Cara Smithwick, Executive Director, BS, MLIS, NBCT
Cara is a National Board Certified Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She has taught students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing for 20 years in a variety of educational settings, as well as serving as an administrator at the district level for a Midlands’ D/HOH program.
Unable to accept the status quo with regard to intervention and education of students with a hearing loss, she co-founded Beginnings SC to focus on proactive intervention and parent education and empowerment.
When Cara is not working, she spends her time crafting, cooking, and hanging out with her kids.
Mary Reaves, Director of Programs, MRC, CRC
Mary worked for 10 years providing individual and family therapy, serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and adults with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. She has extensive training in deafness, Deaf culture, counseling issues with deaf/hard of hearing, hearing loss and its impact on family systems.
Mary co-founded Beginnings SC to focus on proactive intervention and parent education and empowerment.
In her free time, Mary bakes with her three kids, sews, enjoys yoga, and goes on date-nights with her husband, Larry.
Jennifer Faulkner, Program Coordinator
Jennifer Faulkner graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2015 where she studied public relations and received her BA in Journalism and Mass Communications.
Jennifer has a background in nonprofit association membership services, event planning, marketing, and strategic social media communication. Prior to working at Beginnings SC, Jennifer spent four years with the S.C. Press Association coordinating member services and communications.
When she’s not in the office, Jennifer enjoys checking out local restaurants & events, cooking, being a plant mom, and taking walks with her boyfriend and their chihuahua mix Oscar.
Deborah Glass, Hearing Screening Program Manager
Deborah Glass graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2017 with her BA in Early Childhood Education. After teaching in a private school and working with several hard of hearing students, she decided to pursue an ASL certificate from Midlands Technical College.
Originally from Illinois, Deborah joined the Army at 19 and met her wonderful spouse in California, lived in Hawaii for 4 years, and finally settled in South Carolina after they both left the military.
In her free time, Deborah enjoys crafting and making new things, reading, and spending time with her 3 cats and 1 dog.
Jade Blocker, Community Hearing Screener
“Hello! I am Jade Blocker and I am so excited to be a part of the BeginningsSC team. I am currently enrolled in the Special Education Program at Columbia College. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my fiance and my fur babies. I enjoy listening to music and podcasts. I am always down for creating new, healthy habits. Always be true to yourself, BE Kind and Stay Humble!”
Lisa Jolly, Parent Education Specialist
Lisa Jolly, M. Ed., is excited to provide unbiased guidance and information to parents of children with hearing loss. She participated in Beginnings as a parent while living in Charlotte, NC after the birth of her second child. With the support of her Beginnings Parent Educator, she and her husband were empowered to make choices for her son based on facts and consideration of all options for communication. Her family remains connected to her Charlotte tribe where she founded Hitch-Up a social and educational support group for families of those with hearing loss. They reunite each May at Camp Cheerio where all communication modalities are present and respected as families come together to learn, network and play.
She is currently co-president of AG Bell’s SC Chapter, serves as director of Lowcountry Special Needs Network and is a member of an advisory panel with the Medical University of South Carolina charged with promoting comprehensive family wellness for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. She passionately educates about ability where many may see disability and firmly believes every person has a gift to use to better the world.
Married to her college sweetheart, Steve, the Jolly’s and their 2 sons, enjoy spending time visiting the mountains and beaches for family trips.
Matthew Gatlin, Parent Education Specialist
Matthew serves as Beginnings SC's deaf & hard of hearing role model and parent education specialist. Matthew was born in Corona, California. Growing up, he moved around a bit having lived in Houston, Texas and Charlotte, NC. He attended California School for the Deaf, Riverside during Pre-K and Kindergarten and during 6th-8th grade. He mainstreamed the rest of the time.
He served as a volunteer firefighter for a local volunteer fire department in Charlotte, NC for three years before attending Gallaudet University, graduating with a BA in History in 2015.
He worked as a Residential Child Youth Care Practitioner for Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, MD from 2016-2018 and became a high school Transition/Social Studies teacher for Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida 2018-2020. He taught high school American Sign Language at Ponte Vedra High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
Matthew has a strong passion for the outdoors and often spends his off-time fishing and exploring parks and forests.
Jocelyn Ross, Part-time Parent Education Specialist
Jocelyn Ross has been married to Akil for 18 years and is a proud mother of Alyssa (11) and AJ (7). At birth, the newborn hearing screening alerted us that Alyssa was hard of hearing. Follow up tests confirmed her progressive hearing loss. She started with amplification using hearing aids and transitioned to cochlear implants. We researched resources and services to help her gain access to hearing so she could speak and learn. Unfortunately, we learned hearing aids are not covered by insurance and these costs can prohibit families from obtaining vital devices.
As a result, Jocelyn founded Let South Carolina Hear (LSCH) to advocate for families in the deaf and hard of hearing community. The LSCH mission is to promote, lobby and advocate for legislation that will require insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids. When a need is identified it’s important that members of a community support each other. Jocelyn has been fighting for the deaf and hard of hearing community for over a decade.
Jocelyn is currently serving as president of SC Hands & Voices. This organization provides another avenue to help families receive resources and supports for all children. Being a part of Beginnings SC as a parent specialist further helps in serving the SC DHH community.
Oscar Faulkner, Deputy Doggo Director
Oscar has served as Deputy Doggo Director for Beginnings since June 2020 when he was adopted by his mom, Jennifer. He does a great job boosting everyone's mood and providing lots of laughs around here. He excels at naps and receiving belly scratches. If you stop by the office, you'll likely get to meet him!