Dr. Jennifer Conner earned a Doctor of Public Health in leadership and policy from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She also earned a Master of Public Health in biostatistics and a Master of Applied Psychology in research and evaluation design. Dr. Conner has over 25 years of experience bringing together people and organizations to achieve a better quality of life and quality of place in rural and urban communities. She has served as a subject matter expert on many occasions for rural health and chronic disease prevention and management. She was a founding board member of the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and the Rural Health Association of Arkansas. She also serves as a board member for the Arkansas Community Health Workers Association, the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education, and the Rural Health Information Hub. Dr. Conner served as a Regional Program Associate at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, working with a variety of stakeholders ranging from agricultural workers to elected officials. Innovative program delivery, local policy development, and mixed-methods evaluation approaches were implemented and this important work was highlighted at the Next Generation Rural Creative Placemaking Summit.
Dr. Conner’s most recent academic research and community engagement effort has focused on Total Worker Health (TWH). With USDA funding, she launched the Supporting Health Advances for Rural Employees initiative. This worksite wellness program, in partnership with federally qualified health centers and community health workers, focuses on chronic disease issues such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and substance abuse. Dr. Conner has predominately worked across the southern US, but recently expanded her work to western US states, including Wyoming.
Dr. Conner has received numerous honors and awards at the local, state and national level for building sustainable partnerships. She collaborated with Farm Bureau, for example, to implement the Million Hearts campaign. This effort resulted in blood pressure monitors being placed in many rural facilities, such as libraries and senior centers. Her commitment to serving communities was recognized in 2019 with Dr. Conner being named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Leader finalist. She has also received the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Community Partnership Award (2016), the Arkansas Chronic Disease Council Trendsetter Award (2017) and Lake Village Chamber of Commerce “Woman of the Year” Award (2019). Dr. Conner is passionate about the work she does and is most proud of leading her hometown in being named a RWJF Culture of Health Community Prize finalist.