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The worlds of healthcare and art intersected recently at USI during Dr. Zach Ward’s Competitive Strategies and Marketing in Healthcare class (HA 496). It all started when Ward met a well-known, contemporary artist while shopping for shoes in Owensboro, Kentucky. Ward, an Assistant Professor of Health Administration, recognized Aaron Kizer, a native of Owensboro who is renowned for his striking portraits of celebrities and pop culture icons. That chance meeting led to Kizer visiting the USI campus on November 9, 2022, to speak to Ward’s students about his work and artistic portfolio that ranges from hip-hop artists’ album covers to Fortune 500 companies.

“I think it’s always good for our students to interact and learn from folks who work in the field and who are not academics. Students appreciate a different perspective on worldly views,” said Ward. “Aaron’s work in marketing is something I could never replicate without him in the classroom. Merely describing his work does not do it justice.”

Kizer often “speed paints” portraits during events and uses his paintings to give back to the Owensboro community. He has been commissioned to paint a variety of subjects, including The Kentucky Derby, Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Walt Disney, Hank Aaron and Michael Jordan, and his paintings are displayed around the world, including in the United Arab Emirates. In the spring of 2022, he auctioned off his painting of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to benefit a relief fund for Ukrainian refugees established by Owensboro Sister Cities and Regions (OSCAR).

“Despite our class being healthcare centric, Aaron’s broad presentation was applicable to just about any type of class related to marketing or strategic planning,” said Ward.