LITTLE ROCK, Ark., July 31, 2023 — The American Heart Association-Central Arkansas, has added three new members to its governing board of directors: Dr. Mark Jansen, vice president and chief medical officer for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield; John Ryan, President and CEO for Centene Arkansas Health Plans, which includes QualChoice; and Brandy Harp, principal broker Jon Underhill Real Estate.

Jamie Jones, a partner at Friday, Eldredge & Clark LLP is the board’s new chairman. Her volunteerism with the Association is driven by her father’s experience with heart failure.

“For a 100 years, the American Heart Association has passionately fought to lower the impact of heart disease and stroke,” Jones said. “I’m proud to raise my voice in support and do all I can to reduce the chance my daughter—and yours—are impacted.”

American Heart Association board members bring a combination of skills, experience, passion and influence to accomplish the revenue and health goals of an AHA division. Board members apply their time, talent and resources toward building resource capacity and improving the cardiovascular health of the community. They are champions of health equity and recognize the urgent need to address the evolving needs of our increasingly diverse communities.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our community work, and the diversity of expertise among these new board members brings value to our organization,” said Nikki Smith, executive director of the American Heart Association-Central Arkansas. “I am thankful for their commitment, leadership and talents.”

Board members serve a three-year term and take on the critical role of helping the association carry out its 2024 goal of advancing cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.

“These community servants know there has been an increased number of Arkansans facing acute food insecurity, leaving underserved communities even more vulnerable than before the pandemic,” Smith added. “This board is committed to addressing the drivers of health disparities, including the social determinants of health and structural racism.”

The board and the Central Arkansas staff are also focused on hypertension awareness, eliminating all nicotine use and reducing the risk of heart disease in women.

The Central Arkansas office celebrated a banner year in 2022-23, raising $1.36 million from its 2022-23 core events: CycleNation, Heart Ball, Heart Walk and Go Red for Women.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook or Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  


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