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Meet Your New Grassroots Advocacy Director

With $50 in their pockets and hope, my parents brought my sister and I from India to the United States when we were young. 4 years later, after studying at a Red Rocks Community College at night and working minimum wage jobs, they bought a house, two cars and 'a white picket fence'. Our story is like millions of others, a story of creating life, a future, from nothing but a dream. The immigrant’s life truly is art in its purest form. In that same vein, for the last 5 years I’ve been working on creating a strong, diverse advocacy and communications portfolio. With my background in health policy in Colorado, I'm eager to start making impacts at the American Heart Association.

For the last two years, I’ve worked as the Communications and Public Policy Director of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP). As a registered professional lobbyist advocating and monitoring over 80 bills at the Colorado State Legislature, I was the in-house government relations manager for 2,200 Family Physicians giving care to 2 million Coloradans. I monitored all health related bills in Colorado and Washington DC, wrote messaging for editorials, designed all CAFP materials for events, and organized physicians for legislative action at the Colorado State Legislature and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

I started my advocacy career working for Majority Leader and State Representative Crisanta Duran at the Colorado State Legislature. Soon after, I became the Communications Director for Daniel Kagan for HD3 – the largest house race in Colorado history. For the 2013 legislative session, I served as a communications fellow for Senator Mike Johnston and supported his efforts to pass SB213, a bill to change the school finance structure in Colorado. During my time at the State Legislature, I supported the mission and visions of my elected official offices with policy and communications like press releases, website support, writing and editing newsletters, and developing factsheets. 

I graduated two years ago from the University of Denver with a cum laude honors degree in Economics and Communications. At DU, I was the Managing Editor of the DU Clarion – a 47 employee staffed newspaper, ranking 13th for overall quality in the nation by peers. I created the DU Clarion website, managed a large budget and worked with colleagues to deliver a 36 page paper. I copyedited every article and wrote many of the major and minor pieces.

I serve on the Board of Directors for health advocacy organizations across the Denver metro area. I am active in the community and aim to serve

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Sheri Foote Takes on Cardiac Disease

Sheri Foote’s volunteer story started on the surgical table in 2006.

 

“Moving to Denver saved my life, actually. The altitude magnified my symptoms so that I would go see the doctor,” said Sheri. “They said I had major blockages in my arteries and that it was too late for any preventative procedure.”

 

Soon, at 39 years old, Sheri went in for quadruple bypass surgery. What started out as a routine surgery quickly became complex as Sheri had sudden cardiac arrest. She died on the operating table.

 

“Having a heart attack in front of an audience of doctors was careful planning on my part,” she joked.

 

What should have been a 4-hour surgery turned into 13 hours. Sheri stayed in the hospital for 16 days recovering.

 

“The battle for me can’t be won anymore, but it can be managed,” said Sheri. “For me, it’s about using my story to have a positive impact on our fight against heart disease so others don"t have to suffer my same fate.”

 

After a grueling recovery, Sheri joined the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Committee in Denver. Two years later, she joined the State Advocacy Committee after she attended her first You're the Cure lobby day in Washington DC in 2008.

 

"I've been involved in several advocacy victories over the years, but the biggest impact I feel I was able to personally have was on 2012 legislation to remove transfats from our schools," Sheri said. "I was invited to share my story with a Colorado Senate committee and I believe I was able to swing a few critical votes that helped pass that bill. There's something powerful in knowing you really can affect change."

 

Sheri is looking forward to the 2016 legislative session and helping lead Colorado’s State Advocacy Committee to more legislative victories.

 

“I’m looking forward to the 2016 session. If my story can benefit anyone, the next generation especially, I feel like I’ve used my powers for good,” said Sheri. “Our biggest impact is in our strength in numbers.”

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New Stroke Guidelines Will Change Stroke Treatment in the U.S

Each year, more than 690,000 Americans have strokes caused by blood clots blocking vessels in the brain, called ischemic strokes. Some of the clots can grow large and may require intense therapy to treat.

However, widely celebrated new research reaffirms that large blood clots in the brain are less likely to result in disability or death, if the blockage is removed in the crucial early hours of having a stroke.

Right now the standard treatment is a clot-dissolving drug called tPA. But it must be given intravenously within 4.5 hours to be effective. For people with larger brain clots, tPA only works about a third of the time.

New studies recommend doctors to use modernized -retrievable stents, to open and trap the clot, allowing doctors to extract the clot and reopen the artery nearly every time when used with tPA.

To learn more read “Clot Removing Devices Provide Better Outcomes for Stroke Patients” and visit StrokeAssociation.org to learn the warning signs of stroke.

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Nancy Birnbaum

I recently met You're the Cure advocate Nancy Birnbaum, a registered nurse who resides in College Station, Texas at the Advocating for Heart event at the Capitol. I loved the passion and enthusiasm she showed for the AHA mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. I chatted with Nancy to learn more about her and why she Advocates for Heart. 

