Our Staff and Board Members

Our Amazing Team

Dedicated experts with a passion for family

Staff Bios
Erin S. Drew
Executive Director

Erin has a background in social work and non-profits. She was a home-based family support worker in Georgia for four years after which she  became an intern for a non-profit organization.  During her almost 12 years with the organization, Erin worked in the United States and in various countries experiencing other cultures  before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

She has two children who keep her quite active and were former participants in our programs for several years. The Family Place has allowed her to become more involved in our wonderful community.  

She loves sports, travel, reading, and working to make a difference in people's lives.

Denise Gonzalez
Program Director

Denise joined The Family Place team in 2020. She brings with her an extensive knowledge base and experience level that will benefit the many families who attend our programs.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Florida Atlantic University and has post-graduate education in nonprofit management.

Denise has worked with at-risk youth, trained therapeutic foster parents, and managed specialized treatment facilities for victims of severe abuse and human trafficking.

Melissa Heywood
Rosman Children's Program Facilitator

Melissa has lived in Transylvania County for 20+ years. Born in Denver, CO she is the daughter of a military mom and has lived in many places, but Brevard is the only place she calls home.

She has worked in education since 2002, having taught preschool through lower elementary aged children. She joined The Family Place team in 2016 and enjoys helping families learn and grow together.

Melissa enjoys hiking Transylvania county's beautiful mountains, making her own health and skin care products, and spending time with her daughter.

Nikki Parker
Brevard Program Coordinator

Nikki Parker earned a Bachelor of Arts in social work and later a Master of Arts in the same field of study where she grew up in Louisiana. Shas worked with children, youth, and adults  in various settings from the classroom to camps, on a university campus, and even during travel overseas.  

She began working at The Family Place on 2015 where she facilitates both Parent and Grandparent chats in Brevard as well as chats at the Haven and the Housing Authority.  Nikki also helps with the Foster Parent Chat and Incredible Years (IY) Parenting Program.  She loves meeting people and learning their story.

Nikki has been joyously married to Wes Parker since 2007.  They have two boys who are teaching their parents a lot!

Nikki and Wes love the small community and outdoor activities of Brevard, and you can often find them in the forest somewhere on an adventure.

Wes Parker
Program Facilitator

Wes Parker is a musician who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in performing arts. He has performed on cruise ships, lived overseas, and built an off-grid house.

Wes has been working with Family Place dads since 2015, organizing dad and kid get togethers such as bowling, visiting animal exhibits, climbing, hiking, and swimming. Currently, he and other dads and their kids have been having a blast learning Jiu-Jitsu together on Monday nights.

Wes and Nikki Parker have been on the parenting journey since 2011, with still so much to learn!

You can find Wes at church, swimming in a waterfall, working on a project, playing jazz sax, or getting tapped out by his two boys.

Becky Columbo
Program Facilitator

Rebecca Columbo grew up in New Jersey and happily transplanted to Brevard in 2002.

She was a public school teacher for five years in New Jersey and for twelve years at Brevard High School. She has also led preschoolers in a local community organization since 2002.

Becky co-facilitates the Incredible Years (IY) class with Felice St. John.  She participated in the class twice as a parent and believes the program enriches her parenting experience and builds a solid community of parents learning together.

Becky now spends much of her time exploring all Transylvania County has to offer with her adventurous young son.

Felice St. John
Program Facilitator

Felice is a Pittsburgh native who moved to Brevard from New Jersey in 2015 with her family for an intentional change of pace.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts from the University of Georgia in public relations.

While living in NY/ NJ, Felice worked for a youth development non-profit in East Harlem. She co-facilitates the Incredible Years (IY) parenting class with Becky Columbo. It continues to teach and inspire her as a mom as she shares the information with others. 

Felice loves spending time with her husband and their son and daughter exploring the beauty and fun of Brevard. 


Lisa Moussalli
Community Playgroups Facilitator

Lisa and her family moved from the beaches of New Jersey to the mountains of North Carolina in 2018 and have a hard time remembering life before swimming holes, forest wildflowers, and the porch at Dolly’s.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Lisa worked in an early childhood literacy program in Pittsburgh and an anti-poverty nonprofit in New York City before shifting gears for several years to help run a family business and homeschool her children. She has been working alongside children and their families for close to twenty years.

