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New development director at Lake Junaluska brings passion for service, ministry to role


Asheville native and not-for-profit leader Rebecca Mathis recently joined Lake Junaluska as director of development.

In her new role, Mathis will lead fundraising activities that support Lake Junaluska’s programs and ministries, and maintenance of the lake, recreational areas and facilities. She will seek to build partnerships, assist donors, lead charitable giving initiatives, work with volunteers and oversee events such as the Friends of the Lake 5K Run, Walk and Fun Run.

“I am drawn to the mission of Lake Junaluska because of the power and significance it has had in my life and the lives of countless others,” said Mathis. “What excites me about this role is the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of people connected to Lake Junaluska, learn about their dreams for this special place, and work together so we can continue to encounter God here.”

Born in Asheville and raised in Eastern North Carolina, Mathis heard about Lake Junaluska as a child and as an adult visited for solace, Sabbath and moments to “breathe in God’s goodness,” she said.

Before joining the leadership team at Lake Junaluska, Mathis served as executive director of The Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, a faith-based nonprofit organization with an emphasis on healthcare for vulnerable populations. She guided the organization in a strategic planning process that led to its transfer to Blue Ridge Health, a regional nonprofit community health center. Mathis then served Blue Ridge Health as director of community engagement and outreach.

She said part of what she has enjoyed most about not-for-profit work in Western North Carolina has been the opportunity to work alongside volunteers and supporters who so generously give of their time, their skills and their resources in order to improve the lives of others.

“To me, all of that is a type of ministry and hospitality – about loving your neighbor, living together in community and taking care of one another,” said Mathis.

Mathis said she has always loved the mountains, which led her to enroll at Western Carolina University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in social sciences in 2001. She then taught United States and World History at Tuscola High School for three years. After marrying the Rev. Jeff Mathis, she moved to the Wilkesboro area where she continued teaching.

The couple later moved to Tennessee and, hearing a call to ministry, Mathis enrolled in seminary at Sewanee: The University of the South. In 2012, she completed her master’s degree in theology with a concentration in ethics and was ordained to ministry.

Their family returned to Western North Carolina in 2012 and Mathis soon became involved in the not-for-profit sector.

“I felt called to community ministry, and I was really interested in social justice and serving in an ecumenical setting,” said Mathis.

Ken Howle, executive director of Lake Junaluska, said the education and experience Mathis brings to the job will help Lake Junaluska live into its mission.

“Her commitment to the mission of Lake Junaluska and the types of transformational experiences that happen every day at Lake Junaluska is inspirational,” said Howle. “We are excited that she is part of our team and will be working side-by-side with us as we assure a bright future for this special place.”

Mathis and her husband reside in Sylva with their children, 12-year-old Zeb and 9-year-old Ellen.

Lake Junaluska is a conference and retreat center and residential community that surrounds a 200-acre mountain lake in Western North Carolina. Lake Junaluska’s mission is to be a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information, visit


Mary Bates
Lake Junaluska
PO Box 67, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745