Kacie Simpson is an associate research program director in the Office of Community Health and Research at the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus. Mrs. Simpson holds a bachelor’s degree in community health education. Prior to joining the Office of Community Health and Research at UAMS, Mrs. Simpson spent nearly 14 years working at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in the Cancer Clinical Trials Office. During her time in oncology clinical trials, Mrs. Simpson severed many roles including regulatory specialist, clinical research coordinator, clinical research coordinator manager, and director of clinical research operations with a focus in solid tumor diseases. Mrs. Simpson has been a Certified Clinical Research Professional through the Society of Clinical Research Associates since 2011. In 2016, Mrs. Simpson was the recipient of the UAMS Bonny Hope Wallace Award for Excellence in Human Subject Research; an award nominated and voted on by her peers. She has experience working with oncology patients, providers, leadership, and protocol sponsors including UAMS for local investigator initiated protocols, federally funded cooperative groups, and industry/pharmaceutical sponsors. Mrs. Simpson is excited to continue her career goals by providing innovative research opportunities to improve health care to all communities in northwest Arkansas.
Stephanie Kruger holds a master’s degree in health care administration with an emphasis on accounting and a bachelor’s degree in health care management. She has over 20 years of health care experience in a broad range of settings and has spent the last 11 years managing and directing teams of frontline staff and leaders. Most recently, Stephanie obtained her LEAN certificate and studied under a Leadership and Organizational Development expert; with that knowledge, she has worked with many different departments and setting to increase efficiencies in daily processes. In her current role at UAMS, Mrs. Kruger oversees the departments statewide effort to address vaccine hesitancy through Community Health Workers. It is Mrs. Kruger’s professional goal to continue to learn and grow her health care knowledge, and use her skill set to reduce health inequities in the community through the development of highly engaged and efficient teams.
Rudy Burns, CPA., is an assistant director of programs with Office of Community Programs and Research at the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus. Rudy has a Bachelor of Science in accountancy from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He completed his Certificate of Public Accountancy in the State of Arkansas following graduation. Rudy began his current position with UAMS Northwest in 2022. He previously worked with the UAMS College of Medicine and Jones Eye Institute from 1999 until 2006 and served as the administrator. Following a career in leadership in private medicine, Rudy has been a small business owner in the food service industry since 2011. Rudy’s variety of experience brings a relatable understanding the importance of reaching the community while providing financial guidance and support to a variety of program. Rudy’s career goal remains the desire to help others achieve their goals by supporting those who make a difference in the lives of others.
Sarah Council, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in medical anthropology from Washington State University. She also has a master’s in medical anthropology and bachelor’s degrees in cultural anthropology and psychology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Sarah has conducted field research in the Commonwealth of Dominica, focused on overweight and obesity among women in a rural village. She also has experience as a former research writer in oncology and has conducted research among patients with sickle cell disease. Sarah’s primary research foci includes health disparities, bias, and stigma. She is a member of the UAMS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Recruitment Committee. Sarah has joined Kacie’s team as a research program manager. Currently, all of her projects are focused on COVID-19. Sarah’s professional goal is to continue the work of the Office of Community Health and Research to address health disparities among the Marshallese and Hispanic communities of northwest Arkansas.
Victoria Dempsey, B.S., serves as a project manager with the Office of Community Health and Research. Ms. Dempsey has spent the last decade working in the homeless sector with a focus on providing equitable resources. Ms. Dempsey has over eight years of case management experience working with individuals experiencing homelessness and has developed strong relationships with community partners. She has extensive knowledge regarding program management, federal grants/statues, data collection and reporting, and reaching community benchmarks. With her role at UAMS, Ms. Dempsey’s career goal is to continue to provide resources to those most in need within our community.
Hannah Henderson is a May 2020 graduate from Hendrix College. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a background in psychology research. Hannah has contributed to several papers and presentations related to emotional, physical, and mental health and is the lead author on three papers. Hannah also completed an internship in Rwanda teaching high school aged girls about mental health, positive psychology, emotions, expressive writing, stress, and coping. Hannah has an interest in applied psychology well-being research and is interested in projects to help out the community. Hannah is on Kacie’s team as a research assistant focusing on projects related to COVID-19.
