UAMS hired Whitney Parker in the fall of 2019 as an administrative analyst, but she quickly demonstrated her aptitude and personality as a leader.
A quick learner, Parker now manages the operational and administrative functions of UAMS’ Office of Community Health and Research (CHR), supporting more than 150 staff and faculty — and growing — whose mission is to reduce health disparities and prevent chronic disease throughout the region.
Just months after being hired, Parker made a fast transition to program manager during the pandemic and led a team of about 25 community navigators in a contact tracing program. Her colleagues describe Parker as the department’s “go-to” person, known to be able to get anything done.
UAMS elevated her to her current job in January 2021, where she is the primary contact between the department and other UAMS departments.
“I don’t exaggerate when I say we’re able to do our jobs based on the solid foundation that Whitney has provided in her management of the office and administrative team,” said Lisa Smith, CHR executive director.
Parker was born in California, the daughter of two military parents, but grew up in Colorado. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a public relations emphasis from San Diego State University in 2017. She started her career working for various agencies, large and small, in the San Diego metro.
Just before graduation, Parker married a Marine. A couple of years later, when he decided to leave the Corps, the couple studied potential places to relocate away from southern California.
Parker’s father produced one of the various “Best Of” magazine lists that included Northwest Arkansas. An added incentive: the University of Arkansas had a specific program in which Parker’s husband was interested.
Upon relocating to NWA, Parker took a job as an insurance agent before applying at UAMS. The department’s mission resonated.
“It’s easy to have a good attitude about work when you enjoy being around the people you work with,” she said.