Executive Committee

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President – Joey Miller

CSO for ARcare

Joey Miller is the Chief Strategy Officer for ARcare. Through her 25 year career with ARcare she has been a part of its growth and expansion in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi as one of the top Community Health Centers in the region. Joey graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a Business and Marketing degree and obtained her Masters in Business Administration in 2007. In addition to the Rural Health Association of Arkansas, Joey serves as Vice President of the White River Regional Housing Authority and a board member of Mid-South Health Systems. Her diversification in rural health organizations allows for informed and effective response to meeting rural health issues in Arkansas.

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Vice President – Frazier Edwards

Executive Director, Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association

Frazier Edwards began his career with the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association (AOMA) as Executive Director in Little Rock. For the past 12 years as Executive Director, Frazier has worked to advance the osteopathic profession to new heights in an effort to help serve the healthcare needs of Arkansas. He has successfully designed, implemented, and championed a process for developing a college of osteopathic medicine in Arkansas, resulting in the establishment of two new and separate osteopathic medical campuses. Frazier also serves as the Executive Director for the Arkansas Society of American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP), the Arkansas Osteopathic Foundation, and for Clinical Resources and Continuing Medical Education (CME) for the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) in Fort Smith. His tenure at ARCOM has been spent developing new Clinical Rotations and Graduate Medical Education programs in Arkansas, Eastern Oklahoma, Southern Missouri, and Northern Louisiana. Frazier earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Frazier has enjoyed participating in many activities, committees, and governing board’s that have helped to serve Arkansas and its great people.

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Secretary – Robin Howell

Project Manager with UAMS Regional Programs

Robin Howell has been engaged in rural healthcare for 35 years. She started in the Arkansas Office of Rural Health recruiting doctors for small towns, and in 1987 moved to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Area Health Education Centers (AHEC/Regional Programs). Robin has written and helped to secure more than $30 million in grant funds, working to develop, implement and manage many rural health career pipeline, professional education and training programs, including the creation of MASH (Medical Applications of Science for Health) summer camps, which every year encourage over 500 Arkansas high school students to consider health careers. Robin is passionate about bringing together diverse groups and perspectives to collaboratively address health care needs and issues that are unique to rural communities, knowing that linking arms and sharing expertise and resources allows us to maximize outcomes and more effectively ensure health care equity for all Arkansans.

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Treasurer – Michael “Mike” Heald

Vice President over Impact Investing, Heifer Impact Capital

Mike Heald possesses a background in finance, accounting, and banking spanning over thirty-five years. He joined Heifer International as a consultant and was instrumental in the development of Heifer Impact Capital. Mike then joined Heifer full-time as a Vice President in the impact investing area in 2020. He began his career in public accounting with an international accounting firm where he became a CPA, working with several Southern financial institutions. His next transition was to Stephens, Inc. where he worked in Corporate Finance, advising financial institutions of all sizes on strategic initiatives, including one of the largest acquisitions in banking history. Since that time, Mike provided professional consulting services for a variety of clients. Mike is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Oklahoma State Board of CPAs.

An outdoor enthusiast, Mike enjoys all outdoor sports and has participated in some of the most difficult marathons and ultra-marathons in North America. He frequently volunteers with projects that are personally important to him including, working with the homeless and improving access to healthcare in rural parts of the state of Arkansas. Mike is blessed with a wonderful family who continues to encourage him every day.

BOARD MEMBERS

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Mellie Bridewell, ED, Arkansas Rural Health Partnership

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Dr. Jennifer Conner, NYITCOM Delta Population Health Institute

Dr. Jennifer Conner has a Doctor of Public Health in leadership and policy from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She has over 18 years of experience bringing together people and organizations to achieve a better quality of life and quality of place in communities, especially those along the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. Dr. Conner was instrumental in launching the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and has achieved many policy, system, and environment changes along the southern US region to improve community resiliency. Dr. Conner has received numerous honors and awards at the local, state, and national levels for building sustainable partnerships. Dr. Conner is passionate about serving rural communities as she is an Arkansas rural native. In 2019, Dr. Conner was named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Leader finalist and led her hometown of Lake Village, Arkansas, in being named an RWJF Culture of Health Community Prize finalist.

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Anna Huff Davis, ED, Arkansas Community Health Workers Association

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Gary S. Edwards, DO, FACOFP dist., ARCOM

Dr. Edwards was the 5th unlimited licensed Osteopathic physicians to the state of Arkansas and has been practicing in the Fort Smith area since 1982. Residency trained and boarded by the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP). Dr. Edwards is one of only 82 physicians in the United States that is honored as a Distinguished Fellow of the ACOFP. Always a proponent of primary care development, he is a founding member of the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association. Currently, he is an Associate Professor and Chair of Family Medicine at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine located in Fort Smith. He is licensed as a fixed-wing and helicopter pilot, enjoys antique auto restoration, outdoor sports, and his 7 grandchildren. Dr. Edwards is married to Cheryl Holden, DHSc., his children are Stephanie, Grant, Frazier, and Benson. Dr. Edwards’ life has been blessed by the Lord Our God and he attends the First Baptist Church in Fort Smith. Arkansas.

