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Resident PGY1 Resident PGY2 Resident PGY3 Resident PGY4 Faculty

Resident PGY1


photo Hussein Ahmad, MD
Resident

MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Hussein Ahmad and I am from Raleigh, NC. I am incredibly excited to be joining the MAHEC Psychiatry family and to live in Asheville! I went to the University of North Carolina, where I studied Public Health as a Morehead-Cain Scholar. After college, I worked as a healthcare management consultant in Chicago for two years before coming back to Chapel Hill to attend the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. I was especially drawn to the field of psychiatry after rotating through my third-year clerkship and seeing the incredible results my treatment teams were able to achieve and helping patients work through severe mental illnesses. I am passionate about general psychiatry and expanding mental health resources to minority groups.  

Outside of psychiatry, I like to spend my free time biking, hiking, spending time with family, and working on home renovation projects.


photo Dara Fazelnia, DO
Resident

MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Dara Fazelnia and I am originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. I received my Bachelor of Science in Human Biology from NC State University and then completed medical school at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. My interest in Psychiatry sparked during my third year of medical school where I found my curiosity about the human mind met my desire to serve the most vulnerable in my community. In my free time I enjoy cooking, playing board games and listening to podcasts. I am thrilled to join the MAHEC team and excited for the journey ahead!


photo Gabi Gonzalez Gray, MD
Resident

MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hey y’all- I’m Gabi Gonzalez Gray and I am over the moon to be joining MAHEC and be a part of the Asheville community. I grew up in Charlotte, NC (before it was a thriving metropolis) and went to undergrad at Virginia Tech where I started to foster my love for living in the mountains. I took a few years off between undergrad and medical school where I did a bunch of different and important things ranging from working retail to working at a ranch to living in Nepal to learning that bench research was not for me!

I always thought I would end up as an OB-Gyn as I have such a strong passion for women’s health. However, it just wasn’t the right fit for me and once rotating, I knew that I was not an OB-Gyn in my core. However, once I rotated in Internal Medicine I found myself consistently presenting to my attendings about the psychiatric conditions of the floor patients, as to me this felt like the real root of their hospitalizations; it was clear I was meant to pursue psychiatry. I hope to pursue issues that disproportionately affect women such as intimate partner violence, sexual assault/rape, post-partum pathologies, and disordered eating through a psychiatric lens.

In my free time I enjoy fermentation, gardening, hiking with my dog goose, and knitting is a new hobby I’ve picked up.


photo Maheen Islam, MD
Resident

MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Maheen Islam and I was born in Pakistan and raised in West Palm Beach, FL. After receiving my Bachelor of Science in Biology at Florida State University (FSU), I stayed there for another five years to complete my master’s and medical degree. You can say I am a lifelong Seminole!

I was first introduced to psychiatry during my second year in medical school when I conducted research on personality changes in dementia patients. I worked closely with a psychiatrist, who set the precedence for my passion for psychiatry. My psychiatry clerkship only further solidified this passion. It also shined a light on mental health care disparities, even at a local level. It led me to create a mental health initiative to inform the local public about these disparities and break down the stigma associated with mental health. Not only do I want to practice psychiatry, but I want to practice it in an underserved area.

When I am not talking about psychiatry, I enjoy sketching, practicing calligraphy, working out, and cooking healthy recipes. I am also into beauty and skincare. I have a beautiful baby cat named Chicken Wing. She can do tricks like “lay down” and “roll over” and provides me with a lot of entertainment. 

I am excited to join the MAHEC family and begin a new chapter in Asheville, N.C. I get to trade the beaches for the mountains! I cannot wait to practice my passion at a wonderful program and serve the area.


photo Sonia Koul, MD
Resident

MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello! My name is Sonia Koul and I was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville for college, majoring in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. At UF, I had the unique opportunity to work as a volunteer crisis counselor which created a strong interest in psychiatry and mental health work. I moved back to Tallahassee for two years as I began school at the Florida State University College of Medicine. I completed my clinical training in Daytona Beach, Florida where my love of psychiatry only continued to grow. My professional interests include child and adolescent psychiatry and advocacy work.

