Meet our staff

Renée Coward, EdD

 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

Paige 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.  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 three 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

Heather currently serves as AWAKE’s Victim Services Coordinator 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 Psychology from Western Carolina University in 2017.  Heather has great deal of experience and a passion for working with children.  She is trained in RADAR, a nationally recognized forensic interview protocol. 

Janet James, FNP-C, DNP, CMEP

Janet is a Family Nurse Practitioner who currently provides Child Medical Evaluations at AWAKE.  She received specialized training and rostering through the Child Medical Evaluation Program at the UNC Department of Pediatrics in Chapel Hill and continues to participate in educational conferences to maintain and provide the highest standards of care.  Janet has worked in the community for more than 20 years providing health care services to a variety of populations.  She received her Doctoral degree from the University of Alabama and Masters degree from Western Carolina University.  She was hired by AWAKE in 2016 as a contracted service provider and then came on board full time in April of 2018.  The examination Janet provides serves to care for the whole child to ensure well being and good health, and to screen for possible abuse and/or neglect.  Janet is a huge asset to AWAKE's child victims, Jackson County and to the WNC Region.  Janet is also fluent in Spanish, which allows AWAKE to easily serve a more diverse population of children and families.