Our Board

Matthew Barker

Image of Matt BarkerMatt and his wife Ginny have called Swannanoa home since 2005. Area residents since 1992, they moved into the Bee Tree Forest community so their four kids, now grown, could be closer to Asheville Christian Academy, where they attended school. One daughter (and granddaughter) now live in Beacon Village. The Barkers are both realtors affiliated with Nest Realty Asheville, and do the bulk of their business in Swannanoa, East Asheville, and Black Mountain.

Matt loves Swannanoa for its scenic beauty, its rich history, and its caring people. He has participated in FANS events on and off for some time, and with “empty nest” years ahead, sees service on the FANS board as an opportunity to give back to Swannanoa in greater measure. When he has spare time, he enjoys “landscape photojournalism”—documenting current-day Swannanoa so that future generations will
have a feel for our times in this beautiful place. He enjoys hikes in the mountains, driving the back roads, and researching local history.

Andew Belz

Photo of Andrew BelzAndrew and his wife, Mary Anna, enjoy the Swannanoa community, and dream of its potential as a place to live, enjoy and do business. Andrew is a professional development officer and Mary Anna is a substitute teacher in Buncombe County. Andrew is a graduate of Covenant College and the University of Iowa. Both have spent their careers in education, including 30 years at a boarding school in Iowa.

They moved here in 2011. Andrew and Mary Anna have five adult children, three of whom are married, and one grandson. Andrew says their home has always emphasized music, so both Mary Anna and Andrew are members of their church choir. “I also love carpentry and building things,” he says, “because then I can see what I’m getting done.”

Kara Dillow

Photo of Kara DillowKara has lived in the Swannanoa Valley since 1988. She is a graduate of Owen High School and Appalachian State University. She spent some of her adult years living in NH, NY, and PA, pursuing landscaping, writing, and ultimately Pilates training. Kara is the owner of 5th Generation Pilates in East Asheville where she focuses on building strength and wellness in her clients. Her other major passion is growing flowers at the Swannanoa Community Garden, where she helps manage the operations. It is her hope that people, and especially children, will develop a greater appreciation of their connection to the natural world. She is excited about growing flowers for the third year to donate to the nonprofit Power Flower Project. Kara is a proud mother of two energetic boys who attend WD Williams Elementary and Owen Middle.

Maureen Dillow

Photo of Maureen DillowMaureen is originally from Massachusetts, where she obtained her BS in Education from Boston State College. She held various jobs, including teaching academically gifted children. She, her husband, and their five children moved to Swannanoa in 1988, when her husband, a precision diamond toolmaker, was transferred for work to Arden, NC. After moving here, Maureen was hired as an interim teacher for a fourth‐grade class at WD Williams Elementary.

Four months later, she was hired to teach third grade at Haw Creek Elementary, and in 1995, she began teaching second grade. Maureen retired in 2012 after 21 years in the teaching field. She has been active in the Swannanoa community for many years, coordinating the annual Swannanoa Sweep Community Cleanup since 2007. She also helps co-manage the Swannanoa Community Garden, and spends “many wonderful hours” babysitting for her six grandchildren.

Sandy Drake

Photo of Sandy DrakeSandy co-manages the Swannanoa Community Garden with Maureen Dillow. She completed the Warren Wilson College Service Learning Fellows program in the spring of 2014 and is on the community partnership board at the college.  She also attends garden-related conferences and is a member of The WNC Gardens that Give.

Sandy holds a two-year degree in Human Services (Social Work) and also a two-year degree in Early Childhood Education. She and her husband bought a home in Beacon Village in 2010, where she provides caretaking for family members. Sandy was in the Navy and served as a petty officer in the aviation branch during the Vietnam War, tracking repairs and inspections on the aircraft in her squadron. She has also been a Sunday School teacher, a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader, and a marching band parent/volunteer. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, crafts, decorating, learning more about the history of the Valley she now calls home . . . and, of course, gardening.

Samantha Gallman

Photo of Samantha GallmanSamantha moved to Swannanoa in 2015, and didn’t waste any time getting involved with her new community. She works at Charles D. Owen High School as Media Specialist. She graduated from UNC – Wilmington with a BA in Political Science and Teacher Certificate in Secondary Social Studies. Samantha also earned a Masters degree in Library Science from East Carolina University. She has two children, and two grandchildren who really enjoy playing in Grovemont Park and visiting the Swannanoa Library. In addition to her community volunteer work, her main hobby seems to be walking the dogs around the neighborhood!

Carol Groben

Photo of Carol GrobenCarol moved to Swannanoa from Washington, DC in 1999. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Carol is Vice Chair of the Board of the Friends of the Swannanoa Library and a member of the Board of the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund. She’s also a Buncombe County Master Gardener Volunteer and serves on the Council of Visitors of Warren Wilson College.

Carol is a former member of the Asheville-Buncombe Regional Flood Damage Reduction Task Force, the Mill Around the Village Festival Committee, and the boards of the Black Mountain‐Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce and Asheville GreenWorks. She enjoys reading, hiking, competitive rowing, biking, gardening and traveling with her husband, Doug, and son, Zack.

Doug Lebbon

Photo of Doug LebbonA Swannanoa resident since 1999, Doug is chair of the Swannanoa Community Council, serves on the Council of Visitors at Warren Wilson College, is active with the Friends of the Swannanoa Library, and is a choir member at First Congregational United Church of Christ-Asheville.

Doug attended State University of New York at Buffalo. He enjoys biking, hiking, nature studies, reading and book discussions, whitewater boating, snorkeling/breath hold diving, and swimming.

Evan Yanik

Evan YanikEvan is an Asheville native whose family has been in the area since the founding of Buncombe County. He graduated from Reynolds High School and holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Western Carolina University and a Masters of Finance from UNCW.  Evan moved to Swannanoa in 2014, and he and his family have recently relocated to the Grovemont neighborhood.

Evan works as a FP&A Manager at Pine Gate Renewables helping to build a sustainable energy future. His desire to give back to the community is exhibited by his involvement with FANS, as well as with WD Williams Elementary PTO.  Evan has also served on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley.

In his very little free time, Evan loves to hike the mountains, play music, and read great books.