Our Board & Staff



Risa retired to WNC in 2011 where her mother’s family has been since the late 1700s. Risa spent 33 years in the aerospace industry, most of that time as a systems engineer.  Her grandfather was a founding member of the Spruce Pine Community Hospital Board.



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.



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 . 



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.


Board Member

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.


Board Member

Alex is a native of Spruce Pine and descendant of Mitchell County quartz miners.  He is dental director at Mountain Community Health Partnership in Bakersville and is also in his final year of a Master of Public Health program. 


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.       


Board Member

Karin was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but has lived in the US since 1970.  She has an M.S.W. degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and for many years was a Family Therapist while also doing community organizing, working in women’s health and in public health program management.


Board Member

Lee is a Nurse Practitioner in General Surgery and Wound Care at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, where he has been employed since 2013.  Prior to that, he worked at Mission Hospital in Asheville. 


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.


Board Member

George retired from the Centers for Disease Control and had previously worked with the US Public Health Service. As southern regional Chief of the National Health Service Corps, he administered programs to increase access to health care for rural and underserved communities.


Administrative Assistant

Allison Edge 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 MFA in Painting.