Mission Statement

The Iowa Rural Health Association is committed to:  strengthening health systems for rural residents and communities through leadership, education, advocacy, public awareness and networking.


Optimal health for all Iowans, with a focus on rural populations.


  • Provide access to quality rural health services
  • Advocate for rural health development
  • Foster cooperative partnerships to improve rural health
  • Support the work of other health interest groups in their efforts to improve rural health
  • Improve public education and awareness of rural health policy issues
  • Provide opportunities for leadership development through active membership involvement
  • Promote the relationship between a viable rural health care delivery system and community economic development

History of the Iowa Rural Health Association

The Iowa Rural Health Association was established in 1993 through the efforts of the Office of Rural Health within the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care. The Iowa Rural Health Association, (IRHA) was organized as an Iowa Nonprofit Corporation under 504A of the Iowa Code.

The last meeting of the initial Iowa Rural Health Association was in September of 1994. At that time, the organization had 109 individual members and 26 organizational members.

In 1997, the State Rural Health Association Assistance Program, funded by the Office of Rural Health Policy, provided grant dollars to revitalize the IRHA Board of Directors, increase the membership base, develop effective communication tools, sponsor an annual conference and educational seminar and to develop an advocacy plan.


To view IRHA’s By-Laws, click here.

Board Leadership

The Iowa Rural Health Association is governed by a Board of Directors of between 9 and 15 active members of the association who serve 3 year terms. Board members are elected by majority vote of qualified members.  Current IRHA Board Members are:

Dr. Whitney Zahnd-President
University of Iowa College of Public Health
North Liberty, IA
Steve Simonin-President-Elect
Iowa Specialty Hospital
Clarion, IA
Kiane Smith-Secretary
Visiting Nurse Association
Fort Atkinson, IA
Mike Trachta-Treasurer
Des Moines, IA
Audrey Tran Lam – Past-President
UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Ed
Cedar Rapids, IA
Virginia Barrette
Des Moines, IA
Dr. Tony Brantner
Louscher Family Dentistry
Algona, IA
Megan Hartwig
Des Moines, IA
Emily Mendez
Des Moines, IA
Proteus, Inc.
Alana Monson-Student/Fellow Board Member
Des Moines, IA
Katie Owens
Iowa Primary Care Association
Des Moines, IA
Teresa Bomhoff-Ex Officio
Mindspring Mental Health Alliance
Des Moines, IA
Samra Hiros-Ex Officio
Iowa State Office of Rural Health
Des Moines, IA
Jon Rosmann-Ex Officio
Grimes, IA

Association Management

Association management for IRHA is located in Des Moines and provided by faculty and staff at Drake University which works closely with the IRHA Board to promote its mission and goals, allowing the leadership time to focus on important issues that affect the membership.

Executive Director: Dr. Cassity Gutierrez

Director of Strategic Growth and Membership Engagement: Dr. Erin Ulrich

Administrative Support: Shelley Adams