David L. Williams III, PhD, of Fayetteville, a longtime Arkansas leader in the behavioral health field, is the recipient of the 2021 Dr. Tom Bruce Arkansas Health Impact Award.
Williams received the award Monday, Nov. 15, during the annual Friends of ACHI Appreciation Event at the Clinton Presidential Center. Also during the event, ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson announced the establishment of a research fellowship named for Dr. G. Richard Smith, who served as ACHI’s founding director.
On behalf of its health policy board, ACHI presents the Dr. Tom Bruce Arkansas Health Impact Award each year to one or more individuals who embody the late Dr. Tom Bruce’s lifetime of service by demonstrating courageous leadership, serving as catalysts for improving the health of all Arkansans, and exemplifying the core values of ACHI: commitment, initiative, trust, and innovation.
Williams served as president and CEO of Ozark Guidance Center, a nonprofit behavioral health center in Northwest Arkansas, for 30 years before retiring in 2008. He then worked for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Psychiatric Research Institute’s Northwest Arkansas clinic, where he was instrumental in reestablishing inpatient psychiatric services to the region after a significant period without local acute care for adults with serious mental illness. In 2010, he helped lead local community representatives in developing an update to the Northwest Arkansas Adult Acute Care Mental Health Plan.
Bruce was dean of the University of Arkansas College of Medicine for a decade and a pioneer in the field of community health. He is remembered for improving and expanding the College of Medicine and addressing a shortage of physicians in the state’s rural areas through the formation of the Area Health Education Centers, which bring physician trainees to less-populated areas of Arkansas. He and his wife, Dolores, also helped paved the way for the establishment of ACHI with a seed donation.
Also during the event, ACHI announced the establishment of the G. Richard Smith, MD, ACHI Fellowship in Health Services Research, a one-year research fellowship to be awarded beginning in 2022. The fellowship will provide support to individuals who are pursuing advanced academic degrees or starting out in careers that align with ACHI’s mission.
Smith, a former dean of the UAMS College of Medicine and executive vice chancellor of UAMS, retired this year as director of the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute.
He was instrumental in securing tobacco settlement funding to help launch ACHI in 1998 as well as serving as the center’s first director. He currently serves on the ACHI Health Policy Board.
For more information on Monday’s event, see our news release. More information about the Dr. Tom Bruce Arkansas Health Impact Award is available on our website. A full video of the event and a video profile of Williams are available on our YouTube channel.