Here's what she had to say:

I do what I can with the time that I have. What I love about the American Heart Association is that there are a lot of avenues to finding your fit. I started volunteering with the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon in College Station and found it especially easy and convenient to respond to action alerts. I like how easy it is to personalize the letter to the lawmaker and I make sure to include a comment as a nurse and a mother. As a mother of 4 grown daughters and grandmother of 9 children, I am passionate about fighting childhood obesity and keep school nutrition standards strong and healthy! I'm a proponent of healthy living so I wanted to get more involved with AHA's advocacy efforts. I decided to take a trip to Austin to participate in Advocating for Heart. Everyone I met was friendly and made it easy to visit with lawmakers and staff. 

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Look What You Did!

Your SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy team is kicking off the new fiscal year by recognizing the tremendous advocacy successes that we couldn’t have achieved without YOU this past legislative session. While we might be six states, we are one affiliate, with one mission - to fight heart disease and stroke. Here’s a look at what you did and every reason why we are celebrating with you.

Arkansas – We worked with partners to successfully refund the Private Option, Arkansas’ innovative approach to expanding access to healthcare to hundreds of thousands of residents. This will continue to help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease through increased access to preventative care, and save more lives.

Colorado – House Bill 1281, will ensure that newborns across Colorado will be screened for critical congenital heart defects before leaving the hospital, saving the lives of babies across our state.

New Mexico – Stroke patients will benefit from a more coordinated system of care when utilizing emergency services. Senate Bill 81 ensures that EMS stroke care plans will be developed by regional authorities, reducing disability and saving lives.

Oklahoma – Stroke patients will now receive more timely and a better quality of care when being transported to one of the state recognized stroke centers.

Texas – New funds in the state’s budget will expand a program that helps us identify where opportunities exist to improve heart attack and stroke care in the state.

Wyoming – Passage of Senate File 88, will improve the care that stroke patients receive through the coordination of timely and quality care by regional EMS authorities.

We hope you are as proud as we are of these new laws, as well as how they further the mission of the American Heart Association. Your involvement is critical, and we need you to continue this work. You are saving lives with every event you attend, phone call you make and every action alert you send. Keep it up!

PS. We have some new faces on our growing Advocacy Team. We can’t wait to introduce you to them in upcoming action alerts and emails. 

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Heart Healthy Summer Treat: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

 If you’re like me and have a huge sweet tooth, then you know that summer means ice cream season! On a hot summer day there is nothing better than cooling off with a delicious helping of this frozen treat. 

Unfortunately, ice cream is not necessarily the healthiest option in the world, but luckily there is a guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet cravings with this simple and delicious take on a summer staple! This recipe is my absolute favorite and I like it better than any ice cream out there!

Ingredients:

-1 frozen banana

-1 tablespoon of peanut butter

-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips

-1 tablespoon of almond milk

Place all 4 ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Voila! Chocolate peanut butter banana soft serve!

If you’re not a fan of peanut butter or chocolate, simply remove the ingredients from the recipe. I promise it’ll be just as good.  This is my go-to dessert in the summer, and I know as soon as you try this tasty treat, it will be yours too!

***This post is written by Advocacy Intern Taylor Fischer.

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Advocates Turn the Hill Red!

Over 380 advocates met in Washington, DC for You're the Cure on the Hill to step up for heart health. Our group of dedicated advocates met with 293 legislative offices throughout the day to advocate for increased research funding and healthy school meals. Advocates mingled with YTC networkers from throughout the nation and participated in an all day advocacy training and Heroes Luncheon. 

We know that as constituents, you truly make difference when you share your story and encourage our federal lawmakers to take action on critical health priorities. You drive our mission forward in building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. 

Check out a recap video of You're the Cure on the Hill 2015! 

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Lifesaving Legislation Becomes Law

Governor John Hickenlooper recently signed into law life-saving legislation, House Bill 1281, which will ensure that newborns receive a simple, quick, and non-invasive screening to detect critical ongenital heart defects before leaving the hospital. 

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S. and the leading cause of infant death from birth defects. Early detection is key, and through pulse oximetry screening we can catch life threatening heart conditions in babies before they go home from the hospital.

 

Thanks to your advocacy efforts and by lending your voice, we now have expanded lifesaving screenings for our tiniest hearts!  We could not have done this without you and appreciate your continued support.

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Announcing Leading Colorado Advocates!

We would like to recognize our Aces, Champion, and Hero advocates for their continued dedication in the fight against heart disease and stroke! Your time, energy, and passion has made all the difference in advancing our mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The below advocates have taken action by responding to action alerts, visiting legislative offices, participating in advocacy trainings, and signing petition cards, just to name a few.

