Dr. Rita Charon, M.D., PhD.

Executive Director, Program in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University

Dean of Medical Humanities, Columbia University

Professor of Medicine Columbia University Medical Center

Register: mahec.net/narrative


Dr. Rita Charon is a general internist and literary scholar at Columbia University who originated the field of narrative medicine. She is Professor of Medicine and founder and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia.

She completed an M.D. at Harvard in 1978 and a Ph.D. in English at Columbia in 1999, concentrating on the works of Henry James. Her research focuses on the consequences of narrative medicine practice, reflective clinical practice, and health care team effectiveness.

At Columbia, she directs the Foundations of Clinical Practice faculty seminar, the Narrative and Social Medicine Scholarly Projects Concentration Track, the required Narrative Medicine curriculum for the medical school, and Columbia Commons: Collaborating Across Professions, a medical-center-wide partnership devoted to health care team effectiveness.

Dr. Charon inaugurated and teaches in the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine graduate program at Columbia. She has lectured or served as Visiting Professor at many medical schools and universities in the US and abroad, teaching narrative medicine theory and practice. She has received a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and research funding from the NIH, the NEH, the American Board of Integral Medicine, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and several additional private foundations.

She has published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Narrative, Henry James Review, Partial Answers, and Literature and Medicine. She is working on a book about creativity and doubt in the sciences and the arts.


  • M.D., Harvard University
  • P.h.D., Columbia University



  • Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2017), co-author
  • Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine (SUNY Press, 2008), co-editor
  • Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics (Routledge, 2002), co-editor


Dr. Jeff Heck, M.D., MAHEC CEO


Jeff E. Heck, MD, is Professor of Family Medicine, University of North Carolina, Associate Dean, Regional Medical School Campus of the University of North Carolina, Asheville, NC, and President and CEO of MAHEC (Mountain Area Health Education Center), Asheville, NC. He is a member of C3C4 Curriculum Committee, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, Co-Chair Global Health Task Force, US Center for Citizen Diplomacy, and Fellow, Academy of Educators, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. He has served as a consultant to USAID, World Health Organization and founded Shoulder to Shoulder, an international health organization. He has taught and published extensively in areas of medical education, family medicine, travel medicine, and global health issues. Dr. Heck received a BA degree from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, and an MD degree from the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, OH. His residency training in Family Practice was at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Dayton, OH, and he is board certified in Family Medicine through AAFP. Prior to his current appointments he was Professor of Family Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH. He also spent a year as staff physician at Kijabe Medical Center, Kenya, Africa.



Alexandra Godfrey, PA


Alexandra is a graduate from Wayne State University where she received a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies.  She now works in two community emergency departments in western North Carolina. Prior to becoming a PA, Alexandra worked as a PT in Britain; the country where she was born and raised. She has worked as an author and columnist for the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the New England Journal of Medicine. Her writing has appeared in a variety of journals, including Confluence, Intima, The Healing Muse, Pulse, and Blood and Thunder. Alexandra was awarded the American College of Emergency Physicians’ writing award in 2017. She is currently a student in Lenoir Rhyne’s writing program.


Amy Upham, M.S.

IMG_2947.JPGAmy Upham received her Bachelors in English and Creative Writing from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and her Master in Public Health from Lenoir Rhyne University, along with a certification in Narrative Medicine. She has worked for 16 years in the field of disAbility advocacy, and spent the last few years researching and teaching harm reduction strategies for the underhoused and people who use drugs. She is currently a health educator and program coordinator at the Buncombe County Department of Health. In her spare time, she writes poems and songs, and listens to stories and creeks. She is grateful to be a part of the first statewide symposium on Narrative Healthcare.


Terri Price, M.Div.

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Terri is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.  She has served a small congregation in Upstate South Carolina since August 2015. Terri’s call to ministry came as she cared for her mother in her final days.  The doctor’s prognosis – three months – was uncannily accurate, if cold.  Fortunately, the family received life-giving support from an area hospice.  That connection led Terri to volunteer for a hospice in her own area, and ultimately to enroll in seminary.  While studying for her Master of Divinity, she worked for sixteen months as a hospital chaplain, completing five units of Clinical Pastoral Education.  In that setting, she served patients and families in emergency, intensive care, and other settings, spending her last six months working with the hospital’s palliative care team.  All these experiences fostered a deep love for pastoral care and a strong conviction that it is in sharing life stories that we fully connect as human beings. Terri completed her certificate in Narrative Healthcare at Lenoir-Rhyne in Asheville in Spring 2019.  She uses many of the practices learned there in her work with her parishioners and continues to write as a way of processing her own stuff.  She holds a B.A. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte.

Daniel J. Waters, D.O., M.A.

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Daniel James Waters is a native of Southern New Jersey. He attended Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, St. Joseph’s College (Philadelphia) and the University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ. In addition to undergraduate and medical degrees, he holds a Graduate Certificate in Narrative Healthcare and a Master of Arts in Writing from the Center for Graduate Studies/ The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Asheville, NC. He is the author of several nationally published stories and essays, two books of surgical advice, one (rhymed!) poem and two novels. After thirty years, Dr. Waters retired from the practice of cardiac surgery in 2019 but continues to write, teach and lecture.  He is an adjunct Professor of Surgery as well as Course Director for Literature and Narrative Medicine in the Department Of Medical Humanities & Bioethics at Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa as well as a Writing Fellow for Doximity.com. He and his wife Pamela have three grown children and live in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Tanya Davis, M.A.


