Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Anne Thomas, MPA

Anne Thomas, Board of Directors

Anne Thomas, MPA

Board Chair

Anne Thomas is currently a founding partner for a health care consulting firm, Praxis Partners for Health LLP, and works with Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) and Project Lazarus as a consultant assisting communities develop and sustain grassroots coalitions to address prescription opioid misuse and manage chronic pain effectively.

Ms. Thomas brings over 35 years of experience and knowledge of the healthcare industry and the factors that shape and influence health across the care continuum. She has experience serving in a variety of clinical and administrative roles in various settings, including hospitals, out-patient clinics, and public health organizations in both urban and rural areas. Previously, she served as the Public Health Director for Dare County, North Carolina and recently retired and repurposed her focus after 20 years of government service.

In 2005, Anne received the North Carolina Health Director of the Year Award and in 2009 received the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund’s “Community Catalyst Award”. Anne graduated from Boston University School of Nursing with a BSN and New York University, Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Steve Cline, DDS, MPH

Dr. Steve Cline, Board of Directors

Steve Cline, DDS, MPH

Vice Chair

Dr. Cline currently serves as the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships for Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC). His responsibilities include exploring and developing opportunities with provider networks, dental health providers, and other healthcare organizations.  He is also an advisor to the NC Health Information Exchange. Prior to joining CCNC, Dr. Cline was the Assistant Secretary for Health Information Technology in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Spending most of his career in public health, his last position in public health was as Deputy State Health Director in DHHS, where his responsibilities included formulating division policies and priorities as well supervising all programmatic areas of the Division which included Epidemiology, Women’s and Children’s Health, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Oral Health, and Public Health Preparedness.

From 1999 to 2006, Dr. Cline served as Chief of the Epidemiology Section in the North Carolina Division of Public Health where he led the state’s public health response to bioterrorism, SARS, Hurricanes Fran and Katrina, and other public health emergencies. Prior to that, Dr. Cline spent 13 years in local public health with the Wake County Health Department where he held the positions of Dental Director, Deputy Health Director and finally Acting Wake County Health Director.  In 1996 he moved to the state health department where he was the State Dental Director for three years before becoming the Chief of Epidemiology.

Dr. Cline received his B.S. degree from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina and both his DDS degree and his MPH degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He is married with four children and living in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Thomas Ricketts, PhD

Dr. Thomas Ricketts, Board of Directors

Thomas Ricketts, PhD


Dr. Ricketts is a Professor of Health Policy and Management and Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina Gillings Schools of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Medicine. He is also co-director of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Institute for Health Policy Research. His work with the ACS focuses on the future supply of surgeons and access to surgical care. Dr. Ricketts works actively in health workforce policy making and research. He has developed national and state policies governing the distribution of health resources and health care practitioners including the development of a new approach to designating primary care and dental health professional shortage and medically underserved areas.

In 2008, he was named Gillings Visiting Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Études en Santé Publique in Paris and Rennes, France, and in 2010, he was appointed a member of the National Health Care Workforce Commission created by the Affordable Care Act.

Thomas G. Irons, MD

Dr. Thomas G. Irons, Board of Directors

Thomas G. Irons, MD

Past Chair

Dr. Irons is currently the Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences at East Carolina University (ECU) and Professor of Pediatrics at Brody School of Medicine.

He joined the faculty of the ECU (now Brody) School of Medicine in 1981 and has continued an active teaching practice since that time. In 1999, he founded HealthAssist, a health improvement and health care program for low-income and uninsured residents of Eastern North Carolina. Beginning in 2005, working in close partnership with Greene County Health Care, he led the fund-raising for the construction of the the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center. The center, which is operated by Greene County Health Care, provides comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral health services and a broad range of educational programs for community members. Dr. Irons also serves on a number of state and national boards and presents frequently throughout the country and abroad on the subjects of leadership, institutional service commitment, service-learning, community health, and a wide variety of topics related to child and adolescent health.

In 2008, he was honored by the UNC Medical Alumni Association with its Distinguished Service Award. He was most recently recognized in October 2011 by the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors with its Award for Excellence in Public Service. Dr. Irons is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of North Carolina School Of Medicine, where he graduated in 1972, having received awards and honors for both academic achievement and service commitment. He completed his pediatric internship at the University of California, San Francisco, and residency at the North Carolina Memorial Hospital. From 1975 to 1978, he served in the United States Army in West Germany, and practiced pediatrics in Raleigh, NC from 1978-1981.

A Greenville, North Carolina native, he was married for almost 49 years to Carol Fleming Irons, a former member of the School of Nursing faculty at East Carolina University, who died in May of 2016. Their three children, Tom Jr., Sarah, and James are the parents of seven wonderful grandchildren.

