Family Medicine Residency Program
Doctors talking in hallway with cell phones

Our team

Mark L. Higdon, DO, FAAFP

Program director

Mark L. Higdon, DO, FAAFPDr. Higdon is a board-certified family physician who graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and has finished his family medicine residency in Fort Benning, Georgia. Dr. Higdon also completed a Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a husband, father of three teenage boys and a retired Army colonel, Dr. Higdon is committed to his faith and service to others. He was a former family medicine program director, director of graduate medical education and has more than 20 years of academic experience. His academic interests include physician leadership, hospital administration and work-life balance.

C.J. Atkinson, MD, FAAFP

Designated institutional official

CJ Atkinson, MDDr. Atkinson is a board-certified family physician who attended UNC Chapel Hill for his undergraduate education followed by Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He then completed his family medicine residency at Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning, Ga. Before joining Novant Health, Dr. Atkinson served as a family physician in the U.S. Army, including working with residents as an attending faculty member as well as extended time overseas as a battalion surgeon. Dr. Atkinson is co-medical director of the Lake Norman Community Health Clinic, a free clinic serving the local area. He is also the lead physician for the the Novant Health North Charlotte market. A husband and father of two girls, Dr. Atkinson knows the importance of work-life balance and looks forward to making sure that each resident graduates with the fundamental knowledge to perform at the highest level of family medicine in this ever-changing health care environment.

Kelley V. Lawrence, MD, IBCLC, FAAFP, FABM

Associate program director

Kelley V. Lawrence, MD, IBCLCDr. Lawrence is a board-certified family physician who completed both her undergraduate and medical school training at UNC Chapel Hill and then completed her family medicine residency at the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency Program in Lawrence, Mass. Her area of concentration within her training program was maternal child care, particularly low-risk prenatal/obstetric care as well as breastfeeding medicine. She and her husband have four young children and understand the value of balance between work and family life. Dr. Lawrence also contributes to our faculty team through her experience in care for the underserved/uninsured and interests in international and integrative medicine.

Christopher Zagar, MD, FAAFP

Associate program director

Dr. Christopher ZagarDr. Zagar is a board-certified family physician who attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM for his undergraduate and medical school training. He completed his residency at Cabarrus Family Medicine Residency Program in Concord, NC. He worked in Concord NC until joining Novant Health in 2007. Prior to completing medical school, Dr. Zagar worked as a paramedic for 12 years providing emergency care via ambulance and fixed wing aircraft across the state of New Mexico. Dr. Zagar enjoys treating the wide range of problems encountered in family medicine and he has a special interest in preventive cardiology and chemical dependency. Dr. Zagar is an active member on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Rescue Mission which provides addiction recovery and integration services for people with chemical dependency. Dr. Zagar is married and is the father of 2 children (son and daughter) and enjoys spending time with his family golfing and skiing. When he is not working or with family he can usually be found training for a marathon as he strives to maintain a healthy balance of physical, spiritual and psychological wellness.

Lloyd Runser, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Assistant program director

Dr. Lloyd RunserDr. Runser is a board-certified family physician who attended the United States Military Academy, graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and rounded out his training by completing a family medicine residency in Fort Lewis, Washington. Before joining Novant Health, Dr. Runser served as an Army physician for 12 years, during two deployments. Dr. Runser enjoys spending time with his wife and children. When he is not working or spending time with his family, he enjoys running, cycling, swimming, hiking, or doing yoga with the goal of maintaining his personal and spiritual well-being. Dr. Runser also has a passion for teaching and serving others.

Heather Doty, DO

Associate program director

Kelley V. Lawrence, MD, IBCLCDr. Doty is a board-certified family physician who graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She completed her residency training at Memorial Hospital in York, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Novant Health Family Medicine Residency Program, she spent 12 years working in urgent care settings. During that time, she served as medical director of five urgent care clinics and helped to create an integrated urgent care model to improve patient access and provider satisfaction.

Dr. Doty’s academic interests include healthcare administration, physician resilience, integrative approaches to healthcare and preventive medicine. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and five children and volunteering with organizations that serve those in need.

Lauren Penwell-Waines, PhD

Director of behavioral science

Dr. Lauren Penwell-WainesDr. Penwell-Waines is a licensed psychologist who completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at West Virginia University. Following this training, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in health psychology at the Medical College of Georgia and the Behavioral Science Family Systems Educator Fellowship through the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Dr. Penwell-Waines' professional interests include integrated care, health behavior change, and physician wellness. She believes in living a well-rounded life and enjoys traveling, cooking, eating, and fitness.

Kira Harris, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, CPP

Outpatient clinical pharmacy specialist

Kira HarrisDr. Harris is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and clinical pharmacist practitioner who completed her undergraduate and pharmacy school education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her postgraduate year one pharmacy practice residency at the Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and her postgraduate second year ambulatory care specialty residency at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. Dr. Harris is an associate professor at Wingate University School of Pharmacy where she has been a faculty member since 2009. She practiced at Novant Health Crown Point Family Physicians for eight years before joining the residency program in March 2017. She has a special interest in diabetes management and cardiovascular risk reduction. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children and living an active and healthy life.

Cynthia Profera, C-TAGME

Residency program coordinator

Cynthia ProferaCynthia Profera is the program coordinator with over 25 years of experience in family medicine residency programs. She works to facilitate all aspects of the resident's experience, playing a key role in their development as future family physicians and leaders in healthcare and medical education. Cynthia holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in medical secretarial science as well as an Associate of Applied Science in business administration degree from Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY. She also serves as a member of the board of directors with the Association of Family Medicine Administrators. Cynthia and her husband have lived in Charlotte for nearly 25 years. Together, they enjoy traveling and trying new restaurants across the area. Exercise, needlework, gardening and caring for her three cats also keep Cynthia happy, healthy and enjoying life.