Our People

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Residents Faculty

Residents


photo Audrey Bridge, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi everyone! I was born and raised in Wellington, Florida. I spent a lot of time growing up with family in the mountains of North Carolina, and I couldn’t be more excited to be back next year. I attended the University of Florida for my undergraduate studies and graduated with degrees in Music and Biology. I was accepted to the University of Florida College of Dentistry for the next four years to earn my Doctorate of Dental Medicine in May of 2021. Go Gators!

I love many outdoor activities including hiking, skiing, biking, boating, and tennis. I also love traveling, orchestra, and cheering on my college football team. I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina at MAHEC!  


photo Sasha Demidova, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hey everyone, I was born in Omsk, Russia, and then made Raeford, NC my home. I graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in nutrition science and then moved to Greenville, NC for 4 years to attend East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine. Having experienced the eastern part of NC, I am delighted to share and gain new experiences in the western part of the state. In my free time, I love to explore the outdoors as much as possible by hiking, running and traveling. I also love to spend time doing various arts and crafts activities. I am so thrilled about being part of the amazing team at MAHEC and can’t wait to continue my dental journey.


photo Shauna Fletcher, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello, my name is Shauna Fletcher and I grew up in Summerville, SC. I attended Lander University where I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology and met my now husband. From there, I moved closer to home to attend the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston where I earned my DMD May of 2021. After spending most of my life in the Low country of SC I am excited to explore the mountains of North Carolina! 

My dental school education has continued to grow my passion for the field of comprehensive dentistry with an emphasis in esthetic dentistry. I am dedicated to the life-long learning that dentistry provides and am looking forward to expanding my skills at MAHEC.

 In my free time I prefer to be outdoors, and there is no better place than Asheville! I enjoy hiking, playing tennis, learning to play golf, and anything involving food.  While staying home during Covid restrictions I sparked an interest in the culinary arts and am always looking to try new recipes. I am thrilled about the opportunity to serve the patients of western North Carolina and am happy to make Asheville home.


photo Daniel Horn, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello! I grew up in Greenville, SC and attended college at North Greenville University.  I graduated with a degree in Health Science with a focus in Exercise Science.  North Greenville University is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has beautiful mountain views that remind me a lot of the views in Asheville.

I began dental school at the MUSC James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine in Charleston, South Carolina in 2017 and graduated in 2021 with a Doctorate of Dental Medicine.  I have loved the four years I’ve spent in the Low Country and I am very excited to now get to spend a year in the mountains.

In my free time I enjoy golfing, hiking, reading, exercising, and anything else that lets me get outside or spend time with friends and family. I am very excited to live in Asheville, work at MAHEC, and get to serve the communities of such a beautiful area!


photo Jennifer Lee, DDS, MS
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi there! My name is Jennifer Lee and I was born and raised in Northern Virginia. I’ve spent most of my life exploring our beautiful nation’s capital, Washington D.C. I graduated in 2014 from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and later received a Master’s in Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University in 2016. My dental journey brought me to Richmond, VA, where I attended Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry and received my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in May 2021.

In my free time, I enjoy practicing yoga, reading, traveling, exploring new restaurants (while shamelessly taking pictures of food), and searching for the perfect iced latte.

After being in Virginia for all these years, I am excited to start a new adventure and to serve the western North Carolina community with MAHEC in beautiful Asheville!


photo Samuel Miller, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi Everyone! My name is Samuel Miller and I grew up in a Lexington, Kentucky. I played soccer at the University of Kentucky while studying for a degree in Human Nutrition. After graduating from UK, I was accepted into the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry where I graduated with a Doctorate of Dental Medicine degree in May 2021. My dad is a dentist in Lexington and my mom is a landscape architect. I have one brother and he has fallen in love with the lifestyle in California, so I have to make a trip out there every year to visit.

When I am not in the dental office I enjoy playing soccer, trying new restaurants, traveling, TV shows, running, tennis, video games and basically anything else that gets me out of my routine.

I am extremely excited to explore Asheville. I am also grateful to be given the opportunity to serve the population of Western North Carolina.


photo Meeka St Juste, DMD
Resident

MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello there! My name is Chemika St Juste. I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana until I moved to Orlando, Florida in 8th grade. I graduated from University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences in 2014. Before attending dental school, I worked in education throughout the city of Orlando, providing mentorship to the youth. I began dental school at the University of Florida in 2017 where I received my Doctorate of Dental Medicine in May 2021.

