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Sarah Thompson Joins Dogwood Health Trust as Vice President of Impact – Economic Opportunity

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Thompson joins the team with deep economic and community development experience.

Asheville, N.C.Dogwood Health Trust is pleased to announce that seasoned economic and community development executive, Sarah Thompson, will be joining their Impact Team on September 7.  Thompson joins Dogwood’s Impact Team as Vice President of Impact – Economic Opportunity. 

In this role, Thompson is responsible for the visioning, development, and implementation of ambitious economic impact strategies that will increase pathways to high-quality and more equitable employment opportunities for Western North Carolinians. She will also lead efforts to increase support for micro and small business opportunities for under-resourced and marginalized communities.

“Sarah knows and understands economic and community development,” said Dr. Susan Mims, interim CEO for Dogwood Health Trust, “but more importantly, she also knows and cares deeply for the people of our region. Her many years working at Southwestern Commission have given Sarah a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities experienced in our unique economic ecosystem.”

“I am excited to continue my service to Western North Carolina in this new capacity. This is a region of tremendous opportunity and notable challenges as well,” said Thompson. “Dogwood’s approach to community and economic development, through a social determinants of health lens, allows us to take bold and creative approaches to economic stability for the people of WNC.”

Thompson most recently served as the Executive Director for Southwestern Commission in Sylva. In this role, she directed operations of the regional council of government which serves the seven most western counties in North Carolina through community and economic development, workforce development, and area agency on aging.

Prior to her role with Southwestern Planning and Economic Development Commission, Thompson was the executive director of the Downtown Sylva Association. She also serves on several boards including the NC Rural Economic Development Center Board, Thread Capital, Jackson County Planning Board, Town of Sylva Commissioner, and the Downtown Sylva Association Board of Directors. Thompson has also served as a member of the Dogwood Board of Directors. She took a leave of absence from that role prior to entering the search for this role. She has officially resigned from the board in order to take the position.

Thompson holds a Master of Arts in public administration from Western Carolina University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Miami University. 

About Dogwood Health TrustDogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust was created from the net proceeds of the sale of Mission Hospital System and focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellness, with a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity, and access to care and health resources. Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. To learn more, please visit

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