Our Leadership

Kristie Hadden, PhD

Executive Director, Principal Investigator

Dr. Hadden is the founder, executive director, and principal investigator for the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, where she leads and conducts health literacy research and participates in initiatives to address health literacy in Arkansas. She is an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine and also holds secondary appointments in the colleges of public health, pharmacy, nursing, and health professions.

In 2015, Dr. Hadden was awarded an NIH R01 to study health literacy and diabetes among rural primary care patients at UAMS Regional Centers. She has served as vice chair of the Partnership for Health Literacy in Arkansas and as an honorary fellow of the Arkansas Society of Public Health Educators.

Dr. Hadden holds a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Radford University in Radford, Va., and a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from UAMS. She practiced as a speech-language pathologist and augmentative communication specialist and then earned a PhD in health promotion and prevention research at UAMS.

Dr. Hadden enjoys traveling and the outdoors, especially with her family and their dog.

Contact Dr. Hadden
Phone: (501) 686-2594

Alison Caballero, MPH, CHES®

Director of Programs and Services

Alison advances the mission of UAMS CHL by directing its programs and services. In this role, she leads the team of expert staff who make health information easy to understand through training, plain language assessment and editing services, health education materials development, and field testing.

Alison’s background includes workforce development, public health education and research, patient education, medical administration, and major gifts fundraising. She also completed a prevention fellowship with the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Alison holds an undergraduate degree in health education from the University of Central Arkansas and a master’s degree in public health from UAMS. She is a certified health education specialist (CHES®).

When she isn’t at work, Alison enjoys spending time outside with her family and experimenting with new recipes.

Contact Alison
Phone: (501) 686-5463

Jennifer Gan, MBA

Research Faculty

Jennifer manages Dr. Hadden’s NIH funded grant. In this role, she manages the project team at six UAMS Regional Medical Centers to test the effectiveness of a health-literate diabetes educational/behavioral intervention.

Before joining the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, Jennifer worked as deputy director of clinical research for a clinic in California specializing in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Jennifer has managed multiple clinical research projects, surgical resident educational research, and an international robot-assisted laparoscopic surgical training program at the University of California Irvine (UCI). She also worked at the UCI Center for Educational Partnerships.

Jennifer has an undergraduate degree in sociology from UCI and a master’s degree from the Health Care Executive MBA program at UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business. She has also completed the Research Administration Management Program at UCI and a research specialist certification at UAMS.

When she is not working on the project, she enjoys road trips with good friends, float trips on lazy rivers, and finding hidden gems and adventures across the Natural State.

Contact Jen
Phone: (501) 296-1568

Katie Leath, MPH, MA

Program Administrator for Plain Language Services and Communication

Katie Leath is the program administrator for plain language services offered by the UAMS Center for Health Literacy and also serves as the Center’s communication and public relations specialist. In this position, she lends her health communication expertise to help create and edit health-related materials for patients and consumers at UAMS and beyond.

Before joining the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, Katie worked for over five years at the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement in research and evaluation.

Katie earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in graphic design from the University of Central Arkansas. She graduated with honors from UAMS with a master of public health degree and from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a master’s degree in applied communication studies. Katie also serves as the communication chair on the UAMS Auxiliary Board.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys working in her garden and spending time with her family and friends at the lake.

Contact Katie
Phone: (501) 686-2579

Andrea Roy

Assistant Director of Operations

Andrea has over three decades of experience in human resources and financial and budget management. In her current role, she is responsible for maintaining the day-to-day operations of the Center including managing all financials, contract management, travel oversight, procurement, office administration, and human resource management.

Immediately before joining the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, Andrea worked as fiscal manager for the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

Andrea earned her bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is also a UAMS-certified grants manager and recently completed all of the requirements to obtain her certified research specialist certificate from UAMS.

Contact Andrea
Phone: (501) 686-6264

Maria Ruvalcaba

Program Administrator for Field Testing and Spanish Health Literacy Services

Maria is a bilingual, certified medical interpreter with over 15 years of experience as a liaison between families and healthcare providers. In her role at the Center, Maria administers our field testing of health materials and all of our Spanish language services.

Maria’s extensive experience includes serving in a variety of health education and promotion roles. She is a dedicated advocate for helping those in the community who struggle with health information most. Maria earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is enrolled in the public health certificate program at UAMS.

After a long day at work, she enjoys cooking authentic Mexican cuisine with her family.

Contact Maria
Phone: (501) 296-1571

Chris Trudeau, JD


Chris is a nationally known advocate for plain language in law, health care, government, and business. Chris has a dual appointment at UAMS and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law. In his role as faculty at the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, Chris focuses on health communications research, plain language writing, and teaching health law and communication courses.

Chris is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy. He is the first lawyer to ever be appointed to this roundtable. He is also on the executive board of the International Health Literacy Association.

Before joining the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, Chris received grants to conduct research on public preferences for plain language, which was the first US study of its kind. He came to CHL from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he served as faculty for more than 13 years and carved out a niche as one of the only health literacy lawyers in the country.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a juris doctorate, summa cum laude, from Western Michigan University.

After work, Chris loves golfing, the outdoors, and running. One day, he dreams of hiking the 223-mile Ouachita Trail.

Contact Chris
Phone: (501) 686-5765

Jamie Watson, PhD

Plain Language Writer

Dr. Watson is a plain language writer at the Center, where he applies his background as a teacher, writer, and ethicist to improving written health information. He is also an assistant professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics and is a member of the clinical ethics consultation services at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Watson has co-authored four textbooks on ethics and philosophy, as well as a single-authored book on responsible politics.

Dr. Watson earned his master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Montana and his doctorate in philosophy from Florida State University. His scholarly interests include moral expertise, clinical judgment and critical thinking, and moral distress.

In his free time, Dr. Watson transforms into a rock star by performing at open mic venues around Little Rock.

Contact Jamie
Phone: (501) 603-1727