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Our Staff

John Wingerter of Council on Aging
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Heather Bauer, BA, Equity Advocate

Executive Director

Ext. 1312heatherb@coabc.org

Heather started at Council on Aging in January 2020.

“In addition to my professional aging services background, I grew up as the oldest in this generation of over 40 grandchildren with great respect for the elders in my life. I moved to Buncombe County as a child from northern New Jersey. After having attended UNCW and living on the NC coast, I returned to western North Carolina in 2010. I spent 13 years in non-medical home care in Human Resources, Outreach, Education, and Care Management – my first job in senior care was as a professional caregiver. I have a BA in English and Professional Writing, a minor in Women’s Studies, certificates in Gerontology, Photography and Grant Writing, and ongoing education credits in serving older adults, people with cognitive impairments and caregivers as well as specialty certificates (such as Web design for seniors, home safety, workforce development, health equity, and falls prevention). I facilitate evidence-based falls prevention programming as a Master Trainer, serve on Age-Friendly Buncombe Advisory committees, and on steering committees for groups, such as Dementia Friendly WNC and the Buncombe Aging Service Alliance (BASA). I am a local Rotarian, volunteer my time on projects for literacy, design, and consultation.

As a daughter, mother, sister, and friend I cherish my relationships and my calling to listen to the needs of others, meet people where they are, and seek solutions to challenges we face throughout our lives. I enjoy any time spent with family and friends, Yoga, conscious movement, hiking and camping, music, creative expression, reading, food, and adventure! It brings me great joy to lead a life of service, one where my next step is always guided by a vision to live well at any age, with growth and authenticity being paramount to wholeness.”

Donna Case, BSW

Director of Resource Coordination

Ext. 1305donnac@coabc.org

Donna started as an intern with Council on Aging in 2006 and was hired in 2007.

“As the Director of Resource Coordination, I oversee the Resource Coordination staff and implement programming to provide a cohesive service to the community.

I believe that working in aging services and being invited into people’s homes is truly an honor. I love being able to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. 

I grew up in Buncombe County and have raised my family here. I am glad to be a part of an agency that believes in giving back to the community each and every day.” 

John Wingerter, MSW

Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships

Ext. 1310johnw@coabc.org

John started at Council on Aging in May 2011. 

“My name is John Wingerter. I am the Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships for the Council on Aging. In this position, I coordinate the fundraising efforts of the organization and help to strengthen relationships with other agencies working in the field of older adult services. I have over 30 years of experience in the field of health insurance and employee benefits.  

I have an MSW from the University of Maryland; CEBS designation from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Fun Fact: I worked in Latin America for 12 years before becoming involved with employee benefits and health insurance.”

Bruce Birdsall

Director of Medicare Services

Ext. 1304bruceb@coabc.org

Bruce started at Council on Aging in 2017.

“As the Director of Medicare Services, I direct three of COA’s programs: the SHIIP Medicare Program, the Navigator Program for the Affordable Care Act, and the Benefits Enrollment Center. I have served in non-profit management for over 25 years.

In my free time, I love golf, pickleball, and boogie boarding.”

Sara Crawford

Finance Manager

Ext. 1311sarac@coabc.org

Sara started at Council on Aging in 2020.

“As COA’s independent Finance & Accounting Manager, I oversee the project, program, and organizational expenditures and budgeting as well as all required financial reporting. I started in senior care as a CNA at Deerfield many years ago and have a heart for COA’s Mission. I have a knack for detail and have 10+ years of experience in non-profit accounting.”

Kristina Israel, CAVNC

Volunteer Services Specialist

Ext. 1317kristinai@coabc.org

Kristina started at Council on Aging in August 2021.

“Having spent the past six years working with volunteers at Four Seasons Hospice, I am excited to take on the challenge of developing and promoting all of the volunteer opportunities here at the Council on Aging. 

As the Volunteer Services Specialist, my job is to support each of the Council on Aging’s programs in their utilization of volunteers. This is a tremendous time of growth for the organization, and I intend to support our mission in every way possible through excellence in our volunteer program. My strengths in communication and program development will come in handy as we work to increase opportunities for volunteer engagement!

