Western Carolina Medical Society Names Executive Director

Asheville, NC — The Board of Directors of the Western Carolina Medical Society is pleased to announce that, after an extensive search, Karen Wallace-Meigs has been named Executive Director, effective June 3, 2024. Wallace-Meigs succeeds John Lewis, who served as Interim Executive Director.

The roots of WCMS date to 1885 and the organization currently serves as a professional society to more than 700 physicians and physician assistants throughout Western North Carolina while also operating philanthropic programs that expand access to healthcare.

Regarding Wallace-Meigs’ selection, Dr. Jennifer Abbott, Chair of the Board of Directors of WCMS notes, “We are confident Karen is the right person to lead WCMS at this time. She brings a strong organizational and financial skill set, excellent local and community knowledge, and most importantly, a commitment to our members, staff, and mission. We are excited to continue the legacy of WCMS and to grow our programs under her leadership.”

Wallace-Meigs responds, “I am humbled to be selected as the new Executive Director of the Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS). Various iterations of the organization have been in existence for more than 140 years, and it will be an honor to work alongside the current membership, board of directors, community partners, funders, clients, and talented staff to write our next chapter. With countless changes in medical approaches, delivery, and funding, I look forward to supporting our medical community as it cares for neighbors across the 16 westernmost counties of North Carolina. Our mission and pledge to the community remain focused on promoting equitable healthcare access, community wellness, and supporting our members through policy advocacy and professional engagement.  I invite our communities to be in conversation with us to create a healthier western North Carolina.”

Armstrong McGuire, Raleigh, NC, led the executive search as well as placing Mr. Lewis as Interim Executive Director.

Wallace-Meigs previously served as executive director of Communities in Schools of Orange County (NC) and Girls on the Run of Western North Carolina, as well as transitional executive director of the Council on Aging of Buncombe County. At Communities in Schools, she worked to bring health and nutrition services onto campuses to immediately address critical social determinants of health for youth. A former Durham Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Wallace-Meigs has held advancement positions at UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Asheville, and Pisgah Legal Services, and was coordinator of public information, volunteers, and grants for the Orange County (NC) Schools. A lifelong resident of North Carolina, she moved to western North Carolina with her family in 2003. Wallace-Meigs is a graduate of UNC Charlotte and holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University, a DEI certificate from Cornell University, and was a Fellow of the nonpartisan North Carolina Institute for Political Leadership. This fall, she will begin a specialized healthcare leadership certificate program. Among myriad volunteer activities, Karen Wallace-Meigs formerly served on the N. C. Council for Women, representing that body on the N. C. Domestic Violence Commission.

WCMS operates a number of charitable programs including: Project Access®, which provides access to specialty healthcare for more than 1,700 low-income, uninsured persons annually; the WCMS Interpreter Network (WIN) which serves nearly 6,000 patients each year across 36 languages; the Dr. Charles Blair Scholarship Fund that supports students in the Medical Mentoring Program; and the WNC Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative that provides free screenings to uninsured, low-income patients. The organization’s membership programs include several member affinity groups, and the Healthy Healer program, which provides confidential, free counseling and coaching to WCMS members experiencing burnout.