was Marc Drews, Director of Strategic Partnerships, EdVenture Children’s Museum, and a past Mathematics teacher who began his career in the Charleston area. Other speakers included Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group Inc. and Chair of the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative Board of Directors; Jessica Jackson, Director of Global Engagement, The Boeing Company; Dr. Dondi Costin, President of Charleston Southern University; Dr. Karen Fonkert, Mathematics professor at Charleston Southern University; John Cooper, convener of TCCC’s Math Pathways Project Team, and John Read, CEO of TCCC.

The 2019 Excellence in Mathematics Teaching award winners and their award categories are listed below. Visit the event page for additional information on winners and nominees.

Jeremy Osborne (Elementary), Berkeley County School District

Jackie Danko (Middle School), Berkeley County School District

Accalia Bailey (High School), Berkeley County School District

Elizabeth Ball (Professional), Berkeley County School District

Sarah Coleman (Elementary), Charleston County School District

Cathy DeMers (Middle School), Charleston County School District

Jenell Riley (High School), Charleston County School District

Nicholas Reece (Professional), Charleston County School District

Melissa Odom (Elementary), Dorchester School District Two

Ariana Mitchell (Middle School), Dorchester School District Two

Ashley Jacobs (High School), Dorchester School District Two

Dr. Malia Dunn (Professional), Dorchester School District Two

Ivory Howard (Elementary), Dorchester School District Four

Rebecca Steedley (Middle School), Dorchester School District Four

Brittany Wright Sibert (High School), Dorchester School District Four

Nicole Bryant (Professional), Dorchester School District Four


Local student artist wins StriveTogether scholarship

TCCC CEO John Read congratulates Aileen Shi for winning a StriveTogether Art Inspires scholarship.

We’re excited to announce that Aileen Shi, a student artist in our community, has been selected for StriveTogether’s 2019 Art Inspires scholarship! As a winner of this national award, she’ll have her art displayed at StriveTogether’s Cincinnati headquarters.

Clicke here to take a look at her work and learn more about the StriveTogether Art Inspires winners. Congratulations Aileen!