Martine Pollard, a key member of Mercy Northwest Arkansas’ executive team, has resigned from the Rogers-based healthcare provider to accept a senior leadership position with the state’s largest health insurer.
Pollard, Mercy NWA’s executive director of community and public relations, and communications and community integration, will become vice president of the Northwest Arkansas market for Little Rock-based Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Despite the bittersweet nature of the job change, Pollard described the move in an email as “very exciting” on several fronts.
Pollard said Thursday (Sept. 23) her employment with Mercy will end on Oct. 8. Her expected start date with Arkansas Blue Cross is Oct. 25, and she will report to president and CEO Curtis Barnett.
“It is exciting to join Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield at such a pivotal time for healthcare in Northwest Arkansas,” Pollard said in a statement. “Positively impacting communities and helping people have always been priorities for me. Arkansas Blue Cross’ decades-long commitment to improving the quality of life for all Arkansans makes it an honor to help lead their ongoing investment and expansion in our region.”
Pollard played a significant strategic planning role in Mercy’s NWA’s multi-year, $300 million regional investment highlighted by its Rogers hospital expansion along Interstate 49. Mercy NWA is an affiliate of St. Louis-based health system Mercy.
In addition to representing the company in Northwest Arkansas, Pollard also led strategic communications efforts for the region’s largest healthcare providers for the past 18 months as a COVID-19 liaison and spokeswoman. She provided daily statistical briefings via email, in English and Spanish, and shared them with the media and other community partners.
Mercy NWA President Eric Pianalto said Pollard’s new role represents a “natural transition” in her advocacy work.
“It’s an opportunity for her to expand her influence in educating and broadening the delivery of healthcare in our community,” he said. “She has been an advocate for the underserved and underrepresented communities with her voice in healthcare circles and had a major influence on healthcare policy, reform, and community impact in her role at Mercy.”
A Little Rock native, Pollard joined Mercy in the fall of 2010. She has experience leading government, business and community relations throughout her career. She previously worked for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce as a government affairs officer and was a staffer for former U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. More about her career is available in this profile published in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in November 2019.
Pollard is a board member at Rogers-based architecture and engineering firm Crafton Tull, a Northwest Arkansas Council member and was part of the inaugural class of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Women in Business.
“We are very excited to have Martine lead the expanding Arkansas Blue Cross team in Northwest Arkansas,” Barnett said in a statement. “Her experience in healthcare and her focus on the community fits well with our mission to improve the health, financial security and peace of mind of the members and communities we serve.”
Arkansas Blue Cross is building an 81,000-square-foot corporate office building along Interstate 49 in Springdale to expand its Northwest Arkansas presence. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new building on Nov. 3.
Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 3,200 employees.