Dr. Joycelyn Elders was one of the founding members of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission along with the lead sponsor and former Senator Bill Lewellen in 1991. Elders was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Health in 1987 by former President Bill Clinton. She went on to become the 15th Surgeon General of the United States and the first African American and second woman to head the U.S Public Health Service in 1993. Dr. Elders was best known for her mission to focus on bringing awareness to the issues of health disparities that Arkansas minorities faced.
Tommy Sproles began his work with the Arkansas Department of Health and was one of the first staff members of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. He later was appointed by Dr. Joycelyn Elders to serve as AMHC’s first executive director. He was most instrumental in securing funds for AMHC, which led to him starting the CHART (Coalition for a Healthy Arkansas Today). Through his work with the CHART and lobbying, Act 1, better known as the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000, was enacted.
Former Rep. Judy Smith was best known for creating pilot programs that promoted healthier lifestyles for Arkansas minorities. One such program was Southern Ain’t Fried Sundays, which focused on reaching out to African American faith-based communities, churches and organizations to educate and bring awareness to the different health disparities that minorities face and how they can maintain healthier lifestyles. Through her efforts, those programs still exist today at the AMHC.
Dr. Wynona Bryant-Williams was best known for focusing on the health disparities among minorities, such as obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. Through her work, many programs that dealt with and addressed these issues were started under her leadership and led to the AMHC conducting health screening events that were open and free to the public.
Dr. Idonia Trotter maintained the work of the previous directors, continuing to focus on the mission, goals and core values established by the AMHC. She also focused on getting health policies passed that would benefit minorities and end the health disparities that they faced, one being the Affordable Healthcare Act. Under her leadership and through her bringing IPA’s on board, Dr. Trotter was instrumental in bringing awareness to Arkansas minorities on the importance of enrolling for affordable healthcare and promoting the health programs established by the AMHC.
Micheal Knox, M.S., M.P.H., DrPH candidate, was appointed director for the Arkansas Minority Health Commission in February 2015. Prior to this role, Mr. Knox worked in several capacities at the Arkansas Department of Health – Public Health Administrator (Medicaid Expansion Facilitator); associate branch chief, Preparedness and Emergency Response Branch; and senior epidemiologist.
ShaRhonda Love, M.P.H., is the seventh executive director of Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Love has a Bachelor of Science in health sciences with a minor in community health agencies. She also holds a master’s of public health degree with an emphasis in health behavior education. Prior to joining AMHC, Love spent 12 years at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as a project director and a senior policy analyst, and one and one half years at the Arkansas Department of Health as school health director.
Love has published nine articles in areas of obesity, weight loss/maintenance, stress management, cognitive memory impairment, tobacco cessation and faith-based interventions.