Board Members

Charles Ayscue, MBA

Charles Ayscue, Board of DirectorsCharles Ayscue, MBA

Charles Ayscue joined Mission Health System, Inc. (the Parent Corporation) as the Chief Financial Officer in March 2007. Mission Health System, Inc. (MHS) owns, operates and manages healthcare facilities providing a broad spectrum of inpatient, outpatient and long-term acute care services to a large, 18-county service area in western North Carolina. Prior to joining MHS, Mr. Ayscue served as the Chief Financial Officer at the University of North Carolina Health Care System in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the University of North Carolina Hospitals for 20 years.

Mr. Ayscue also served for more than 4 years as the Comptroller and Associate Director of Financial Services for the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is recognized as an “advanced member” of the North Carolina Hospital Financial Management Association, having active membership for more than 40 years, and is a former recipient of the Follmer Bronze award for outstanding volunteer service. Mr. Ayscue has also been recognized for his community service related to volunteer fundraising and volunteer coaching for several community recreation departments. His professional affiliations include prior and continuous service on numerous boards and foundations.

In September of 2013, Mr. Ayscue was the recipient of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine as conferred by the Governor of the State of North Carolina. Mr. Ayscue was also recognized in September 2014 as one of the nation’s “150 Hospital and Health System CFO’s to know” in a publication by Becker’s Hospital Review. In October of 2014, Mr. Ayscue was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by his alma mater, Campbell University. Mr. Ayscue holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Business Administration degree from Campbell College, now Campbell University, in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins, Board of DirectorsChris Collins, MSW

Chris currently serves as the Director for the North Carolina Office of Rural Health (ORH).  The mission of ORH is to assist underserved communities and populations to develop innovative strategies for improving access, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care. ORH serves as North Carolina’s State Office of Rural Health and the Primary Care Office which administer the following programs: designation of health professional shortage areas, health care workforce development, provider recruitment and loan repayment, safety net primary care infrastructure development, integration of behavioral, oral and physical health, farmworker health programs, telepsychiatry, prescription assistance, community development and various innovation pilot demonstrations.

Chris oversees a budget of approximately $35 million in federal, state, and philanthropic resources, and provides funding and in-depth technical assistance to North Carolina’s safety net system that spans over 475 primary care practices and severs over 1 million vulnerable NC residents. ORH administers over 300 contracts designed to expand access to high quality health care for rural and underserved populations in NC communities.

Chris previously served a joint appointment within DHHS as an Assistant Director for the Division of Medical Assistance, overseeing the managed care program. She serves on state and federal task forces pertaining to primary care, safety net, rural health and models of integrated care. Chris received her MSW from Southern Illinois University.

Olson Huff, MD

Dr. Olson Huff, Board of DirectorsOlson Huff, MD

Olson Huff is a developmental pediatrician who practiced in North Carolina for more than forty years. A well-known child advocate, he was the founder of the Olson Huff Center for Child Development and the founding medical director of Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville, NC. He initiated many programs to assist in the health care of vulnerable populations e.g. the dental program that serves children in rural western North Carolina.

He has also served as the North Carolina Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics as vice-president and president, was a member of the Academy of Pediatrics National Nominating Committee and the Committee on Federal Government Affairs as well as chair of that committee. He has received numerous awards for his work as an advocate for children and for the advancement of health care access to vulnerable populations, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the advocacy award from the senior section of the Academy of Pediatrics and the Lewis Hine Award from the National Child Labor Committee. He is also an author of many scientific articles, regularly writes a blog on children’s health and social justice issues, and has written four books, one of which, “How to Enjoy the First 60 Days of Life”, won the gold medal from the Independent Publishers Association.

He is a veteran of the USAF, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, and received his medical degree from the University of Louisville. He is also an elder in the Presbyterian Church, a jogger, and an avid reader of US History.

John Kauffman, Jr. D.O.

Kauffman_John_M_John Kauffman, Jr. D.O., FACOI, FACP

John M. Kauffman, Jr., DO, is currently the Founding Dean of Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and has been a medical educator for the past 23 years. From 2001-2006, Dr. Kauffman worked for University Hospitals of Cleveland and established University based osteopathic residencies in Dermatology and Pediatrics. In 2006, he joined the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Virginia, as the Associate Dean for Postgraduate Affairs and was promoted to Vice Dean for Postgraduate Affairs over the Virginia and South Carolina campuses in 2010.

Named founding dean in 2011, Dr. Kauffman was named the American Osteopathic Foundation’s Educator of the Year in 2014 for his leadership in establishing the medical school at Campbell University. Dr. Kauffman obtained his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He completed his undergraduate education at Allegheny College.

