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Our Staff

John Wingerter of Council on Aging
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Juanita I., Interim Executive Director
Ext. 1312
Team member since 2023

Juanita retired from Council on Aging and served as a COA board member until her interim appointment.

Susan W., Affordable Care Act Program Director
Ext. 1321
Team member since 2013

“I began working for COA 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.”

Emily B., Director of Congregate Nutrition
Ext. 1316
Team member since 2021

“I started my journey of working with older adults at age 12 volunteering with the Adult Life Center in Conover, NC, and fell in love. I knew from that moment I wanted to make a difference in the lives of older adults. Working with the Council on Aging’s senior dining program does just that. Offering nutritious meals, activities, and solicitation with people in the same age group feeds people’s bodies, minds, and spirits.

I grew up in Hickory, NC then attended UNC Charlotte for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I graduated with a Master’s in Gerontology. For the last 20 years, I lived in Charlotte and the surrounding area. Previously I ran a similar program in Iredell County.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my cat, listening to podcasts, and reading. I am really looking forward to exploring my new home!”

Rachel M., Director of Community Services
Ext. 1305
Team member since 2022

“As a multi-generation family caregiver, I am passionate about caregiver support and simplifying resource navigation.  I’m a Buncombe County native proudly living on the same plot of land where I raised. I am a graduate of Western Carolina University with a BS in Communications/Public Relations.  I am part of the Buncombe Aging Services Alliance, past representative for the Buncombe County Aging Advocacy committee, member of the North Carolina Coalition on Aging, and participate on the Buncombe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day committee.”

Community Services Staff

Marina K., Lead Resource Coordinator
Ext. 1315
Team member since 2022

“After spending over 17 years in aging services with non-profit and government agencies in Henderson County, I am delighted to join the team at Council on Council of Buncombe County. I moved to Hendersonville in 1997 from the UK, where I graduated from Keele University with a joint honors BA in Social Work and Russian Studies.   

My social work skills enable me to work and communicate with individuals from many different backgrounds, identify challenges and offer solutions. I enjoy working with the senior population; connecting people with services, programs and community resources. Outside of work, I like to spend time with family, friends and my dog Bella. I practice yoga, enjoy painting, travel, cooking and swimming. I am a native Russian speaker and a Human Rights advocate.”

Erin S., Resource Coordinator
Ext. 1323
Team member since 2021

Erin holds her MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has a background with AmeriCorps, departments of aging, hunger initiatives and in clinics.

Gayland W

Gayland W., Service Navigator for Battery Park Apartments
Ext. 1319
Team member since 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 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.”

Susan H., Service Navigator for Vanderbilt Apartments
Ext. 1318
Team member since 2022

“I have always enjoyed working with people and connecting them with services and other resources so being the Service Coordinator at Vanderbilt Apartments will give me the opportunity to do just that.

I have worked primarily with children and families but am excited to be able to work with seniors.

I grew up in New York and moved to North Carolina in 1997 after my parents retired to Henderson County.

I enjoy watching TV and movies about science, psychology, history, and anything funny. I love animals especially cats. I live in Henderson County with my mom.”

Steffie D., Family Caregiver Support Specialist (Buncombe)
Ext. 1303
Team member since 2022

“My career interests have focused on health and wellness through public health programs pre-K through centennial for the past 24 years in various areas including health & physical education teacher, health educator focusing on community health assessments, preconception health, tobacco treatment, health coaching, and Meals on Wheels. 

I am passionate about helping others live their healthiest lives.  I’m a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Indiana University.  I have a Health Coaching Certificate from UNC-Greensboro, and am a certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist through UNC-Chapel Hill/Duke.  I’m a Midwestern Indiana Hoosier at heart and have enjoyed living in the south – calling it home for over 20 years.  I like being creative and crafty and spending time with my kids, husband and family.”

Edwina C., Family Caregiver Support Specialist (Madison)
Ext. 1302
Team member since 2022

“By working in the senior care field, I understand the hazards that the elderly face as they become more fragile due to a physical illness, changes, or dementia.  Personally, I know how OVERWHELMING it is trying to suddenly take responsibility and care of a parent, while having to juggle home/family/work/finances with all the medical appointments and supplies needed to make sure your loved one gets the best care available. It is so stressful and at times you wonder how you will get through the day!  This is where the Family Caregiver Specialist comes in to provide options and I am so happy to be available for our Madison County residents!

