After 25 years of service to the University of Arizona, Alison Hughes, MPA, will retire on June 30. Most recently, Ms. Hughes served as interim director of the Rural Health Office at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
Alison’s career began in 1984 as a policy consultant in the Rural Health Office (RHO), which at the time was located in the UA College of Medicine.
She joined the faculty in 1985 and served as Associate Director of the RHO working closely with Dr. Andy Nichols who founded the office. Following Dr. Nichols unexpected death in 2001 she assumed the directorship of the office, a position she held until 2005 when she “unofficially” retired to concentrate on a major grant for which she served as Principal Investigator.
Alison was one of the founding faculty members of the College of Public Health. She worked closely with Dr. Andy Nichols and Dr. Herb Abrams to organize the first program in public health. When the program was approved, she chaired the Community Health Practice Concentration. When the RHO moved from the College of Medicine into the new College of Public Health in 2000, Alison became chair of the Public Health Policy and Management Concentration, in addition to serving as a long-time student advisor. During her lengthy tenure, she taught a popular course in health policy and leadership to students in public health, medicine, and public administration.
Alison was co-founder of the immensely successful Arizona Telemedicine Program. Appointed by the program’s founder, Dr. Ronald Weinstein, as Associate Director of Outreach, Alison remained in that position since its inception.
She has been Principal Investigator on numerous grants over the years. The largest of these is the Arizona Rural Hospital Flexibility grant program which she launched 10 years ago and has brought in more than $6 million in grant funds to aid small rural hospitals in their quest to improve quality of care as well as increase their Medicare reimbursement procedures through designation to critical access hospital status.
Alison is proud of her contributions to building relationships between the University and the Zuckerman College of Public Health with Native American tribal nations in Arizona. She successfully nominated Annie Dodge Wauneka for an honorary UA degree. Chairwoman Wauneka was the first woman to Chair the Navajo Nation and crusaded to eliminate the spread of tuberculosis on the Nation. In addition, she successfully obtained funding to assist four Tohono O’odham villages to advocate for passage of a seat belt law on the Nation, and was proud to be included in the celebration when the law was passed. She also created a Native American liaison position within the RHO in order to continue to expand relationships between the college and tribal nations.
For her expertise in rural health, Alison has been recognized nationally through prestigious appointments to boards and commissions. She served on the board of the Universal Services Administrative Corporation, a corporate entity that administered billions of dollars for telecommunications services. She also served on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health which advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the status of emerging rural health issues. She was President of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, and served on the Policy Board of the National Rural Health Association. Alison has also been active in the American Public Health Association, having served as an officer in the Medical Care Section, and chair of that section’s rural health committee. At the state level, she was president of the Arizona Rural Health Association, and remains on that board today.
Alison was appointed by two governors of Arizona to various commissions and boards over the years. She is currently completing a two year term on the Arizona Commission on the Arts. At the local level, she co-founded the Catalina Vista Neighborhood Association in 1985 and remains on that Association’s board today. She is the current chair of the Pima County/Tucson Women’s Commission, and is a board member of Borderlands Theater.