Sarah Thach

Sarah Brill Thach, MPH

Assistant Professor
Public Health Leadership Program
Concentration Lead
Place-Based Health Concentration
UNC Asheville - UNC Gillings Masters of Public Health Program
UNC Asheville - UNC Gillings Masters of Public Health Program
UNC Health Sciences at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC)
125 Hendersonville Rd
Asheville, NC 28803


Sarah Thach is Co-Director and teaches in the UNC Asheville – UNC Gillings MPH Program. She has promoted rural medical education Western North Carolina (WNC); developed models to help primary care physicians care for geriatric patients; trained WNC health educators and broad-based health partnerships in assessing and addressing community health needs; created faculty development for community-based physician-teachers; and developed school-based health centers in West Virginia. As a current National Rural Health Association Rural Health Policy Fellow she is studying policies to improve rural access to maternal care. As a 2013-2015 Jim Bernstein Community Health Leadership Fellow, she piloted models of medical - public health collaboration to enhance population health. She received her Masters in Public Health in health behavior & health education from UNC – Chapel Hill and her bachelors degree in anthropology and women’s studies from Harvard University.

Honors and Awards

Rural Health Policy Fellow
2022, National Rural Health Association

Distinguished Fellow Award
2019, Bernstein

Jim Bernstein Community Health Leadership Fellow
2013-2015, Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation

Teaching Interests

 - Manage practicum and culminating experience opportunities for Asheville students and lead related courses

 - Teach/co-teach Place-Based Concentration courses PUBH 734 "Place-Based Theory in Public Health" and PUBH 740 "Implementation of Place-Based Theory & Design in Public Health."

 - Section lead core course SPHG 701 "Leading from the Inside Out" and serve on UNC MPH Core Instructors Team. Have section-led SPHG 713 "Understanding Public Health Issues."

 - Serve on MAHEC Interprofessional Education Team and regularly guest lecture on public to clinical students and residents.

Research Activities

I am interested in the intersection of public health and primary care, community engagement by clinicians, and rural place-based interprofessional education.

 - Training and implementation of community health assessments in the 16 westernmost counties of NC.

 - Implementation and evaluation of the Boot Camp Translation model of community engagement designing community campaigns to promote evidence-based medicine in Buncombe, Mitchell and Yancey Counties. 

 - Implementation and evaluation of an initiative showing PBS series "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?" to enhance community health planning around social determinants of health in Buncombe, Henderson, Macon, McDowell, Mitchell, and Polk Counties.

Service Activities

Community health education and anti-racism efforts in a variety of contexts. Led anti-racism community dialogues, workshops, and support groups, 2000-2014.

Key Publications

Using a community engagement approach to enhance contraception awareness in rural western North Carolina. Spach NC, Thach SB, Dellinger CB, Ritter EQ, & Galvin SL. (2021). North Carolina Medical Journal, 82(6), 377-383.

Cultivating country doctors: Preparing learners for rural life and community leadership. Thach SB, Hodge B, Cox M, Parlier-Ahmad AB, & Galvin SL (2018). Family medicine, 50(9), 21-6.

Bringing faculty development to community-based preceptors. Langlois JP & Thach SB (2003). Academic Medicine, 78(2), 1-6.

Defining and assessing organizational competence in serving communities at risk for STDs. Thach SB, Eng E, & Thomas JC (2002). Health Promotion Practice, 3(2), 220-235.


  • MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997
  • BA, Social Anthropology & Women’s Studies, Harvard University, 1991