I grew up in NC and live in beautiful Madison County.  I graduated from UNC-Greensboro.”

Erin W., Volunteer Coordinator
Ext. 1322
Team member since 2021

“I am truly blessed to join the team at the Council on Aging. Being able to help others in the community is a true passion of mine.

I spent the majority of my adult life in Charlotte, NC and Pensacola, FL. I have family that resides here in Transylvania and Henderson County and am now proud to call Western North Carolina my forever home.

When I’m not working I’m usually spending time with my amazing son and other family and friends. “

Judy W., Administrative Assistant
Ext. 1300
Team member since 2023

“information coming soon.”

Insurance Staff

Barbara M., Medicare Program Manager
Ext. 1304
Team member since 2023

“information coming soon.”

Vance G., Benefits Enrollment Specialist
Ext. 1314
Team member since 2019

“I am a native of Asheville, NC.  When I started at the Council on Aging, I began as a Service Coordinator at Vanderbilt Apartments in downtown Asheville before assuming the role of Benefits Enrollment Specialist. 

Prior to my time with COA, I pursued a Masters in Divinity and worked as an interfaith chaplain in a trauma-one pediatric hospital in Dallas, Texas.  I am glad to be back in Western North Carolina, closer to family and the mountains I adore. 

 When I am not assisting lower income adults with benefits enrollment, I am on my bicycle, hiking, reading good books or writing poetry.  I have an amazing family and super friends.  I also enjoy films and engaging speaker events.”

Medicare Assistant
Ext. 1310
Team member since

“information coming soon.”


Michael E., Affordable Care Act Navigator (English & Spanish)
Ext. 1324
Team member since 2022

“Before moving to the Asheville area in 2018, I spent 30 years as a newspaper reporter and publisher. That calling took me all over the world, including Washington, D.C., the battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq, and even to a scrappy little newsroom in Santa Rosa, N.M. In journalism, I got an up-close view of some of the struggles people face in their everyday lives, and I wrote stories to cast light on issues society needs to face. Still, I craved a chance to help people more directly. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about my new role.

I’m a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where I majored in journalism with minor concentrations in political science and Spanish literature. In my spare time I am an avid bird-watcher, photographer, songwriter, accordion player, student of American Sign Language and artist who transforms discarded laundry soap jugs into colorful ‘plastrickery’ mosaics.”

Maggi M., Affordable Care Act Navigator (English & Spanish)
Ext. 1327
Team member since 2023

“I grew up in California, the youngest girl in a family of 5 siblings. My father was a bracero and worked in the agricultural industry. I attended 13 schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. I knew at 9 years old that I would serve people and be a helper.

I was a military spouse. As part of a special pilot program, I was afforded the opportunity to serve the public in multiple government programs across this country and abroad. I learned how to adapt to changes quickly and I fell in love with humanity. Every person I interacted with, in service, was like receiving a gift of knowledge and wisdom. I thrive on going to where the people are and providing information and resources. I also bake a mean lasagna.

In 2019, we moved to NC to take part in a transplant program at UNC. I met and connected with many diverse community groups with the same vision of helping the public. My partner passed away in Feb 2023. In May, I decided to stay here to continue my work with the communities of WNC and I joined the ACA Navigator Team at COABC.”

Kelley P., Affordable Care Act Navigator (English & Spanish)
Ext. 1317
Team member since 2022

“I love educating folks about health insurance literacy, helping people enroll in coverage on the Marketplace, and doing outreach in several WNC communities. Before changing careers in 2019, I was an adult educator for many years who frequently traveled and lived in Central and South America to learn Spanish and teach English. My undergraduate degree from UNC-Asheville is in Environmental Studies, and my master’s degree from Western Carolina University is in English specializing in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. 

Outside of work and taking care of my teen daughter and little dog. I love to read, garden, travel, and participate in outdoor sports.”

Current Career Opportunities

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