A long-time communications professional, Kila Owens was recently named president of the St Bernards Foundation in Jonesboro.
For Owens, who was previously communications manager for the hospital, her experience is a perfect fit.
“My background in communications and public relations ties in well with fundraising, because both fields focus on building and stewarding relationships and telling engaging stories,” Owens says.
In addition to her years at the hospital, Owens worked in Little Rock for Ghidotti Communications and she was the public relations coordinator for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation 2006 to 2014 before moving to Jonesboro for St. Bernards.
“My first experience with fundraising was in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation,” she says of the job she held for held for eight years. “Seeing the amazing fundraising work happening every single day in that organization was an incredible learning experience covering the full spectrum of fundraising initiatives and activities.”
While the job of foundation president is overseeing fundraising, there’s other areas of responsibility, Owens says.
“My role here…is to connect people across the region with the St. Bernards mission, be it through volunteering inside the hospital, helping plan an event or giving a monetary donation,” she says. “We want to encourage people to give where their heart is – whether that be their time, talent or treasure.”
Owens is already prepping for what’s next.
“The largest fundraising event of the year is Triple Swing,” she says. Presented by the St. Bernards Advocates volunteer organization, the three-day event “features a dinner/dance, golf tournament and tennis social.”
In addition, Ownes says that are multiple events held year-around, which are hosted by the St. Bernards Auxiliary and St. Bernards Women’s Council. “Our volunteers are passionate and committed and we are very thankful for their dedication,” she says.
Owens, who grew up on a farm outside Hot Springs, first came to Jonesboro to be a student at Arkansas State University as a broadcast journalism major but changed to journalism and public relations. “Having a journalism background has been helpful throughout my entire career, as writing and telling a story in the most effective, engaging way is something I do every single day,” she says.
While in college, Owens had an internship with Paragould’s Arkansas Methodist Medical Center for both its foundation and marketing department. That was a formative event for her as it was, “where my passion for healthcare communications first began.”
While her professional career started in Little Rock, “I always knew I wanted to get back to Northeast Arkansas eventually,” Owens says, “I knew this area is where I wanted to raise my children. In 2014, the time was right for the move.”
In addition to her degree from ASU, Owens is a graduate of Leadership Jonesboro and also a member of Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro.
St. Bernards is the largest hospital in Jonesboro and the primary care facility for the more than 400,000 people who live in northeast Arkansas and the bootheel of southeast Missouri.
That area no longer has a local hospital as Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center in Kennett closed in 2018.