Tony W. Cozart, Ed.D.

Executive Director

After graduating from J. F. Webb High School, Dr. Cozart earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from St. Paul’s College. He earned a Masters in School Administration from North Carolina Central University and a Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Cozart also studied theology at Shaw Divinity School. He served 34 years in the public schools of North Carolina as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director. He served as Kindergarten Readiness Coordinator for Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start, Inc. from December 2014 until November 2016 and has served as Executive Director of Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start, Inc. since November, 2016. He is a dedicated servant and advocate for children and families. In addition to his duties at FGV, Dr. Cozart serves as Pastor of Cook’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church and is a Granville County Commissioner. His greatest joy is spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Occasionally he has the opportunity to do a little fishing.

Sharon Barnette

Program Manager


Sharon Barnette is the Program Manager for FGV Smart Start. Sharon earned her Associate degree in Early Childhood Education, at VGCC and a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations at NCCU. She has over 20 years of experience in the childcare world, from working in a classroom to owning a child care center. Her passion is to find good in everything and every person. Her strengths is the love she has for children, desiring to be a positive impact in their lives. Here at FGV, she manages the different programs that provides the gap for our families to be successful. Being able to be part of an awesome team that goes over and beyond to ensure that the needs of our communities are met when it pertains to the children.

Felisha Benson

Quality Childcare Specialist

Felisha Benson was born and raised in Henderson, NC. She attended Vance County Public schools and went on to further her education in early childhood education after graduation. Felisha has a love for children of all ages, but her passion is birth to five. She has been with FGV Smart Start since April of 2023 as the Quality Childcare Specialist. During her time she has gained a lot of information with the support of the team that works for FGV Smart Start. With her position, she offers technical assistance and coaching to childcare providers and teachers. The goal of the technical assistance and coaching is to help each center or family childcare home achieve quality childcare. The quality childcare program also offers a grant to each center or home to help them get all materials needed to achieve quality childcare.

Darleshia Braswell

Program Coordinator & Evaluator

Darleshia Braswell,is the Program Coordinator & Evaluator, with over 20 years of early childhood experience and education. She specializes in designing and implementing program support here at FGV, while ensuring measurable outcomes and continuous improvement. She is also dedicated to fostering collaboration, innovation, and impact for the families in the early childhood community.

Claire Brigner

Quality Child Care Coordinator

Claire Brigner was born and raised in Charlotte and attended Western Carolina University to earn a degree in Birth to Kindergarten. Although she is new to FGV Smart Start, starting in July of 2023, Claire has been able to bring her fourteen years of experience as an early childhood educator. She has received so much knowledge and support from within the FGV Smart Start team. She enjoys supporting quality improvement of child care centers and/or family home child care through technical assistance, coaching and trainings. Felisha Benson and Claire work closely together to coach early childhood educators and directors to implement daily best practices in the classroom. Through the Quality Child Care Grant, we are able to provide materials for childcare centers and family home child care based on the needs identified in the pre-assessment.

Sharon Bryant

Fiscal Manager

Sharon Bryant, the Fiscal Manager at Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start, is a dedicated professional with a passion for financial accountability. With her exceptional talent and expertise, Sharon ensures that every dollar is managed responsibly, allowing the organization to fulfill its mission of providing quality early childhood education and support services to families. Her commitment to transparent reporting and sound financial practices ensures that resources are allocated effectively, maximizing the impact on children’s lives. Sharon’s unwavering dedication to fiscal management has earned her the trust and respect of both colleagues and stakeholders alike. As part of the FGV Smart Start team, Sharon plays a vital role in ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Raven Burns

Adolescent Parenting Program Assistant

Raven Burns is a passionate and devoted wife, mother of two, and a community activist. Growing up in Baltimore M.D., not only exposed her to the harsh realities of community disparities; it also exposed her to people and experiences that would shape her innovative and unique personality. Her personal experiences and desire to learn more has opened many doors on her journey. In 2023 she received an associate’s degree in Human Services from Vance Granville Community College. Raven will soon be graduating from Fayetteville State University with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Currently, Raven is a Certified Parent Educator with Parents As Teachers and works as the Adolescent Parenting Program Assistant at FGV Smart Start. She also has educated parents and childcare providers in Franklin, Granville, and Vance (FGV) Counties about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Resiliency as a Resilience Outreach Specialist at Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start.

Linda P. Frederickson, Ed.D.

Early Childhood Systems Director

Dr. Linda Frederickson has worked with children and families for over 39 years. She has been a childcare worker, teacher, school administrator, central office director, and educational coordinator. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Family Relations and a Master of Education Degree from UNC Greensboro. In 2017 she earned a doctor of Education Degree from NC State University. Dr. Frederickson loves spending time with family, camping, and charity events. Her goals are to connect families with services, support those who may not be currently receiving services and promote the mission and vison of FGV Smart Start. Prior to her employment with FGV Smart Start, she was recognized by the North Carolina Partnership for Children in 2021 as the recipient of the Ashley O. Thrift Volunteer of the Year Award for leadership, commitment, passion for children and tireless advocacy on behalf of Smart Start.

