UCA alum receives community impact award

When Kristy Carter initially received an invitation to the inaugural Delta Impact Awards in Jonesboro, Arkansas, she did not know she would be one of the recipients. 

“I just wanted to be there with them to celebrate the accomplishments of the Delta Population Health Institute because they have done so much meaningful work for the community,” Carter said. “I was looking forward to supporting them.” 

It wasn’t until about a month before the June 10th event that Carter was notified she had been chosen as the recipient of the first-ever Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O. Community Engagement Impact Award for her work in population health and equity. 

“I was very surprised and grateful,” Carter said. “It meant a lot to me because I believe in the vision Dr. [Brookshield] Laurent had and wanted to help in any way I could.”

Kristy Carter

Kristy Carter

Carter received her doctoral degree in leadership studies from the University of Central Arkansas in 2021. She also serves as director of marketing for UCA’s Division of Outreach and Community Engagement. Her research focuses on gaps in Arkansas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem, particularly among women of color. Carter is intentional about aligning herself with programs and organizations like DPHI because they, like her, are interested in helping the community as a whole.

“I’ve been able to do ‘heart work,’ which is the work that tugs at your heartstrings and feels good because you know you’re helping somebody,” Carter said. 

Carter’s first experience with outreach in the Mississippi River Delta came in 2010 through UCA’s Center for Community and Economic Development. After meeting and working with people during a development conference there, her eyes were opened to the challenges the community faced. 

“What is stopping me from helping? I realized the connection between health and the economy goes hand-in-hand,” she said. “If you don’t have healthy people, you won’t have a healthy economy.” 

DPHI is the community engagement arm of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State). Brookshield Laurent is DPHI’s founder and executive director and chair of the department of clinical medicine at NYITCOM at A-State.

“When she got started, I asked her what I could do to help her serve communities in the Delta,” Carter said. “It was a work of love and passion and it came right on time because the pandemic showed us many opportunities in which we could forge partnerships and make a difference.” 

The Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O Community Engagement Impact Award seeks to recognize a model of servant leadership, a driver of community empowerment and a champion of health equity. The award’s namesake is an osteopathic physician, health policy expert and became the first African American woman in the country to serve as a medical school dean when she was chosen to lead Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1993. She was also named the inaugural dean for NYITCOM at A-State in 2014. 

“Through her research, her work as a social scientist and as a builder of inclusive ecosystems in the Delta, Dr. Carter has devoted herself to making an impact in rural communities, many of which have great needs,” Laurent said. “Her work has a significant impact in equity and the health of our communities, and she embodies the spirit of excellence modeled by Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee.”  

Carter is one of seven individuals honored for their outstanding contributions to population health at the first-ever Delta Impact Awards ceremony.