Pam Kohl, BA

Pam Kohl, Board of DirectorsPam Kohl, BA

Pam Kohl is Executive Director of Susan G. Komen, NC Triangle to the Coast. A North Carolina native, Ms. Kohl has more than 30 years of experience working in government and non-profit management.  She led two health-related non-profits in Raleigh where she increased the number of clients served as well as revenue for both agencies. A veteran leader, Ms. Kohl is respected in the non-profit sector as an effective collaborator and catalyst.

J. Lloyd Michener, MD

Lloyd MichenerLloyd Michener, MD

Lloyd Michener, MD, is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Community and Family Medicine. Dr. Michener has spent his entire professional career at the interface between communities and academic health centers, focusing on finding ways of making health care more effective through teams, community engagement and practice redesign. He has overseen the Obesity/Chronic Disease Prevention Programs of the Kate B. Reynolds Trust, a program designed to lower chronic disease rates in low-income minority communities across North Carolina, and the obesity prevention programs of the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

He now directs a national program for the “Practical Playbook” which facilitates the integration of primary care and public health, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the de Beaumont Foundation.  He also leads the technical support service of “The BUILD Health Challenge”, a national competitive award program aimed at increasing the number and effectiveness of hospital, community, and public health collaborations that improve health, supported by the de Beaumont Foundation, The Advisory Board Company, the Kresge Foundation, The Colorado Health Care Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Michener has also served as an advisor to the CDC/CMS Million Hearts program, and as a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee that led to the publication of “Primary Care and Public Health:  Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health”.  In addition, Dr. Michener has served as President of the Association for Prevention Teaching & Research, Chair of the Council of Academic Societies of the Association of American Medical Colleges and as a member of the Board of the Association of Academic Medical Colleges, the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, and the National Patient Safety Foundation Board of Governors.  He has also served as a member of the Council of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Academic Affiliations Advisory Council of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, and as co-chair of the Community Engagement Key Function Committee for the Clinical Translation Science Awards of the National Institutes of Health, and leader of the annual NIH-funded meeting on community engagement in research.

Notable professional awards and recognition have included Phi Beta Kappa (Oberlin), Mead Johnson Award for Graduate Education in Family Medicine (American Academy of Family Physicians), Kellogg Family Medicine Faculty Fellowship, Alpha Omega Alpha (Duke School of Medicine), and Duncan Clark Award (Association for Prevention Teaching and Research).

Dr. Michener graduated from Oberlin College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and completed his family medicine residency and fellowship at Duke University Medical Center.

Warren Newton, MD, MPH

Dr. Warren Newton, Board of DirectorsWarren Newton, MD, MPH

Warren Newton serves as Vice Dean and Director of the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program. AHEC has nine regional centers, employs 350 physicians and over 1400 staff in running 16 residencies, providing over 200,000 hours of CME/CE annually, and supporting community-based educational experience for all professions across the state. AHEC works across the state with all health professions and hospitals, and has played a major role in developing a health careers pipeline for underrepresented minorities, improving hospital safety, and providing practice support in Health Information Technology, PCMH and Quality Improvement to over 1100 primary care practices across the state.

Dr. Newton just finished a five-year term as Dean of Education at UNC School of Medicine, where he led a successful LCME reaccreditation, expanded the school to include formal campuses in Charlotte and Asheville, reformed the curriculum and student services, and admissions up by 50% and increased underrepresented minorities.

Dr. Newton also serves as the William B. Aycock Professor and Chair of Family Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Working with many partners, he founded Community Care of Central Carolina and the Carolina Health Net system, serving over 20,000 uninsured in Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, and Orange Counties. He founded and led the statewide Improving Performance in Practice initiative and the I3 POP collaborative of 25 Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residencies to improve quality of care and implement the triple aim.

Dr. Newton serves as Chair of the Board of Advisors of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. He is past Chair of the American Board of Family Medicine, serves on the Institute of Medicine’s Global Forum on Innovations in Health Professional Education and is Chair of the ABMS Committee on Continuing Certification. He is a graduate of Yale University, Northwestern Medical School and the Family Medicine Residency and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UNC.

Steve North, MD, MPH

Dr. Steve North, Board of DirectorsSteve North, MD, MPH

Dr. North is a nationally recognized leader in school-based telemedicine and rural telehealth. He founded the Health-e-Schools school-based telemedicine program that currently provides access to primary care, preventive cardiology, and psychiatry to over 8,000 students at 22 schools in the mountains of western NC. Additionally, he serves as the Outpatient Medical Director at the Mission Center for Telehealth.

Dr. North is also a practicing Family Physician and Adolescent Medicine specialist in rural Mitchell County, NC. He currently serves on the boards of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation, the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center, and the North Carolina School Based Health Alliance. He lives in Spruce Pine, NC with his sons Eli and Oscar.

