Our People

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Residents Faculty

Residents


photo Jacob Ayers, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

I grew up in Columbia, SC and lived there my whole life until I attended Clemson University. I graduated from Clemson with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences and a minor in Business Administration in May of 2015. Before attending dental school, I lived in Greenville, SC and I worked as an intern for the Clemson Football Recruiting Department. 

I began dental school at the MUSC James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine in Charleston, South Carolina in 2016. Through the process, I continued to grow in my passion for the profession and the relational aspect of patient care. I graduated in May 2020 with a Doctorate of Dental Medicine. 

I have two great parents, two great brothers, and a wonderful wife, Elizabeth, who is a Registered Nurse. I enjoy all sports, especially college football, reading, and outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and going to the beach. I am excited to live in Asheville, work at MAHEC, and continue to practice Dentistry!


photo Alice Jamison, DDS
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi everyone! I was born and raised in Asheville, and am so happy to be back in my hometown! After graduating from Asheville High School, I attended Lawrence University in Wisconsin, graduating with a degree in biology. I then moved back south, to attend the UNC Adams School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, graduating with my Doctor in Dental Surgery degree in May of 2020. I am excited to join the team at MAHEC and to be able to provide dental care and dental education to the people and communities of Asheville and WNC, which are near and dear to my heart.

 

In my free time, I love to hike, swim, cook, play and listen to music, throw frisbees, and spend time with family and friends (both new and old, near and far!). I’m looking forward to being back in WNC and once again calling Asheville home! 


photo Emily Keller, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello! I am excited to be a dental resident at MAHEC! I am new to Asheville and excited to experience all it has to offer. I grew up in Burlington, VT and received my graduate dental education at the University of Connecticut. Outside of dentistry, my hobbies include hiking, reading, pottery, knitting, and volunteering. In my free-time I also enjoy running my nonprofit organization in Guatemala called “Cosechando Felicidad”.  


photo Natasha Mandani, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi everyone! My name is Natasha Mandani. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in sunny Clearwater, Florida. I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Biology and a minor in Anthropology in 2015. After graduation, I was accepted to the University of Florida College of Dentistry where I graduated with my Doctorate of Dental Medicine degree in May of 2020. Go Gators!

I enjoy spending my free time outdoors, hiking and kayaking, doing art, experiencing new cultures, and trying new foods. I am so excited to call Asheville my home for the next chapter of my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to begin my career in dentistry at MAHEC.


photo Blaire Mirmow, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello! I spent a large portion of my younger years in a small town in Southern Georgia before moving to Irmo, SC in high school. I then received my bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina followed by my Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC in May of 2020. 
In my free time, I love practicing yoga, reading, and just being outside as much as possible through hiking, camping, rock climbing, etc. I’m super excited to continue my dental education at MAHEC and to be able to explore Asheville and experience all it has to offer! I have wanted to move to this area for years so I’m grateful to finally be able to call Asheville home and to get the opportunity to serve and know those living in the Western North Carolina area.


photo Michelle Osta, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

I am very excited to be a dental resident at MAHEC! I am a strong believer in collaboration and communication between dentistry and medicine to foster a comprehensive treatment approach to oral medicine. During my initial experience at MAHEC, I knew I found the perfect group to fit this philosophy.  

I come from a close-knit Lebanese family. My dad is a physician, my mom is an assistant teacher, and my younger sister is a medical student at UNC in the class of 2023. 

I grew up in Greenville, NC, attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I received my degree in Economics in 2016, and then returned to Greenville to attend East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine for my Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. I have spent most of my life in eastern North Carolina, and I am excited to practice dentistry and serve the communities on the western side of this great state.

Although dentistry is my passion, I also enjoy traveling, hiking, food, movies, trying new cafes, exercising, and spending time with friends and family!


photo Andrew Powell, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello, my name is Andrew Powell I grew up just north of Charlotte in Cornelius, NC. I attended the University of North Carolina where I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology, and then I left the Tar Heel State for Florida. I received my Doctorate of Dental Medicine in May 2020 from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. After 4 years of sunshine, I am excited to be back home in North Carolina! 

 

My dental school education has continued to grow my passion for the field of dentistry, and I am thrilled to be a part of MAHEC as I continue along my journey. I am thoughtful and thorough with my work, and am always looking to expand my skills.

 

In my free time I prefer to be outdoors, and there is no better place than the mountains of Asheville! I enjoy fishing, kayaking, hiking, sporting events, and golf. Some of the things I enjoy indoors are cooking and music. I am thrilled about the opportunity to serve the patients of western North Carolina and am happy to make Asheville home.