In addition to my experience in volunteer management, I am also on the board of the statewide association of volunteer administration or NCAVA. As this year’s President, I have the chance to work with volunteer program leaders from across the state to offer training and educational opportunities for professional development in our field. I am also on the steering committee for our western region affiliate, LOSAVA. 

I grew up in Henderson county but have lived all over the US, from California to Kentucky to snowy New England. In 2015, my husband and I decided it was time to come back home so our son could grow up closer to his grandparents and extended family. On the weekends, I like to hike, read books, and play in the garden. Although I love to travel, there is something in these mountains that always calls me back home.  “

Susan Wilson, MA, JD

Affordable Care Act Program Director

Ext. 1321 • susanw@coabc.org

Susan started at Council on Aging in 2013. 

“I began working for COA in November of 2013 during the first open enrollment period for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Marketplace. 

Needing a new challenge and burned out on domestic law, I joined the Council as one of the first Navigators helping people get insurance through the ACA Marketplace.  As challenging as the first year was with technical snafus and confusion over the new program, the relief expressed by people with preexisting conditions able to purchase health insurance made it all worthwhile.  Every year brings new challenges and changes but the gratitude of my consumers keeps me energized.

My wife and I live in a bi-species household with three dogs and currently only one cat.  We have nine (9) wonderful grandchildren who keep us entertained even if only on Zoom calls.”

Program Staff

Robert Barclay

Robert Barclay, MSW

Aging Services Navigator

Ext. 1315robertb@coabc.org

Robert started at Council on Aging in 2020.

“After training and working with diverse populations, I found my work to be most rewarding with the aging population. At this stage of life, most people require more care and support and I feel it is my responsibility to help provide them with such basic comforts. My role at COA is to help aging folks explore and apply for the local resources and services that might be beneficial to their particular needs. 

My social work background has been primarily working with the Veteran population, most being seniors. I was part of a program that put the Veteran in charge of his/her own care with the ability to pay for caregivers of their choosing. The goal of the program was to keep the Veteran at home when the only other choice would be long-term care. This was a very rewarding job.

“In my free time I enjoy hiking, tubing, tasting beer at the local breweries, and just about anything else to avoid time on my lawnmower.”

Deborah Oldt

Deborah Oldt, BSW

Aging Services Navigator

Ext. 1302deborah@coabc.org

Deborah started at Council on Aging in 2018.

“I began working for COA after many years of working with seniors in their homes as a professional caregiver. I am committed to working with older adults to ensure their independence, dignity, and security as they age in place. As an Aging Services Specialist and BSW, I help our clients navigate the aging services available through consultations, assessments, and assistance with applications and referrals as well as ensuring connection.”

Cory Reavis

Cory Reavis

Field Services Navigator

Ext. 1313coryr@coabc.org

Cory started at Council on Aging in 2020. 

“I’ve been in public service in one way or another for over 20 years now. Helping people is what I do! I’m a classically trained chef and went to culinary school here in the states and in Italy. I decided instead of feeding people’s souls with food, I would help save their bodies and minds as a firefighter paramedic.

I worked on the country’s first 911 Psychiatric Response Unit with Grady Hospital in Atlanta, GA. We not only helped people in crisis, but we connected people with the services and care they needed to actually make a real change in their mental health. Being able to truly make a difference in the lives of people with mental health issues was something that truly changed my life as well.

As a Field Services Navigator, I connect people with invaluable resources to navigate life as an aging individual or family. I look forward to serving the Fairview Community and Buncombe County as a whole.”

Vance Goodman

Services Coordinator: Vanderbilt Apts.

Ext. 1318 (828) 253-8024VanceG@coabc.org

Vance started at Council on Aging in 2019. 

“I function as a resource and advocate for the residents who live in the downtown apartment complex, as well as facilitator of programs and special events that enhance the lives of those residents. I attended seminary in Dallas, TX, was ordained, and served as an interfaith chaplain in a pediatric trauma-one hospital for eight years prior to moving back to Western North Carolina to be closer to family. 

