James K. Elrod
President & CEO
Willis-Knighton Health System
James K. Elrod grew up in Port Neches, Texas, and attended Baylor University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a commission in the United States Air Force through ROTC. Upon fulfilling his military commitment he attended Washington University School of Medicine, where he earned a master’s degree in hospital administration. Following an administrative residency at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, and three quarters of law school at Mississippi College, he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where at age 27, he was named administrator of Willis-Knighton Memorial Hospital. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science and humane letters by Northwestern State University of Louisiana. He is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Joining Willis-Knighton (WK) was the beginning of a distinguished career that allowed him to transform a struggling 80-bed hospital into a major health system. As chief executive officer, he has guided the expansion of the original hospital and development of three satellite hospitals, a regional physician network comprised of 350 employed physicians, a hospital-owned HMO and the state’s largest retirement community, The Oaks of Louisiana.
Elrod has been actively involved in the community, serving on boards of organizations to support economic, educational, cultural and humanitarian initiatives. Numerous organizations have honored his community commitment, leading the regional newspaper to name him one of the most influential people in north Louisiana in the past century. Several organizations, including the Human Rights Commission, have recognized him for his activities related to the advancement of human equality. He is the founding president of Shreveport’s Inner-City Entrepreneurial Institute, which promotes entrepreneurial and leadership education among inner-city, low income and at-risk children. The institute’s summer program, James K. Elrod Biz Camp, has been lauded by Harvard University as “a mini-MBA course for youth." In 2012 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington University School of Medicine’s Health Administration Program.
Elrod has served on the governing boards of the American Hospital Association, VHA (Voluntary Hospitals of America), Louisiana Hospital Association and its affiliated insurance trusts and as chairman of AHA’s Region 7 Policy Board. He is advisor to the Baylor University program in Health Administration and the James K. Elrod School of Health Administration at LSU in Shreveport.
He is the longest-tenured hospital administrator in the United States, a rated pilot with multi-engine instrument flight privileges and a graduate of the FBI Citizens’ Academy.