The American Heart Association, a national voluntary health agency dedicated to improving cardiovascular health, has announced major changes to the leadership at its Central Arkansas office, including a new executive director, Nikki Smith, and three new board members.
Smith has over 25 years of non-profit experience, most recently as senior manager of leadership events for the National MS Society in Tulsa. Her other previous positions include director of special events and marketing for the Alzheimer’s Association and senior manager of distinguished events for the American Cancer Society in San Antonio, Texas.
In her new position, Smith will assist with the American Heart Association in its 2024 goal of advancing cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality, driven by a personal belief that every Arkansan deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life, regardless of age, race, gender identity or zip code.
“We’re focused on helping patients manage their blood pressure, which can be difficult without access to healthy foods or consistent blood pressure monitoring,” said Smith.
The Association stated that high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a leading cause of stroke, the state’s No. 5 killer.
Under her leadership, the Association has already helped implement nutrition insecurity screenings and evidence-based blood pressure monitoring practices in three health management centers operated by Baptist Health in Pulaski and Washington counties, the announcement said.
“As an organization, we’re driving real change through our community relationships,” Smith added.
In addition to Smith, the new board members include: Jeremy Owoh, superintendent of Jacksonville North Pulaski School District; Darin Hoover, president of McGhee Insurance Agency; and Dr. Srikanth Vallurupalli, assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.