Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
Like most professionals, Martine Pollard’s career path has zigged and zagged a little.
But through the job changes, there’s been one undeniable tie that’s bonded them all — making a difference and helping people.
Pollard recently celebrated nine years with Mercy Northwest Arkansas in Rogers. She is the healthcare provider’s executive director of community and public relations.
The scope of her job has evolved since the fall of 2010. It now includes a corporate outreach component and a community integration component. As a strategic adviser with the Mercy executive team, she helps identify initiatives that will help expand healthcare delivery across the region in a precise way.
The most specific project of the past decade to meet that goal was Mercy’s 2016 announcement to invest nearly $250 million on capital projects and equipment in five years. Much of that work has been completed, highlighted by a large-scale facility in Springdale, an expansion of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers and several new clinics.
In a recent interview, Pollard said her role in developing the community presence plan for Mercy Northwest Arkansas — an affiliate of St. Louis-based healthcare system Mercy — has been extremely gratifying.
“Getting to do that for an organization that is a faith-based organization that positions themselves as a ministry first …healthcare is what we do to extend that ministry,” she said. “That has been rewarding in recent years. For the entire time I have been here, but especially now, with so much change happening in healthcare. Meeting the needs of the community has been very enjoyable.”
Before joining Mercy, jobs in public service satisfied Pollard’s passion for helping others. A Little Rock native, she spent the first five years after college working in the Conway mayor’s office. After a short detour in the private sector, she was a Congressional staffer for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., from 2004 to 2007.
A move to Northwest Arkansas in 2006 led to a job the following year as senior vice president of government affairs for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.
In 2010, the year the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized her as a Forty Under 40 honoree, a significant life change set Pollard to thinking about the next phase of her career.
She and her husband welcomed their first child — a girl — that January. With a growing family, Pollard’s life as a lobbyist and consensus builder, which requires a lot of travel, took on a different perspective.
“I was essentially living in Little Rock during the legislative session and also traveling quite a bit to [Washington] D.C.,” she recalled. “I was passionate about the job, but I was also thinking about what was next family-wise.”
Mercy approached Pollard with a job that would strategically integrate public relations and community outreach initiatives.
“I thought it was a good move for our family so I could be present, be at home almost every night, but still be in a role that contributes to the vitality of the region, which is what I am very passionate about doing,” she said.
Pollard’s enthusiasm for contributing to Arkansas’ quality of life extends to her civic involvement. She is part of a group working on the Northwest Arkansas Council’s initiative to establish a healthcare transformation division.
She also belongs to several boards, including Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. In Northwest Arkansas, the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce recently appointed Pollard to its board of directors. Last year, Pollard was one of 19 regional leaders to complete Beaver Water District’s inaugural Citizens Water Academy.
Pollard’s family has now grown to two children. The Pollards added a son six years ago. Both were born at Mercy Hospital in Rogers.
“Pre- and post-employment for me,” Pollard jokes.
Pollard also has another title she is proud of: the coach’s wife. Her husband David is a longtime assistant coach of the ultra-successful Bentonville High School football team.
“Managing and doing life in the role that I have and being supportive of him and our family is a fun ride,” she said.