Outside of psychiatry, I enjoy hiking, running, playing board games with friends, and watching sports! I am thrilled to experience the beauty of Asheville and serve the Western North Carolina community as part of the MAHEC team.


photo Jennifer Ondreyka, MD
Resident

MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi there! My name is Jenny, and I am originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I attended the University of Michigan for undergrad and studied evolutionary anthropology and biopsychology. I knew that I wanted to have a career addressing health disparities, so I decided to obtain an MPH from Boston University before returning to Michigan for medical school at Michigan State College of Human Medicine. 

 

I was immediately drawn to psychiatry during medical school and could not imagine myself doing anything else! My career interests include LGBTQ+ health, child and adolescent psychiatry, addressing access issues in healthcare and quality improvement.

 

Outside of medicine I enjoy creating music with friends, playing guitar & singing, trying out new breweries with my wife and hanging with our three pups. I’m so excited to be joining the MAHEC family and to explore all that Asheville has to offer!

Resident PGY2


photo Holly Babbitt, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Holly, and I am so excited to be joining the MAHEC family. I grew up in Hendersonville and am thrilled to be back home!

I have wanted to be a psychiatrist since I was a senior in high school, so I began my undergraduate education with that in mind and never looked back! I received my Bachelor’s degree in psychology at Furman University and completed my medical education at USC School of Medicine Greenville. Between college and medical school, I worked on an inpatient psychiatric unit as a mental health technician and psychometrist, which further affirmed my love of and heart for psychiatry. My interests include child and adolescent psychiatry and women’s mental health. 

When not at work, you will likely find me watching Netflix with my cat, checking out cheesy small town festivals, trying new restaurants, or spending time with my family. 


photo Chloe Bolon, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Chloe Bolon and I grew up in Vienna, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C. I attended University of Pittsburgh, graduating with a degree in psychology and political science. After college, I worked as a research assistant in clinical psychiatry research, which sparked an interest in medicine and a passion for working with patients. As a student at New York Medical College, I worked on initiatives to improve medical student well-being and resiliency. I'm excited to join the MAHEC family and explore Asheville! In my free time, I enjoy travelling, hiking, cooking, and live music.


photo Leeallie Carter, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Leeallie Pearl Carter was primarily raised in the Ozark mountains of southern Missouri. She attended Stephens College where she studied Digital Filmmaking before moving to Miami, FL to work in public health communications throughout the Caribbean. Through this experience she decided to pursue a career in medicine and completed a post-bacc at Florida International University. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, where she was a Kenan Primary Care Medical Scholar and awarded the Gold Humanism Award. 

Her professional interests include decolonizing mental health. She loves language and speaks English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Cherokee at varying fluencies. You will find her dancing with her kids or in the garden with her partner and friends. 


photo Troy Fowler, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Troy and I grew up in the small town of Winlock, Washington. I attended Washington State University and University of Washington School of Medicine before joining the MAHEC psychiatry residency program. I fell in love with psychiatry in my third year of medical school after witnessing the depth of the doctor-patient relationship and the profound health and life changes that are possible with the application of thoughtful and personal mental healthcare. My specific interests include addictions medicine, general adult psychiatry, veterans mental health, and psychotherapy. I am thrilled to be part of the MAHEC team and to serve and grow with the Western North Carolina community.

Outside of psychiatry, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two kids. I enjoy many outdoor activities including hiking and biking, and I'm excited to experience the countless adventures that this region has to offer for me and my family.


photo Josephine Kooijman, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hello! My name is Josephine Kooijman. I was born in the Netherlands and raised in Marietta, GA. For college, I went to UNC-Chapel Hill and received my bachelor’s degree in Biology (Go Heels!). Afterwards, I moved to Atlanta and received my medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine. During that time, I also became a naturalized American citizen.

While on psychiatry rotations, I appreciated spending time and building rapport with my patients, and realized that I wanted to dedicate my career to this field. There is nothing quite as interesting as the human mind. I am very excited to start this new chapter in Asheville as part of the MAHEC family. It is an honor to be part of the psychiatry residency program and help provide mental health services in Western North Carolina.

