LifeFlight Eagle is blessed to employ some of the best medical practioners in the industry. Our team of more than 50 flight nurses and flight paramedics are highly experienced, highly trained and highly respected among their peers. Best of all, they provide compassionate critical care to every patient and family member they meet.

Meet our Leadership Team


Roxanne Peek, MBA

Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Peek is responsible for the leadership, direction and administration of all aspects of the company to include operational results and growth in all services of LifeFlight Eagle's multiple locations in the region.

Prior to joining LifeFlight Eagle as CEO, she held progressively responsible clinical and leadership roles in an integrated delivery system. She served as Vice President with Heartland Health Systems (now Mosaic) in St. Joseph, Mo. During her tenure, the system earned the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. She was responsible for providing senior administrative direction, management and coordination for Clinical Services and Emergency Services, which included the Emergency Department, Trauma Services for Level II Trauma Center, Ambulance Services, Acute and Outreach Lab Services, Inpatient Pharmacy Services, Hospital and outpatient Imaging Services, Emergency Management and Fleet Management.

Ms. Peek worked to develop and implement initiatives to achieve consistent upper quartile performance in quality, safety, caregiver and medical staff engagement and the patient experience. Ms. Shanks is also experienced in the selection and implementation of electronic medical record platforms as well as performance improvement systems utilizing Lean principles.
Ms. Peek has a Master's in Business Administration from Andrew Jackson University and is a Fellow of the Advisory Board Company.

In addition to her role at LifeFlight Eagle, Ms. Peek is a Partner of Fitch & Associates, a premier emergency services consulting firm, and serves as the Executive Director of the Association of Critical Care Transport. 


Christine Zalar


Christine Zalar serves as President of LifeFlight Eagle. She has served in that role since 1996, when LifeFlight Eagle was formed as the result of a merger between two competing companies, Spirit of Kansas City LifeFlight and Research Eagle.

Ms. Zalar has a distinguished career in EMS leadership. Her professional experience spans the full spectrum of pre-hospital care, from developing, implementing, and managing air medical and ground ambulance services to managing hospital emergency care systems and trauma centers. Her key areas of expertise include operational and financial analysis of air medical services, and development of quality management systems. Her hospital experience with emergency and trauma services led directly to the successful integration of pre-hospital emergency care programs into clinical service lines of tertiary and community hospitals.

Ms. Zalar is active in numerous professional organizations that serve and support medical transportation and emergency medical care. She has served multiple terms as Chair of the Foundation for Air Medical Research and Education (FARE) and was the 1988 recipient of the National Flight Nurse Association's Jordan Award in recognition for her original contributions to air medical healthcare. She is a strong advocate of air medical safety systems and has testified at Federal hearings on air safety issues. Ms. Zalar played a key role in the development of the Association of Critical Care Transport (ACCT), a leading patient advocacy group and continues to serve as an adviser. She was a contributing author to the popular textbooks Beyond the Street: A Handbook for EMS Leadership Management and Pre-hospital Care Administration. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the St. John College of Cleveland and holds a Masters of Arts degree from William Lyon University.

Ms. Zalar is also a Founding Partner of Fitch & Associates, a premier emergency services consulting firm. She established the successful air medical and hospital services consulting division of the Firm and provides leadership to the Firm's affiliate, MedServ International, which strategically provides management and operational services for medical transportation organizations.


Jeff Willhite

Vice President of Program Operations

Jeff oversees all day-to-day non-clinical opearations at LifeFlight Eagle, including working directly with the organization's air operator. Jeff has been in the logistic management business for more than 25 years. He previously managed multiple-location trucking and logistics operations for several organizations including Martin-Brower Company, Noland Company, Marriott Distribution Services, King Provision, United Parcel Service Logistics Group, Logisticare, and First Transit. At Logisticare Jeff served as the General Manager and in a regional support role for Logisticare, Inc. In this role, Jeff administered Missouri's statewide NEMT brokerage serving over 500,000 Medicaid recipients and managed a 55-employee operation with multiple call centers handling over 11,000 calls and processing over 34,000 transportation transactions weekly. Jeff also assisted the company in obtaining, implementing, and managing HMO and managed care transportation contracts throughout a 5-state region including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio. At First Transit as the Director Of Operations for nationwide coverage he oversaw 19 operations spread across the United States as well as new business development for public and private sectors.

