The Nantahala Health Foundation, a newly formed, public 501(c)(3) organization, has announced its board of directors and the launch of its website.

At least one board member from each of the six counties represented by the NHF, including Jackson and the Qualla Boundary, was asked to serve on the NHF Board of Directors based on a number of specific criteria: his or her expertise in one or more of the social determinants of health, strong ties to the community he or she represents, willingness to commit the time required to invest in NHF well, and his or her desire to improve the health and well-being of all people in the westernmost counties of North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary.

“I’m so grateful for the incredible experience and dedication these board members bring to our newly-formed organization,” NHF Board Chair Jane Kimsey said. “Their investment in improving the lives of those in our community is inspiring and will make an impact on generations to come.”

The NHF Board of Directors is currently made up of the following members:

• Jane Kimsey, chair (regional representative/Macon County).

• David Garrett, vice chair (regional representative/Jackson County).

• Sonya Wachacha, secretary (Qualla Boundary).

• Lisa Leatherman, interim-treasurer (regional representative/Macon County).

• Alison Cochran (Swain County).

• Jason Johnson (Cherokee County).

• Angie Knight (Graham County).

• Debbie Mauney (Clay County).

The current board may select up to seven additional members, according to the NHF bylaws, who bring additional areas of expertise to the board and can help to better address the priorities they will be identifying in their strategic planning process over the coming months.

During its inaugural year, the NHF Board of Directors has two priorities:

1. Understanding and identifying the issues that challenge area communities and create health disparities.

2. Through a grassroots approach, creating a better understanding of the inner workings of existing nonprofits in the region, investing in their strategies through capacity building, and supporting their initiatives that address the root causes of the health inequalities in the six-county region.

The NHF website is now active and can be found at www.nantahalahealthfoundation.org.