New Program Directors Named: Jessica Williams to Health Care Management, Ria Hearld to PhD in Administration-Health Services

The UAB Department of Health Services Administration has named Jessica Williams, Ph.D., director of the B.S. in Health Care Management program and Ria Hearld, Ph.D., director of the PhD in Administration-Health Services program.

Health Care Management

Jessica WilliamsWilliams, who has been involved with the HCM program since 2012, is an associate professor with a track record of excellence in teaching, scholarship and working with students. Most recently, she served the department as its first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“This is a great opportunity for Dr. Williams to lead the program, while retaining the talents of Dr. Bryan Breland as we continue to improve and enhance the ways we educate and develop future leaders,” said Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair, Department of Health Services Administration. “Dr. Williams is an outstanding leader who will bring her passion for students and for health care leadership and inclusive excellence to the Program Director role.”

“The field of healthcare is evolving rapidly, and I am looking forward to working with students to ensure success and to help them reach their goals in becoming future healthcare leaders," said Williams. "I’m excited about finding ways to streamline the curriculum, adding new courses, and ensuring that classes are offered at a time and in a format that best fits the needs of our students.”

Breland served in the role as director of the HCM program since 2016. During his time as director, the program has grown and continued to excel in developing future health care leaders. He will remain a vital part of the program.

PhD in Administration-Health Services

K Ria HearldHearld, who has been at UAB since 2014, is an associate professor in Health Services Administration and an associate scientist in the UAB Minority Health & Research Center. Her research works to improve the well-being of vulnerable and under-served populations that are at high risk of experiencing stigma and discrimination. She has also served as chair of the UAB Faculty Senate (2019-20) and was a member of Blaze Leadership Academy (2017).

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Ria Hearld to the role as PhD Program Director because she brings significant leadership in scholarship and service to our doctoral students and faculty,” said Lemak. “In addition, Dr. Larry Hearld will continue to be a significant contributor and have more time for his research endeavors.”

“My vision is to build upon an already exceptional foundation by expanding our collaborative work across UAB, delving deeper into health services research and growing our agenda to better address health equity," said Hearld. "There has never been a greater need for strong researchers in health care than today and I look forward to helping our students conduct important studies that can be translated outside of the research setting.”

Larry Hearld, Ph.D., who served as the PhD program director since 2016, will remain in his faculty role with the department where he teaches organizational theory, organizational behavior, implementation science and research methods.