Our Mission / Core Values / Leadership
Recruit, Train, and Retain: Developing the Workforce for a Healthy North Carolina
The NC AHEC Program provides and supports educational activities and services with a focus on primary care
in rural communities and those with less access to resources to recruit, train, and retain the workforce
needed to create a healthy North Carolina. Located in Asheville, MAHEC is one of nine centers
in the NC AHEC Program and serves the western part of our state.
We deliver quality activities and services that our customers and partners value.
We promote equity and inclusivity.
We act with fairness, transparency, and the highest level of ethics.
We value partnerships and support interprofessional approaches.
We continuously innovate and improve our work.
Civility: We treat all people with respect and kindness, all the time.
Inclusivity: We value the contribution of people different than ourselves and the merits of an organization that reflects differences in our teams and our community.
Empowerment: We value engagement, commitment, and ownership of MAHEC’s mission, work, and budget.
William Hathaway, MD, has spent more than two decades working to improve health across Western North Carolina as a MAHEC board member, chief medical officer for the region’s largest hospital system, a practicing cardiologist, and now as our chief executive officer. In all of these roles, Dr. Hathaway’s commitment to equity and improving access to healthcare has been a principle that has guided his health transformation efforts. Dr. Hathaway has championed the expansion of MAHEC’s graduate medical education programs and hospital-based services to ensure we are developing the healthcare workforce necessary to promote the well-being of all those living in our region including our rural and under-resourced communities.
Dr. Hathaway is keenly aware that individual and community health are influenced by an array of social, economic, and environmental factors. He has devoted much of his professional and personal time to addressing these social determinants of health by developing robust community partnerships and serving on a variety of regional boards including the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, YMCA of Western North Carolina, and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.
A longtime supporter of MAHEC, Dr. Hathaway is proud of MHEC’s commitment to patient care, serving the underserved, and educating the next generation of healthcare workers. He is grateful for the opportunity to guide our not-for-profit’s efforts to meaningfully improve the health and wellness of all those who live and work in Western North Carolina.
— William Hathaway, MD, MAHEC CEO
Dan Frayne, MD, understands as a physician that healthcare at its best supports individuals and families from preconception through pregnancy and across the lifespan. As president of an interdisciplinary academic health center, he also understands the many systems, policies, and partnerships that are necessary to ensure equitable access to generational health. Dr. Frayne draws on both perspectives, that of a family physician and a population health innovator, to expertly guide MAHEC’s senior leadership team as it works to create the healthcare workforce and community partnerships necessary for all Western North Carolinians to thrive for generations to come.
Dr. Frayne brings a wealth of experience to his current role as president, including leadership at the national level in preconception and reproductive health and, here at MAHEC, in our departments of family medicine, continuing professional development, and graduate medical education.
In his own words, “I believe we can only improve the health of our community by using an intergenerational lens to focus on improving population health outcomes, expanding beyond our clinics into the community, and dedicating ourselves to ending racism and creating equity for all.”
— Dan Frayne, MD, MAHEC President
Francisco Castelblanco, DNP, RN, serves as director of our Mountain AHEC and chair of the Department of Continuing Professional Development at UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC. In his role as AHEC director, he works closely with MAHEC’s CEO and president and the NC AHEC program office to align regional programs with statewide initiatives for maximum impact. As departmental chair, Dr. Castelblanco guides a talented team of medical faculty and program planners in the delivery of more than 1,000 educational programs for approximately 10,000 health professionals across the state each year. A cardiac nurse by training and adjunct professor for UNC’s School of Nursing, Dr. Castelblanco knows how critical ongoing education is for delivering the highest quality patient care. He also understands the importance of equitable care, and he has devoted much of his career to advancing health equity through educational programming, minority youth career mentoring, and community service on boards that have included Buncombe County Health and Human Services, Asheville-Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement, Center for Diversity Education at UNC Asheville, Asheville Latin Americans for Achieving Success, Pisgah Legal Services, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, and Thrive.
— Francisco Castelblanco, DNP, RN, AHEC Director
Chair, Department of Continuing Professional Development
Zach Levin, CPA, is a lover of information and analysis. He is a certified public account who isn’t afraid to balance a budget and takes seriously his responsibility to manage MAHEC’s assets and obligations to deliver maximum value to our region. As MAHEC’s chief financial officer, Zach ensures our non-profit is fiscally responsible and fully accountable to granting agencies, funders, partners, our employees, and community members. With Zach at the helm, you can be sure that investments in MAHEC are investments in Western North Carolina’s long-term health.
A North Carolina native, Zach graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Appalachian State University and has called Asheville home since 2009.
— Zach Levin, CPA, Chief Financial Officer
Felicia Hipp, MSN, RN, CNE, is a strategic thinker and problem-solver extraordinaire—two strengths that come in handy in her role as MAHEC’s chief of clinical operations. Felicia oversees MAHEC’s clinical operations and works with departmental leaders to maximize the quality of our clinical services for the benefit of patients and staff alike. She is constantly looking for innovative ways to maximize operational efficiency and patient safety by leveraging MAHEC’s expertise in nursing, information technology, clinical business operations, quality improvement, and practice support.
A WNC native, Felicia is passionate about MAHEC’s mission to improve rural health and health equity. She loves working with MAHEC’s talented team to improve opportunities for health for everyone who calls our mountain region home.
