Visits to the Stead Center are by appointment only. Please call the NCAPA office for more information. Read More »

Visits to the Stead Center are by appointment only. Please call the NCAPA office for more information. Read More »

2015 NCAPA Slate of Candidates

Candidates for NCAPA Board of Directors and

Nominating Committee Member-at-Large 

for terms beginning January 1, 2016.



Term: 1 year as President-Elect, followed by 1 year as President, and 1 year as Past President

Truett Smith_electionTruett Smith, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA

I first became involved with the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants as a Student Board Representative from the Wake Forest PA program.  I have served several terms as NCAPA Regional Chapters Chair and two terms as NCAPA Vice-President.  I currently serve on the NCAPA Public Relations/Communications Committee and as Vice-President of the Metrolina Association of PAs. I have been involved nationally as NCAPA Delegate or Alternate Delegate to the AAPA House of Delegates for many years.

I am married and reside in Davidson, North Carolina. I enjoy playing league soccer, competing in mud runs and hiking with my family.   My clinical passion is Family Medicine and I currently serve as the Family Medicine ACP Fellowship Coordinator and  Preceptor for Carolinas Healthcare System.  I also serve as a student Preceptor to the Wake Forest, Wingate and Gardner Webb PA Programs.

I have been a strong proponent for PAs and PA practice locally, at a state level and nationally for the past 25 years and hope to continue to educate students, Fellows and push for improved PA practice over the next 25 years.

Please consider me as your next President-Elect of North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants.  My professional and life experiences make me uniquely qualified for this position and continued service to the Academy.



Term: 2 years

Paul Hendrix_electionPaul Hendrix, MHS, PA-C

I am seeking reelection to the position of Treasurer. As a Charter Member of the NCAPA, it has been my privilege to have served North Carolina PAs as your President, Treasurer, Director, Continuing Education Committee (CEC) Chair, Finance Committee Chair, and Employment Committee Chair. I have also served as Liaison to the NC Medical Board; Consultant to the NCMS Science and Technology Committee; Editorial Board Member of the NC Medical Journal; and a member of the Advisory Council of the NC Medical Board. Nationally, I have represented North Carolina PAs in the AAPA House of Delegates, was Chair of the Editorial Board of Physician Assistant journal while it was the official journal of the AAPA, and was the founding Chair of the Editorial Board of Clinician Reviews. In addition, I have served as president of the Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Programs (APPAP).

During my tenure, our CME Conferences have evolved from local, to regional, to national events. As Chair of the CEC, I strive to expand and improve our annual conferences, which are a major source of pride as well as a fundraising source that has kept dues relatively low while NCAPA services and assets have expanded exponentially. I base my candidacy on these past achievements and a clear vision for the future. Since becoming an NCAPA Charter member, I have worked tirelessly to make real what, 39 years ago, seemed like an impossible dream: owning our own office building. And while the Stead Center represents a testament to the heights North Carolina’s PAs can reach when we set a goal, we cannot, I believe, become complacent. We must protect current assets as well as build a strong, sustainable future.

In asking for your vote, it is essential, I think, for me to underscore my fundamental values. My volunteer service to the NCAPA comes from an unwavering belief that PAs play a vital role in the nation’s health care delivery system, and that we should never take our role for granted. Reflecting now on my early days, I can attest to the parts that vision, commitment, stewardship, integrity, personal responsibility, and experience played in making the NCAPA the most successful state PA association in the country. I continue to rely on those principles to help guide my contributions to our Academy. I feel that these core principles helped shape our Academy’s successful past, and will be central to securing our future for generations to come.

I stand for sound, conservative, financial principles. In particular, I advocate living within our budget, minimizing the need for dues increases by maximizing other fundraising and revenue-producing activities, judicious spending and prudent investments, all while providing the highest level of membership benefits of any PA state organization. These are the principles that have guided me as a past Board member and will continue to guide me in the future.

The office of the Treasurer will continue to adhere to comprehensive accounting principles as directed by our accountant, submit detailed financial reports as required by the Board of Directors, and provide membership a full accounting of all financial activities and access to all documents related to the office of Treasurer.

Having served you faithfully in the past, I ask for your support again. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve an additional term as Treasurer of the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants.



Terms: 2 years (3 positions to be filled)

Chris Barry_electionChris Barry, PA-C, MMSc

I have been a PA for nearly 15 years, and I have held several leadership positions within AAPA. Through my work in these positions, I have gained valuable experience working on a Board of Directors and collaborating with other professional organizations

I recently completed a lengthy term on the national Society for PAs in Pediatrics Board, where I served as Secretary, President, and ex-officio Board Member.  I also served as AAPA’s Medical Liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics from 2008-2014. Through my liaison position, I interacted frequently with the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to ensure that PAs were continued to be recognized as valuable parts of the health care team.  I was instrumental in AAP’s acceptance of PAs as National Affiliate members in 2011 (NPs were not given the same opportunity until late 2014).  As much as I enjoyed making an impact on the national level, I would now like to focus my efforts on representing and helping the PAs and PA students from our great state.

