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.

Sarah Tennyson, MPH

Project Director
sarah@mountainwise.org

While she may originally be from Charleston, SC, Sarah has thrived while living in the mountains. After earning a Masters in Public Health from Georgia State University, Sarah worked for OurVoice and Western NC AIDS Project as a health educator responsible for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a variety of different HIV and violence prevention strategies. Now at MountainWise, Sarah wants to keep our mountain communities healthy by supporting the existing efforts of people that have been taking care of each other, growing their own food, and working hard for centuries.

Judy Bell

Finance Officer – Region 1 
jbell@maconnc.org

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.

 

Hakuna Matata

While you may have heard the phrase "hakuna matata" from the movie, Lion King, William has confirmed for us that it really does mean no worries for the rest of your days. He uses this phrase often to describe his living and working in the mountains. Thankful for the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of residents of WNC has been his most enjoyable experience of working for MountainWise.

William Pertet, MHSc, RD

Regional Minority Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator
william@mountainwise.org

While the mountains of WNC may not have anything on the peaks of his hometow, Ngong Hills, Kenya - William enjoys exploring the beautiful mountain trails, towering waterfalls and the vast lakes that make our region so exciting to visit. Relocating to WNC in August of 2011 to attend school - obtaining his Associate of Science from Young Harris College and later receiving both his Bachelor's degree from Jacksonville State University with a concentration in Dietetics and Master's of Health Science in Nutrition from Western Carolina University. William brings a unique approach to providing support to our region's partners with his background in clinical work as a Dietitian.

Joining the MountainWise team in July of 2016. William has enjoyed the opportunity to connect and collaborate with various healthcare professionals and other partners to ensure our communities are empowered to lead strong and healthy lives. William enjoys his current role as the Regional Minority Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator, where he helps to identify community organizations to support their efforts in expanding the diabetes prevention program and recruitment of priority populations.

Nan Kramer, MPH

Regional Community Engagement Coordinator
nan@mountainwise.org

Nan always knew the mountains of WNC held a special place in her heart, from summers spent rock hopping and exploring all of the beauty from the rivers and waterfalls, to the hiking trails during family vacations. Originally from Charlotte, Nan felt a connection with the mountains - rich with culture and beauty abound -“I just couldn’t wait to make this area my forever home!” Relocating to the area in July of 2007, Nan studied at UNCA and received her BS in Health and Wellness Promotion, after which she went on to attend East Tennessee State University where she obtained a Masters in Public Health.

This passion for health and wellness landed her a role with MountainWise in July of 2016, serving as the Community Health Coordinator to now serving as the Worksite Wellness Coordinator. Coordinating Workwise Employee Wellness Programs throughout the region means working with numerous sites within our 8 county region to provide tools and resources to help shape the culture of the work environment around health.

Working Wise

When she's not collaborating with our regional partners - you can find Nan spending time with family and friends or better yet, she might just been hanging out with her adorable little Havanese, Murphy, cooking, knitting or spending majority of her time exploring the very thing that lead her to calling WNC home - the beauty of the mountains!

Tobin Lee

Regional Tobacco Prevention Manager
tobin@mountainwise.org

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.

Shaina Clark, MA

Communications and Development Coordinator
shaina@mountainwise.org

Originally from the Piedmont area (Greensboro), Shaina has found her new home in WNC. Obtaining both her Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Communication with an emphasis in Health from East Carolina University.

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!

Jenni Irwin

Youth Tobacco Prevention Coordinator
jenni@mountainwise.org

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 stay "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."

 

Abby Holmes

Regional Health Promotion Specialist
abby@mountainwise.org

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.

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.
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