“I enjoy reading, writing, cycling long distances, and being outdoors.”

Gayland Welborn

Gayland Welborn

Services Coordinator: Battery Park Apts.

Ext. 1319(828) 252-7995 gaylandw@coabc.org

Gayland started at Council on Aging in 2017. 

“I am a retired North Carolina educator, having worked 33 years as a teacher, counselor, coach, and school administrator. I hold a BA from Guilford College and an MA from Appalachian State University. Since retiring as a state educator, I’ve worked as an adjunct supervisor for the UNC-Asheville Teacher Education Department and in the same capacity for Mars Hill University.

I started working for COA as a part-time resource coordinator serving the Fairview/Fletcher communities. In September of 2019, I moved into a similar position as the Service Coordinator at Battery Park Apartments in downtown Asheville.   

My work for COA came at just the right time.  After retiring from one career, I was looking to stay active and involved in something that was both challenging and meaningful. My role as a service coordinator has been all of that and more. Aging with meaning and integrity is something we will all aspire to do at some point in our lives. My work has allowed me to find that meaning for myself and support others who are trying to do the same.”

Jennie Pressley

Family Caregiver Specialist

Ext. 1308jenniep@coabc.org

Jennie started at Council on Aging in 2020

“I am thrilled to join the team at the Council on Aging after working in senior care for the past six years. Prior to that, I was with the Alzheimer’s Association, the Red Cross, and other non-profits. Making a positive difference in the community and helping others means a lot to me. I attended UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated from Mars Hill College with a degree in history. Soon, I will finish my Master’s degree. 

As the Family Caregiver Specialist, I work with families in Buncombe and Madison counties to access respite grant funding and other caregiver resources. I also facilitate the monthly CAPES Support Group which is open to any type of caregiver located near or far away. 

Florida is where I grew up but after getting married in 1998 to a local boy, I have lived in the mountains. Once this pandemic is over, it will be great fun to make music again with my husband and daughter as part of the Smoky Mountain Brass Band.”

Health Insurance Staff

Arlyn Villafuerte

Arlyn Villafuerte

Program Support Specialist

Ext. 1322arlynv@coabc.org

Arlyn started at Council on Aging in 2018

“I chose COA because I like helping out in the community. As a Program Support Specialist, I help with the Medicare program, including the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). I also assist in designing and implementing an e-marketing campaign to include the COAbc website, social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), e-newsletters, email blasts, etc. I have a BA from UNCA with majors in Sociology and Spanish.

“In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors. Hiking and mountain biking are my favorite activities.”

Phil Gale

Phil Gale

Benefits Enrollment Specialist

Ext. 1314philg@coabc.org

Phil started at Council on Aging in 2004. 

“I started at COA and worked 3 years as a Services Coordinator, and then 12 years as the Director of Senior Dining before assuming my current role in May 2021. 

The best thing about working at the Council on Aging has been the satisfaction of helping others who really need it, and the great coworkers who sincerely want to make a difference in others’ lives and have chosen this as their profession. My current role as Benefits Enrollment Specialist is to help clients assess what benefits they might qualify for, and then to complete the application and get all the supporting documentation to get the application approved. It entails meeting new community leaders and getting the word out that COA is here to assist those who need help obtaining benefits, which is critically important during this covid pandemic. 

When not working, I enjoy playing golf. My golf swing resembles Bill Murrays’ in Caddyshack, but I do have a lot of fun!”

Administrative Staff

Kim Cantwell

Kim Cantwell


Ext. 1300kimc@coabc.org

Kim started at Council on Aging in 2018 as a volunteer and in 2019 as a part-time employee.

“I moved from Lebanon, Tennessee about 2 years ago. We are really enjoying the Asheville area.

“My duties include answering phone calls and directing them to the appropriate party, greeting and directing all visitors to the office, managing outgoing and incoming mail, and being a part of the team for general administrative duties.”

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