Manny Marrero, B.A., is an administrative coordinator. Mr. Marrero has a bachelor’s in business marketing with a minor in Spanish from the University of Arkansas. He joined the UAMS team in August 2020 as a contact tracer/coordinator and then moved on to assist the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus COVID-19 vaccination team, helping special populations in the area, where he helped with the implementation of Spanish-translated documents, scripts to better communicate and educate the community, register patients into the UAMS systems to receive vaccinations, and do outreach. In his current role, he continues to assist the vaccination team on a statewide scale. Mr. Marrero’s current career goal is to keep assisting the Office of Community Health and Research in its processes to better assist special populations across Arkansas.
Joshua C McKinnon, DNP, APRN, is the clinical lead for COVID-19 vaccine events at the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus. He has a Doctor of Nursing Practice and is a licensed advanced practice registered nurses. Mr. McKinnon has over 10 years of clinical experience as a registered nurse in areas such as emergency departments, flight nursing, community nursing, and urgent care. While practicing nursing in Arkansas, Australia, Wyoming, and Panamá, he has enjoyed the opportunities to work with the underserved rural, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ communities. Mr. McKinnon’s personal growth and professional development flourished while traveling, which inspired him to pursue research and academia. He has a personal ambition to help transformation the way health care is experienced globally.
Madeline Poole, B.S., has a Bachelor of Science in geology from the University of Arkansas, but joined the UAMS team during the beginning of the pandemic as a contact tracer. Since then, Ms. Poole has gained extensive experience in Epic as well as attending community events held to vaccinate the northwest Arkansas area. This has exposed her to the intricacies of such events, as well as the different backgrounds people have in different communities. Through these experiences, it is Ms. Poole’s goal to help raise awareness for the beneficial qualities of all vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
Caitlin Tidwell is a research assistant for the Office of Community Health and Research at the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus. Ms. Tidwell holds a master’s degree in sociology with an emphasis on criminology and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology. She has three years of experience conducting research that relates to social vulnerability and health outcomes. Over the past year, she has focused on conducting COVID-19 research that focuses on vaccine uptake, socioemotional responses, and the effects of miscommunication. Ms. Tidwell graduated from the University of Arkansas, where she worked as a research assistant for the Department of Sociology. In doing so, she established relationships with credible public health scholars who instilled her with a passion for conducting research that focuses on better health outcomes for socially vulnerable groups. It is Ms. Tidwell’s goal to empower our community to be able to prioritize health and well-being.
Ivy Welch holds a bachelor’s of interdisciplinary studies in behavioral pharmacology from the University of Arkansas and is presently pursuing a Master of Public Administration in non profit management from Arkansas State University. She is a Spanish bilingual community outreach coordinator, currently serving as outreach and event coordinator for Vaccine Education and Community Mobile Event Outreach. Prior to joining UAMS, Ms. Welch worked over nine years in mental health, healthcare, and community case management, developing and implementing individual behavioral interventions with specific focus on at-risk and chronic illness populations within northwest Arkansas. She also has extensive experience in team and group management for the mobilization and connection of services for underprivileged individuals/families in crisis. It is her professional goal to be able to continue to develop and advocate programs for education and equity in wellness, services, and accessibility for the expanding northwest Arkansas Hispanic community.
Meet the Community Health and Research Staff
The leadership team manages research programs and administrative duties related to community health and research programs.Learn More
The administration team oversees day-to-day operations of office procedures, finances and grant-writing.Learn More
Our faculty and research teams are leading the way toward better health in Arkansas and beyond.Learn More
The community programs team works with community partners to improve access to resources, healthy foods, health care, and safe places for physical activity for all.Learn More
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our outreach team has worked to ensure that our communities continue to have access to their best health.Learn More
Diabetes Health Team
The diabetes and cardiometabolic team engages with the community to better understand and address significant health issues that exist.Learn More
Family Wellness Team
The family wellness team provides and connects individuals and families to health services available in the community.Learn More
Healthy Food Systems Team
The Healthy Food Systems team works with schools and community to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food.Learn More