Our Researchers

Our scientists and staff are clinical and public health research experts with a passion for interdisciplinary community-based research and inquiry.

Kathy Foley, PhD      
Director, Division of Research
Kathy.Foley@mahec.net, 828.257.4449

Kathy joined the MAHEC Division of Research in September 2016, bringing with her 25 years of health research experience in the areas of clinical trials, economic modeling, retrospective claims data analyses, and survey development. She is responsible for setting the strategic direction for the organization’s research, evaluation, grants, and library and knowledge services in collaboration with organizational leadership and partners in the communities of Western North Carolina.

Kathy's research interests include methodology, data infrastructure and patient engagement. She received her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania where she focused on demography and medical sociology.

Jill Fromewick, MS, ScD
Research Scientist
Jill.Fromewick@mahec.net, 828-257-4755

Jill is a social epidemiologist, policy and program evaluator with two decades of public health research and evaluation experience. Guided by a background in both research methods and community outreach, she enjoys collaborating with others to collect, analyze, synthesize, and share findings in ways that facilitate their use for decision making and to strengthen program impact. 

Jill has called Asheville home for over 15 years and never gets tired of exploring the region’s biking, music, and food. Her research interests include social determinants of health and health behavior, children’s health, and racial equity. She received her doctor of science degree at Harvard School of Public Health.

Bayla Ostrach, MA, PhD
Research Scientist
Bayla.Ostrach@mahec.net, 828.257.4759

Bayla is currently developing qualitative research projects on patient and provider perceptions of human-centered design for intimate partner violence screening and substance use treatment in prenatal care. She is also supporting the research division’s efforts to analyze the implications of upcoming Medicaid managed care reform in North Carolina.

A medical anthropologist by training with a clinical background in women’s health, Bayla's research background and continuing interests are in sexual and reproductive health, birth, structural inequality as it affects access to care, health disparities, syndemics, publicly funded health systems, stigma, and social support. In addition to domestic research, she enjoys conducting periodic international fieldwork and staying in touch with longtime friends and research partners in Barcelona. Bayla received her doctorate at the University of Connecticut.

Shelley L. Galvin, MA
Director of Data Analytics
shelley.galvin@mahec.net, 828-771-5501

Shelley has more than 30+ years of experience in conducting, teaching and administrating research. Her research interests include women’s health and mental health and graduate medical education. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology.



Brunilda Lugo, MS, PhD
Research Project Manager
Brunilda.Lugo@mahec.net, 828-348-3622

Brunilda is native of Puerto Rico and moved with her husband to the continental United States in 1993. After living in several states, including Idaho, Montana, Washington and Massachusetts, they finally settled in Asheville, North Carolina. Brunilda taught microbiology at AB-Tech for almost 8 years, raised her son, and finished her doctoral degree in public health. She is passionate about infectious diseases and environmental health, both of which she focused on in her dissertation.

As a consultant, Brunilda produced ZikaZoneUSA, cloud-based weekly maps that showed where conditions were prime for Zika outbreaks. Currently, she is focused on Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. In her free time, she loves to dance and share Hispanic culture with the wider community as a volunteer. She is a member of the Parents National Council at UNC Asheville and is a board member of Mountain True. 

Kara Franke, MPH
Research Project Associate
Kara.Franke@mahec.net, 828-407-2107

Kara assists MAHEC faculty, residents, and researchers through literature reviews, data collection and management, survey design and implementation, and project support. Her areas of special interest include substance use disorders, rural health, and environmental health.

She received her Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.


Lauren Payne, BS
Research Project Associate
Lauren.Payne@mahec.net, 828-257-2978

Lauren’s research interests include cultural disparities in healthcare, opioid use and pain management, and health behavior.  She supports a variety of research projects at MAHEC through survey design and development and data collection and management.

Outside of work, Lauren plays soccer with the Asheville Buncombe Adult Soccer Association. She also enjoys running, strength training, and spending time with her dog. Lauren received her bachelor's in psychology from Appalachian State University.

Anne Squires, BS
Research Project Associate
anne.squires@mahec.net, 828-771-5534

Anne’s area of interest is health and wellness promotion, which she pursued at UNC Asheville and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2016.

Prior to returning to college, Anne owned and operated small businesses while raising her two children, both Asheville High graduates. Originally from Williamsburg, VA, she has lived in the Asheville area for over 30 years. Anne feels fortunate to be working with so many amazing people at MAHEC.

Jenna M. White, MEd            
Research & Grants Administrative Manager
jenna.white@mahec.net, 828.257.4771

Jenna’s primary focus is on the fiscal management of grant and research funds and the documentation of research. She also is involved in writing and maintaining organizational policies and procedures for the division and other administrative duties related to research proposal and grant submissions, management, and IRB oversight. Jenna received her master’s degree in higher education administration from Western Carolina University. She is excited to be a part of a growing and dynamic team and organization at MAHEC.

Lee Stevens, BA
Director of Resource Development
lee.stevens@mahec.net, 828-771-4221

Lee has more than 25 years of experience writing federal, state, and private foundation grants for local government and non-profit agencies in the areas of hospice care, health, children and family issues, substance abuse, and community development. She has also conducted targeted searches for funding sources, managed grant programs in higher education and other settings, submitted programmatic and fiscal reports, and served as a liaison with funding agencies and foundations.

Lee has trained at the Grantsmanship Center and participated in Duke University’s certificate program for non-profit management. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany. In her spare time, she designs, produces, and sells functional handwoven goods, exercises, spends time with family and friends, and writes short fiction.

Rachel A. Hillhouse, BS
Research Administrative Assistant
rachel.hillhouse@mahec.net, 828.257.2979

Rachel provides office management, financial, administrative, communications, scheduling and event support for the Research Division. She is passionate about health and wellness and has a talent for teambuilding that has been invaluable for continuous process improvement during the divisions’ rapid growth. Rachel also builds teams in her spare time as the founder and director of Asheville Edge Lacrosse, a Level 1/Level 2 Coaches Education Trainer with US Lacrosse, and a board member of the WNC US Lacrosse Chapter. 

Rachel loves spending time with her daughter and helping guide young girls in health and wellness as a community mentor. She received her bachelor of science degree from UNC Asheville.