August 5, 2019

Nantahala Health Foundation, a newly formed public 501(c)(3) organization, is pleased to announce its inaugural executive director, Lori Bailey, as well as the addition of two members to its board of directors. 

A native of Western North Carolina, Bailey has more than 25 years of experience working to protect, equip and empower vulnerable citizens across the Carolinas. Her first day as executive director of the foundation will be September 1. She commented on her new role: 

“I’m excited to join the community of nonprofits in Western North Carolina doing incredible work to improve the health and well-being of residents across our six-county region and the Qualla Boundary. I’m looking forward to partnering with them to further their impact and mobilize our mountain communities to address the root cause of issues creating health disparities in the region I consider home. Together, I’m confident our investment in improving lives will create effective change for generations to come.”

Bailey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  After receiving her BA degree, she worked for 12 years in various public and not-for-profit roles covering the Asheville and broader Western North Carolina Region in positions working to support individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental illness, the aging and caregivers for those individuals. This work included mobilization and empowerment of recipients of public mental health services to have a voice in state-level system reform efforts.   

Bailey then relocated to the Upstate of South Carolina, where she earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in International Family and Community Studies from Clemson University. While completing her degree, she worked for Clemson University on the Strong Communities for Children initiative, a comprehensive effort to prevent child maltreatment by building systems of support for families of young children through grass-roots neighborhood and community mobilization. Since completing her degree, she has more than seven years of proven leadership and management success in executive and senior leadership positions in not-for-profit organizations serving children, youth and families in crisis, including those experiencing housing instability and homelessness, those experiencing food insecurity and other economic disadvantage and those involved with the child welfare system.      

Also new to the foundation, two members were added to the NHF Board of Directors (bolded below), bringing additional expertise to their strategic planning process and ability to identify and address the organization’s funding priorities:

  • Jane Kimsey, Chair (Regional Representative/Macon County)
  • David Garrett, Vice Chair (Regional Representative/Jackson County)
  • Sonya Wachacha, Secretary (Qualla Boundary)
  • Roger Plemens, Treasurer (Macon County)
  • Kelly Brown, (Jackson County)
  • Lisa Leatherman, (Regional Representative/Macon County)
  • Alison Cochran (Swain County)
  • Jason Johnson (Cherokee County)
  • Angie Knight (Graham County)
  • Debbie Mauney (Clay County)

Please visit to read biographies for each of the current board members. Check back for updates as the board and executive director make progress on their 2019 priorities.