Jessica LaCaruba

Granville and Vance County Outreach Specialist

Jessica LaCaruba is the Granville and Vance County Outreach Specialist at Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start. With a background in daycare and a degree from East Carolina University, she brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her role. Since joining FGV in September 2023, Jessica has been committed to providing technical assistance to programs aimed at delivering the highest quality childcare services. Jessica discovered her passion for working with infants and toddlers during her time in daycare, sparking her mission to ensure every child receives the best possible care and support during their formative years. Her expertise and drive make her a valuable asset in promoting early childhood development initiatives and fostering strong community partnerships.

Kori Lester

Behavior Support Specialist

My name is Kori Lester and I am the Behavior Support Specialist for FGV Smart Start. I have a Bachelor of Social Work from Meredith College. I have provided services for children in various capacities for over 25 years. I have two children of my own and I live in Knightdale, NC. The Behavior Support Position is an important position and began as a way to help Child Care Centers with difficult behaviors in the classroom. Based on an assessment done by FGV Smart Start almost half of the teachers reported difficult behaviors as one of the areas they needed the most help.

Amy Oakes

Kindergarten Transitions Coordinator

Amy Oakes was born in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Growing up she also lived in Michigan and South Carolina. After graduating from Anderson University and meeting her future husband, she moved to Henderson, North Carolina. Where she married and had two wonderful children. Amy started at Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start almost 14 years ago. She began as the Family Support Specialist and now is the Kindergarten Transitions Coordinator. She comes to the program with the belief that ALL children deserve every chance to succeed in life, including the best education possible. Which is why she does all that she can to make sure children have what the need to excel in kindergarten and beyond. When Amy is not working, she loves to spend time with her family and friends. Especially quality time with her granddaughter.

Della Patterson

Outreach Coordinator

Ms. Patterson is passionate about supporting and collaborating with providers to enhance the quality of care for our community’s children. She has previous work experience with FVW Head Start for 16 years. Nine of those years she served as a center director. Her background also includes working closely with diverse providers to develop engaging curriculum, implement best practices, and foster positive relationships with families. She is dedicated to promoting professional development opportunities and creating a network of resources to help centers thrive.

Christan Paylor

NC Pre-K Coordinator

Christan Paylor, NC Pre K Coordinator. Christan, monitors the NC Pre K sites in the Franklin County area. She provides technical assistance, coaching, and modeling for all NC Pre K sites in Franklin County. She also acts as a liaison between her NC Pre K sites and DCDEE to ensure all sites follow guidelines. Christan also acts as the co-chair for both Vance and Granville county NC Pre-K committees. Through federal and state funding, sites are able to purchase indoor and outdoor learning equipment to provide quality for our 4 year old students.

Annie Perry

Program Coordinator / Supervisor / Social Worker of the Adolescent Parenting Program for Vance County NC


Annie Belle Perry has been employed at Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start Inc. for over 21 years as the Program Coordinator/Supervisor/Social Worker of the Adolescent Parenting Program for Vance County NC. There, she provides intense case management for male/female adolescents who are pregnant or parenting with the best Program Assistant ever, Raven Burns! Together they use a host of different wrap-around-services that are designed to help program participants to remain in school with the goal of graduation or completion of an alternative GED Program. Ms. Perry is also a champion for education and it is visible in the lives of her children and every teen whom she has had the pleasure to serve. She believes in meeting people where they are and becoming educated in anything that you do so that you will be able to do that job well. She often says; “There Is Always Room for Improvements”; therefore, she strives to make a difference in the lives of her family, friends, and community daily. She also states; “If you believe the “Children Are Our Future”, then we have the awesome responsibility to pour into our children’s lives each day. Therefore, every day the Lord allows her to get up, her mission and goal for that day is to inspire those who cross her path.

Camryn Rodriguez

Fiscal Specialist

Camryn recently joined the FGV Smart Start team back in November 2023. She is a proud graduate from East Carolina University where she obtained a degree in Business Administration. Since graduating, she has joined our team as the Fiscal Specialist, assisting the Fiscal Manager. While at ECU, Camryn gained the knowledge necessary for her success in her position. She has become a great asset to our team as she ensures each program is properly equipped with any necessary materials. Her dedication to her work has assisted in the success of FGV Smart Start’s financial efforts.

Kimiko Williams

Community Outreach and Awareness Coordinator

Kimiko Williams is the Director of Child Care Resource & Referral for Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start Inc.  She began working with the agency as the Outreach Specialist for Vance County in June 2000.  She has held various positions within Child Care Resource & Referral such as the “Training Specialist” and the “Quality Improvement Program Coordinator.”  Kimiko was born and raised in Virginia where she gained her Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia State University in Family Child and Community Services.  In 2013 Kimiko attained her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Grand Canyon University.  Ensuring that families thrive and that each child has the best opportunity to have a successful life is very important to Kimiko.  Supporting the families in the three counties of Franklin Granville and Vance is something that she is very passionate about.

Brenda Yancey

Accessing Higher Education Coordinator

Interim Child Care Resource Director

Brenda Yancey has been employed at Franklin Granville Vance Smart Start Inc. for 18 years. She has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for 28 years. She has been a teacher, director of a childcare, trainer, coach, mentor, and now holds the position of Accessing Higher Education Coordinator. She is a passionate advocate for children in ensuring that they have a productive and successful life. She recruits students from the local Early Childhood Centers through on-site visits to child care center facilities and homes. She assists participants with registration and financial aid, such as applying for FASA, Wages, Teach Early Childhood Scholarship and Vance Granville Community College scholarships.