Our Staff

Lisa Lefler, Ph.D.


lefler-rattlesnake.jpgDr. Lisa Lefler, Executive Director for The Center for Native Health, is a medical and applied anthropologist who has worked with American Indian populations since 1989.  Her experience includes substance abuse treatment/relapse prevention approaches and curriculum development for clinicians working with tribal youth, diabetes prevention research, American Indian fatherhood research, cultural competency and historical intergenerational trauma projects with tribal populations.  Lisa also has M.Ed and Ed. S. degrees in curriculum development.  She is currently Director of Culturally Based Native Health Programs, associate professor of anthropology and Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University, and a Research Associate at Wake Forest University. In 2009, Dr. Lefler published Under the Rattlesnake, Cherokee Health and Resilience which is available online, in many bookstores and in the Cherokee Museum gift shop.

Heidi Altman, Ph.D.


altman-fishing.jpgDr. Heidi Alman, Research Director for the Center for Native Health, is a linguistic anthropologist who has worked with tribes in the US and Mexico since 1995.  She conducts ethnographic and linguistic research related to native science systems, and applied projects in language preservation and revitalization.  She is currently a professor at Georgia Southern University and works with the Eastern Band as a Language planning consultant.  She will be involved in developing the research protocol for the Center as well as research planning for the VINE program. Dr. Altman's book Eastern Cherokee Fishing, published in 2006, is available online, in many bookstores and in the Cherokee Museum gift shop.

Thomas Belt


Tom Belt is a native Oklahoma Cherokee speaker and traditionalist who has lived in the North Carolina Cherokee community for close to twenty years. He has worked as a Cherokee language instructor for Cherokee Central Schools and Western Carolina University. He also serves as a translator at monthly Clinicians & Elders gatherings, as a community organizer, and as a consultant regarding traditional approaches to behavioral health and treatment programs for Indian Youth.

Pat Morse, Ph.D.

Dr. Pat Morse, CNH Research Associate, is the Head of the Department of Social Work at Western Carolina University. She has worked with behavioral health related to HIV, and currently works with the Center on the Gambling Survey.

Personal tools