Staff


Sally Swanson  

Director of Prevention Programs & Gaston Youth Connected Project Director

Sally directs prevention programs for APPCNC. Prior to leading Gaston Youth Connected, she led another 8-year CDC project for APPCNC.  She has also worked in HIV prevention, counseling and testing, as well as in domestic violence services.  Sally holds masters degrees in Social Work and Public Health from the University of North Carolina. Sally lives in Durham with her husband and has two delightful children: one a high school senior and one at UNC!

Michelle Reese    

Community Integration Coordinator

Michelle works with the Gaston Youth Connected project to coordinate program-clinic integration and community participation in the project. She has more than 14 years experience working in adolescent reproductive health issues, starting as Director of Community Health Education at the Mecklenburg Council on Adolescent Pregnancy. She has also worked as supervisor for the 4H Youth Development Program at Wake County Health and Human Services and as Health Education Coordinator focusing on HIV/STD Outreach and Education and Health Equity Initiatives for the Gaston County Health Department. In addition to her work experience, Michelle has participated in the European Study Tour hosted by Advocates for Youth to study adolescent sexuality.  Michelle holds a BS in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is a graduate of the Emerging Minority Leaders in Public Health Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Michelle lives in Charlotte with her husband and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Kia Thacker

Priority Populations Coordinator

Kia works on the CDC Gaston Youth Connected managing youth outreach and outreach to the most at-risk populations in Gaston County. Prior to joining APPCNC, Kia worked in the field of substance abuse prevention. Kia has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from UNC Chapel Hill and a Master of Public Health Degree with a concentration in Community Health Education from UNC Greensboro. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and a Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Consultant (CSAPC). Kia is a native Charlottean and currently lives in Charlotte with her very sweet and spunky dog, Niko.

Joy Sotolongo    

Evaluation Specialist

Joy Sotolongo is the evaluator for the Gaston Youth Connected project.  Over a fifteen year period, she provided evaluation services for North Carolina’s Smart Start program at the national, state, and local levels.  She holds degrees in Special Education and Rehabilitation Administration, with an emphasis in program evaluation.  She is happy to have raised two grown sons and lives in Durham with her husband.

Sarah Davis   

Public Health Coordinator

Sarah is the public health coordinator for the Gaston Youth Connected project, focusing on training and technical assistance to community partners in Gaston County as well as working with Gaston County Schools. Prior to joining APPCNC, Sarah worked in public health program design and evaluation at UNC as well as at the Chesterfield Health District in Virginia. Her experiences as Teach For America corps member and classroom teacher in the Mississippi Delta led her to pursue public health, and she holds as MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health as well as a BS in Biology from Mary Washington College. She lives in Durham with her darling dog Tula.

Amanda Fuller

Program Support Specialist

Amanda provides program support and technical assistance for the Gaston Youth Connected project.  She also facilitates the Teen Outreach Program and Parents Matter! Program for the Gaston County Health Department.  Amanda has a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Art History from UNC Chapel Hill and a Master’s Degree in Health Education from East Carolina University.  She lives in Charlotte with her husband and young twins.