As a resident of North Carolina for nearly 20 years, and with much of my family in NC, I am deeply invested in our state, and I hope to do what I can to make a difference for PAs and our patients.  Through my participation in “White Coat Wednesdays”, sponsored by the North Carolina Pediatric Society and the North Carolina Medical Society, I’ve also become familiar with many of the issues affecting North Carolina’s PAs and our patients.  I have had face-to-face discussions with lawmakers about legislative issues affecting health care in NC, and I feel that our presence in the General Assembly makes a difference.  I also have extensive experience in AAPA’s House of Delegates, including serving as NCAPA’s Alternate Delegate in the 2015 HOD.

As a Board member, I promise to represent you- the PAs and PA students of our state.  My email address is , and I welcome your e-mails any time.  I would like to hear your views so I can best represent you.  I would appreciate your vote for Director-at-Large.

Ashlyn Bruning_election Ashlyn Bruning, MMS, PA-C

My name is Ashlyn Bruning and I am honored to accept nomination and declare my candidacy for a Director At Large position on the NCAPA Board of Directors.  I have been a member of the NCAPA since graduation from Wake Forest University’s Physician Assistant program in 2005.  I have practiced clinically in both Orthopedic surgery as well as Urology and have recently transitioned into PA Education as the Director of Clinical Education at the newly established Physician Assistant program at High Point University.  Having the opportunity to be a part of shaping the future of our profession and inspiring future PA leaders is invigorating!

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such a strong, well-respected organization supporting me throughout my years in clinical practice as a PA and feel a call to give back.  As a NC native, born and raised in Guilford County, I am extremely proud to practice as a PA in my home state, the birthplace of our profession.  NC is one of, if not the best, states to practice as a PA as we have consistently and continually made great strides in the promotion of our profession, garnering respect among our legislative representatives, community providers and the general public.  I fully recognize that the respect and recognition for PA practice in North Carolina is directly attributable to the work achieved by member participation and representation within this organization.

I currently serve as President for the Piedmont Association of Physician Assistants, a regional chapter of NCAPA.  This position has allowed me to realize my leadership potential and passion for helping my fellow PA colleagues.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities for networking with members to identify educational needs and desires and for pursuing CME opportunities to support clinical practice improvement and professional advancement. In my current role, I feel more connected to the medical community than ever before and have a greater appreciation for all the great things my colleagues are doing “out in the trenches” every day, providing exceptional patient care and therefore contributing to the promotion of our profession.  I also have a greater appreciation for the obstacles PAs face in different clinical practice settings as recognized from my personal conversations with fellow members. As a Director At Large, I will work to support and inspire efforts for greater recognition of my PA colleagues, both at the state and national levels, and also welcome the opportunity to support efforts that create change for the benefit of my colleagues and our profession.

It is apparent that opportunities for PA clinical practice are bountiful as PA’s are in higher demand now than in years past.  Our profession, as a whole, has embraced the concept of patient centered care and we have increasingly become more widely accepted and recognized by our patients and other members of the health care team alike. We must continue to endorse the skills and abilities of PAs in an effort to maintain that perspective!

There is no better time than the present for NC PAs to cultivate our interprofessional relationships and seize this opportunity to confirm our ever increasing value as members of the healthcare team.  We must continue to advocate for our profession; for reimbursement for services provided by PAs, for patient access to quality healthcare and for utilization of PAs to our full potential.  We can certainly achieve this through participation in and support of the NCAPA.  The future of our profession is dependent upon us!

I would be honored to serve the NCAPA as a Director At Large and welcome the opportunity to accurately represent our profession and contribute to its mission and vision.  Thank you for your thoughtful review of my platform statement and kind consideration of my candidacy for this position in this vital organization that we are all so fortunate to be a part of.

Molly Calabria_electionMolly Calabria, PA-C

My name is Molly Calabria, and I am running for an at-large seat on the Board of Directors. As a newly practicing PA working in Family Medicine and a former Student Director on the Board, I would bring the unique perspective of an early-career PA while utilizing the experience of having already served as a Student Director.  North Carolina has a remarkable history of exceptional PA leaders.  It is because of past leadership that we can prescribe scheduled drugs, own our own practices, and exercise many other freedoms that are unavailable to PAs in other states.  I aspire to follow in these leaders’ footsteps.

