Community leader Susan Barrett became the sixth Honorary Lifetime Member of the Northwest Arkansas Council at the organization’s Annual Meeting today.
Barrett, a Colorado native and Rogers resident, worked as president and CEO of Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas from 1999 until her retirement in 2008. She’s remained active in health care matters since retirement, serving as the unpaid volunteer leader of the Northwest Arkansas Council’s Health Care Transformation Division after it was established in 2019.
The Council’s other Honorary Lifetime Members are former President Bill Clinton; late Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt; philanthropist and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art founder Alice Walton; long-time Northwest Arkansas Council executive Uvalde Lindsey; and retired Northwest Arkansas National Airport executive Scott Van Laningham.
Barrett has remained an active leader with the Northwest Arkansas Council for years. Dick Barclay, a Council member who died in 2019, nominated Barrett to be a member not long after she moved from Southeast Kansas to Northwest Arkansas in 1999.
Barrett said she wanted to be part of the Council because it was full of “good, decent people with a forward-thinking vision to better the region.”
When the Council created work groups to lead components of work described in a five-year strategic plan in 2010, Barrett was selected to lead the Infrastructure Work Group. More recently, Barrett has worked closely with Council President and CEO Nelson Peacock, the Council’s staff and health care leaders to assure that there’s coordination in the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Health care leaders in our region and those of us who work for the Council have such high regard for Susan because she understands the issues, knows the players and has the confidence and respect of everyone who works with her,” Peacock said. “She’s consistent, humble, kind and determined, and all of those attributes make her the perfect person to be our organization’s newest Honorary Lifetime Member.”
Barrett’s record of achievement goes beyond health care.
She led an effort more than a decade ago to raise $20 million for an Interstate 49 exit in Rogers. She was instrumental in an effort to convert the former St. Mary’s Hospital into the Center for Nonprofits at St. Mary’s after Mercy opened its new hospital in 2008. She’s served on many boards and commissions in Northwest Arkansas, ending six years as chair of the John Brown University Board of Trustees on July 1.