I come from a big Haitian family with two great parents and four siblings. In my spare time, I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends, exercising, traveling, and being outdoors. I am beyond thrilled to join the dental team at MAHEC; I am excited to serve and explore the communities of Asheville and Western North Carolina!

Faculty


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

Welcome to our faculty bio Page! I am the Chair of everything Oral Health here at MAHEC, and I am the first UNC-appointed Associate Professor to run this department. It’s an exciting position that allows me to create and improve how we treat folks in Western NC and how we educate the future dental practitioners for this region.

I’m a graduate of UNC School of Dentistry. After graduation with honors I completed a residency and fellowship that trained me in hospital work. I spent the next two decades with Mission Hospitals of WNC developing an OR referral practice as well as a mobile dental practice that provided care to the far-flung communities of Western North Carolina. Creating such an unusual approach to care required working with the communities, schools, hospitals, and other agencies, even the State of North Carolina, to make things happen. Our practice covered a 2 1/2-hour radius throughout the region - it was a wonderful growth experience!

Next, I was recruited to East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine where I helped run one of their Learning Centers and teach dental students and residents in Spruce Pine NC. From there I took this position at MAHEC, and am now fully appreciating how the strength and vision of this organization can enable good new ideas to become realities as we create new and better ways to bring people and the care they need together.

My professional focus is operating room full-mouth rehabilitation, care for IDD folks, and collaboration to create and improve oral healthcare in new and better ways.

When not working at MAHEC, I travel (55 countries and counting), cook, sing, enjoy my dog and fire pit, and dive to the great restaurants, hikes, and stuff this region has to offer. I am a native, so I enjoy both my family and my history as well as the great scene Asheville has become!


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
Director, Columbus Clinic
Phone: 828-722-0003 Fax: 828-210-0068
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 Jessica Planer, DDS
Community Dental Faculty
Phone: 828-252-4290 Fax: 828-210-0068
MAHEC Dental Health Center
123 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

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 and our labradoodle Flossy who is more human than dog!


photo Richard Shields, DDS
Community 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!


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

Hello Folks,

It is not true, only a rumor, that my dental texts were chiseled on stone tablets, although I have had the pleasure of being involved in dentistry for over fifty years.

A brief overview of my educational background begins with undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, then on to the University of Tennessee College of Dental Medicine. I was a commissioned Naval Officer and subsequently worked in public health serving migrant labor camps on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I entered private practice in general dentistry in Miami, Florida next and continued for the next thirty-eight years.

I had the privilege of serving as a Dental Board Examiner for the state of Florida, as well as an Adex (formerly NERB) National Board Examiner. After leaving private practice I was most fortunate to begin a new career in teaching at Nova Southeastern College of Dental Medicine as an Assistant Professor in Clinical Dentistry. After five years, I went on to Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine where I served as a Clinic Care Coordinator for three years.

I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to join the excellent MAHEC Dental Team. I have found this to be a wonderful addition to my lifelong career in dentistry.

Dentistry has allowed me so many wonderful life experiences-travel, boating, flying, skiing, and scuba diving to name a few. Spending time with my family tops the list. My wife Dana and I have four children, eight grandchildren, and Daisie, the wonder dog!


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

I am excited to be a Community Faculty member for the incredible staff of the MAHEC team.

I was born in Asheville (rare these days), went to Asheville High School before enrolling at UNC - Chapel Hill for my undergraduate course work. During my last college years I worked part time at the research lab in Vascular Surgery. In 1975 I started Dental School at the UNC School of Dentistry and finished in 1979. I began practice in Asheville as an associate dentist and four years later started my own practice here eventually ending up with a staff of eighteen with three dentists. I was and am extremely proud of what we accomplished. The practice is as strong now as it ever was.

After more than twenty years in practice I fulfilled a dream and began teaching in the AEGD Residency at the UNC School of Dentistry. I covered clinic and taught the practice management curriculum to all of the residents. Fifteen years later I retired as we were starting to have grandchildren. This was a blessing I wasn’t going to miss.

My lifetime travel path has been: Asheville, Chapel Hill, Asheville, Chapel Hill and then back to Asheville. As you can tell I love to branch out!

I have two incredible daughters with four grandchildren (soon to be five). I have been married to my wife Mary for forty six years after meeting and dating in high school.

So here we are. Now I can do what I thoroughly enjoy without leaving town. I was elated when the opportunity came along.

In my spare time I enjoy being with my family, keeping my grandkids, playing golf, fishing with lifetime friends and enjoying all life has to offer.


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

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.