Tanya Davis is the wife of Stephen Davis (30 years) and the mother of seven children and four grandchildren. Her greatest blessing has been to be home for her family.   Tanya and Stephen have resided in Wheaton, Illinois for thirty-three years.  She has her BA Counseling from Depaul University.  A Masters in Writing and a Master certification in Narrative Medicine from Lenoir-Rhyne University. Nothing brings her more joy than giving and pouring into the lives of others. Ten years ago her family started a foundation-The William & Mary Davis Foundation that has allowed them the opportunity to do just that. The foundation gives to organizations such as Daystar University in Nairobi Kenya, Fox Valley Christian Action, Young Life, Orange Hands, Women at Risk International, Haymarket Center, and Metropolitan Family Services, and Chicago Foundation for Women.   In addition, out of her desire to give back and empower young women, she started a empowerment  retreat for young girls in underresoured communities called A Purpose by Design.  Each year 15-30 girls are taken to Knoxville, Tennessee with other women, for a long weekend  of workshops-from Health to Goal Planning. Her family also started and organization called Tuskegee Next. Where high risk youth with high science and math aptitude are given the opportunity to receive their pilots license in a 10 week intense licensing program. Tuskegee Next has been featured on CBS weekend news and has received recognition from the Tuskegee Airmen as well as the Governor of Illinois. Tanya serves on the board of West Suburban Giving Circle (a branch of Chicago Foundation for Women); the Development Chair for Haymarket Center (Addiction Center located in Chicago Illinois), and she serves on the board of Metropolitan Family Services Chicago.
Tanya believes in the power of story and their ability to transform the lives of others.  We all have a story, and they are never about us.  Our stories are for others.  By bearing witness with each other, as we share, our stories create a healing wave, moving from one person to another.  She conducts narrative sessions at her retreats where women share their stories with young girls which open them up to sharing the pain in their lives, allowing for space to get the help needed to heal.  Many times the girls have said, “One day I will come back and share my story to help someone else” This is what creating a healing wave is all about!


Cathy DeMatteo, Nurse Manager Primary Care, RN, MSN


When people experience change in their state of health and wellness, I am grateful to have the knowledge, training and ability to be able to offer support. One of my greatest passions is reaching out to others with care and concern. I have come upon countless opportunities to provide comfort and skill throughout my diverse nursing career. This has included situations in critical care, emergency medicine, home health, long term care, school nursing, employee health, occupational health, and most recently outpatient care. Over the past 37 years I have continually nurtured and borne witness to fragments of health care narratives, not always knowing the outcome but remaining connected with lives across time and geography.

Before deciding to devote my life to health care, I studied drawing, painting and photography. In high school I sang in the chorus, took guitar lessons, and played a musical instrument in the band. Animals, farming, and hard work were a huge part of my life growing up on a small farm. I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Arts and Humanities.

In my current position I serve as Nurse Manager for primary care main campus at the VA in Johnson City, Tennessee. My educational background includes an MSN in Nursing Education from King College Bristol, Tennessee. I hold a BSN degree and certification in School Nursing from Carlow College Pittsburgh, PA. In 2016 I earned a graduate certificate in Narrative Healthcare from Lenoir-Rhyne University, Asheville NC.

Outside of work I find it easy to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the southern Appalachian Mountains. I enjoy gardening, cooking and baking, travel, and getting up early to walk our dogs.


Andrew Taylor-Troutman, M. Div.

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Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the poet pastor of Chapel in the Pines, a Presbyterian congregation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is the author of four books, most recently a collection of essays and poems titled Gently Between the Words. He and his wife, also an ordained minister, are rattled and blessed by their three young children.


Symposium Designer Laura Hope-Gill, MFA

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Laura Hope-Gill holds an MFA from Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and directs the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville Graduate Campus. The National Forest Service, partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, installed her as the Poet Laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2009. She received a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in 2010. She has penned The Soul Tree, which received the Okra Award from Southern Independent Booksellers Association, and the Look Up Asheville architectural histories, recognized for excellence by the North Carolina Society of Historians. She is also the founding director of Asheville Wordfest, now in its 13th year. Hope-Gill comes from long lines of educators and physicians and was delighted to discover Dr. Rita Charon’s field of Narrative Medicine. She is grateful to Dr. Charon for opening a world wherein literature, education, and medicine merge for the welfare of humanity.  She is grateful for Dr. Charon’s guidance in the development of the Narrative Healthcare Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Hope-Gill grew up in a deeply storied family. Her grandparents were interned in China during World War II. and her grandfather-physician aided internees in the camp. Her father, an Endocrinologist in Sarasota, attended to the health of many of the people who portrayed “Munchkins” in The Wizard of Oz, several of whom she came to know personally, nearly as members of the family. Medicine was always intertwined with story. Hope-Gill’s mother even served as “camp nurse” in the wildernesses of Ontario and Pisgah Forest. When her father told her that in order to be a doctor one must be able to turn off their emotions, Hope-Gill chose to be a poet. The healing power of writing, though, always fascinated her, leading her to question why the worlds of writing and medicine had to be so distant. Later, as Hope-Gill’s father was nearing the end of his life, they conversed weekly about Narrative Medicine. Her father often reflected upon the ways that his career would have been enriched by such engagement with the Humanities, and how Medicine, as a whole, needed this union all along. Hope-Gill is deeply interested in supporting the current creativity-based transformation occurring in healthcare, a merging and of worlds to heal the world.