Top 100 Women of Impact: Mellie Boagni (Bridewell)

Mellie Boagni (Bridewell)

CEO & President, Arkansas Rural Health Partnership
Regional Director, UAMS Office of Strategy

About me: From early childhood, I was always taught the importance of service. My father, a judge, always made sure I understood the privilege I was born into, and he emphasized that it was my responsibility to use that privilege to advocate for others. Upon moving to the Arkansas Delta in 2003, I became aware of the resources, poor health outcomes and health disparities in the region. I have a successful background in writing and strategic planning. I recognized these skills could advance social change, and I knew health resilience and sustainability is necessary for a thriving community. Recognizing that there is a difference in all rural communities, I first listen and understand specific community needs in order to decide where to begin.

Lives in: Little Rock • Works in: Lake Village

Best Career Advice: Be the type of leader that inspires others. Understand you are not always the expert. Bring all stakeholders to the table and provide space for their voices. Always strive to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Do not be intimidated, just listen.

Lesson Learned the Hard Way: I came to realize that individuals who were not directly affected by obvious health disparities were unaware of the negative impact this has on their entire community.

Proudest Moment of Impact: Our organization started with a membership of five hospitals. Now our organization consists of 16 rural hospitals, two Federally Qualified Health Centers and three medical schools. I am very proud of the growth of our impact and the continually broadening scope of work we do. Residents within our service area are turning to our organization to address needs within their communities.

Call to Action: A major issue within rural communities is food insecurity. Many of our communities experience the same levels of food insecurity as residents in Third World countries, plus additional barriers like transportation, poverty, chronic health conditions and racial disparities.

A Women’s Foundation of Arkansas Initiative

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