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Michael Angelucci West Virginia

Michael Angelucci has been a dedicated advocacy champion for heart-health policy in West Virginia for many years. As a You're the Cure advocate, AHA Advocacy Committee Chair and Marion County EMT, he helped spearhead our efforts to pass CPR in Schools legislation in 2015. Critical to the success of the bill, he helped compile a comprehensive listing of all facilities in the state that were willing and able to teach CPR in Schools once passed, and allowed us to share it with the state department of education as a resource. In addition, he helped to teach a CPR in Schools training at the WV statewide KidStrong conference, where hundreds of health and physical education teachers and coaches attended.

And his dedication to improving healthy in the Mountain State doesn't end with passage of CPR in Schools legislation. Michael also rounded up thousands of signatures and delivered petitions to lawmakers to help us protect clean indoor air regulations around the state when several bills were introduced to weaken them in the 2015 and 2016 WV Legislation Sessions.

 In preparation for the 2016 legislative session, Michael participated in several meetings with department of health, EMS officials and neurology specialists in the state to help lay the groundwork for our Stroke Facility Designation bill. During the session, he attended committee meetings for the bill, contacted lawmakers and attended our State Lobby Day on February 2nd. At Lobby Day, he brought several employees with him and the group conducted a Hands-Only CPR training on the floor of the Senate during AHA's Go Red Week! Thanks in large part to Michael's efforts, the Stroke Bill was passed in the 2016 Session.

We were excited to be able to present Micheal with the 2016 American Heart Association Distinguished Achievement Award for his outstanding dedication to the health of the Mountain State. Thank you, Michael, for everything you do!

Mary Kay Ballasiotes, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Mary Kay Ballasiotes has been advocating for children for over 15 years.  Her daughter, Michelle had a stroke before she was born and that moment changed both of their lives forever. Mary Kay’s advocacy days started in 2002 in Chicago where she founded the Childhood Stroke & Hemiplegia Connections of Illinois, simply because there was a need for it.  Before long, Mary Kay and her daughter were fixtures at Lobby Day.  At National Lobby Day, May 2006, Mary Kay spoke with the Vice President of the American Stroke Association (ASA) and told him about her daughter having a stroke before birth.  She learned that the VP had never heard of pediatric stroke. From that day on Mary Kay made it her mission to collaborate with the American Heart Association (AHA) and the ASA about pediatric stroke, and to raise awareness about it.

Over the years, Mary Kay and Michelle attended heart walks, lobby days, and were very vocal about pediatric stroke in each state they have lived in: Illinois, Georgia, and now North Carolina. Mary Kay has also co-produced a pediatric stroke awareness video with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, which was created to raise awareness that strokes can happen in babies, children and even before birth.

Most recently, she and Michelle and traveled to the Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Global Forum in Sharjah, UAE. Michelle represented the AHA/ASA, and Mary Kay was able to experience this opportunity of a lifetime.

Making a difference in people’s lives is the most rewarding element of being part of advocacy.  Mary Kay and Michelle have attended many lobby days over the years, both national and state.  The experience never gets old to Mary Kay.  She loves seeing how her passion and effort can make a difference, and strongly feels that one person can make a difference!  In August 2010, Mary Kay and her family moved to North Carolina where she soon started working with Betsy Vetter, the AHA Director of Government Relations in the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.  Mary Kay readily admits her love of working with Betsy.  She is one of the reasons Mary Kay is still volunteering and advocating with AHA.  Mary Kay feeds off Betsy’s passion and enthusiasm and feels that Betsy has a gift for working with volunteers and government officials.

Mary Kay is very proud of her daughter Michelle and the hard work that she has been doing right alongside her mother. While back in Chicago in 2007, Michelle was chosen to be one of the 12 “Faces of Cardiovascular Disease.”  Her image was captured on one of many large posters that were circulated around the United States for Heart Walks.  These posters are still being used today.  Because of Mary Kay and Michelle’s hard work, they were both featured in an ABC news article once again shedding light on pediatric stroke. In 2009, Michelle was honored with the Stroke Hero of the Year and received the National Youth Advocate of the Year award.

Mary Kay’s calling is to advocate for children. She feels that things happen for a reason. The stroke that Michelle suffered enabled both Michelle and Mary Kay to reach other families and make a difference in their lives and in the area of pediatric stroke.  Mary Kay does not have much free time, but when she does, she enjoys going out to lunch with friends and reading. 

One great memory Mary Kay has included that of her son, Alex.  While driving back from picking Alex up at college, he remarked how much he admires the work that she has done over the years.  The example that Mary Kay has provided has empowered him to pay it forward by getting involved in politics and leadership roles.   May Kay continues to advocate for children and wants everyone to know that one person can make a difference.

Advocate interview provided by Blog Contributor Amanda Orfitelli.

My name is Tatum Weishaupt and I joined the AHA in April 2016 as the Mission Lifeline Director of the Capital Region of New York State.  Before I tell you about myself, let me share a little bit about Mission Lifeline.  The American Heart Association developed Mission: Lifeline to transform heart attack patient outcomes by connecting healthcare providers, prehospital providers and community stakeholders in a proactive system of care that saves and improves lives—from symptom onset through cardiac rehabilitation.  I am excited to be applying my skills and expertise to this lifesaving effort in Upstate New York.

Throughout my education and career, I have focused on medicine and healthcare systems. I attended Union College, graduating with a major in Neuroscience and Minor in Public Health, and continued to pursue my interest in the sciences earning a Masters Degree in Neuroscience from Georgetown University and George Mason University.

My career prior to joining the AHA included varying aspects clinical trials management at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where I worked in various roles over a 6 year period. While I enjoyed oncology research, my transition to systems of care quality improvement at the American Heart Association has allowed me to combine my broad interesting in healthcare. As a Mission: Lifeline Director for the Capital Region, I work with local health care providers – including EMS agencies and hospitals – to ensure that the system of care for heart attacks can work in a coordinated way.

The systems of care work lead by the AHA is truly impactful in the community, and I am thrilled to join in these efforts. On May 16, 2016 I had the opportunity to join the AHA advocacy team at a Stroke Lobby Day, and learn about another aspect of our organization. The day spent at the New York State Capitol included meetings with Senators and Assembly members discussing a bill which would provide a three tiered stroke system of care. The goal is to ensure that all stroke victims receive the appropriate level of care, as rapidly as possible. This was truly an awe inspiring day, and lead to the bill passing the Senate 60-0 on June 9th!