Our Staff


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Jill Lawson –Executive Director 

Jill is a Licensed Master Social Worker and has spent the past 13 years working with and developing programs for children, youth, and families in the medical, school, and non-profit sectors. Although she has worked in other social work capacities, Jill has served in various roles at Palmetto Place for the entirety of her career – from Volunteer to Board Member to Counselor to Director of Client Services to Executive Director. Jill has a passion for serving children and youth in foster care and homeless teens and considers Palmetto Place a part of her family. Jill’s West Highland Terrier, Maggie, has spent her 9 years at Palmetto Place as well – she often hangs out in the Administrative Offices or roams through the house hoping to get belly rubs from the kids. Jill’s favorite parts of her job include getting to spend time with the residents, advocating for their best interest, and developing programs with an incredible team of staff members. When she is not working she is teaching as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work or traveling and finding local, good eats with Ron. 

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Rayani Baughman - Project Coordinator

Rayani is the smiling face you see when you walk into our Administrative Office. She found her love for Palmetto Place while interning in 2018 and now handles all administrative and volunteer needs. She earned her BS in Human Services from the University of South Carolina and is currently pursuing a masters in Rehabilitation and Counseling. When Rayani is not coordinating logistics for fundraising events or doing orientation for volunteers, she spends her time with her two children and planning her next trip to Disney!


Kendra Mallett-Brunson – Director of Development

Kendra was called back to her first love of fighting homelessness and social instability in August of 2018, when she became the Director of Development for Palmetto Place. Before working for Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter, Mallett-Brunson worked for Winthrop University as their Senior Development Officer. Prior to Winthrop she was the Strategic Partnerships Manager for SC Thrive for 5 years, LRADAC for 1 and served as a leasing consultant for several residential communities in the Midlands.  She earned her B.A. in Communication from Columbia College in 2013.  Kendra lives by one mantra and strives to implement it in her daily actions---“Not everyone was gifted with the ability to see the world as a creative canvass. Those who are, should paint for others.” When she’s not writing or volunteering, she’s spending time with her husband Keith and three “minions” --Kaydence, Kollyn and Kinley.

Yolanda McCray - Director of Programs

Yolanda is a Licensed Master Social Worker and earned her MSW from the University of South Carolina. She found her passion for Palmetto Place while interning in 2015. Her career experience includes medical social work, school social work, community outreach, social services, and substance abuse prevention. At Palmetto Place, Yolanda oversees all programs for residents, collects and analyzes data, facilitates groups, and so much more!

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Kristan Powell - Resident Liaison and Independent Living Coordinator 

Kristan works with the teens in our Unaccompanied Youth program, helping them set goals for their future while serving as an advocate to ensure their needs are met. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Administration from Clemson. She has previously worked with the American Red Cross and AmeriCorps in disaster relief and volunteer management, and hopes to continue working in community service. She is passionate about building strong communities, and feels that this position gives her the ability to make a positive impact on the Midlands. When she is not working, she’s usually hanging out with her husband and their two dogs, Ash and Lola.

Our Direct Care Staff are responsible for the daily physical and emotional care-giving of the residents at Palmetto Place 24 hours a day. We thank them for their many years of combined service and dedication to our mission and youth!

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