You can find your current ranking on the Community website under your profile. Check out our menu of activities here and see exactly how you can earn more points.

Kristin Adcock
Larry Adler
Jordan Ambron
Andrea Anderson
Bethany Arnold
Jodi Aumiller
Andrea Autobee- Trujillo
Linda Azzi
Sharon Baker
Emily Ballinger
Jeri Barajas
Jenna Baro
Sonja Baro
Robert Basker
Meghan Baslatt
Mary Bateman
Whitney Bell Haggard
Whitney Bell-Haggard
Aryn Benton
Kim Bimestefer
Michael Bireley
Katerina Birge
Kristilen Blackard
Julie Blakie
Robert Blaustein
G. Bommelaere
Bob Bowman
Jeb Burchenal
Amber Burkhart
Mike Butler
Elizabeth Cabell
Megan Calvert
Natalie Cartledge
Kerri Cechovic
Rakesh Chandranatha
Alexander Chapman
Kathryn Clark
Beth Clark
Tammy Coffman
Linda Cook
Craig Cook
Denise Cordova
Harry Corsover
Dee Daniels
Stephen Daniels
Catie Davis
Jay Denning
Perri Dombroski
Linda Drescher
Holly Durand
Sarah Flanagan
Bryan Fleming
Danielle Fontana
Sheri Foote
Nicole Frazier
LeeAnn French
James Fullerton
Jennifer Gamble
Rob Gamble
Gina Gardner
Betsy Gensler
Suze Gingery
Jenny Glennan
David Goff
Dee Gregory
Silvia Gutierrez
Silvia Gutierrez-Raghunath
Erin Hackett
Teresa Hailey
Courtney Hammock
John Harney
Maureen Harney
Rekisha Harris
Renee Hauerwas
Lindsay Hayden
Lori Hayden
julie Hill
Jim Holder
Trisha Hood
Hannah Hoogenboom
Kelley Horton
Athena Huff-Sandstrom
Robert Itiu
Beverly Jacoby
Sandi Jasper
Valerie Kanelopoulos
Amy Kappel
Sue Kardon
Katherine Kautz
Dena Keilman
Robert Kinder
Julie Knowles
Tricia Kob
Michael Kolb
Melissa Komadina
LisaJo Laptad
Karen Larsen
Ali Larson
Michelle Lathrop
Latrice Lee
Trisha Lee
Carrie Lehtonen
Traci Lella
Lee L'Enfant
Scott Lenn
Lindsay Lewis
Leslie Liedtke
Celeste Linhard
Kay Lowe
Tom Lucero
Joe Magouth
Pat Maley
Krishna Mallela
Evan Manning
Alexandra Mark
Kimberly Marshall
Epi Mazzei
Ann McCollough
Joe McCormack
Ashley McCurrach
Trisha McDaid-O'Neill
Janeen McDonald
Jaclyn McDonald
Carleen McGuffey
James McGuffey
Rodolfo Medina Valdez
Amy Miller
Linda Mitchell
Cynthia Molk
Doug Moore
Jodi Moreno
Madeline Morris
Jason Nardell
Maribel Navano
Amanda Nenaber
Carrie Nolan
Ashley Nordberg
Cheryl Northup
Erica Oakley-Courage
Tokundo Olowda
Mary Ann Orr
Cheryl Parrish
Annette Pedersen
s peirce
Jacque Penfold
Blair Pesses
Blair Pesses
Debbie Pointer
Mattye Polland-Love
Janeene Porcher
Huntington Potter
Bethany Pray
Lorna Prutzman
Brittany Pyle
Chad Raabe
Betsy Ray
Megan Reeder-Holman
Leslie Reindollar
Daphine Rice-Arlen
Amy Risley
Lynn Robinson
Yadira Rojas
Christopher Roller
Laura Saenez
Laura Saenz
Christina Saetta
Rachel Scarlata
Deo Schlupp
Lori Schreiber
Wendy Schroeder
Amelia Shafer
Luke Sheffield
Tawnya Silloway
Lynn Smith
DJ Smith
EN Smith
Melissa Snyder
Michael Spitzer
Michael Stein
Sharon Stokes
Jana Strangfeld
Paul Stringer
Carolyn Sundahl
Dara Tallmadge
Mary Tappe
Sarah Tiers
Sara Tobin
Sara Tobin
Leo Tokar
Leroy Trujillo
Renee Verspoor
Sundae Vialajaro
Grace Walsh
Gretchen Weinhurst
Steve West
Julie Wham
Gretchen Whitehurst
Grant Wicklund
Kirk Williams
Courtney Wilson
Terri Winter
Martin Wolf
Kristy Wolter-Warmerdam
Lana Wood-Brown
Doug Younger
Peggy Younger

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

 

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Watch a video highlighting the award winners below!

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