Lisa feels very lucky to be able to learn so much about Transylvania County’s history and beauty through her work with Community Playgroups and loves how much of her week she gets to spend reading and laughing with children.

Melissa Pearl
Community Playgroups Facilitator

A Tennessean originally,  Melissa moved to western North Carolina in 2003 after exploring Colorado and South Carolina. She realized the mountains are where she needs to be and has called WNC her home for the past 15 years.

Melissa holds Bachelor of Arts  in psychology from Belmont University, later earning her Master of Science in social work from Chapel Hill in 2008. Since that time, she has worked with many populations; however, children and families have  her heart. She has been active as a therapist since then and is excited to focus more on community building and outreach.

Melissa and her husband Nick have three wonderful children.

She loves playing outdoors (with her family and solo), practicing yoga, gardening, taking part in road trips, and nurturing friendships.

Charlotte Mills Davis
CONNECT Outreach Coordinator

Charlotte grew up in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  

Charlotte holds a Bachelor of Science from Western North Carolina and has worked in a variety of settings. From teaching preschool, to working with adults with disabilities, she has always enjoyed helping people reach their full potential.

As the CONNECT Outreach Coordinator, she works alongside low income families encouraging them to overcome barriers to personal success and stability through goal setting.  She assists families in housing and transportation needs, as well as connecting them to resources for their children to nurture growth and well-being.

She is the mother of four and grandmother to four grandchildren.

In her free time, she enjoys working out, kickboxing, reading, gardening, creating décor, and studying history and genealogy.  

Our Amazing Board Members

Board Members
Rachel Vandegrift
Board Member

Rachel Vandegrift grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and moved to Western North Carolina in 2006.  She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Western Michigan University and a Master's Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Western Carolina University. Rachel lives in Brevard with her husband Josh and their three young children and works as a Pediatric Speech Pathologist. She enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time in nature. Rachel started coming to the Family Place with her children in 2016 and especially enjoys attending Parent Chat.  Rachel and Josh are very active in the community and run the Brevard Health and Racquet Club.

Rebecca Jackson
Board Secretary
Jason Trent
Board Vice Chair

Jason Trent is a local business owner with several insurance offices throughout Western NC. He’s happily married to his wife Kellie for over 22 years, and they are extremely proud of their three sons in college and their little girl (age 2).  For the last two decades, Jason has been passionate about the well-being of young children.  For as long as he can recall, he and his wife have served in their church’s children and youth programs, and they also served in the Boy Scouts of America program for a decade with their three sons.  In 2015, he and his wife were called into the ministry of fostering children, and they have passionately served in this area ever since.  Jason’s heart is now called to partner with others in the community who share in this passion to bring lasting solutions to the epidemic of trauma impacted children and families.


Suzie Taylor
Board Treasurer

Suzie Taylor was one of the first families to come to The Family Place over 20 years ago. She has helped The Family Place grow as a committed volunteer and board member. Suzie and her husband, John, own the world's coolest toy store, O.P. Taylor's.

Leah Bush
Board Chair

Leah grew up in Transylvania county, graduated from Rosman High School, and is currently attending AB-Tech. She, along with her husband and their three children, call the Rosman area home. They are a homeschooling family that loves reading, traveling, exploring outdoors, and being involved in their community.
Leah is very involved in the rare disease community as a patient advocate and through her work as a Community Engagement Liaison. She is also a Parent Advisory Board Member for the Systemic JIA Foundation. In 2009, Leah attended a few Parent Chats at the Brevard location on her mornings off work. Later, after becoming a stay-at-home mother and searching for community, she began regularly attending the Rosman location. She and her children have made lifelong friendships through their involvement with The Family Place and are excited to see the growth that has taken place over the last 10 years.
As a board member, Leah is happy to give back to The Family Place and is dedicated to supporting the development and ongoing efforts of their programs.

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