Outside of psychiatry, I enjoy board games, hiking, cooking and spending time with friends and family. I’m also a fan of playing fetch with our two young cats - a pair of brothers named Link and Ganon.


photo Emily Kulpa, DO
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Hi! My name is Emily and I am very excited to be joining the MAHEC Psychiatry team. I am originally from Cheshire, CT, where I grew up skiing, running, and playing lacrosse. After high school, I took those passions to Denver, CO where I attended the University of Denver (DU). There I received a BS in biology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and a studio art minor! During my four years at DU, I played on the DII Women’s Club Lacrosse team, winning the 2016 DII National Championship when I was a senior. 
After graduating from DU I went straight to medical school at New York Institute of Technology’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, NY. During medical school, I lived in Brooklyn and thoroughly enjoyed all of the excitement New York City has to offer. I couldn’t leave my love for lacrosse behind though and coached Hofstra University’s Women’s Club Lacrosse team part-time for two years. I am looking forward to this new adventure exploring all that Asheville, NC has to offer by way of breweries, hiking, and outdoor fun!
I am particularly interested in geriatric psychiatry and have previously been very active in volunteering. I have also been involved in research regarding the application of robotics in geriatric psychiatry, something I never would’ve guessed I’d get into! My other areas of interest within psychiatry are telepsychiatry and forensics.

Resident PGY3


photo Luke Johnson, DO
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Luke, and I am originally from Cranberry, which is a small town in Western North Carolina. I received bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology from East Tennessee State University where I focused on behavioral neuroscience. I received my medical degree from Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine Carolinas Campus. I am excited to be a member of the MAHEC family and their mission to address the mental health needs in Western North Carolina. Professional interests of mine include neuropsychiatry and forensic psychiatry.


photo Audrey Martinez, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Audrey, and I’m excited to be joining the MAHEC family and serving the Western North Carolina community.

I’m from Atlanta and received my bachelor’s degree in biopsychology at Oglethorpe University. I then went on to medical school at the Medical College of Georgia. I have been interested in psychiatry since high school and went into medical school knowing I wanted to be a psychiatrist. My specific interests within psychiatry are treatment-resistant depression, psychotic disorders, and neurostimulation.

Outside of psychiatry, I enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures. I spent five months studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, and one month volunteering at a medical clinic in Cusco, Peru. At home, I enjoy cooking, exercising, and playing with my dog, Bella.


photo Joseph Maxwell, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

My name is Joseph, and I am originally from Jackson, Mississippi. I grew up vacationing in Western North Carolina every July for as long as I can remember, and it is hard to believe that I will now be living here 365 days a year! I am relocating with my wonderful wife of three years, Regan, who has also matched at MAHEC in family medicine. We are a sappy pair of high school sweethearts and cannot wait to begin our new exciting life together in beautiful Asheville. We are also accompanied by our two sister kitties, Ygritte and Sansa.

I first developed a conscious fascination with the human mind as an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi while pursuing degrees in biology and psychology. At the same time, I began to realize how much I love communicating with people, friends and strangers, listening to their stories and learning about their lives and what makes them who they are. As I prepared for the transition back down to Jackson for medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, I had a strong feeling that I would ultimately end up in the field of psychiatry. Five years later, it turns out I was right! Additionally, Regan and I have both developed a passion for rural practice, and I know that MAHEC is the perfect place for us to develop the knowledge and skills required to thrive as rural providers.

I look forward to soaking up everything Asheville and the surrounding area has to offer from craft beer to whitewater kayaking to bluegrass music and everything in between! When I’m not occupied with my clinical duties, you may find me laboring in our garden, reading a good book, or out hiking one of the many peaks in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.


photo Danielle Meola, MD
Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Danielle is originally from Tucson, AZ, and completed her undergraduate degree in neuroscience at the University of Florida. She continued her graduate studies at the University of Florida College of Medicine with a focus on psychoneuroimmunology, specifically researching the role of inflammatory cytokines and neurotrophic factors on the septohippocampal system.

