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Our Board & Staff

Susan Larson.JPG

Board Chair

Susan moved to Mitchell County when her husband David was recruited by the Spruce Pine Community Hospital to be the first internist and geriatrician in the area.  She was the first Executive Director of Toe River Arts Council and went on to a career in higher education fundraising.

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Britt moved to Yancey County with her husband Dr. Chad Smoker 18 years ago.  She has used her English Education degree with many organizations, including the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival and Parkway Playhouse. 

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Misty hails from the Jack’s Creek area of Yancey County, where she grew up on a tobacco farm. She is currently the operations manager at Mitchell-Yancey Habitat for Humanity in Spruce Pine.

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Board Member

Tom retired as a physician at Memory Care in Asheville in 2020.  From 1985 to 2006, he practiced in a primary care setting in Burnsville and Spruce Pine while serving on the medical staff at the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine.  Tom serves as a volunteer physician with the ABBCM Doctor’s Medical Clinic in Asheville.  He lives in Burnsville with his wife Lynda.

Conrad Leavitt.JPG

Board Member

Conrad owns the Burnsville-based company Trillivision.  He is the technical expert on the board and previously did the videography for two major events which SEARCH co-sponsored in Asheville.  He served as treasurer for Toe River Arts and has assisted other area nonprofits as well.       

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Board Member

After ten years involved in medical research and and biomedical engineering, among other things, Josh found his passion in focusing on rural family medicine after completing a Master's Degree in PA studies from Wake Forest.  He is now a PA in Spruce Pine and Bakersville, where he helped lead the clinic through the COVID pandemic.  Josh lives with his wife and daughter in Mitchell County.


Board Member

Bryant is a paramedic with a Master of Health Sciences degree from Western Carolina University.  With more than a decade of experience, he started as the EMS Director for Mitchell Medics in 2021, with goals of helping Mitchell Medics become a model rural EMS service for North Carolina.  Bryant lives with his wife and daughter near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Mitchell County.


Board Member

Elvira is a translator at Mountain Community Health Partnership.  She also helps with scheduling and outreach in the community.  She attended Yancey County schools, having arrived in Western NC at the age of one.  She is married with two daughters and lives in Mitchell County.


Board Member

Edison V. Seel spent 20 years in the US Army including a year in Vietnam as a Special Forces medic.  He has a BS in Zoology, an MBA with a focus in Strategic Planning, and a BSN in nursing.  After spending 4 years on the Board of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, NC, he spent 10 years at Mission Hospital as a critical care Registered Nurse.  He and his wife retired to Yancey County in January 2019.

marvin Walker.JPG

Board Member

Raised in Durham, NC and a graduate of the University of Alabama  School of Optometry, Marvin has been in private practice in Mitchell, Yancey, and Avery Counties since 1983.  He lived in Spruce Pine with his wife Diane who is also an Optometrist.  Marvin has served on many local boards including Toe River Health District and Spruce Pine Rotary.

Jon Ward.JPG

Board Member

John retired as a professor in the department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.  He continues to teach at ETSU while contributing his expertise to local nonprofits.



Communications Specialist

Allison is a Burnsville resident with deep family ties in Yancey County.  A temporary job with the Yancey County Health Department running their COVID-Hotline, answering questions about vaccines and testing, led Allison to apply for the position of Adminstrative Assistant with SEARCH.  She is also an artist with an Master's Degree in Painting.

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