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Our Team is Growing

Over the past month, our Greater Southeast Affiliate Advocacy team has announced the addition of two Regional Vice Presidents and a Grassroots Specialist to assist with our lobbying and grassroots efforts across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Nathan Mick

On July 18, 2016, Nathan Mick joined the American Heart Association as Regional Vice President of Advocacy for the Greater Southeast Affiliate. He is responsible for managing our Government Relations Directors in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Nathan has a tremendous amount of experience in and around the policy and political arenas. He has been the Vice-President of Government Affairs and Business Development at StateBook International the past few years, where he was responsible for stakeholder relationships, government relations, brand, memberships, and strategic partnerships. He also served as the chief liaison to embassies, international companies, local, state and federal government officials. In late 2015, Nathan served as an advisor to the Kentucky Governor’s transition team on Economic Development and provided advice and recommendation directly to the governor and key staff to establish their team and system following the election. Nathan also served as the Carlisle and Nicholas County Industrial Development Authority, Government Relations and Economic Development Advisor and prior to that was the Garrard County Economic Development Director for several years. Nathan was the Deputy Campaign Manager and Political Director for the Pete Rickets for United States Senate Campaign in Nebraska, who is currently the Governor of Nebraska, and he was Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Chuck Hagel.

Nathan graduated from Centre College in Kentucky, has a Master’s degree from the Naval War College, and has Economic Development and Community Development Certifications from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Kentucky.  Nathan worked for a regional arts center during college, where he managed the staff and was the marketing manager for the Atlanta Olympic Games for the Celebration of the Century.

He is active in the American Council of Young Political Leaders and has been on numerous trips with them and was also selected to represent the United States as an official delegation representative at Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Human Dimension Implementation Meetings in 2007, 2008 and 2013.

Todd Rosenbaum

On July 18, 2016, Todd joined the American Heart Association as the Regional Vice President of Government Relations for the Greater Southeast Affiliate. He manages our community government relations, grant management and grassroots functions.

Todd served as the Executive Director of the Florida State Alliance of YMCAs for the past five years, where he was responsible for coordinating advocacy activities, board development, working with committees, staff supervision, fiscal management, grant oversight, securing resources and event management. During his tenure he secured and managed over $370,000 in private grants and over $2 million in state government funding for both the YReads and Youth in Government Program.

Prior to his role as Executive Director of the Florida State Alliance of YMCA’s, Todd was the Northwest Florida Executive Director and ultimately the State Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Florida. His role at MADD required him to serve as the administrative (state agency) and legislative lead, leverage the grassroots network and increase the number of MADD signature events. In addition he managed a team of six throughout the state and a $2.8 million budget. 

Before joining MADD, Todd spent the 12 years at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, where he began as a Program Manager and was promoted several times until he became the Executive Director. He was responsible for opening a new $4.5 million, $40,000 square foot branch, managing a downtown YMCA with a $2.79 million budget and increasing revenue at that location. He also led a management team of six, more than 100 other staff and was responsible for a multi-million dollar budget for several years in a row.   

Laura Bracci, MPH

On August 1, 2016, Laura Bracci joined the Greater Southeast Affiliate advocacy team as a Grassroots Specialist. In this role, Laura provides grassroots support for local campaigns led by Advocacy and Community Health, as well as assists with managing the You’re the Cure network at the affiliate level.

Laura is a huge public health advocate and is very familiar with the American Heart Association. In fact, she worked for our organization for nine years, first as a Health Initiatives Manager and then the Georgia State Health Alliance Director until the department sunset in 2010.

After working for the American Heart Association, Laura remained actively engaged in public health. She worked as a consultant for a Farm to Preschool Summit in Georgia in 2013 – the first in the nation! She also worked with the Strong4Life Research and Development team to initiate the planning of research projects relevant to childhood obesity prevention and treatment.

For the past five years, Laura has worked as a project manager for Georgia State University’s School of Public Health. She has managed and cultivated state-level Leadership Council focused on improving policies to decrease childhood obesity prevalence.

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The Movement for Healthy Boulder Kids Continues!

