Leadership Team

Flowe, Meredith

Interim Executive Director

Meredith Flowe began her career as a Teach For America Corps Member, first teaching middle school in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and then displaced students in St. John Parish, LA following Hurricane Katrina.  She then joined the Charter School Lending team at Self-Help, a nonprofit national lender headquartered in Durham, NC before pursuing a law degree.  After graduation, Meredith served as the Public Interest Fellow at the National Association for Legal Professionals and then Chief of Staff at the Impact Center in Washington, D.C.  During her time at Impact Center, the team grew their women’s leadership program, facilitated retreats for presidential appointees, and convened the inaugural Gender Intelligence Summit.  In 2012, Meredith returned to Self-Help where she focused on facility financing and real estate development for public charter schools in 17 states and D.C. as well as national and state education policy.  Prior to joining CFEC, she was the Director of Development at Henderson Collegiate, a charter school dedicated to serving low-income families in Henderson, NC.  Meredith has served on the Steering Committee of the Charter School Lenders Coalition, PAVE SE Raleigh Advisory Board, and the Georgia Charter School Association Advocacy and Policy Committee.  Meredith is a Board Member of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools and member of Leadership for Educational Equity.  She holds a B.A. in International Studies from UNC-CH and a J.D. from UNC School of Law.

Gentry, Chris

Director, Family Support Network of Greater Forsyth

Chris has served as the Director of the Family Support Network of Greater Forsyth since January 2004. This program offers a multitude of support services to families who have children with special needs, including onsite hospital/NICU support, parent-to-parent matching, sibling programs, educational opportunities for caregivers, and information and referral services. Chris has over 30 years of experience serving families of young children with a focus on quality childhood experiences and environments. She has worked in public and private school settings, as well as with NC’s Smart Start Initiative. Her educational background includes Social Work, Pastoral Care and Non-Profit Management.

Gilmer, Sandra


Since 2011, Sandra Gilmer has served as the principal of The Special Children’s School. She is proud to be a part of such a unique and outstanding program that serves the special needs of young children in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Sandra has 17 years of experience as a classroom teacher with exceptional children in Lexington City Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Since 2000, she has been a school administrator with the Rowan County Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Her education degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro include the areas of Early Childhood Education, Exceptional Children, and Educational Leadership. Sandra’s teaching and administrative experience have spanned the pre-K, elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Heilbron, Shana

Director of Development & Marketing

Shana is the Director of Development & Marketing at The Centers for Exceptional Children. In this role she serves as the CFEC’s external representative to philanthropic entities, corporate organizations and charitable foundations. She is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to raise the critical funding required to advance the CFEC mission. Shana has been working in nonprofit development for 14 years, and has successfully executed fundraising luncheons and galas, and managed million-dollar development plans. Shana began her career in Washington, D.C. as a communications and press staffer for D.C. City Councilmember Harold Brazil and the Committee on Economic Development, and then served at the head of the Development Departments for The Excel Institute and the YWCA National Capital Area. On a voluntary basis, Shana is on the board of directors for the YWCA Winston-Salem and The Association of Fundraising Professionals (Triad Chapter). She is also a member of the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, Novant Health Women’s Council, United Way’s Young Leaders United Steering Committee, and The Forsyth Promise’s Community Equity Committee. She previously served on the board of directors for Smart Start of Forsyth County, DC Commission for Women (mayoral appointee), and the YWCA National Capital Area. Shana received her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Politics & Government and Women’s Studies form Ohio Wesleyan University. Originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Shana relocated from Washington, DC to Winston-Salem, NC in August 2016.

Martin, Shawn

Director, Infant & Toddler Program

Shawn Martin has an extensive background in the field of early childhood education. She holds an A.A.S. (Early Childhood Education with Administrative Credential) from Forsyth Technical Community College and a B.A. (Teaching, Schools and Society with Advocacy Concentration) from Salem College. She comes to the CFEC with more than thirty years of experience working with children with and without special needs. Shawn has served as a board member for both Smart Start of Forsyth County and Work Family Resource Center. She continually seeks out opportunities to advocate for all children and families.

Shutt, Sarah

Administrative Assistant

Sarah Shutt is not only a former student of The Children’s Center, but she worked as a volunteer with us prior to beginning her tenure as our receptionist. Most days, Sarah can be found at the front desk greeting parents and visitors or interacting with our children, who love the time they spend with her while waiting for their buses to arrive.  Sarah’s experience of being a student at The Children’s Center enables her to have a unique relationship with both our children and our parents.

    Simpson, Ed

    Finance Manager

    Ed Simpson is the CFEC’s Finance Manager. He was previously the CFO for Home Federal Savings Bank, the Controller for Carolinas Telco Federal Credit Union and a Staff Accountant for Nassif and Whitley CPAs. From 1994 to 2017, he was a manager in the Financial Group for BB&T Corporation in Winston-Salem. As a volunteer, Ed is currently President of Winston-Salem Tennis, Inc. and a member of the Budget and Investment Committees for The USTA of North Carolina. He is originally from Hickory, North Carolina and relocated to Winston-Salem in 1994. Ed received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Clemson University and is registered as a North Carolina Certified Public Accountant.

    Young, Karen S.

    Director, Childcare and Licensure

    Karen Young has followed her passion for helping young children, especially those with special needs, and their families by working and continuing expand her knowledge in the field of early childhood for over thirty years.  She has served in teaching and leadership positions in Wake, Cleveland, and Forsyth counties in both public and private school settings.  In 2016, Karen served as a leader and coach for the Leadership Matters Institute.  She is a North Carolina Association of Developmental Day Member, where she served as a past secretary.  In addition to being responsible for maintaining all licensure and certifications at both The Children’s Center and The Special Children’s School, Karen manages CFEC’s Extended Day Program and Summer Program.  She divides her time between CFEC’s two campuses to ensure quality programming for all students served by CFEC’s programs.  She earned her A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education from Forsyth Technical Community College and then graduated from Salem College with a B.A. in Sociology.

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