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ACS Leadership


Ron Ross

North Carolina Regional Director

Ronald Ross joined Appalachian Community Services in 2011 and is currently the Director of Outpatient and Community-based Services. Ron earned his BS in Psychology from Old Dominion University and his Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Norfolk State University. He is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS). Prior to relocating to Western North Carolina in 2011, Ron was employed in the field of mental health and substance use services in Hampton Roads, VA where he both provided direct care and assisted in program development for inpatient, residential, and outpatient care centers. Ron enjoys spending time with family, traveling, raising beagles, and furniture restoration. 


Tabatha Brafford

Regional Director of Community Relations

Tabatha Brafford moved to Western North Carolina in 2002 and joined the ACS team in 2010. Tabatha’s passion for helping people and determination to improve our behavioral health system made the role of Direction of Consumer Services a perfect fit. Graduating from the University of North Florida with a Master’s Degree in 1999, Tabatha is currently licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Clinical Supervisor. When she is not working, Tabatha loves any outside adventure and going to movies with her husband and two sons, coaching basketball and reading fiction.

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Benjamin Crawford, DO

Medical Director

Dr. Benjamin Crawford received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 2008 from the University of North Texas. After completing an internship in Family Medicine in 2009, he followed with a full psychiatry residency program, during which he served as Chief Resident in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the heart of providing a holistic approach to wellness, he added a graduate diploma in Theology in 2015.  

Dr. Crawford has lead a successful private practice as a Board Certified Psychiatrist since 2012. Fueled by his passion to help people, he added additional training to provide care to patients struggling with addiction. He’s grateful for the use of telepsychiatry and the barriers it has removed, allowing him to take both mental health and addiction care to communities previously unserved. He continuously seeks ways to enhance outcomes and equip patients with diverse tools, helping them discover their full potential in life.

Dr. Crawford embraces the role of Medical Director for Appalachian Community Center. His heart to educate and his sincere compassion equip him to serve the medical staff at ACS and walk jointly with them, into the challenges of tomorrow, knowing they can make a difference, in all the communities they serve.


Jessica Tewell

Director, Western Outpatient and Community Services 

A Cherokee County Appalachian native, Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist Associate (LCASA) with 17 years of experience in physical and mental healthcare. She is a graduate of Western Carolina University, George W. Truett Theological Seminary,  and Baylor University where she respectively earned a BS in Sociology, Master of Divinity, and a Master of Social Work.

Following graduation, Jessica spent five years living in Waco, TX where she worked with vulnerable populations while completing her graduate education. In 2013, she returned to Western North Carolina and joined the Appalachian Community Services team. In her current role Jessica's focus is with the communities of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, and Swain counties, and she enjoys work with individuals, families, groups, and community systems. 

Jessica is passionate about providing compassionate, person-centered, and robust services to those living in Western North Carolina and is proud to work for an agency that promotes these values. She has special interests in working with children in recovery from traumatic events, adults managing acute mental health disorders, and advocacy for marginalized populations. 


Lauren Garner

Director, Eastern Outpatient and Community Services

Lauren is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist with 14 years of mental health experience.  She received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Social Work from Western Carolina University.  After earning her Bachelor’s Degree, Lauren worked at Broughton State Hospital providing direct care to patients in group and individual settings.  Lauren has been part of the Appalachian Community Services team since 2011.  While working in multiple direct care capacities within ACS, Lauren discovered a passion for community and organizational management.  In 2015 she became the Assistant Director of Outpatient and Community-based Services, supervising services provided out of the eastern most counties served by ACS.  In 2019, Lauren accepted the position of Director of Outpatient Services and Client Relations.  In addition to being passionate about providing the best care in the region, Lauren also enjoys spending time with her two daughters, traveling, and recreational activities.


Betty Aldecoa, Psy.D., M.Ed.

Clinical Director

Dr. Aldecoa relocated from Puerto Rico to Cincinnati during late adolescence and attended Xavier University where she earned a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in Special Education. After moving to Florida, she earned a M.S. in Psychology and Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology from Carlos Albizu University in Miami. She has been providing services to individuals of all ages diagnosed with mental illnesses, intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or substance use disorders for more than 30 years.

Dr. Aldecoa has been part of the ACS team since 2005 and provides a range of services to the organization. She is dedicated and passionate about inclusion and recovery and believes everyone should be provided with the opportunity to reach their maximum potential.  She strives to assist others in reaching this potential by providing direct care and supervising staff members providing this care. She emphasizes humility, kindness, compassion and equality while providing comprehensive quality care to the members of our community.


Victoria Parker

Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services

A Chicago native, Victoria has called the mountains of Western North Carolina home for nearly fifteen years.  After earning a nursing degree in 2010, Victoria worked at Murphy Medical Center before joining Appalachian Community Services in 2015.  In her free time, Victoria enjoys the great outdoors with her family, often camping and fishing with her husband and children, and volunteering in her community. The most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing the clients and residents reach their goals and experience an improvement in their quality of life.


Kamay Gaboda

Director of Crisis Services

Kamay Gaboda came back to Appalachian Community Services to serve as the Director of Crisis Services. Ms. Gaboda earned her BA and MA in Counseling from Gardner Webb University and graduated in 2001. She is currently a Licensed Clinician Mental Health Clinical Supervisor (LCMCHCS), Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS), Certified Clinical Supervisor, and Master of Addiction Counseling MAT. Ms. Gaboda has lived in Western North Carolina since birth. Ms. Gaboda work experience includes mental health and substance use counseling, and in management where she provided clinical supervision, program development, and management of inpatient, residential, outpatient, and Methadone treatment centers.  Ms. Gaboda enjoys spending time with family, traveling, listening to podcasts, and being on the family farm with her animals.

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