OF THE METROPOLITAN CAC
Helping protect our most vulnerable voices.
The Metropolitan Children's Advocacy Center supports the small voices of suspected child abuse victims with comprehensive evaluations by a highly trained team of medical and mental health professionals.
As a nationally accredited children's advocacy center, the Metropolitan CAC works in collaboration with law enforcement, child protective services, and the courts to ensure that children suspected of being sexually or physically abused receive the highest level of professional care.
Available funding to support the Metropolitan CAC's services does not cover the costs. Even as the state budget for such services continues to shrink, the need for a sound response to child abuse allegations increases. Thankfully, the Friends of the Metropolitan CAC is a charitable organization that raises funds and community awareness for the CAC.
Melanie Baker is a retired community health nurse. She worked for many years in continuing education for nurses and also in the area of HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention with the University of South Carolina School of Public Health, the US Department of Defense, and NIOSH (a division of CDC) before retiring. Since retiring she has served on many local boards (McKissick Museum, Jewish Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, and Auntie Karen Foundation) and been an active community volunteer. She received a Master’s degree in Community Health Nursing from the University of South Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, traveling, and reading. She and her husband have three grown children and four grandchildren. They divide their time between Columbia and Mt. Pleasant.
In 2018, Eme joined the board of the Friends of the Metropolitan Child Advocacy Center after a decade of policy and advocacy work around women, girls, and families. Eme brings over 15 years of diverse communications study and practice to her role to the board where she has served as recording secretary. Eme currently works at the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) as the Director of Reproductive Rights Communications where she collaborates with national and state partners and works to advance SiX’s narrative and amplify legislators in the press on issues related to reproductive freedom. Eme earned her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in Rhetoric and Composition and an M.A. in 19th-Century American English, and serves on the Emerge South Carolina cabinet. “All children should live in a world free from violence and predation. Until we live in that world, the expert staff of the MetCAC are there to listen and evaluate children who are suspected of being abused, connect them and their families to resources, and combat injustice in our communities. I’m committed to supporting this work that protects the most vulnerable in our communities.”
REBECCA GAVIN - VICE PRESIDENT
Rebecca joined the board in May of 2019. She earned a B.A. in criminology from The Ohio State University in 1998. Before becoming a stay-at-home mother of four children, Rebecca worked as a caseworker for Children’s Services in Manhattan. She learned about the MetCAC when her daughter was invited to be interviewed as part of the MetCAC’s forensic interviewing course for multidisciplinary teams. Rebecca admired the work the center was doing and wished she had a resource like the MetCAC when she was a caseworker. “I am so happy to be a member of the board. My hope is that the board can raise community awareness of the work that MetCAC does. And I am committed to helping them continue to thrive and support the families and children of our community.”
ABBY MASON - TREASURER
Abby joined the board in December 2019 and currently serves as Treasurer. She graduated from Winthrop University in 2007 and was awarded the CFP® in 2011. She has worked as a financial advisor at Abacus Planning Group for 13 years and earned her master’s in accounting from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2020. Abby first learned of the MetCAC through fellow board members Eme Crawford and Melanie Baker. She was immediately interested in supporting and promoting the MetCAC’s essential work in helping children suspected of neglect or abuse. “I am grateful to be on the board and look forward to using my skills to raise awareness and ensure the MetCAC has the funding needed to continue supporting child abuse victims and their families.”
ELIZABETH PERKINS - SECRETARY
Elizabeth Perkins joined the board in April 2019, but first became aware of the MetCAC in 2017 when she attended a fundraising event and learned about the organization’s mission. A colleague who works with the MetCAC let her know when a board spot came available, and she volunteered to serve. Elizabeth is also the vice president on the executive committee of the Earlewood Community Citizens Organization (ECCO). She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law and is currently employed with the state of South Carolina. “I am looking forward to helping coordinate another successful Ugly Sweater Holiday 5K fundraiser, and responsibly allocating existing funds to promote the continuity and growth of the MetCAC.”
DEBORAH PHIPPS - PRESIDENT
Deborah joined the board in 2018 and served as vice president before becoming the current Friends president. Deborah made a major career change in 2018 when she trained to become a paramedic for Richland County Emergency Medical Services. Previously, she led communications, training, and development efforts for a variety of government, corporate and non-profit organizations. Her interest in the MetCAC dates back 15 years when her children volunteered to be interviewed as part of the MetCAC’s forensic interviewing course for multidisciplinary teams. “I was so impressed with the kindness and child-centeredness of the staff, and was glad to know vulnerable children in our area had access to such an excellent child advocacy center. I’m glad to bring whatever skills I have to ensure our community has this valuable resource for many years to come.”
Ellen Rodillo-Fowler is the Manager of Quality Control and Training at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Medicare Advantage. She first became involved with the MetCAC over 10 years ago as one of the forensic actors who participated in Child First forensic interview training sessions. She has been impressed with the hard work and dedication of the MetCAC staff ever since. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology from Erskine College and her Master of Science in Public Health from the University of South Carolina with a major in Epidemiology.
ROB SCHALLER - IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
Rob Schaller joined the board in 2016 and is serving his second third-year term. He has previously served as vice president and president. Rob is the director of communications for the University of South Carolina School of Law. He became aware of the MetCAC through his wife, who is a nurse practitioner, working as part of the Child Abuse Pediatrics team at Prisma Health Children's Hospital–Midlands. He has spent his professional career as a public servant, working first for the City of Columbia, and then at South Carolina ETV, before joining the university. Rob graduated from Baylor University and moved to South Carolina shortly afterward. He received his master's in educational technology from the University of South Carolina School of Law. "Being a part of this board, helping further the mission of the MetCAC, and playing a role in providing better outcomes for children suspected of neglect or abuse has been truly gratifying."