— Felicia Hipp, MSN, RN, CNE, Chief of Clinical Operations
Steve Buie, MD, has been a leader in expanding access to quality mental healthcare in Western North Carolina for decades. A skilled psychiatrist, Dr. Buie has made it his mission to train physicians who can meet the mental health needs of our region, which has a shortage of mental health professionals and higher rates of depression, suicide, and substance use disorders. As Chair of MAHEC’s Department of Psychiatry, he guides a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral health professionals, school counselors, and peer support specialists in caring for patients of all ages with a range of mental health needs. As director of MAHEC’s psychiatry residency and fellowship programs, he is committed to training well-rounded psychiatrists who can work with rural, underserved populations and provide expert consultation in primary care settings. He is well-qualified for these roles and has been honored for his leadership as a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Distinguished Alumnus of the UNC School of Medicine, where he is an adjunct associate professor. Dr. Buie currently serves as the president of the North Carolina Psychiatric Foundation and is a past president of the North Carolina Psychiatric Association.
— Steve Buie, MD, Chair, MAHEC Department of Psychiatry
Beth Buys, MD, is a visionary leader and educator who is passionate about transforming obstetric and gynecologic health and, in the process, improving the health of entire families, communities, and future generations. As chair of MAHEC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Buys leads a multidisciplinary team that includes maternal-fetal medicine specialists, ob/gyn physicians, perinatal addiction and behavioral health specialists, certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, doulas, pregnancy care managers, and community partners who provide wraparound support to eliminate health inequities and address social determinants of health. Dr. Buys also works with our ob/gyn residency program and research initiatives to advance best practices and expand the rural healthcare workforce.
Dr. Buys is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and an oral board examiner with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is also a graduate of MAHEC’s ob/gyn residency program. She has called Asheville home since 1999.
— Beth Buys, MD, Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Stephanie Call, MD, MSPH, is a nationally recognized educator and internist. As chair of MAHEC’s Department of Internal Medicine and residency program, Dr. Call brings significant expertise in faculty and resident development. She consults internationally on how to enhance learner engagement through the use of milestones, educational updates, evaluation and feedback, innovative curriculum design, wellness and resilience tools, and reflective learning. Her innovative methods have earned her the Distinguished Medical Educator award from the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine and the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach award.
Dr. Call has held national leadership positions in internal medicine academic organizations and helped to develop core requirements for medical students, residents, and fellows, working in partnership with the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Call is passionate about developing well-rounded internists that are focused on serving their community as physicians, leaders, and teachers. She successfully launched MAHEC’s internal medicine residency program in 2021, filling all available first-year slots in the middle of a pandemic.
— Stephanie Call, MD, Chair, Department of Internal Medicine
Blake Fagan, MD, is an innovative family physician and faculty educator who draws on both sets of skills to provide strategic leadership for MAHEC’s rapidly growing Department of Family Medicine. A strong proponent of evidence-based medicine, Dr. Fagan is committed to ensuring the quality and success of the department’s clinical services, research and scholarly activities, and graduate medical education programs. He provides support for three family medicine residencies in Asheville, Hendersonville, and Boone, NC; a transitional year residency; and addiction medicine, sports medicine, and rural fellowships. Dr. Fagan is also board certified in addiction medicine and is a national leader in safe pain management, safe opioid prescribing, and medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. He has led workforce development initiatives to expand North Carolina’s capacity to treat opioid use disorder and served as clinical consultant for the opioid crisis for the CDC Foundation in North Carolina.
Dr. Fagan is an engaging educator and seasoned professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. As a graduate of MAHEC’s family medicine residency program, he also serves as an inspiring mentor for our residents, fellows, and medical students.
— Blake Fagan, MD, Chair, Department of Family Medicine
Katherine Jowers, DDS, understands the chasm that exists between achieving oral health and the social, economic, educational, and systemic barriers that stand in the way of achieving it. As Chair of MAHEC’s Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, she heads clinical care and dental health profession education, as well as outreach and interprofessional initiatives that expand access to oral health education and care. She is also a UNC professor and the director of the UNC Adams Rural Oral Health and Wellness (AROW) Scholars, an innovative UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC program that provides educational and clinical care opportunities for UNC dental students who intend to establish practice in underserved NC communities.
Dr. Jowers is a Western North Carolina native, an honors graduate of the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, and a long-time advocate for oral health in our region. In her two decades in WNC, she has created nationally recognized hospital- and community-based oral health programs. She is committed to expanding MAHEC’s oral health initiatives in new and exciting directions.
— Katherine Jowers, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Chair of Oral Health/Dentistry
Robyn Latessa, MD, is an innovative educator and leader, recognized internationally for her expertise in the longitudinal integrated clerkships (LIC) model of medical education that prioritizes continuity of care and relationships. As director and assistant dean of the UNC School of Medicine Asheville campus since 2012, Dr. Latessa has been a catalyst for growth, expanding the program from four students per year in 2009 to 35 students by 2021. Many of the graduates of the UNC School of Medicine Asheville branch campus have remained in our MAHEC residency programs and are practicing here in Western North Carolina. Dr. Latessa has been a family physician in Asheville since joining MAHEC in 1999 and is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill. In addition to these roles, she currently serves as interim chair of the Department of Research at UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC. She enjoys mixed-methods educational research and has published several manuscripts, many specific to LIC medical education. Dr. Latessa is passionate about collaboration, mentorship, and transparent leadership in service to MAHEC’s mission for training healthcare professionals for Western North Carolina.
— Robyn Latessa, MD, Interim Chair for the Department of Research, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC; Director and Assistant Dean, UNC School of Medicine Asheville; Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UNC Chapel Hill
MAHEC Board of Directors
Alan Stiles, MD
W. Louis Bissette, Jr.
Robert A. Blouin, PharmD
Carol Burton, PhD
Bruce Deighton, PhD
Ronald Falk, MD
David Franklin, MD
William Hathaway, MD
James M. Kirby, II
Danielle Mahaffey, MD
Alfred Mina, MD
Lindsey Rhoden, AIA
Laurie Stradley, PhD
Darin Waters, PhD