Highlands Oncology Group hires new COO

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,344 views 

Springdale-based Highlands Oncology Group (HOG) has hired Olalekan “Lekan” Ajayi as its new chief operating officer.

Ajayi fills a job that’s been open since Kathey Rhoads retired in 2019.

“Kathey made a huge impact on the community during her many years with Highlands, so we were very intentional to not rush into a replacement,” CEO Jeff Hunnicutt said in a statement. “With Lekan, we have found someone who can come into our practice and make a tangible positive impact toward patient care.”

Ajayi has more than 13 years of healthcare experience and has served as a clinical oncology pharmacist, practice manager and process improvement leader.

“We are so excited to welcome Lekan to Highlands Oncology as our new COO,” Hunnicutt said. “Lekan has made a tremendous impact, both personally and professionally, in his many endeavors to date, and we’re ecstatic to be adding him to our team.”

Ajayi joined HOG from Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan, Wyo. He oversaw organizational operational excellence initiatives and leadership development as the director of lean transformation.

Lekan Ajayi

“Lekan’s breadth of experience in oncology, pharmacy and operational efficiency will undoubtedly result in benefiting not only our practice but also the lives of many people in Northwest Arkansas,” Hunnicutt said.

Ajayi is secretary of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) board of trustees and has worked on numerous legislative issues impacting cancer care delivery as the chair of the ACCC policy task force.

He holds a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Wyoming and an MBA from the University of Colorado Denver.

HOG is a group of independent physicians specializing in medical oncology, radiation oncology, palliative care and specialty surgery. It originated in 1996 with medical oncologists Thaddeus Beck, Daniel Bradford and Malcolm Hayward and is one of the most extensive cancer treatment and research centers in Arkansas, with approximately 450 employees.