The movement to combat childhood obesity in Boulder is now one step closer to officially being considered on the November election ballot. Earlier this summer, over 9,000 Boulder residents demonstrated their support for healthy Boulder kids by signing a petition to increase access to healthy foods, nutrition education, and physical activity, through revenue from a tax on sugary drinks.

A few weeks ago, the Boulder City Council voted unanimously in favor of this initiative. We are incredibly thankful for their overwhelming support and their consideration of the will of the voters. Stay tuned as we await the final vote of approval to advance this important health initiative to the November ballot.

*****

It’s going to take all of us, working together, to ensure a victory at the ballot box this November. AHA is committed to this work, but we need support from people like you to vote in favor of this critical public health measure. Join our campaign to combat childhood obesity and support healthy Boulder families!

Please email Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org to learn how to get involved!

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160,000 Petition Signatures Submitted to Help Reduce Smoking and Support Critical Health Care Needs and Medical Research
CAMPAIGN UPDATE:
The American Heart Association and You’re the Cure advocates joined over 65 partner organizations to gather over 160,000 signatures in support of an important public health measure. Supporters hope to raise the state cigarette tax in order to reduce smoking, support critical health care needs and fund medical research throughout the state. 
As active members of The Campaign for a Healthy Colorado movement, our mission began earlier this summer. After several weeks of intense work, we are thrilled to announce that over 160,000 signatures were delivered to the Colorado Secretary of State's office to advance this statewide ballot initiative. If passed, the cigarette tax increase will raise money for expanding mental-health services for children and veterans, while helping to stop kids from smoking and adults to quit. It will also provide an increased investment for research and treatment of smoking-related diseases.
NEXT STEPS:
The Office of the Secretary of State will now review the petition signatures and the official title given to the measure for the November ballot.
For more information on the campaign, please visit healthyco2016.com. If you would like to get involved, please email Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org, Sr. Grassroots Director.

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Protecting our Keiki from Secondhand Smoke

The American Heart Association believes that everyone deserves to be protected from secondhand smoke and we especially believe that our keiki deserve that protection.

During the 2016 Hawaii state legislative session a bill was proposed that would have made it illegal to smoke with children in your vehicle. Ultimately the bill did not pass but simultaneously there was work happening on the issue at the local level on Kauai.

In late July, Kauai became the second county in Hawaii to restrict smoking in vehicles when children are present. The Kauai County Council voted 6-1 to approve Bill 2629, which prohibits smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 13. The American Heart Association would have preferred the bill’s original language setting chiildren’s ages at 17 or under but we believe the bill passed is a good start. 

In 2010, Hawaii County was the first to pass a similar bill. The Hawaii County Council passed a bill by a vote of 5-3 to prohibit smoking in vehicles when children 17 or younger are present.

The AHA will continue to support this issue until we achieve statewide coverage whether it’s done county by county or through statewide legislation.

Thank you for your continued support to keep our keiki safe from secondhand smoke.

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Every child in Oregon deserves a safe route to school

Guest Blogger: Christina Bodamer, Oregon Government Relations Director

This last May, the AHA’s work through the For Every Kid Coalition succeeded in securing an unprecedented investment in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) in the Portland metro area: $3.5 million specifically earmarked to improve safety for people walking, bicycling, and accessing transit, especially near schools. This dedication to SRTS is extraordinary at the regional level, dedicating $1.5 million for a regional Safe Routes program and $2 million for street improvements near Title 1 (low-income) schools and trails. By creating safe routes to school, more kids can get the daily health benefits of walking and biking while reducing the amount of motor vehicles on the road during peak times.

Even with our great success in Portland, far too many kids across the state of Oregon still can’t walk and bike to school because of unsafe streets and a lack of necessary education programming. Which is why we are now building on the momentum from our most recent success in Portland by expanding the For Every Kid Coalition into a statewide Campaign, working to make sure that Safe Routes To School is included in the full 2017 Oregon Transportation package.

Our work will not be easy. Washington County alone has learned in a recently completed needs assessment that over $100 million will be required to make their streets safe. But the For Every Kid Coalition is committed to making Safe Routes to School for every kid in Oregon by continuing to advocate for dedicated funding for both education programs and street improvements near schools.

