Dr. Conner has extensive experience in behavioral research, clinical health services research, grant administration, community-based public health programming, and policy evaluation. She has brought together academic institutions, hospitals, schools, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, municipalities, and non-profits to investigate and evaluate a broad range of health topics, including childhood obesity, respiratory illness, traumatic brain injury, cancer, and birth defects. She has also examined healthcare system topics such as access to quality care, safety net benefits, and incentive-based insurance premium programming.

Under the direction of the Arkansas Surgeon General at the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, Dr. Conner led data acquisition and data infrastructure efforts for the Arkansas Health Data Initiative and provided statistical support for statewide Body Mass Index assessments when data collection began in 2004. She was appointed to the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention Executive Committee and served as Built Environment Subcommittee Co-Chair for many years.

Dr. Conner has also served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH). While at UTSPH, she served as the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program Community Outreach Resource Center Director. In this role, she supported community-based projects in San Antonio and its four contiguous counties. In 2011, Dr. Conner was appointed as Policy Subcommittee Chair for the San Antonio Mayor's Fitness Council. She launched several faith-based obesity prevention programs and developed several community gardens in the area.

More recently, Dr. Conner worked with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care to investigate health disparities and evaluate disease prevention and health promotion strategies across the state. She continued those efforts with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention High Obesity Program.

Dr. Conner has served on the Lake Village Economic Development Commission and was instrumental in launching the Mayors Mentoring Mayors program to advance comprehensive community health and wellness. She has been appointed by the Arkansas Governor to serve as a Priority Lead for Healthy Active Arkansas and serve on the Governor's Advisory Board for Cycling. Dr. Conner recently graduated from the Delta Regional Authority Leadership Executive Academy and the Community Development Institute–Central.

Dr. Conner was named a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader program finalist and was instrumental in leading the city of Lake Village, Arkansas, in being named a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Community award finalist. These prestigious designations recognize the efforts of Dr. Conner to promote good health and well-being across geographic, demographic, and social sectors, foster healthy and equitable communities, and create opportunities for everyone to make choices that lead to healthy lifestyles. She has received many accolades for her pioneering work in comprehensive community wellness planning including the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Community Partnership Award (2016), the Arkansas Chronic Disease Council Trendsetter Award (2017), and the Lake Village Chamber of Commerce "Woman of the Year" Award (2019).

Dr. Conner obtained her Master of Applied Psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with an emphasis in experimental methodology and design and completed her Master of Public Health in Biostatistics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Public Health (COPH). She received her Doctorate of Public Health in Leadership and Policy from the UAMS COPH.

Recent Projects and Research

  • Small Steps to Health and Wealth with Story Walking
  • Safe Routes to School and Healthy Parks Initiatives
  • Expanding Local Food Systems through school-based Learning Collaboratives
  • Healing Hearts Worksite Wellness Program
  • Local Food, Local Places Technical Assistance Program

Selected Publications

  • Fowler S, Venuto MM, Ramirez V, Martinez E, Pollard J, Hixon JL, Shaw JL, Lesser J. (2013) Power of connection and support in community engagement: Las Mujeres Nobles de Harlandale. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 34, 294–297.
  • Lee JM, Gebremariam A, Card-Higginson P, Shaw JL, Thompson JW, Davis MM. (2009) Poor performance of body mass index as a marker for hypercholesterolemia in children and adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 163, 716–723.
  • Hill RK, Thompson JW, Shaw JL, Pinidiya SD, Card-Higginson P. (2009) Self-reported health risks linked to health plan cost and age group. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 36, 468–474.
  • Ryan KW, Card-Higginson P, Shaw JL, Ganahl SA, Thompson JW. (2007) Public health "malpractice" and the obesity epidemic. Public Health Reports, 122, 414-416.
  • Thompson JW, Shaw JL, Card-Higginson P, Kahn RA. (2006) Overweight among students in grades K–12 Arkansas, 2003–04 and 2004–05 school years. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, 55, 5–8.
  • Goodwin JA, Coleman EA, Shaw JL. (2006) Short Functional Dependence Scale (SFDS): Development and pilot test in older adults with cancer. Cancer Nursing, 29, 73–81.
  • Baldwin RL, Green JW, Shaw JL, Simpson DD, Bird TM, Cleves MA, Robbins JM. (2005) Physician risk attitudes and hospitalization of infants with bronchiolitis. Academic Emergency Medicine, 12, 142–448.
  • Robbins JM, Tilford JM, Gillaspy SR, Shaw JL, Simpson DD, Jacobs RF, Wheeler JG. (2002) Parental emotional and time costs predict compliance with respiratory syncytial virus prophylaxis. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 2, 444–448.
  • Chelonis JJ, Daniels-Shaw JL, Blake DJ, Paule MG. (2000) Developmental aspects of short-term memory task performance in children. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 22, 683–694.

Professional Honors and Awards

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Community Prize, Finalist (Lake Village, AR)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader, Finalist
  • Lake Village Chamber of Commerce "Woman of the Year" Award
  • Arkansas Chronic Disease Council Trendsetter Award
  • National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Community Partnership Award
  • Southern Society for Pediatric Research Travel Trainee Award
  • Arkansas Children's Hospital Quality Star Award