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Edward Gilbertson, Metro EMS

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Melanie M. Meyer, MEd, Director, UAMS Physician Relations & Strategic Development/ Physician Recruitment & Provider Placement

Melanie has been at UAMS for 30 years and developed its Physician Relations Programs in 2000.  She is a founding board member and Past-President of the American Association of Physician Liaisons with a membership of 530 liaisons from 46 states.  In 2015, the UAMS Physician Recruitment Program moved under Physician Relations & Strategic Development and recruits healthcare providers for UAMS, Regional Programs and partner communities.  Her team launched the Rural Interest Student Field Trips and is developing the Rural Preceptor Housing Initiative.

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Michelle Sharp, MSN, RN, CPPS, Outreach Specialist, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care

Michelle Sharp holds a Master of Science in Nursing in Healthcare Policy and has been a registered nurse for over a decade. Currently, she is an Outreach Specialist and Team Lead at the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. In her role, she supports rural hospitals and outpatient providers to improve rural health outcomes. She works closely with AR critical access hospitals in overall improvement through the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program. Ms. Sharp is an Institute for Healthcare Improvement (HICP) Certified Professional in Patient Safety(CPPS) and a TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer. She is currently a member of the Rural Health Congress with the National Rural Health Association and actively participates in the Healthcare Acquired Infections and Antibiotic Stewardship Advisory Boards within the Arkansas Department of Health.

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LaShannon Spencer, CEO, Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc.

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Craig Wilson, Director of Health Policy, Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Craig Wilson is the Director of Health Policy at the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), a nonpartisan, independent health policy organization that serves as a catalyst to improve the health of Arkansans. He is adjunct faculty at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Public Health and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Most recently, Craig has focused on legislation to develop a robust infrastructure and process for collection of data for reporting health quality and pricing called the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency Initiative. He worked alongside the Arkansas Surgeon General and state legislators to develop and implement the Health Care Independence Program (also known as the “private option”) and its successor program, Arkansas Works, both of which use an innovative form of premium assistance to provide coverage to low-income Arkansans.

Craig is a graduate of Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. He is an attorney licensed to practice in Arkansas, having earned his juris doctorate from Georgia State University College of Law and his masters of public administration from Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in Atlanta, Georgia.

ADVISORY COUNCIL

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Bridget Atkins, Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS)

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Lindy Bollen, DDS, Oral Health Director, ADH

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Dr. Mark T. Jansen, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield VP & Chief Medical Officer

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Ron Hubbard, DDS, Marshall, AR

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Cindy Landry, DDS, Lepanto, AR

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Nell Smith, Branch Chief, Arkansas Department of Health

STAFF

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Administrator – Ryan Kelly, MS

Ryan Kelly serves as the administrator of the Rural Health Association of Arkansas. He also serves as CEO of Horizon Professional Services, which provides executive leadership for healthcare associations across the nation. Kelly previously served as Chief Advancement Office for William Carey University and Director of External Relations for The University of Southern Mississippi College of Health. Kelly earned a bachelor’s of science with honors from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2005 and a master’s of science with honors from Mississippi College in 2007.

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Communication Development Director – Lynn Caldwell Hawkins

Chief Officer of Special Initiatives (COSI) for Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP)

Lynn Hawkins is responsible for assisting ARHP project directors and administrative staff with partner and project recruitment and communications, organizational development, planning projects, partner relations, community and stakeholder involvement, and all communications decisions impacting the goals and outcomes of ARHP initiatives and projects. Previously, Hawkins served the ARHP in various roles including Chief Operations Officer. Hawkins has more than 17 years’ experience working with non-profit organizations focusing on community and network development, program implementation, grants management, and advocacy efforts to build and strengthen existing programs and/or develop programs to improve the quality of life in rural Arkansas.  She has served as an AR Delta Technical Assistance Provider, covering 42 east Arkansas counties; was instrumental in the implementation of the Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA) insurance enrollment program under the Affordable Care Act and provided oversight of the CHCA statewide Outreach and Enrollment Network.  Hawkins has served as a Government Relations Manager assisting with securing funding for community health centers.  Hawkins currently serves on state and regional boards and commissions, including the Arkansas Division of Rural Services Commission, Congressman Rick Crawford’s Delta Regional Economic Advancement Council, and the UAMS East Advisory Council representing the Arkansas Delta region.

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