Who We Are…

MountainWise is all of the Western North Carolina region. The people that make up the heritage and rich cultural fabric of our communities are who MountainWise is and what it represents. Facilitated by Macon County Public Health, MountainWise is supported by each of the Health Departments in our region:

The MountainWise team consists of four program-specific Regional Coordinators, a Communications and Development Coordinator, Bilingual Lifestyle Coach for Diabetes Prevention Program, a fiscal lead and one Project Director. These folks are based in Health Departments throughout the region, but are usually out and about doing great work in their communities.

Did You Know

Shaina's hometown of Greensboro, NC is situated midway between the state's Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains to the west and the beautiful coasts of Atlantic beaches and Outer Banks to the east - it's no wonder she loved growing up there with short drives to the best of both worlds!


Shaina Clark, MA

Regional Project Director

Originally from the Piedmont area (Greensboro), Shaina has found her new home in WNC. Obtaining both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Communication with an emphasis in Health from East Carolina University. Shaina feels as though the mountains of WNC have always been calling – admittedly, after touring a college campus in WNC as a high school senior she decided on her alma mater after realizing she “needed a little bit more than a Subway and coffee shops” to provide creature comforts as she ventured out on her own as a freshman in college.

Joining the MountainWise team in July of 2017, Shaina has served as a Regional Coordinator for the NC Minority Diabetes Prevention Program and passionately worked to develop the MountainWise brand and programs/services with her most recent role as the Communications and Development Coordinator. Upon the announcement that our long-time leader and previous Project Director, Sarah Tennyson was taking a step towards a new chapter professionally the team was equal parts heartbroken and excited about both the future role of their previous leader and the organizations future in helping to further shape public health for all of WNC.

In March of 2019, Shaina accepted the position of Regional Project Director and looks forward to working on advancing the mission and vision that has been set forth for the MountainWise Public Health Partnership – “I’m beyond thrilled to be working alongside some of the brightest, most innovative and inspiring leaders in public health – even more delighted to share that we have some pretty exciting things in store for Region 1 and our partners as we continue working together to make the healthy choice, the easy choice!”

Judy Bell

Finance Officer – Region 1 

There may be no job more important than that of the finance officer. Judy has supported MountainWise staff with ensuring invoices are paid, preparing and submitting expenditure reports and keeping track of grant balances – oh, and lest we forget, she’s also responsible for making sure that our “wonderful” staff get paid! Keeping more than just balances in check – Judy joined the MountainWise team back in 2012 as part of the original grant (CTG), “The grants have changed over the years – sooo I am still here!”

Playing a vital role in managing our grant funds, Judy’s extensive knowledge in finance stems from her Accounting Degree from Southwestern Community College and her 30 years service with the Macon County Health Department, from which she retired back in 2009. With roots planted in Franklin since the age of 3, Judy is considered a “native” of WNC – “I was not responsible for my parents moving away from WNC for work, but they regained their senses and moved back!” One of her favorite things about WNC are the beautiful mountains, the changing seasons and the southern hospitality of some of the most friendliest people around.


Tobin Lee

Regional Tobacco Prevention Manager

After growing up in Ocala, FL, Tobin’s favorite thing about living in western North Carolina is the mountain seasons. He received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Health Science Education with a specialization in Community Health Education from the University of Florida. Tobin was happy to leave the heat of Florida behind and now enjoys working at MountainWise and making new friends in the mountains.

Lauren Hooper, MPH

Regional Program Coordinator, NC Minority Diabetes Prevention Program (NCMDPP)


After spending time working as a VISTA in New Mexico focused on community health related issues, Lauren discovered her passion for public health and how to reach communities in support of making positive health-focused lifestyle and behavior changes with a lasting impact for generations to come.

Originally from Augusta, GA Lauren is no stranger to the mountains of WNC — having spent time traveling between Georgia and Canton where her grandparents reside, she officially moved to WNC following the completion of her MPH from East Tennessee State University in the Spring of 2020. 

With the passion and drive to make meaningful connections across our communities, Lauren is excited to join the MountainWise team in supporting the NC Minority Diabetes Prevention Program to bring creativity, innovation, and partnerships to life to ensure that our regional coaches have everything they need for a successful lifestyle change program.


Jenni Irwin

RCORP Implementation –  Program Coordinator

Jenni hails from Pierre, South Dakota – just a couple of hours east of one of the most historic landmarks in U.S. history, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Jenni obtained her BA in Nursing from Jamestown College located in Jamestown, ND were she went on to work in mental health and substance use prevention with a primary focus on work with at risk youth and families.

Moving to Murphy in November of 2003, she says one of her favorite things about living in WNC is “THE MOUNTAINS especially during the fall – the colors are amazing!” If you ask her what she thinks about working for MountainWise, she’ll simply say “The staff – if you haven’t had a chance to meet them – they are so much fun and they welcomed me into the family immediately.”


Back Home

When she's not out and about, networking within the region for DUFB - Abby enjoys spending time at home cooking, reading, practicing yoga and playing with her toddler.

Abby Holmes, MPH

Regional Health Promotion Specialist

While Abby grew up mostly outside of Raleigh, NC, she is a Vermont native and has chose to reside in WNC for the last fifteen years because it feels like home. Receiving her Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness Promotion from UNCA and her MPH from Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Graduate Center in Asheville, Abby has found her passion in promoting health and wellness in rural communities throughout WNC since 2008.

Joining the MountainWise team in 2018, Abby serves as the Regional Health Promotion Specialist – working towards the expansion of services to promote the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program, along with serving as technical assistant with special population health improvement projects. “Being a part of an organization that is spearheading innovative public health work in places that need it most” is one of her favorite parts of working for MountainWise.