During that time, she discovered her love of teaching through her work as a neuroanatomy teaching assistant and later developed a behavioral neuroscience course for the precollegiate science training program. After earning a doctoral degree in biomedical sciences, she volunteered at a free clinic for indigent and underserved populations, which inspired her interest in community medicine.

During medical school, Danielle continued to teach neuroanatomy, her work at the community clinic, and was elected by her peers to serve as president of their psychiatry interest group. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature camping, hiking, and kayaking. She also enjoys travel, attending festivals, and the arts.


Resident PGY4


photo Abraham "Abe" Bombeck, MD
Chief Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
My name is Abe Bombeck and I grew up in Chugiak, Alaska. I initially studied visual art in Colorado and New York City, and then worked as a carpenter and builder for ten years in Montana.  I was prompted to change careers and become a psychiatrist after losing my newborn son to a congenital disease. Following that event I decided to find a meaningful challenge as a means to channel some of the volatility and grief I was then experiencing into something constructive. I chose to pursue a degree in medicine with the intention of eventually practicing psychiatry in a rural area. Motivation for this decision was informed by my experiences as a family member of someone with a serious mental illness.  
 
I am excited for the opportunity to provide mental and behavioral healthcare to people in Asheville and the surrounding region.  My goal as a psychiatrist is to connect with patients as individuals, taking into account their unique experiences and circumstances, while providing effective and evidence-based treatments.
 
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my wife and our three young children. My other interests include reading, rock and ice climbing, and boatbuilding.

photo Hunter Edwards, DO
Chief Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
I grew up in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina just outside the Asheville area and am fortunate to call the Blue Ridge Mountains my home. Medicine has always been a strong influence on my life because of my mother, a nurse practitioner, who taught me at an early age the meaning of caring for others. After graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in chemistry, I chose to follow in the footsteps laid before me, and dedicate myself to the art and science of healing. 

I attended medical school at the Campbell University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and trained further in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege to live and travel across this great state and to learn in depth about the variety of culture and history that define it. It is a tremendous honor to be able to return to my roots by joining the MAHEC family and to help provide for the very population that helped me become the person I am today. 

photo Eric Tran, MD
Chief Resident
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803
Dr. Eric Tran is from the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Stanford University, where he studied English and Creative Writing. He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, where he was awarded the Heusner Pupil Award and the Alan W. Cross Award. He also holds an MPH from UNC and an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington.
 
His professional interests include working with LGBT and other underserved populations. His research interests include LGBT mental health, LGBT medical education, and longitudinal integrated curricula.

Faculty


photo Steve Buie, MD
Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Psychiatry Residency Program Director
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Dr. Buie is program director of the Psychiatry Residency  and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Wellness.  He treats adults with all psychiatric conditions with particular interests in bipolar disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders.  He is trained in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a treatment for severe depression.  Dr. Buie attended the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill as an undergraduate on a Morehead Scholarship.  He obtained his medical education at the University of the North Carolina School of Medicine.  He completed a residency in internal medicine at a Columbia University training hospital in New York and a psychiatry residency at Cornell Medical College, also in New York.  Dr. Buie is an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.  He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the UNC School of Medicine.  He is a past president of the North Carolina Psychiatric Association, is president of the North Carolina Psychiatric Foundation, and is a member of the American College of Psychiatrists. In his free time, Dr. Buie enjoys hiking the beautiful trails of the Blue Ridge mountains, making wine and working in his permaculture garden. 


photo Nick Ladd, DO
Associate Director, Psychiatry Residency Program
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Dr. Ladd is a native of Western North Carolina (WNC) who completed his education throughout this region. He majored in Environmental Studies and Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Then he attended medical school at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine due to its focus on serving rural Appalachia. In wishing to stay close to the community he wanted to serve, he completed his general psychiatry residency and child and adolescent fellowship at Wake Forest Baptist Health where he served as a Chief Fellow. Clinically he focuses on adult and pediatric outpatient psychiatry at multiple locations in WNC. He heads the Programa Latin concentration that has expanded mental health services at a pediatric office rooted in the nation’s oldest migrant health center,  partners with Vecinos farmworker health program through volunteer psychiatric consultation, and provides the mental health component of MAHEC’s medical trips to Honduras. He is excited about helping to meet the mental health needs of the underserved children and families across WNC by training the next generation of compassionate providers who will be equipped to serve community members throughout their life span.

