Meet Our Staff


photo Mark Cummins, DMD
Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

Undergraduate: University of Kentucky
Dental School: University of Kentucky College of Dentistry
Residency: Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine / NC Baptist Hospital
Chief Resident: Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine / NC Baptist Hospital
Past or current faculty appointments: Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Mountain Area Health Education Center, University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry

Dr. Cummins grew up in central Kentucky and has had a rich career in various dental venues.  While in college and dental school at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), he won numerous awards, and then completed a residency in dentistry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine / North Carolina Baptist Hospital (Winston-Salem, NC).  While in his final year of residency, he was honored to serve as the chief resident.  Following successful completion of the residency, he moved to Newport News, VA, and worked as an associate in private practice, while being on staff and holding hospital credentials at Riverside Regional Medical Center.  While in Newport News, he was also on the clinical faculty at the Medical College of Virginia’s School of Dentistry, in Richmond, VA.  He later returned to Wake Forest University School of Medicine to be on full-time faculty in the dental residency program.  He then returned to his home state of Kentucky and opened (from scratch) & ran a solo private practice for fifteen years, near his home town.  After retiring from his private practice, he came to MAHEC, in Asheville, NC, to continue his career by sharing what he has learned throughout the years with both dental residents (at MAHEC) and students (from University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry).  He, himself, also sees patients at MAHEC Dental Health Center.  His special interest within comprehensive dental care is crown and bridge dentistry.


photo Blake Gutierrez, DDS
Director, Columbus Clinic
Phone: 828-722-0003
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Columbus
130 Forest Glen Drive
ColumbusNC 28722
Map & Directions

Dr. Gutierrez was born and raised in Utah at the base of the Wasatch Mountains and is happy to be amongst the mountains as a part of MAHEC.  After his undergraduate studies were completed at Brigham Young University, he attended the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, California, gaining a love of helping others achieve their oral health goals.  Following graduation from dental school, he completed a 1 year AEGD residency at the University of New Mexico.

Prior to joining MAHEC, his career took him back to his home state of Utah where he developed and directed a dental clinic within an established community health center.  It was there that he fostered an even greater love of practicing in rural communities and helping people that haven’t had the ability to access dental care on a routine basis. 

He approaches dentistry with prevention in mind and loves helping people find confidence in their smile. 


photo Jody Harrison, DDS, MS
Dental Community Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

photo Ken Hornowski, DDS
Community Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dental School: UNC Adams School of Dentistry - Chapel Hill

Dr. Ken Hornowski grew up in Asheville, received his DDS in Chapel Hill in 1979 and returned to Asheville where he practiced for more than twenty years. He then became an Adjunct Professor in the AEGD Residency program at the UNC School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill where he taught for the next fifteen years. Once his daughters started having grandchildren he returned to Asheville full time. He retired for a couple of years and then was excited to have the opportunity to once again teach residents in the outstanding Dental MAHEC Residency. Dr. Hornowski has lectured on Practice Management issues in the US and at the Southern European Dental Conference in Lodz, Poland. He truly enjoys teaching Residents and fourth year UNC Scholars as they know it is time to to understand how to provide excellent and enriching treatment for their patients.


photo Katherine Jowers, DDS
Chair, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health
Phone: 828-398-3601
Fax:
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

After graduating With Honors from the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry, and completing her residency and fellowship, Dr. Jowers came to Western North Carolina to help develop a hospital-based oral health program for Mission Hospitals. The resulting program successfully advocated for positive change and provided care to underserved people for two decades, and Dr. Jowers presented that program at the Surgeon General’s Conference in Washington, DC. She then taught with East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, where she served as Assistant Director for one of their learning centers until she was recruited to UNC at MAHEC.

Her interests include:

  • teaching new doctors and providers to be compassionate and effective. 
  • providing the public with better education in oral health and wellness. 
  • creating new ways to reach people with information, understanding and care
  • providing operating-room oral rehabilitation for people who can’t tolerate adequate outpatient dental care.

photo Michelle Osta, DMD
Community Dental Faculty (PRN)
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

Hi, everyone! I am honored and excited to be continuing my journey with the MAHEC dental team!

I was born and raised on the eastern side of the state in Greenville, NC. I completed my undergraduate education in economics at UNC-Chapel Hill and Doctor of Dental Medicine degree at ECU School of Dental Medicine. As a fourth year dental student, I rotated through two community service learning centers in Western NC: Sylva and Spruce Pine. I fell in love with the mountains in NC and continued my dental education at the MAHEC general practice residency. I am excited to stay with MAHEC as an adjunct faculty member to share experiences while teaching and continuing to learn with my fellow colleagues in the dental profession. 

During my days off from dentistry, I love spending time with family and friends and traveling. 


photo Jessica Planer, DDS
Community Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

I am a North Carolinian through and through!  I was born and raised in Raleigh and attended college and dental school at UNC-Chapel Hill.  I was fortunate enough to do my General Practice Residency at MAHEC in 2011-2012….and to get married to my husband Chris who is also a dentist and MAHEC graduate.  We moved away for a few years after residency but missed the mountains and soon returned to western North Carolina to stay.  I truly enjoy all aspects of general dentistry and my heart is in helping people and treating patients like family.  My work in private practice, dental education, and public health is a unique blend and has made me a better dentist, educator, and person.  I am very active in continuing education and hold leadership positions in the Buncombe County Dental Society and the North Carolina Academy of General Dentistry.  When I am not working I am soaking up quality time with our young daughter, riding my Peloton bike, or out walking our Labradoodle Flossy who we spoil completely rotten.  


photo Richard Shields, DDS
Community Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

Undergraduate: Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI
Dental School: University of Michigan

Dr. Shields joined MAHEC Dental Residency Faculty in 2018 following 32 years of general practice in Southwestern Michigan.


photo Amadeo Valdez, DDS, MAS
Director, General Dentistry Residency Program
Phone: 828-252-4290
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
AshevilleNC 28803
Map & Directions

Dental School: Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon
Master’s in Clinical Research: University of California, San Francisco CA.
General Practice Residency: Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte NC
Oral Medicine Specialty: Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte NC

Dr. Valdez has been at MAHEC since finishing his specialty training in 2018. He currently is the GPR residency program director and director of dental education at MAHEC. Dr. Valdez has a special interest in hospital dentistry and medically complex patients, oral lesions, facial pain, and oral complications from autoimmune conditions and cancer treatment. He is the recipient of the Lester Burket Memorial Award from the American Academy of Oral Medicine and has multiple publications in peer-review journals. Dr. Valdez is also the service line leader for dentistry at Mission HCA hospital and serves as a board member of the Health and Human Services in Buncombe County. 


photo Norman Zarr, DDS
Community Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-722-0003
Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Columbus
130 Forest Glen Drive
ColumbusNC 28722
Map & Directions