WCMS Announces New Leadership

January 27, 2022

Asheville, NC Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) is pleased to announce that our CEO Search Committee has selected a new CEO, Elisa Quarles, who joins the organization on February 7, 2022.

Ms. Quarles brings a wealth of leadership experience in community development, public health, advocacy, and inclusion excellence. Her professional experience is varied and ranges from working for elected officials, including former North Carolina Gov. James Hunt, the late Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, and Congressman Robert Scott of Virginia, and later to a 24-year career in healthcare. Her journey to healthcare started with the death of her beloved father from prostate cancer. She has worked for nationally-recognized nonprofits such as the American Cancer Society, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, National Brain Tumor Foundation and participated in health disparities research with academic institutions including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Morehouse School of Medicine. Community Engagement and pipeline development are other area of expertise, and her work includes managing federally funded pipeline projects, providing consultation for effective ways to conduct health research in communities, and conducting trainings in community, healthcare, and academic settings. Additionally, she has experience advocating for healthcare and health access at the state and federal levels.

Ms. Quarles joins WCMS at a particularly exciting time as WCMS’ flagship program, Project Access® begins working with organizations in McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties, in addition to Buncombe and Madison counties, to increase access to specialty healthcare for more low-income, uninsured patients. It’s also a time of strong growth in the Medical Society’s membership as membership numbers continue to hit new records.

“We are very excited to have Elisa as the new WCMS CEO and to introduce her to the medical community and our community partners in WNC,” said incoming WCMS Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Will McLean. “Working with an executive recruiter and our search committee, we undertook a comprehensive, inclusive national search and couldn’t be happier to have found Elisa. She brings extensive experience in public health and working to champion health access for all.” 

“At a time when our nation is undergoing two pandemics: COVID 19 and racial injustice, I am proud to join the dynamic team at Western Carolina Medical Society as their new Chief Executive Officer,” said Ms. Quarles. “I look forward to continuing the long-standing work of increasing health access; physician involvement with community partners, and addressing the barriers of health such as racism. Miriam Schwarz is an outstanding leader. She is a source of inspiration, and I lean forward in her legacy of great work. My goal is always to deposit good in the soil where I am planted. Also the West is the best in my opinion.”

Ms. Quarles is a native of Eastern North Carolina and is looking forward to making Western North Carolina her new home. When not working she enjoys cultivating her 50 plants and taking in nature through long walks.

The Western Carolina Medical Society’s mission is to advocate for healthy communities, increase access to affordable healthcare, fight health inequities, and promote wellness in WNC. Since 1885, WCMS has been highly respected for its leadership and innovation in addressing issues of access to affordable health care, disparities in health, and wellness promotion. Throughout its history, WCMS has been at the forefront of working collaboratively with area organizations to address the health challenges facing our community’s residents.

For more information about the Western Carolina Medical Society contact Amy Barcomb, Director of Development at 828-274-2267 or amy@mywcms.org or visit www.mywcms.org.