Heather Mercer has been named executive director for the Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition, according to a news release. She was selected from a pool of candidates with backgrounds in healthcare, communications and nonprofit leadership.
Mercer said she was honored to be selected as executive director. “For the past 15 years, I have worked within the healthcare field and have seen firsthand the benefits of immunizations. I’m proud to lead the coalition in facilitating growth and education throughout the state of the importance of having every Arkansan vaccinated.”
The coalition, which was established in 2012, is a group of healthcare providers and public health stakeholders, “often referred to as the immunization neighborhood,” and serves “as a catalyst to promote individual and public health for all Arkansans through collaboration, coordination and communication about immunizations.” The coalition’s executive committee, which is comprised of physicians, pharmacists and others interested in immunizations, selected Mercer for the position.
John Vinson, executive director for Arkansas Pharmacy Foundation and a member of the executive committee for AIAC, said he was confident Mercer “will do a great job leading our organization. She brings experience in communication, healthcare and leadership that will serve the coalition well in our mission to ensure that people are better prepared to lead healthy and happy lives by immunizing Arkansans, young and old, from debilitating diseases.”
Mercer received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from the University of Central Arkansas. She previously was director of new business development and strategic planning at UAMS Center for Health Literacy and as a physician recruiter at UAMS. She and her husband, Clay, have a son and live in Little Rock.
In December 2016, the coalition received a $150,000 grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, and Mercer and Vinson plan to use it to create “sustainability for the coalition, including establishing the coalition’s 501(c)(3) status, awarding mini-grants to vaccine providers and organizing an immunization summit to bring stakeholders and providers together to discuss skills and strategies related to improving immunization rates,” the release shows.