Faculty


photo Katherine Jowers, DDS
Department Chair
Phone: 828-398-3601
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

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
Asheville, NC 28803

I’m honored to practice oral medicine here at MAHEC where I can make a positive impact serving the community while also training dentists. My clinical focus and research interests are dental treatment for oral lesions, salivary gland disorders, facial pain, and medically complex patients and undergoing cancer therapy (pre and post treatment).

I was born and raised in Coahuila in northern Mexico not far from Texas. After six years of training, I obtained my doctor in dental surgery degree at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. During my final year, I practiced dentistry in underserved rural communities while doing research on dental hygiene and systemic health conditions related to oral health including diabetes in children, rheumatoid arthritis, and gastric cancer.

After finishing my dental studies, I received a scholarship from the Government of Mexico to study abroad and obtained my masters in clinical research at the University of California, San Francisco, where I studied oral health in pediatric patients and those with diabetes. After completing my studies, I did both my general practice and oral medicine residencies at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

I have recently moved to Asheville and already it feels like home. People here are warm, kind, and always ready to help. In my free time I enjoy hiking with my dogs, painting, reading historical nonfiction, and cooking Mexican food.


photo Mark Cummins, DMD
Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290 Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hey there!! I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky…the land of great college basketball and thoroughbred horse racing! It was there, at the University of Kentucky, that I earned my Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees. Following my formal dental education, I completed a two-year general practice residency in dentistry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine / North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC.

Immediately after residency, I entered private practice in Newport News, VA, and also taught at the Medical College of Virginia’s School of Dentistry in Richmond, VA. After a few years, I returned as faculty at Wake Forest University School of Medicine’s department of dentistry.

My next career move was to open my own dental practice, near my hometown, in Richmond, Kentucky. I spent fifteen years there as a solo business owner and practitioner. I was very active in the community and my church.

I have always loved the mountains and great scenery with fun things to do so in 2015 my family moved to Asheville. The area matches my desires in more ways than one. I joined MAHEC dental faculty in 2015, and enjoy a balance of patient care and teaching, where I can share my knowledge and experiences with younger dentists.

I am married and have three boys. I enjoy gardening, photography, hiking, outdoor grilling, working out, and my hot tub!!


photo Blake Gutierrez, DDS
Dental Faculty at Columbus

MAHEC Dental Health Columbus
130 Forest Glen Drive
Columbus, NC 28722

I am excited to be here at MAHEC after a coast-to-coast journey!  I was born and raised in Utah at the base of the Wasatch Mountains.  After my undergraduate studies were completed at Brigham Young University, I attended the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, California, gaining a love of dentistry and helping others achieve their oral health goals.  Following my graduation from dental school, I complete a 1 year AEGD residency at the University of New Mexico.

My career took me back to my home state of Utah where I helped to organize and direct a dental clinic within an established community health center.  It was there that I developed 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.  All of these experiences have led me to MAHEC and helping to fulfill the mission of providing quality care to the community.

It is great being here in the mountains of western North Carolina.  I’m in awe of the beauty every day and have loved exploring around my new “home”.  The people have made me feel welcomed and I am looking forward to gaining and growing friendships for many years.  


photo Richard Shields, DDS
Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290 Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Having finally moved to WNC three years ago from southwest Michigan, after visiting my wife Pat’s parents here in Asheville for over 30 years, it’s an honor to be joining the dental faculty and outstanding team here at MAHEC!

I received my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1983. Previous to that, I graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids with a Bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish, and elementary teaching certification. I served in the US Navy for four years during the Vietnam War and then taught middle school science and Spanish prior to entering dental school.

I established my dental practice in 1983 in a small town in southwest Michigan, not too far from where I grew up. Over the course of 32 years, the practice grew to seven operatories with two full-time dentists and three hygienists. In preparation for a transition to a new dentist-owner, we embarked on a major facility upgrade and expansion about eight years beforehand, incorporating many technological features to better serve our patients. Our planning paid off, and we were abundantly blessed with the addition of a talented young associate who “overlapped” for a couple of years before purchasing our practice in 2015.

Over my years in private practice, I attended to the dental needs of the many physically and mentally impaired citizens in our rural county, and provided access to dental care for children in the Healthy Kids program. I was able to use my proficiency in Spanish to serve the local Spanish-speaking community. We provided preventive dental education to children in the local schools and offered dental screenings for kids coming into kindergarten. In 2007 and 2010, Pat and I and our hygienists brought week-long dental clinics to a small village in El Salvador, as part of the sister parish initiative through our church.

Pat and I love living here in the mountains with our two pooches who love hiking with us. The weather is better than Michigan’s and we get to enjoy the outdoors so much more! Additionally, I enjoy improving my skills in watercolor painting, reading, and travel. Serving as part-time faculty in the MAHEC Dental Health Center and Center for Advanced Training, and sharing my expertise from my many years as a solo practitioner, is a perfect post-retirement career!