Board Members & Staff

The CARE Coalition is a grassroots, community group representing diverse community interests dedicated to reducing substance use disorder and misuse in Transylvania County. Started in 2010 by a small group of healthcare professionals concerned about rising numbers of overdoses, the coalition has grown to include over 60 members, a staff of 5, 20 community partners, and has acquired federal funding to focus on prevention, treatment, and recovery from substance use disorder.


Executive Board


Steve Pulliam

Rotary Club of Brevard



Jim Hardy

Community Member

Vice Chair


Beth Hyatt

Healthy Communities



Beth Ford

TC Strong


Kimberly Dunbar, MSW

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd


Julie Queen

Rosman Middle School


Elaine Russell, MPH

Transylvania Public Health


Chief Tom Jordan

Brevard Police Department


Dr. Joe Cohen, MD

Emergency Department Physician


Tara Rybka, MPH

Transylvania Public Health



Kristen Gentry, MA, Program Director, hails from across the mountains near Knoxville, Tennessee. Kristen graduated from Wake Forest University and earned her Master’s in Applied Medical Anthropology from Oregon State University, specializing in social determinants of health. She moved to Transylvania County in 2015 after managing a National Science Foundation research project in the Himalayas. She enjoys getting lost in novels and in the forest, boating on whitewater, and Olympic-style lifting. She lives with her husband, Thor, and two young daughters. 


Celia Richmond, BS, Project Coordinator, is a local to Transylvania County who recently returned to the area after graduating from Appalachian State University with her Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She discovered many interest areas during her public health education, including substance use prevention through recovery. She’s excited to work in the community with many new and familiar faces! She loves spending time with her family, running in the forests, and eating good food in her free time!



Jermois Morris, BS, Project Coordinator, recently graduated from Western Carolina University with his Bachelor’s in Integrated Health Sciences. He was born and raised in Ridge Spring, SC, before moving to North Carolina to attend college. Before starting work with CARE, he spend some time volunteering in the primary care unit of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority, which helped shape his love for public health. He enjoys traveling, hiking, and hanging out with friends in his spare time.

Ayla Whitmire, M.S., LCAS, Behavioral Health Clinician, provides therapy for those incarcerated at Transylvania County Jail. Mrs. Whitmire was born and raised in Transylvania County before leaving to gain her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Criminology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and Master of Science Clinical Psychology degree with a specialization in addiction studies from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has a collective 6 years working in the mental health field as a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialists, National Clinical Director, and college psychology instructor. When she is not providing therapy, Ayla is most likely spending quality time with her husband, young son, family, and friends.

Becky Harris, BA, Jail-Based Reentry Specialist, Becky moved to Transylvania County in 2016 to pursue her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Psychology at Brevard College. During her undergrad years, she began volunteering at the Sheriff’s Office and working closely with retired Sheriff David Mahoney. She has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office for about four years, where she has worked as a detention officer, started pilot programs, and now provides case management and reentry programming under the COSSUP grant. She enjoys reading, photography, and spending time with family in her free time.