William (Bill) A. Pully, JD

William A. Pully, Board of DirectorsWilliam (Bill) A. Pully, JD

William (Bill) A. Pully joined the North Carolina Hospital Association (NCHA) in 1984, first as chief lobbyist and, for the past 15 years, as president. NCHA serves 130 hospitals and health systems as member’s voice in legislative, regulatory, and judicial arenas, and as member’s resource for current healthcare information and education.

During his tenure as president, Bill has led the association and the field to a forward-thinking agenda for transforming healthcare in North Carolina. He oversaw NCHA’s creation of the North Carolina Quality Center and the Center for Affordable Healthcare. The NCHA’s quality work has resulted in several noteworthy achievements, including a successful campaign to prevent harm to mothers and babies by reducing early elective deliveries before 39 weeks’ gestation. Through the Center for Affordable Healthcare, NCHA provides support to member hospitals and health systems in identifying opportunities for reducing costs and improving performance and health outcomes.

In 2012, Bill was honored by the N.C. Division of Public Health with the Ronald Levine Legacy Award for his significant, sustainable and positive improvements to health and quality of life in North Carolina. Bill received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Campbell University School of Law.

Rebecca Slifkin, PhD, MHA

Rebecca Slifkin, PhD, MHA

Rebecca Slifkin is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM). Prior to joining HPM she directed the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  She served as HRSA’s policy lead on Affordable Care Act implementation and was also responsible for performance measurement activities, GAO engagements, intergovernmental affairs, trans-HRSA research and evaluation, agency-wide policy analysis, and liaison with other HHS operating divisions.

From 2000-2010 Dr. Slifkin directed the North Carolina Rural Health Research & Policy Analysis Center at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focused on a broad array of subjects, including critical access hospitals, pharmacy and Medicare Part D, the 340B program, Medicaid managed care, public health departments, access to care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and Medicare reimbursement issues, including analysis of the wage index and the occupation mix. She has substantial experience leading quick turnaround projects aimed at a policy audience, and she has consulted with agency and congressional staff numerous times on the potential impact of legislative policies. From 2000-2010, Dr. Slifkin was a member of the Rural Policy Research Institute Rural Health Panel, a national panel committed to producing objective analyses of the impacts of public policy on rural people and places.

Vandana Shah, LLM

Vandana Shah, Board of DirectorsVandana Shah, LLM

Vandana Shah is the Director of South Asia Programs for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), a US based non-profit organization that works in the United States and globally as part of the Bloomberg Initiative to reduce tobacco use in developing countries. Vandana leads CTFK’s policy advocacy programming in India and Bangladesh and directs legislative/legal work in Indonesia.  She also supports advocacy efforts in in many other South Asian countries. She provides strategic leadership for both direct and indirect political advocacy, litigation, and media efforts in these countries, working closely with in-country staff and funded partners/grantees. Prior to this position, she served as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF), a state foundation that was responsible for awarding $30 million in grants for key health care prevention programs with an emphasis on tobacco control projects.

She is also the co-founder of KIRAN, a domestic violence and crisis services organization for South Asians in North Carolina and is currently serving as chair for the Board. She has also served on the board of North Carolina Society for Health Care Attorneys, Indian American Forum for Political Education, and the International Affairs Council. She has law degrees from Duke University and Calcutta University, India and has practiced in both North Carolina and India. Vandana was born and raised in Kolkata, India currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.

Brian Toomey, MSW

Brian Toomey, Board of DirectorsBrian Toomey, MSW

Mr. Toomey joined Piedmont Health Services, Inc. as its Chief Executive Officer in 2005. Working with the PHS Board and staff, the organization has grown significantly under his leadership, and now has over 370 staff with an annual operating budget of over $33 million for the Community Health Center and PACE sites. In his tenure at PHS, he has spearheaded efforts that support the PHS mission, high quality health care, and institutional financial security. He has focused on expanding health center services to more individuals needing access to care (PHS now serves over 42,000 patients annually with >107,000 medical visits >271,490 prescriptions > 18,600 dental visits) and opened a 7th community health center in the Fall 2014. He has also focused on development of 2 Piedmont Health SeniorCare locations, the area’s first Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and has focused on fostering significant community partnerships to work collaboratively around care of the underserved, including the Carolina HealthNet program for the uninsured with UNC Health Care, and a pilot project with several local Chambers of Commerce to provide access to care for the owners and employees.

He was elected as Chairman of North Carolina Community Health Center Association Board of Directors where he served two-terms. Boston College’s Graduate Social Work Program, awarded him with the Distinguished Alumni Award January 13, 2012 and he was inducted into the NACHC Grassroots Hall of Fame in March 2014. He received his MSW in from Boston College in 1980 and his bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University in 1975.