The UNC Asheville Foundation Board will welcome six new members with the beginning of its new fiscal year, including UNC Asheville’s Alumni Association Board Past Chair and member Kenya Smith Edwards ’00; Van Winkle Law Firm retired partner and attorney Cynthia “Cindy” Eller, J.D.; investor and retired anesthesiologist Dr. Frank Moretz, M.D.; Upstaff Personnel CEO and Realtor with Mosaic Realty Anthony Thomas; President of the UNC Asheville Student Government Association Lauren Braswell ’23; and DLA Piper’s former managing partner and retired environmental Lawyer Mike Tracy, J.D.
Board members Maryann Jones, retired dean and president of Western State University College of Law and educational consultant for Charleston School of Law, and Holly Spencer Bunting ‘00, Mayer Brown LLP partner in Washington, DC and a member of Consumer Financial Services, have been appointed as the new chair and new vice-chair of the Foundation Board of Directors, respectively.
Since the foundation’s founding in 1965, the mission of the UNC Asheville Foundation has been to advocate for and oversee gifts to the University of North Carolina Asheville. To achieve this mission, the UNC Asheville Foundation Board comprises dedicated volunteers who provide advice and oversight to help set the strategic direction for the foundation.
UNC Asheville’s New Foundation Board Members for 2022-23 Academic Year:
Kenya Smith Edwards ’00, M.B.A
Kenya is a graduate of UNC Asheville’s class of 2000. As a student, she was a member of the Senior Class Board, participated in intramural sports and served as a Residence Hall Assistant and Head Residence Hall Assistant. She was awarded the African American Student Award and served on and chaired the UNC Asheville Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2015-2022. She is the owner of Kenya Edwards Group in Atlanta, GA, a real estate firm where she is also an Associate Broker and REALTOR®. She has been recognized by the Atlanta Realtors Association as a Top Producer and Life Time Member. She has an MBA from Strayer University, and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012. Kenya lives in Atlanta, GA, and is married to Anthony Edwards; her parents are Virgil Smith (former UNC System Board Member) and Dr. Joann Smith. Her parents have an endowed scholarship at UNC Asheville titled The Virgil L. & Joann E. Smith Family Endowed Scholarship.
Cynthia Eller, J.D.
Cynthia is a retired partner and attorney from Van Winkle Law Firm. Prior to her 18 years with Van Winkle, she was a real estate attorney for McDonald’s. She earned her BA in Business Management from NC State in 1978 and her JD from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1982. She is a mentor with UNC Asheville’s Athletics Leaders for Leaders program and serves on the Leaders for Leaders board and she participated in Leadership Asheville 2002. Cynthia also currently serves on Western North Carolina Community Foundation Real Estate Foundation board. Cynthia has served on the boards of the NC Association of Women Attorneys, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina Real Estate Foundation, Buncombe County Medical Society Foundation, The Mediation Center, and Vanderbilt Apartments. Cynthia is married to John Eller, and she is an active volunteer with Pisgah Legal.
Dr. Frank Moretz, M.D.
Frank is an investor in Highland Brewing (and good friends and business partners with Oscar Wong) and previously was an anesthesiologist for 37 years. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill (BA Psychology and MD) and completed his residency in Chapel Hill. He has served on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Visitors and on the UNC School of Medicine Medical Alumni Council, and he is a past president of the North Carolina Society of Anesthesiologists and of the Western Carolina Medical Society. He is a member of the American Medical Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and Western Carolina Medical Society. He is passionate about strengthening the WNC healthcare professional pipeline involving UNC Asheville, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and MAHEC. Frank is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
A native of New York state and a 1991 graduate of Alfred University, Anthony came to Asheville as Assistant Director of Admissions at UNC Asheville in 1992. He became closely engaged in dealing with the academic gap between white and black students and worked with UNC Asheville on Project Creed, a program for rising third-grade black males. He is now a successful local businessman as the founder and CEO of Upstaff Personnel, which grew out of Green Opportunities as a temp-to-permanent staffing agency. He’s also a realtor with Mosaic Realty. Anthony is the current board chair at YMI Cultural Center and has served as Vice President of the boards of Land of Sky Association of Realtors and Mountain Housing Opportunities.
Lauren Braswell ’23
Lauren Braswell is the president of UNC Asheville’s Student Government Association and the student representative on the Board of Trustees. She was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, and she is currently majoring in Biology with a minor in Africana studies. During her time at UNC Asheville, she has worked as a track and field athlete, resident assistant for the Sankofa LLC, a basketball manager for the women’s team, a youth counselor in our local community, and SGA Chief of Staff. She is also a proud member of the Sankofa, Legacy, and BSA organizations. During her time away from UNCA, she began her journey as an entrepreneur and started providing teeth whitening services. After graduation, she will continue her education and earn her master’s in Botany. As student body president, she aims to facilitate an environment that allows students to balance the pressures of academia with the ever-changing political, economic, and social landscape present on and off-campus.
Mike Tracy, J.D.
Mike is a retired environmental lawyer and former managing partner of DLA Piper’s two offices in San Diego. Mike played basketball at and earned his BA from UC-Davis in 1976 and his JD from UC-San Francisco in 1981. Mike is on the Bulldog Athletic Association board at UNC Asheville. Mike and his wife, Melba, live in Walnut Cove and Melba is the co-treasurer of the Walnut Cove Members Association. At UNC Asheville, they are avid supporters of athletics, hold men’s and women’s basketball season tickets, and serve as team hosts for the Women’s Golf Program’s French Broad Collegiate Invitational.