Northwest Arkansas Council Names Health Care Transformation Division Leader

The Northwest Arkansas Council today announced Ryan Cork will serve as executive director of its Health Care Transformation Division.

Cork joins the Council after serving in several leadership positions with the Cleveland Clinic, including key roles with Cleveland Clinic’s locations in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Since 1994, Cork has served on active duty in the United States Navy and most recently with the United States Navy Reserves, Medical Services Corp.

The Council’s Health Care Transformation Division was established in 2019 with the goal of transitioning Northwest Arkansas into a health care destination. A study focused on the region’s health care economy found that the region has high-quality, low-cost primary care, but there’s a deficit in specialty care in nearly every category. This deficit causes an outmigration of residents seeking high-level specialty care and that leads to nearly $1 billion leaving the region’s economy each year.

“Ryan’s experience leading institutions through large-scale growth and change will serve the region well as we improve access to innovative, affordable and consistent high-quality health care,” said Nelson Peacock, Northwest Arkansas Council president and CEO. “Northwest Arkansas is growing rapidly, and our health care systems must expand and evolve to meet the growing needs of our residents.”

As executive director, Cork will collaborate with Northwest Arkansas health care systems to implement the division’s action plan, which includes goals such as increasing graduate medical education positions, increasing integrative research and establishing a four-year medical school.

“On behalf of the health care systems in Northwest Arkansas, we are pleased to welcome Ryan Cork to his new role, said J. Larry Shackelford, president and CEO of Washington Regional Medical System. “Continued access to high-quality and value-based health care is a key component to Northwest Arkansas’ economic growth. Ryan will play a vital role in growing access to care for all members of our community, improving value of care and attracting world-class physicians and providers to our region.”

Cork’s career began as a senior medical corpsman for the U.S. Navy before taking on the role of administrator at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital. His responsibilities throughout his career included strategic and financial planning for capacity growth, clinical care and health care operations.

“My life experiences in the military and living abroad exposed me to a range of cultures and lifestyles, enabling me to respond appropriately to those with views different from my own,” said Cork. “I look forward to bringing my experiences, data-centric business foundation and commitment to continuous improvement in large-scale health care operations to this role.”