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Jaf Fielder: the new leader of the health system Willis Knighton | Health

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana – When he’s free, you’ll likely see Jaf Fielder on his family’s farm or with his wife and daughters. But during the week, Fielder leads the 7,100 employees of Willis Knighton Health System as the new president and CEO, succeeding Jim Elrod who retired after 56 years.

Fielder is a boy from Shreveport, born and raised.

“My grandfather and his brother came to Shreveport in the 1940s and opened a grocery store on the corner of Fairfield and Pierremont called Fielder’s Grocery, and they operated it from the 1940s until the late 1970s when they retired, ”Fielder said.

Her father worked in the banking industry for 40 years and her mother is a retired teacher and housewife.

“I went to Shreve Christian High School, I graduated in 1985. I went to Christian University in Abilene with a football scholarship, I graduated in 1991 with my master’s degree in business.” , Fielder said. “I married my sweetheart from high school and we have three beautiful daughters.”

When not at work, he is often at his family’s cattle farm.

“I am a farmer with my father, my brother and his son. We have around 100 head of cattle, ”he said.

Fielder interviewed Elrod, Willis Knighton’s longtime CEO, upon graduating from college in 1991.

James elrod

James Elrod, Retired Willis Knighton Healthcare System CEO.

“I have never met him in my life. Parked outside the hospital, and as I entered the hospital, I noticed that there was a man in a suit and tie picking up trash in there. ‘outside the hospital,’ Fielder said.

After sitting in Elrod’s office for a few minutes …

“He walked in, Mr. Elrod introduced himself and it was the man outside picking up the trash and I thought, ‘Is that really cool? Let the man who runs this organization not be too fat to go out and pick up the garbage. ‘ In other words, he wouldn’t ask you to do anything that he wasn’t ready to do.

It seems that Elrod was equally impressed with Fielder.

“Sir. Elrod hired me as a compensation manager for the human resources department. Three years later he promoted me to human resources manager at Willis Knighton at the age of 25,” said Fielder. “In 2006, he promoted me to executive vice president of Willis Knighton Medical Center. And then in 2017, I became director of operations.”

The hospital’s board of directors has interviewed CEO candidates over the past four years.

“I was approached by the board about three months ago and asked me to submit a resume. And then, on September 11, I was unanimously elected to succeed Mr. Elrod as president and CEO of the health care system, ”he said.

It’s a big job, but Fielder says it’s really a team effort.

“I have a great team around me who share my love for this organization and my passion for its mission,” he said. “And we’re going to do some great things for Willis Knighton as we go along.”


This is the first of a two-part interview that KTBS health reporter Linnea Allen conducted with Fielder, where you will learn more about the man behind the health care system.