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    Our Mission Statement

    Mission Statement: The Counseling Center strives to strengthen families and individuals by providing access to quality mental health services regardless of financial means.

    Executive Director

    Leslie Manning

    email, [email protected]

    mobile, 205.470.9482

    Board Members

    Linda Kirkman, Board Chair, After a Healthcare career in executive leadership, Linda shifted her focus to leading consulting practices focused on rural hospitals across the US while also providing healthcare executive coaching. Her expertise in healthcare strategy and marketing was beneficial in both psychiatric and medical settings. She is an expert in affiliation strategy, market strength positioning, and medical staff planning and engagement. The Highlands Plateau has always attracted Linda and her husband, Bill, so after years of visiting they purchased a home in 2004. Starting off as weekend residents, they finally made it their full-time home in 2018. Linda is an active member of the community, a Stephen Minister, and is currently Vice President of the Scaly Mountain Women’s Club.

    Tom Joyner, Treasurer, had a 40-year career in Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health. His last position was Chief of the Behavioral Health Division for the City of Jacksonville, Florida. Tom and his wife Judy have a son who is a firefighter and a daughter who works in IT with a special crimes unit of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Tom is currently Treasurer of the CPCH Board, Secretary of the Scaly Mountain/Sky Valley Volunteer Fire Department, and an active volunteer with the First Presbyterian Church of Highlands. Additionally, he is a car enthusiast, who enjoys hiking and photography.

    Jane Jerry, Jane Jerry was a museum director in Providence, Houston, Nashville, and Dublin, Ireland prior to moving to Highlands in 2010 to be the Executive Director of The Bascom Visual Arts Center. Following her retirement in 2013, she’s become a community volunteer, serving on the Boards of The Literacy and Learning Center and Counseling and Psychotherapy Center of Highlands as well as the Bel Canto Committee. “I am so grateful to live in a beautiful community that celebrates the arts and values the health and well-being of its residents.”

    Lester Norris, a native of Macon County, spent the last 29 years in Community Recreation, first working as an Athletic Director and eventually becoming the County Recreation Director for Rabun County, GA. In February 2012, Lester came to Highlands to become the Town of Highlands’ Recreation Director. Also in 2012 Lester and his wife received guardianship of two wonderful children Haley Small then 8 years old and now a Senior at Highlands School and Gavin Small, then 4 years old and now an 8th grader. Hobbies include hunting, fishing, camping, golf, pickleball, working on the farm, and just about anything outdoors.

    Helene Siegel and her husband Rick moved to Highlands in 1997, where they owned and operated the 4 ½ Street Inn Bed and Breakfast until it was sold in December 2016. Currently, she organizes the volunteers at the Bookworm, serves on the boards of the Hudson Library, and is on the Highlands Planning Board. She also serves as Secretary of her HOA at Shelby Place. “Highlands is a truly unique community, offering beauty, culture, and fellowship. It is my joy to give back to a place I have so proudly called home for the last twenty-four years.”

    Gerri Tulley has had a 40-year career in nursing as a critical care nurse, nurse practitioner, and nurse educator. She has two daughters: Amy, a website conversion optimizer in Chicago, and Erin, an online journalist covering politics in Washington DC. Upon retiring in 2012, Gerri became involved in her Highlands Community serving on the Counseling and Psychotherapy Board, UKIRK Board at WCU, the Bear Task Force, PEO, Mission Ministry, and TEFAP at First Presbyterian Church of Highlands. She also serves as an officer in Highlands’ Democratic Precinct. She enjoys tennis, hiking, and biking in her leisure time.

    Craig Edmundson earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work. While working at the GA Mental Health Institute she earned her ACSW for independent practice and later her LCSW. Craig has provided supervision and in-service training for master’s level students from Smith’s School of Social Work, the University of Georgia, Atlanta University, and the University of Tennessee. She was the clinical director and supervisor at two non-profits: Florence Crittenton Services and Clinical Director and the Pastoral Institute in Columbus, Georgia, where she supervised 25 clinicians. Throughout her career, Craig maintained a private practice. Craig’s volunteer work includes the altar guild of her parish and the school board of St. Martin in the Fields Church in Atlanta. Craig brings her extensive knowledge as a therapist and supervisor to the Counseling Center board where she is helping to implement best practices by overseeing the creation of the organization’s compliance and ethics documents.


    If you would like to be a part of this meaningful organization, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Alister Brady, Board Chair, at [email protected]


    A Brief History

    The Counseling Center was incorporated in 2012. Prior to that, beginning in 2002, Martha Porter and Ann Robinette were seeing clients using a reduced rate, while informally seeking financial support and donations from friends. Local clinicians secured and refurbished the office space at the Peggy Crosby Center and three therapists began seeing clients. Marketing was done by word of mouth, brochures, and local newspapers.

    In 2012, a board was established and the founding members were Martha Porter (President), Helen Moore (Vice-President), David Lambrecht (2nd VP), Isabel Allen (Secretary and Treasurer), and Diane McPhail (Development). This board completed the necessary paperwork and documentation to establish the organization as a 501c3 in North Carolina. Since then, the center has offered reduced or free care to anyone in need.

    We believe that affordable counseling services are an important resource for the health and well-being of the residents of Highlands and the surrounding areas.

    Today, the work continues. Talented therapists offer their services at a reduced cost to clients, and the Counseling Center (via generous donations and grants) helps offset the cost. While the Center does reimburse the therapists for their time, their full hourly rate is not usually recouped. The therapists generously offer their time so that everyone can have access to mental health care. The center subsidizes their fee and it is the hope of both the therapists and the board of directors, that all people seeking mental health care are able to do so through this model.

    You may reach out to a therapist individually underneath the bios or you can contact our Executive Director and she can walk you through the process and get you set up with someone or paired with the right community group. We are here for you. Come with your questions, concerns, struggles, joys, and hopes. Healing is on its way.

    In Gratitude

    Let's work together on your journey