NCALA staff members are lsited below with background details. Please use the Contact Us link to send staff members a message.
Peggy Smith, Executive Director
As the Executive Director for the North Carolina Assisted Living Association, Peggy has been charged by the Board of Directors to provide leadership to the organization, advance the association, and attract new membership.
Previously, Peggy was the Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association—Eastern North Carolina Chapter where she was primarily responsible for coordinating family and professional education throughout the eastern part of the state (51 counties). She had also served as the Education and Family Services Coordinator with the Chapter. Over the past 10 years, Peggy led a caregiver support group and had most recently led an early stage support group for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease offered at the Chapter office.
Prior to joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Peggy worked in several roles serving the aging population—as both an Assisted Living Activity Director (The Meadows in Durham, NC) and Administrator (Shepherd House in Chapel Hill, NC) and then as a Program Manager of an adult day health program (Central Orange Adult Day Health Program in Hillsborough).
Before moving into the aging field, Peggy was with Special Olympics North Carolina for ten years of her professional career where she served as Vice-President of Programming. Her last role was serving as the Head of Delegation for the state of North Carolina at the 1999 World Special Olympics Games held in Raleigh.
Peggy’s life was touched by Alzheimer’s Disease when her father was diagnosed in 1998. She moved both of her parents to NC from WV due to her father’s diagnosis. Her father, Glenn, who is featured in the Alzheimer’s Association—Eastern NC Chapter’s award winning training DVD “Accepting the Challenge,” lived in the memory care unit at Carolina House of Wake Forest for five years. Glenn died in March of 2003. Since that time, Peggy’s mother has moved into an assisted living community in WV and was diagnosed with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (another form of dementia) four years ago. Fortunately, surgery was performed and symptoms were reversed. Her “personal” experience with dementia has enhanced her role as a professional in the aging/dementia field.
Educationally, Peggy has a B.S. in Education and an M.S. in Exercise Physiology from West Virginia University. Additionally, she has completed the Non-Profit Management Program at Duke University. Peggy also was a member of the 1980 AIAW National Women’s Basketball Championship team while at Old Dominion University. Following her playing career, she also coached several sports in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
Ward Conant, IT Manager
Ward joined the NCALA team as a Web developer and print designer in 2004. He graduated from St Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC, in 1992, and has since lived in Houston, TX and Knoxville, TN, moving back to NC in 2002.
Ward designs our Web site, keeping it up-to-date and stylish, maintains our network, and generally keeps all things computer-related running smoothly in our office. He also does all of our print design (business forms, brochures, letterhead, business cards, signs, flyers, etc).
Ward was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina.
Donna Blake-Weems, Administrative Assistant
Donna joined the NCALA team in 2006. She received a trial by fire during the 2006 Fall Conference, but she came back for more, so we knew she was a keeper!
Donna’s husband Mark is serving overseas in Iraq. They have two daughters.
Donna is a native of Canada.
Evelyn Hawthorne, Government Relations Consultant
Evelyn Hawthorne is NCALA’s lobbyist. In addition to lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly on behalf of assisted living communities, Evelyn provides government relations and communications consulting. Evelyn has spent all of her career in public policy and around politics. She puts her more than 15 years of experience to work for clients of her government and public relations consulting concern, Evelyn Hawthorne Government and Public Relations. Prior to launching her firm, Evelyn lobbied at the state and federal levels of government on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Hospital Association. Evelyn arrived in North Carolina in 1990 after having spent four years in Iowa and on the staff of the Iowa General Assembly. She hails from Michigan and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
- See Also: NCALA Board of Directors