 


photo Don Buckner, MD
Psychiatry Residency Faculty





photo Keith Cox, PhD
Psychologist
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-407-2637
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

photo Trace Fender, MD
Psychiatry Residency and Consultation/Liaison Fellowship Faculty
Phone: 828-213-4502
Mission Hospital
428 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Dr. Fender completed his general psychiatry residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013. He was selected as a chief resident for his final year of training. Since 2013, he has been practicing hospital-based psychiatry at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. His clinical work at this time is predominantly consultation-liaison psychiatry and electroconvulsive therapy.

Dr. Fender works with residents throughout their time at MAHEC in the evidence-informed decision-making course. He supervises and provides didactic instruction for PGY3 residents during their time on the consultation-liaison service and electroconvulsive therapy rotation. He also coordinates the consultation-liaison case conference series.


photo David Freeman, MD
Psychiatry Residency and Consultation/Liaison Fellowship Faculty
Phone: 828-213-4502
Mission Hospital
428 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Dr. Freeman is a graduate of Eastern Tennessee State University Quillen School of Medicine and completed his general psychiatry residency at Virginia Commonwealth University (formerly Medical College of Virginia) in Richmond, VA. He was a PGY4 chief resident and then completed a consultation and liaison psychiatry fellowship at VCU.

Since 2015, he has lived in Asheville, NC, with his wife and three children. His primary role is that of clinician, managing one of the adult Copestone units, and providing emergency room and consultations as needed. He is an adjunct assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill and provides instruction for medical students and MAHEC psychiatry residents. He enjoys working with learners at all levels. When not at the hospital, he is home with family or eating popcorn in one of our local independent theaters.


photo Laura Hodges, MD
Psychiatrist
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-407-2637
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Dr. Laura Hodges is a general adult psychiatrist. She attended medical school at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed her residency training at Brown University. Following completion of her training, she worked for several years in community psychiatry, where she worked with people with severe and persistent mental illness and enjoyed helping her patients recover to lead full and meaningful lives. She has a special interest in medical education, and is thrilled to join the MAHEC faculty, where she looks forward to working with trainees. She enjoys practicing a full range of general adult psychiatry. 


photo Dominique Huneycutt, PhD, JD
Psychologist
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-407-2637
MAHEC Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness
125 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Dr. Dominique Huneycutt is a licensed psychologist who directs outpatient psychotherapy services in the Dept. of Psychiatry.  In addition to providing clinical services, Dr. Huneycutt is actively involved in healthcare education, including teaching and supervising residents and students and developing programs to support mental wellness. Her areas of clinical expertise include working with children, adolescents, and families; trauma/ACES; anxiety and mood difficulties; stress management; and complex cases. She maintains a private practice and is active in several professional organizations. Dr. Huneycutt is honored to be a winner of the Western NC Psychology Association’s William Bruce Award. Originally from Virginia, Dr. Huneycutt earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.  She attended graduate school in Philadelphia in the unique joint program for law and clinical psychology, earning her M.A. from Hahnemann University; her law degree from Villanova University School of Law; and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Drexel University. Dr. Huneycutt enjoys the outdoors; exploring national parks; experiencing WNC’s arts and music; and spending time with family, friends, and her golden retriever.


photo Mark Mason, MD
Consultation/Liaison Fellowship Program Director and Psychiatry Residency Faculty
Phone: 828-213-4502
Mission Hospital
428 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Dr. Mason came to Asheville in 2008 to work at the Julian F. Keith Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center in Black Mountain, NC. After three years of addiction and general psychiatry at that facility, he began working for the department of psychiatry at Mission Hospital.