I became involved with the NCAPA at the beginning of my PA education.  I was impressed with the mission and goals of the organization, and I wanted to help protect PAs’ ability to practice to the full extent of their training.  While in PA school, I was elected to represent Campbell University as its Student Director to the Board.  Soon thereafter, I also joined the Government Affairs Committee, where I enjoy working to protect and expand PAs’ rights to practice.  Since that time, I have additionally served on the Executive Director Search Task Force, the Student Task Force (which successfully developed new policies for Student Representatives), and the Student Leadership Retreat Planning Committee.

As a member of the Board of Directors, I would be honored to advocate for PAs, maintain and strengthen the Academy, and promote policies that improve the lives and health of our patients.  I would also work to make sure CME offerings are current and interesting.  As a newly practicing PA who has noted the relative scarcity of early-career PAs involved in the NCAPA, I would work to develop strategies for involving—or reengaging—these individuals in the organization.

Thank you for considering my candidacy for the Board of Directors. If you have any questions, or if you want to share any ideas you may have, I would welcome your feedback at

Sunnie Flowers_election Sunnie Flowers, PA-C

Everyday I’m so thankful to be part of such a great profession.  Ever since high school I knew that I wanted to have a career in medicine; at the time I was unsure of what that would look like.  Over the next few years I cultivated my knowledge and passions into a desire to be a PA.  I went to college at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, majoring in biology.  During that time I did some volunteering and shadowing in all areas of medicine.  After graduation I became a CNA, working in the ER for a local hospital for a year.  Along the way I met some great providers that took me under their wing and taught me some great lessons helping solidify my plans. I entered PA school at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC in 2009.  I finished PA school in 2011 with a renowned sense of who I am, what I can do, and who I can help.   I look back on those years and have so much appreciation for the mentors that helped shape me into the provider I am today.

North Carolina is such a great place to live, but an even better place to practice in this profession.  Every year I hear about new programs opening up, extending into all parts of our state.  Practices and health care organizations are progressively recognizing and utilizing PA’s as autonomous clinical providers.  It makes me excited to see where we are going and want to help cultivate that potential.  I have been working in pulmonary/critical care for the last 4 years for a private practice.  This has allowed me to work in a variety of settings, be involved in research projects, and precept students from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

I have been involved with my local NCAPA Chapter (Piedmont Association of Physicians Assistants) over the last two years serving as Vice President.  I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of an organization that is so prominent within the community and values the importance of education; not to fulfill requirements but to nurture better providers.  I am looking forward to helping extend these values at a state-wide level.  I think I would be a good addition the NCAPA board as I have experience, passion, and drive. I look forward to serving you alongside other phenomenal providers on the board; helping our state continue to support our great profession,  propagating the PA name, and helping cultivating students that will be entering the work force as providers in the near future.

Sharyn Gates_election Sharyn Gates, PA-C

I believe as Physician Assistants, we all have a desire to serve.  Sometimes that desire leads us to service within our PA organizations.  My investment in our profession for the past 5 years has included being an officer in Triangle Area Physician Assistants (TAPA) as secretary and president, returning this year to the position of secretary.

For the past 21 years I have been a PA, the last 15 of which I have worked at the Durham VAMC.  In those years,  I have gone from trying to explain to my family what a PA was to fielding medical questions from them.  I’ve also seen changes in how we prove our proficiency as health care providers.  I am concerned that we are so invested in making sure the perception of our excellence withstands all scrutiny, however, in the process we maybe forgetting the weight these demands are applying to PAs and their supervising physician.  As PAs there will be questions if these extra demands are beneficial in actually improving health care.  I believe in standards, I believe in continued education and studying to be a better provider, I just worry that our present tasks may not be efficient in creating the excellence we strive to maintain.  NCAPA has been an organization known to work for the PA profession, I hope that we can continue to provide all assistance in attaining an excellent standard.

I am grateful for the shoulders our profession stand upon.  The past and present NCAPA leaders have created such a wonderful legacy for NC PAs as well as PAs in general.  They have championed NC PAs so that we enjoy privileges, respect and even financial rewards that many PAs in other states do not enjoy.  I’m  glad to be a part of a profession “born” and nurtured in North Carolina.

It is my desire and hope to help continue the legacy of NCAPA’s advocacy of PAs by PAs.  The support of the NCAPA is important in the continued growth of this profession.  The future endeavor of us all is for our profession to remain an outstanding and desirable profession now and in the future.

Thomas Peluso_electionTom Peluso, PA-C

I have been privileged to call myself Physician Assistant for 31 years. During this time I have been a member of the AAPA, and the state and regional PA associations of Pennsylvania, California, and most recently the great state of North Carolina; the birth place of our profession.

I care deeply about our profession, and I want my fellow Physician Assistants’ to “THRIVE” legislatively. economically and personally. This is accomplished thru regional, state, and national Physician Assistant involvement.

This year I have had the opportunity to be involved with NCAPA as a government affairs committee member.  I have personally observed all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes by our leadership that allows our profession to grow.  I desire to be a part of this, as one of the NCAPA, Directors at Large.

