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:
- Cherokee County Department of Public Health
- Clay County Department of Public Health
- Macon County Department of Public Health
- Swain County Department of Public Health
- Jackson County Department of Public Health
- Graham County Department of Public Health
- Haywood County Department of Public Health
- Transylvania County Department of Public Health
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.
MountainWise Partnership for Health Program Director
(Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas)
For 20 years Nicole has been managing nonprofit programs related to affordable housing, community organizing, food security and policy, and education/resources for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Currently, Nicole directs the Healthy People Healthy Carolinas project for MountainWise. Nicole specializes in collaborative initiative development and currently serves in leadership roles with the WNC Food Justice Planning Initiative and on the Board of Directors of the Asheville Buncombe Community Land Trust. Nicole lives in Waynesville, located in Haywood County, is a mother to two sons, and is an avid backyard gardener and raiser of chickens when she’s not hiking the beautiful mountain trails of WNC.
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.
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.
Minority Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator (NCMDPP)
Paige Louise Robinson, a 5th generation native of Western North Carolina, is the Regional Coordinator of the Minority Diabetes Prevention Program. As MDPP coordinator, Paige stays busy focusing on budgeting, scheduling, screening and providing materials for MDPP staff. She hires and supervises each Lifestyle Coach and periodically evaluates and reports on their progress. Paige is a graduate of Franklin High School, Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University. She earned her BS degree in Health and Physical Education. She enjoys many fitness activities. Paige is a weight lifter and has placed in (and earned her pro card) at two bodybuilding competitions. She also enjoys hiking mountain trails, swimming near waterfalls, preparing healthy food, trail running and thrifting. Paige spends time with her family as well. In addition to her Mom, Dad, Brother, and Gramma, she has a lively Boxador named Duke.
Lauren Wood, MS
Double Up Food Bucks Coordinator
Lauren Wood has lived and worked in WNC since 2013. After moving frequently around the world and the US, she and her family fell for the natural beauty, balanced pace of life, great food and mountain culture and made this area home. She is the MountainWise Double up Food Bucks (DUFB) Coordinator, supporting 18 WNC sites in this USDA-funded nutrition incentive program. Lauren is committed to effective collaboration and the wise use of data and funding to strengthen local food systems and improve health and wellness.
Before joining MountainWise in the spring 2022, Lauren managed Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville and worked at Haywood County Health & Human Services, coordinating multiple community health coalitions and public health accreditation and writing grants. She received her MS in Food Policy & Applied Nutrition from Tufts University and previously worked in global public health & nutrition research. Her spare time is spent outdoors, ideally running, hiking or camping; making art and music with her family; exploring new places on day trips; and cooking and eating as much locally sourced and delicious food as she can.
Maggie Francisco, MPH
Maggie is a native of rural Southwest Virginia. She headed to central Virginia to get her undergraduate degree and Master of Public Health from the University of Virginia. She is currently a public health doctoral candidate at East Tennessee State University. Her main research interests in public health include rural health equity, tobacco prevention and cessation, and substance use disorder.
Maggie is MountainWise’s communications specialist. She maintains the MountainWise social media and works with all of MountainWise’s programs to create and disseminate public health communications and messaging.
In her free time, Maggie loves spending time with her husband Andrew and dog Raggy.