Every Child Deserves a Happy Heart

20 Colonial Square, Sylva, North Carolina 28779

(828) 586-3574

Meet our staff

Renée Coward, EdD

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 Renée serves as the Executive Director of AWAKE and is responsible for the overall operational services to victims.  She has a background in educational leadership with an Educational Doctoral degree from Western Carolina University.  She taught in grades 4-12, primarily in middle grades math and science in Jackson, Macon, and Wake County and then served as Program Director at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching until her retirement in 2012.  She was hired as the Victim Services Coordinator at AWAKE in 2014 and then Executive Director in 2015.   Renée is responsible for grants management, human resource operations, but also works with child victims as an assistant in providing direct victim services. 

Paige Gilliland

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Paige currently serves as AWAKE's Senior Case Manager and Forensic Interviewer, conducting interviews with child victims and providing advocacy services to families from the point of referral to resolution in court and beyond.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the Honors College at Western Carolina University in 2011.  Paige has been in the child welfare field for seven years, serving as a Guardian Ad Litem in Haywood County, as well as working at KARE Children's Advocacy Center from 2012 - 2015.  Paige is a certified victim services practitioner, and is trained in four different nationally recognized forensic interview protocols.  She is also employed through UNC-CH, as a faculty moderator on the RADAR forensic interview protocol training team.

Heather Odom

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Heather currently serves as AWAKE’s Case Manager and Forensic Interviewer, conducting interviews with child victims and providing advocacy services to families from the point of referral to resolution in court and beyond. Heather has been with AWAKE for two and a half years.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Western Carolina University in 2017.  Heather has a great deal of experience and a passion for working with children.  Heather is trained in victim advocacy and is trained in three nationally recognized forensic interview protocols.