I am an excellent listener, collaborator, and decision maker.  I will be there for you as a Director at Large on the board of directors for your NCAPA.  I would appreciate your vote.

Tracy Watson Wang_election Tracy Watson-Wang, MMS, PA-C

Our Mission Statement is “NCAPA provides innovative solutions to empower our members to enhance their careers and advocate for optimal health care.”  Both of the goals of enhancing careers and advocating for health care are vitally important to me.

I have been a PA since 2009 and as I grow in my practice I see how important it is to have an organization that supports us.  This realization drove me to apply to join one of NCAPA’s committees last year.  I had a difficult time deciding which to apply for, though, because I see great value in each one.  I finally decided to join the Communications and Marketing Committee because I still encounter people who do not know what PAs can do.  I think that by helping to alleviate that, we can impact both PAs and patients.  PAs could potentially have more job opportunities, which would allow us to reach more patients, and possibly increase public support for legislation to help our practice laws.  I am encouraged that NCAPA is helping in all of these areas because of the legislation that is making progress in our state.

Therefore, I would like to do more.  I am honored to be nominated for a Director-At-Large position.  This is exciting for me because I will be able to have interaction with all of the committees and help with their work.  I would like to continue to increase public awareness of our profession.  I want to support legislation that will help our practices and help us deliver high quality healthcare where it is needed.  I also see a need to care for our colleagues who are facing health challenges of their own.  I was born and raised in North Carolina and it is very important to me to give our citizens the best healthcare that we can.  I appreciate your vote for me to fill the Director-At-Large position.

Rick Ulstad_election Rick Ulstad, MS, PA-C, CCD

Hello. My name is Richard D. Ulstad and I am a Physician Assistant in practice in North Carolina since 2001.  I have been involved with the Academy, on various levels throughout the past decade.  As a dedicated clinician, I have cultivated broad, yet specific and targeted skills with private practices in Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Urgent Care, Orthopedics and Urology/Urologic Surgery.

Currently, I am the President of the Cape Fear Chapter of PA’s in Southeastern North Carolina (4 years). Furthermore, I am the President Elect for the National Urological Association of Physician Assistants (2 years). I attended The Gilmour Academy in Ohio, The University of Rochester, in New York and Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts. I was honored to be granted the National Health Service Core Scholarship, in 2001.

After attending years of informative board meetings, with discussion on pertinent matters that affect all of us, I have been able to integrate perspectives, provide opinions, listen, and take and give direction, appropriately. With my wife who is also a PA, who graduated from Wake Forest in the 1990s, I understand the value of a Physician Assistant, evaluate our still-evolving role as a clinician for patients, and appreciate the profession at all levels from educating, to mentoring, to being there as a resource for all associated companies in healthcare, including hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, and research/development organizations.

I am very interested in becoming more involved as a Director at Large with the NCAPA. I have a tremendous respect for the organization, who has a long-standing polished reputation, as a leader for providers, and organizations, in the state, and throughout the country. I appreciate this opportunity and will take it seriously with the other members of the team. I understand the role, as well as the commitment.

If granted this Position, I will provide all my efforts to help ensure continued success for the thousands of PA’s, members of the Board, Students, and multiple PA Schools in the state.  In addition, I will help formulate new goals via an attainable and cost effective means, and provide leadership to learn and grow as an Academy.

Thank you for allowing me to be considered an active member for the NCAPA, and continue to be a spokesperson for the PA profession, at the local city level, on a state-wide platform and via a national stage.


Nominating Committee Member-at-Large

Term: 2 years (1 position to be filled)

Gayle Bodner_electionGayle Bodner, MMS, PA-C

My name is Gayle Bodner and I would be honored to become part of the NCAPA Nominating Committee. I am a clinically practicing PA for the last 15 years and am also a part time PA program faculty member.

I moved to North Carolina in 2013 and have been a member of NCAPA for 1 year. I was thoroughly impressed with the NCAPA summer conference in 2014 and the work of NCAPA. I am excited to participate in our state organization. In particular, I look forward to help finding, encouraging and endorsing high quality candidates that will strengthen the future of NCAPA and all PAs in North Carolina.

Rick Edwards_election Rick Edwards, PA-C

My name is Rick Edwards and I am seeking a position as a Nominating Committee member at Large.  Since first graduating from Duke University in 1999, I have worked in different areas of the state of North Carolina and become acquainted with a large number of Physician Assistants.  Additionally, as Director of Clinical Education for the East Carolina University PA program, I interact on a daily basis with practicing physician assistants across the state.

My hope is that I can use this network of contacts as a member of the Nominating Committee to help identify and recruit appropriate candidates to serve the NCAPA in leadership positions and to encourage their active participation in Academy activities.  I appreciate your consideration for this position.