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2022 Burnsville- Yancey Chamber Board of Directors

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Kari Weaver
President  | Craft Fair Committee | Finance Committee | Policy & Procedure Committee

As the owner of One of a Kind Art Gallery (OOAK), Kari is passionate about introducing people to handcrafted objects and helping them explore their connection to them. She's equally passionate about helping artists sell their work. Weaver is a potter herself, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Ceramics in 1996 from Clemson University. She spent 15 years honing her craft before buying OOAK in 2011. The gallery now represents over 150 local artists and craftspeople.  

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Kem Muller
President Elect  | Craft Fair Committee Chair

Kem represents Appalachian Java on the board and has worked both in the store and behind the scenes as their Communication & Marketing Lead as well as their Social Media Director.  In 2021 she opened her own storefront on West Main Street, Burnsville Candle Company.  Kem volunteers with Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, helps mans the MW Studio gallery for partner, Mark Woodham, and enjoys hiking and camping and spending time with her daughter, Victoria, who she visits in Anderson, SC as often as possible, and her Mother, Jane, who lives in the Orlando, FL area.

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Jake Blood
Treasurer | Travel and Tourism Committee Chair | Finance Committee

Jake retired in 2003 from the US Air Force. He is a co-founder of NC High Peaks. His advocacy for the mountains has gifted the community with his directing the Economic Development Commission from 2007 to 2009. He is a Past President of the Yancey History Association, and an advocate of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Association, of which he was an active member. 

He is married to Cynthia Rawls Blood, who retired in 2005 from the US Army.

Jake also serves as Chair on the Travel and Tourism Committee.

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Susan Buchanan
Secretary | Membership Committee

Susan and her husband Tommy have lived in Yancey County since 1986 when they moved their dealership, Buchanan and Young, Inc., from Bakersville. Married for 41 years, they have one son, Thomas, who is also co-owner of the business. 
Susan obtained her MLS degree from Appalachian State University in 1986 and retired from Yancey County Schools in 2013 with 31 years’ experience as an educator. Susan continues to support education through the National Education Association and the North Carolina Education Association. Since retirement, Susan has been the Warranty Administrator at Buchanan and Young, Inc. She is also a board member for the Yancey County Public Library. She is a member and officer of PEO International Chapter CG of Burnsville. This club raises scholarships for women in our area, the state, and internationally. She is currently working towards her NC Real Estate Broker’s Certification. 
Susan’s greatest joy is spending time and traveling with her granddaughter, Evelyn Rey Buchanan and making family memories with her daughter-in-law, Amy, her son, Thomas, and her husband, Tommy. She looks forward to being a board member of the Burnsville/Yancey Chamber of Commerce that is such a vital part of the community bringing business and community together in beautiful Yancey County. 

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Leigh Howell
Travel & Tourism Committee

Leigh grew up in Yancey County, but attended Pinecrest High School in Pinehurst when the family moved east. He did his chef apprenticeship in Southern Pines, and then majored in management and economics and graduated from the business school at Western Carolina University. He was an executive chef for the Marriott franchise, and was the Food Service Director at the Billy Graham Training Center in Swannanoa. He is now the owner of Pig N Grits in Burnsville. Leigh is happily married to Melissa Howell. 

John Silver

John is the owner of Homeplace Beer Company on West Main Street. A graduate of Mountain Heritage, John grew up here in Burnsville, NC.  After a journey down to Greensboro for school, a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, and a successful career brewing in Asheville, John returned to Yancey County to open Homeplace Beer Company in 2017.

He puts in long hours to keep Homeplace running, but when he’s off, you can find John spending time with his (creative, amazing) wife Emily and two (spunky, precocious) young daughters. His favorite brew is the Natural Traveler, a dank IPA named as a nod to local lore of an enigmatic wanderer.

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Bryan Peterson

Bryan is a native of Yancey County. He attended Mars Hill University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He has spent the past 25 years in human resources and is currently Regional Human Resources Manager at Altec Industries in Burnsville North Carolina and responsible for facilities in Birmingham, Alabama and Osceola, Iowa. Altec is a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs, and contractor markets. They deliver products and services in more than 100 countries throughout the world. The Burnsville plant has 900+ associates.

Bryan is very active in the community and high country region. He currently serves on the High Country Workforce Development Board as Chairman and Mayland Community College Board of Trustees. He has also served on the Yancey County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Yancey County Committee on Aging Board Chairman for 20+ years, Yancey County Schools Business Education Advisory Board and Carolina Star Program Board of Directors with the North Carolina Department of Labor.

Bryan and his wife Anita live in Yancey County and they have one daughter who lives in Raleigh.

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Jamie McMahan
Travel & Tourism Committee | Policy & Procedures Committee

A Yancey County native, Jamie McMahan serves as Planning & Economic Development Director for Yancey County and the Town of Burnsville. Holding certifications in Sustainable Community Development and Economic Development from Duke University and Development and Capital Finance from the UNC School of Government, Jamie is a member of the North Carolina Economic Development Association, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association, the National Rural Economic Development Association and the Southern Economic Development Council. During his tenure with Yancey County Jamie has worked on numerous business recruitment projects, large and small, public facility and infrastructure projects and multiple building reuse, redevelopment and economic development projects, as well as volunteering with and serving on the board of several Yancey County nonprofits, including currently serving as Executive Director of the Yancey Advancement Foundation and as President of the seven-county Asheville-metro regional economic development council CarolinaWest, Inc.

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Renee Tomberlin
Finance Committee

Renee was born and raised in the town of Burnsville and attended Mars Hill College, graduating in 1982. She has worked with Yancey DSS, the Yancey County School System, and since 2011, the Yancey County Humane Society. She has been the Executive Director of the Humane Society since 2015. She and her husband Dean (who owns Tomberlin Plumbing) have four grown children, all living away.  Renee loves to garden and grow plants, take care of her dogs, cheer on her Tar Heels, and spend every available minute she can in Hatteras Village. 

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Santana Wright
Membership Committee

Santana is a native of Yancey County and the South Toe Community.  She has a passion for primary healthcare and has been serving as a healthcare professional in that field for 10 years currently at Mountain Community Health Partnership as the Office Manager for Celo Health Center. 

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Tal Galton

Tal founded and operates Snakeroot Ecotours in Yancey County. A committed naturalist since childhood, he has been introducing people to wild places for over 30 years. He spent much of the past two decades teaching in the experimental and experiential environments of Arthur Morgan School and The Arete Project, and he lives with his wife Jessica Ruegg in a timber-frame home that they designed and built out of local white pines. Their grown sons Isaac and Micah both attended Yancey County Schools. Tal coaches Cross Country at Mountain Heritage and writes essays on Appalachian ecology for Asheville's Mountain Xpress and Blue Ridge Outdoors.

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