James K. Elrod, President Emeritus

James K. Elrod 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 the age of 27, he was named administrator of Willis-Knighton Memorial Hospital.  In 2007, he was awarded an honorary degree of science and humane letters by Northwestern State University of Louisiana.  He is a fellow of 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 four satellite hospitals, an innovation center with a virtual hospital providing state-of-the-art clinical training, a regional physician network comprised of over 500 providers, a hospital-owned HMO and the state’s largest retirement community, The Oaks of Louisiana.  Additionally, he has recently led the project establishing a graduate medical education program at Willis-Knighton.

Elrod has been actively involved in the community, serving on boards of organizations to support economic, education, cultural and humanitarian initiatives.  Numerous organizations have honored this 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 leadership education for inner-city, low income, 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 an 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 of multi-engine instrument flight privileges and graduate of the FBI Citizens’ Academy.  He is an accomplished author of the book From Breadcrumbs to Cheesecake, which chronicles the growth and development of Willis-Knighton Health System and traces the history of healthcare in the region.  He has also published 26 articles on leadership in healthcare.