Jeff has a B.A. in Management from Kentucky Wesleyan College and a Masters in Business Administration from Strayer University in Virginia.


Joey Araiza, RN, BSN

Vice President of Clinical Services

Joey provides leadership and clinical management for the LifeFlight Eagle medical transport system and is accountable for internal and external clinical aspects of the program.

Joey graduated from William Jewell College in 2002, and pursued her goal to become a flight nurse at LifeFlight Eagle by working in an Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department from 2002-2007. She obtained a Flight Nurse position at LifeFlight Eagle in 2007 and continued to pursue further management opportunities through 2012 when she became the Vice President of Clinical Services. Enhancing patient care and ensuring high-quality Critical Care and Pre-hospital care are her passions.


Ruby Mehrer RN, BSN, CMTE

Director of Government Relations

Ruby has been involved nearly 30 years in the air ambulance business. She started as one of the first four flight nurses for Research Eagle when it opened in 1985. Ruby quickly recognized rapid transport with critical care provided en route could make a huge difference in patient outcomes. The intensity of taking care of critically injured or seriously ill patients while flying in a helicopter was a perfect fit for Ruby and she shared her passion with our service area over the years in many different ways.

She was an early advocate for safety and taught numerous classes on how to set up a landing zone for a helicopter and how to assist in loading the patient. She also recognized patients needed to be returned to physical health without jeopardizing their financial health. When LifeFlight Eagle's membership program was created and she embraced and promoted it in its early years. Her many activities led her to become involved in numerous EMS organizations on the local, regional, state and national level, frequently elected as an officer by her peers. She is seen as a 'go to' person when something needs to be done. Ruby has served as Chief Flight Nurse and Program Manager for Research Eagle. After the merger of LifeFlight and Research Eagle she became Clinical Manager, then Director of Business Development and currently is Director of Government Relations. Ruby describes her job now as 'going to meetings' but her networking on all levels helps LifeFlight Eagle retain its role as a leader in the air ambulance industry. Although her job descriptions have changed over the years, Ruby still loves seeing the helicopter take off on a mission, knowing the best of the best is inside wanting to make a difference for their patient that day. And that makes her proud to still be part of LifeFlight Eagle.


Joe Coons

Director of Safety,
Communication Center Manager

Joe manages LifeFlight Eagle's safety systems in conjunction with our air operator, PHI Air Medical. He also leads the Safety Advisory Group, a multi-disciplined committee that works together to improve the safety of the program. In addition, Joe manages LifeFlight Eagle's communication center, which serves as the 24/7 nerve center for LifeFlight Eagle's operations. Joe also speaks about safety and leadership-related topics at EMS conferences and education events across the country. 

Joe started his EMS career as an EMT in 1992 and gained his Paramedic license in 1996. He joined LifeFlight Eagle in 2005 as a Flight Paramedic, and became the Safety Coordinator in 2010. In 2013, Joe was named the Director of Safety for LifeFlight Eagle. He is trained in Human Factors, Fatigue, and Root Cause Analysis as well as helicopter operations.

Matt Daugherty

Director, Business Development

Matt works with the organization’s outreach teams, membership, fundraising and communications.

Matt has worked with LifeFlight Eagle on projects since 2010, and he joined the organization in a full-time capacity in 2013. Prior to joining LifeFlight Eagle, Matt worked as the publisher of a group of community newspapers in the Northland area of Kansas City.

Matt attended the University of Kansas where he earned both a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and an MBA.


Kyle Tapps

Base Manager - Clinical Services


Chuck Palmer 

Base Manager - Operations