AHECs train students in health-care professions, especially for rural and under-served communities. In Kentucky, the eight regional centers are a collaborative effort of the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
The national organization lobbies on issues important to its members and the populations they serve. It says its mission "is to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals via strategic partnerships with academic programs, communities, and professional organizations."
Harris said, "The NAO leadership has done such an incredible job of advancing the AHEC network in the last few years. I am honored to join this team, and I am eager to begin work strengthening our existing partnerships while creating new ones." Harris is a past president of the Kentucky Rural Health Association.
The NAO said "Harris has a track record of proactive and innovative program outcomes, particularly through finding and developing funds in service of the AHEC mission. Under his direction, the Southern Kentucky AHEC partners in the NAO National Training Center’s CDC partnership that has led in the HPV immunization program grant since 2015. He has led his team to develop new revenue streams with continuing professional development programming services. More recently, he has fostered advancements in private sector sponsorships to diversify resources and better support health careers pipeline work."
With Harris's appointment, the CEO job "has now been adjusted from a 0.5 to a 0.75 FTE," or full-time equivalency, the NAO said. "We look forward to expanding our NAO national relationships for future growth and opportunities, in which Dwain’s excellent insights, well-rounded experience and unique leadership style will serve to foster a dynamic continuum of developing our longstanding tradition of AHEC excellence in providing academic progression and advancing the strength of our healthcare workforce across the nation."