Staff of Child Care Connections is always available to assist

you with your child care needs.

Johanna Gillespie, Director

Johanna Gillespie returned to the staff of Child Care Connections as Executive Director in November 2007. She came to CCC from Shelby High School where she spent five and a half years teaching Family and Consumer Sciences Education classes. Prior to SHS Johanna taught at Cleveland Community College, and was previously at Child Care Connections as a Provider Specialist.

A graduate of West Virginia University, Johanna has an extensive background working with children in a preschool setting and their families. Married to Richard, they have two daughters: Lauren is a graduate of NC State with a degree in civil engineering and Kristen is a student at Appalachian State studying physical education.

Please feel free to contact her by calling (704) 487-7397 or by Email



Karen Pearson, Director of Provider Services

Karen has been with Child Care Connections for over 9 years, first as Quality Enhancement Coordinator and then Director of Provider Services. She came to CCC from First Baptist Child Development Center in Shelby after nearly 24 years as a classroom teacher and Assistant Director. A graduate of Gardner-Webb University, Karen is married to Richard and resides near Waco. They have one daughter, two sons, and one granddaughter.

Coordinating Quality Enhancement, Quality Sustainability, and Education Bonuses, Karen would be glad to answer any questions that you may have.

Please feel free to contact her by calling (704) 487-7397 ext. 100 or by Email



Pam Sigmon, Healthy Social Behavior Specialist, Region 7

Pam Sigmon joined the staff of Child Care Connections in 2012, and serves Region 7 as its’ Healthy Social Behaviors Specialist.  As a former preschool and kindergarten teacher, Pam understands the importance of developing social and emotional competency during the preschool years.  As part of the NC Healthy Social Behaviors project, Pam works with licensed child care programs to provide evidence-based, research-based and relationship-based technical assistance and training designed to promote social-emotional competency.

A graduate of Western Carolina University, Pam holds a BS in Birth-kindergarten, Early Childhood Education.   



Tina Williams, Provider Services Specialist

Tina joined Child Care Connections in August of 2000, as a contract Quality Enhancement Technical Assistant. In 2001, she joined the staff full time as a Provider Specialist. In this position she provides technical assistance to family child care homes and centers.

Tina is editor of the "The Link", the Region 8 training calendar. Tina provides trainings to providers on various subjects which enhances the quality of care delivered to the children of Cleveland County.

She enjoys working with the providers to help them provide quality child care. She has two daughters, Tiffany and Ashley.

Please feel free to contact her by calling (704) 487-7397 ext 107 or by Email.



Leanne Sanders, Provider Referral Specialist

Leanne joined Child Care Connections in January, 2016, as Parent Referral Specialist. She graduated from Gardner Webb University, and is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Leanne comes to us with 32 years of experience in Early Childhood .

Leanne is also the editor of "The Bridge" and also does the Parent Page for the newsletter.

Please feel free to contact her if you, or someone you know, is in need of quality child care. She is here to help!
(704) 487-7397 ext. 104 or by Email



Barbara Poole , Business Manager

Barbara Poole joined the staff of Child Care Connections in August of 2012 as business manager. She enjoys assisting the director in helping to manage the day to day operations of the agency, drawing on more than 20 years of experience in business office management.

A Cleveland County native, she is proud to be part of the Child Care Connections team in their service to the folks of Cleveland and surrounding counties. Please feel free to contact her.




Loraine Barker-Witkowski

Loraine Barker-Witkowski has been working in the Early Childhood field for 20 years, serving as Director of a few different programs in Indiana and North Carolina during many of those years and in the capacity of Child Development Trainer for many years as well.

Loraine is a graduate of Indiana University at South Bend, where she also directed their on-campus Child Development Center for 9 ½ years. She has been serving as an Infant/Toddler Specialist with the North Carolina Infant/Toddler Quality Improvement Project since it began in 2004.
She is also “Mom” to three adult children and “Nana” to four grandchildren.

Her passion and joy in life is knowing that her life and her work might help to shape the lives of children and families in a positive way.

Please feel free to contact her by calling (704) 487-7397 or by Email



Carla Greene

Carla Greene join Child Care Connections in October, 2015 as the Career Development Coordinator. She graduated from Appalachian State University. She is married to her middler school sweetheart and they have two children. Carla comes to us with 28 years in Early Childhood.




Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is the Data Specialist/Parent Referral Assistant at Child Care Connections of Cleveland County. She was the Children’s Librarian and Bookmobile Supervisor prior to joining the team at Childcare Connections. Stephanie has twin boys that are eight years old and resides in Lincolnton, NC.

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