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A Catalyst for Collaboration and Innovation

Lisa Leatherman To Lead NHF Board

Nantahala Health Foundation installed a new slate of board officers this month. Franklin-native Lisa Leatherman was elected in February by a unanimous vote of the board to serve as its chair. A founding member of Nantahala Health Foundation and a Duke Energy employee for more than 35 years, Leatherman is a member of the Sylva Rotary Club and serves on boards for the Southwestern Community College Foundation, Mainspring Conservation Trust, Smoky Mountain Host and Western Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology Dean’s Advisory Board.


It is an honor to serve as a founding member – and now chair – of Nantahala Health Foundation. The opportunity to partner with nonprofits, other human services agencies, local governments, and community leaders in the six westernmost counties in Western North Carolina to influence the health and well-being of fellow citizens is humbling and motivating." -- Board Chair Lisa Leatherman


Now + Next Cohort Launched

Our first official cohort of Now + Next participants began their journey on a path of learning and sharing regionally specific leadership skills this month. These eight participants are following in the footsteps of our design team and pilot cohort:

  • Beau Bishop, Macon County Housing Coordinator
  • Stacy Guffey, Town of Franklin Council Member
  • Kevin King, Swain County Manager
  • Claire Leipold, Western Carolina Univesity Student
  • Anita Lossiah, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Policy Analyst
  • Deidre McMahon, Southwestern Child Development Commission Assistant Director
  • Jose Perez, 30th Judicial Alliance Victim Advocate
  • Savannah Vining, HIGHTS' Workforce Administration


In June 2020, NHF's Board of Directors approved a two-pronged action plan for our organization to serve as a catalyst for broader community initiatives designed to improve the health and well-being of the region. In addition to supporting agency capacity building through our grant investments, NHF would design and offer a health equity and skills development leadership program titled Now + Next to achieve the following:


1.     Develop a leadership model tailored to the unique context of Western North Carolina's resources and challenges.

2.     Serve a diverse population of existing and future human service providers to address the root causes of poor health for residents of Western North Carolina.

3.     Help leaders become more proactive in their daily actions.

4.     Enhance collaboration with and among non-profit organizations and public/governmental agencies.


From Across WNC

2023 County Health Rankings Released

The 2023 County Health Rankings and Road Map data were released last month, indicating the following changes from last year's rankings:

One entity acting alone cannot accomplish the work needed to improve the health of those living, learning, working and playing in Western North Carolina. In fact, one of Nantahala Health Foundation's core beliefs is that community collaborations are required to remove barriers to health and wellness. We look forward to connecting with you to learn more about how we can continue eliminating barriers to better health and well-being for all.


From Across the Country

Exploring House-Building Challenges


There are lots of reasons why homes are so expensive in the U.S., zoning and land prices among them. But also, the way we build houses is very slow and very inefficient. So, why don't we build homes the way we build so many other things, by mass producing them in a factory? In this podcast, you'll learn more about the century-old dream of the factory-built house and the possibility of a prefab future.


One way Nantahala Health Foundation is working to address rising home-building costs is to partner with Dogwood Health Trust and Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation to administer our collaborative Healthy Homes Initiative. Through this effort, $400,000 has been invested in WNC in the last two years, specifically to preserve the existing housing stock and ensure homes remain safe for all occupants.


From Across the World

Does Outdoor Play Promote Health?


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation invites you to look at Chile and other countries around the world where concrete playgrounds are being transformed into nature-filled spaces that bring communities together, improve child development, and help build a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Join them this Friday, April 28, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. to hear:

  • How your community can improve health and equity by bringing kids closer to nature
  • What you can do to integrate nature into all schools and communities
  • Why children's connection with nature supports climate resilience

Research shows that children are healthier and happier when they are connected with nature. While WNC is blessed with forests and wilderness in abundance, we can easily fall into the trap of taking what we have for granted. Thriving, nature-rich environments not only improve children's education and health outcomes, they also inspire communities to reimagine how entire neighborhoods can be designed to benefit all of us and the environment.


Partner Spotlight: Special Olympics

Funding from Nantahala Health Foundation in 2021 helped Special Olympics North Carolina address healthcare accessibility challenges and inequities facing children and adults at greater health risks due to leading sedentary lifestyles. These funds ensured this population living in Clay County specifically had access to health and wellness programming targeting priority issues. After health screenings (pictured here), participants were scheduled to compete in the Special Olympics Clay County Spring Games on April 27 at Hayesville High School. - Photo provided by Special Olympics

The Grant's Impact: The following was submitted by a volunteer who leads Special Olympics programming in Clay County:

We just received a very generous donation of tennis balls, softballs, basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, coaches’ whistles, mesh storage bags, and a wagon so we have supplies for inclusive PE and Unified Sports/sports training! The grant [Nantahala Health Foundation] supported has also supplied us with therapy bands/strength training bands for each school! Your donations will help Hayesville Middle School to practice basketball skills through April, then Spring Games activities (running, softball throw, tennis ball throw) through May. Thank you for supporting the health, wellness, and fitness of SONC athletes, their families, and the community in Clay County NC. YOU ARE DIFFERENCE MAKERS!” -- Clay County Special Education Teacher


Our Funding Priorities

Our grant-making priorities are designed to create a strong network of organizations by investing in your strategies to remove barriers to health.

Meet Our Partners

At Nantahala Health Foundation, we build partnerships with forward-thinking organizations focused on improving the overall health of the region. 

Our Values Statement

Our values speak to who we are as an organization and how we intend to achieve our mission. Read our full statement of values and let us know what you think.

Financial information about our organization and a copy of our license are available from the N.C. State Solicitation Licensing Section at (919) 807-2214. The license is not an endorsement by the State.

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1547 Highlands Road
Franklin, NC 28734
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