Executive Committee

President – Frazier Edwards

VP Strategic Partnerships, Arkansas Rural Health Partnership

Frazier Edwards currently serves as the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership.  Previous to this, he worked as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association. 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 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.
Past 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.
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.
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.

President-Elect – Mellie Bridewell, ED, Arkansas Rural Health Partnership

Ms. Mellie Bridewell currently works for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as the Director of the Office of Strategic Management and serves as the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership’s Chief Executive Officer.  Mellie has eighteen years of experience in community and organizational networking, grant writing, and program development and implementation. Mellie created the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership organization in 2008 which began with five critical access hospitals and has grown to twelve member hospitals across the south Arkansas region.  

Mellie has obtained over $12 million dollars in grant funds for Arkansas Rural Health Partnership to implement healthcare provide training opportunities, healthcare workforce initiatives, chronic disease programs, behavioral and mental health services, and access to care throughout the Arkansas Delta.  Ms. Bridewell currently serves on the National Rural Health Association Congress and was recently chosen as one of fifteen in the country to participate in their Rural Fellows program for 2019.  She also serves on the board of the National Cooperative of Health Networks Association.  


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.
Anna Huff Davis, ED, Arkansas Community Health Workers Association
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.

Brad Walsh, MD, Family Medicine Physician, Family Clinic of Ashley County

Layton Woolford, NYIT School of Medicine
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.
Tiffany Holland, Outreach Specialist, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care
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.


James E Zini, D.O., FACOFP, Family Medicine Physician, White River Health System

Dr Zini has been a family physician in private practice in Mountain View since 1977 and is board certified in Family Practice and Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy.  In the 1980’s he and several other D.O.s founded the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association and he served multiple times as its President.

In 2001 he had the monumental honor of being elected President of the American Osteopathic Association.  In time, that led to the ultimate reality of being a founding Board member of the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Smith, AR.

Historically, Dr Zini served on the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care for 10 years; was the first D.O. to be named to the Arkansas State Medical Board, serving for 16 years and is currently serving on the Arkansas Board of Health, having served as its President in 2019.

Dr Zini has a passion for restoring, driving and enjoying his antique cars but mostly just enjoys driving them to work, touring the beautiful Mountain View area and having his family and friends drive them too!


Bridget Atkins, Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS)
Lindy Bollen, DDS, Oral Health Director, ADH
Dr. Mark T. Jansen, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield VP & Chief Medical Officer
Ron Hubbard, DDS, Marshall, AR
Cindy Landry, DDS, Lepanto, AR
Nell Smith, Branch Chief, Arkansas Department of Health


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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