Originally from Memphis, TN, Dr. Mason received his undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech, then completed medical school and psychiatry residency at the University of Tennessee. He was awarded the Psychiatry Resident of the Year in his fourth year of training. After a year as chief resident, he remained in the department as an associate professor and was awarded the Golden Apple Teaching Award both as a resident physician and as an attending.

His primary focus of practice has been hospital-based consultation/liaison psychiatry, but he has broad experience in various practice environments including community mental health and private practice clinics, public and private hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.


photo Michael Murray, DO, PhD
Psychiatry Residency Faculty




Dr. Murray has lived and worked in Western North Carolina since 2004, after completion of the psychiatric residency program at the Cleveland Clinic. In addition to his medical degree, Dr. Murray holds a Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology from Ohio University. His undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology pre-medicine were also conferred at Ohio University, where he was introduced to osteopathic medicine.

Dr. Murray’s first position in Asheville was as a partner in a local private practice, while simultaneously working at various community mental health agencies. It was this work that gradually made him aware of his love of community psychiatry, and prompted him to shift to full-time community work in 2008. Dr. Murray currently serves as the Medical Director for RHA Behavioral Health, which has offices throughout North Carolina. His role at RHA also includes leading the RHA Asheville Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACT team).

Dr. Murray was honored to become a part of the UNC School of Medicine Asheville program in 2014, and has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to teach community psychiatry to medical students. He is excited to share his experiences in community psychiatry with psychiatrists-in-training, and admits, “I will be shamelessly recruiting from this pool to work with our community population after graduation!”

photo Sarah Volk, MD
Psychiatry Residency Faculty





photo Sarah Wells Slectha, MD
Psychiatry Residency Faculty
Phone: 828-398-3601 Fax: 828-333-5465



Dr. Sarah Wells Slechta, M.D. is a psychiatrist who enjoys working with children, adolescents, and young adults. Primarily, she provides psychiatric medication management. Additionally, she believes it is important to focus on healthy lifestyle habits and other ways to maximize one’s mental health as part of treatment.  Dr. Wells sees patients at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), but also works in a variety of other settings.  She is a consulting psychiatrist at Asheville Academy for Girls, a therapeutic boarding school for girls ages 10-15. Also, Dr. Wells is the current President of The Pisgah Institute for Psychotherapy and Education.  Her passion is teaching residents and medical students.  She serves as the associate program director for the MAHEC Psychiatry Residency program. Dr. Wells is also the site director of the psychiatry block for the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Asheville campus. Dr. Wells is active in the North Carolina Psychiatric Association, and serves on the executive council. She recently became a Distinguished Fellow of The American Psychiatric Association. She completed her training at University of North Carolina Hospitals. She is board certified in adult psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr. Wells grew up in western North Carolina, and has a deep love of nature and the mountains.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, hiking, backpacking, yoga, and travel.


photo Kathy Foley, PhD
Research Scientist
UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC
Adjunct Faculty, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy




Kathy joined the UNC Health Sciences Department 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 currently focuses on teaching the research curriculum for the psychiatry residency program.

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.


photo Elena Perea, MD
Associate Program Director (inpatient)
Phone: 828-213-4502
Mission Hospital
428 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Dr. Perea grew up outside of Philadelphia, but has been coming to the Asheville area since age 5. She went to Wake Forest University for her undergraduate degree (and therefore does not follow any successful college sports teams), where she studied anthropology, was on the varsity track and field team, and played club Ultimate Frisbee.

She went to UNC School of Medicine and remained in Chapel Hill for her general psychiatry residency. She did one year of Child and Adolescent fellowship prior to joining the faculty at UNC School of Medicine for 4.5 years. She then spent 4.5 years at Duke, rounding out her 18 years in the triangle, before moving to Asheville permanently in 2019.

Dr. Perea has won multiple teaching awards at several institutions and strongly identifies as an educator. Clinically, she enjoys CL psychiatry and the intersection of mind and body, brain and behavior, medicine and psychiatry. She is an adjunct professor at UNC and can usually be found causing trouble with a student or resident.

In her spare time, she tries to keep up with her twin sons and husband, and is an avid equestrian who competes throughout the southeastern United States.