Governor Brown’s appointed Joint Transportation Committee is hosting town hall meetings in the following communities this fall. Consider attending and sharing why Safe Routes to School are important to your local schools:

  • Bend: August 18, 5:30 p.m.
    Wille Hall, Coats Campus Center, Central Oregon Community College, 2600 NW College Way, Bend
  • Medford: August 31, 5:00 p.m.
    Jackson County Library, Medford Branch, 205 S. Central Avenue, Medford
  • Newport: September 15, 5:00 p.m.
    Ballroom, Embarcadero Hotel, 1000 SE Bay Blvd, Newport
  • Hillsboro: September 19, 5:00 p.m.
    Shirley Huffman Auditorium, Hillsboro Civic Center, 150 E. Main Street,      Hillsboro
  • Salem: September 2, 5:15 p.m.
    Hearing Room F, Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court Street NE, Salem

When it is safe, convenient, and fun to walk, bike and access transit to neighborhood schools, our children are healthier, our streets are safer for everyone, and our communities thrive. Every kid in Oregon deserves a chance at a healthy future. #ForEveryKid

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It's Back to School Season

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

It’s already August, which means these long, hot days of summer will soon be turning into early mornings and back to school schedules. We hope that the summer has given you plenty of opportunities to get out and get active!

We know how important it is to get in daily physical activity to maintain good health. In fact, just 30 minutes a day of physical activity is associated with a healthier, longer life, as well as lowering risks for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Establishing healthy behaviors in childhood, like daily physical activity and nutritious food choices, promotes a lifetime of healthy habits. As an added bonus, we know that kids who get regular physical activity learn more effectively and achieve more academically - good to know as kids head back to school!

Walking or biking to school is a great way to get more physical activity into a student’s day, but often, there is no safe way for kids to walk or bike to school. Often there are missing bike lanes or sidewalks, or no safe crosswalks on busy streets. And sometimes, rules of the road are unknown or misunderstood, and the confusion causes safety issues. According to the Idaho Transportation Department’s 2014 Crash Report, an Idaho child (4-19 years old) is killed or injured riding a bicycle every 3.5 days and every 4 days walking, by a collision with a motorist.

That is why the American Heart Association is working hard to promote the Safe Routes to School program. We’ve partnered with the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, Voices for Healthy Kids, and many others. Together we are working to secure funding to provide communities across Idaho the opportunity to obtain grants for infrastructure projects, like building new sidewalks and lighting crosswalks, or non-infrastructure projects, like a Safe Routes Education Coordinator or forming a walking school bus program.

Safe Routes to School are vital to healthy, active kids, and they can be used by the entire community to help improve safety, health, and build a strong community. We hope we can count on your support throughout the year when we ask you to reach out to your state Senator and Representatives and urging them to support Safe Routes to your local school!

 

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Raising the Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

Guest Blogger: Amanda Cahill, Montana Government Relations Director

The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association is currently advocating for new laws across the country to raise the tobacco minimum purchase age to 21 and we hope Montana will be the next state to take this important step! 

According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 will have a substantial impact on public health and save “hundreds of thousands of lives.”  Those who begin smoking before the age of 21 are especially prone to a lifetime of smoking because their brains are still developing.  In fact, 95% of adult smokers begin the habit before the age of 21. 

In Montana, 13.1% (6,600) of high school students are current smokers, and 29.5% use e-cigarettes.   The tobacco industry spends an estimated $30 million marketing to Montanans each year.  This does not include what the industry spends to lobby against any tobacco restrictions such as smoke-free air or e-cigarette legislation. 

The annual healthcare costs directly related to smoking in Montana are $440 million dollars per year, with a tax burden of $829 per household.  Yes, that means YOU are spending money each year to pay for the negative outcomes that the tobacco industry supports.  Raising the minimum sales age is one way to fight against this as well as ensure a healthier future for generations to come. 

Recently, California and Hawaii have passed state laws requiring a person to be 21 to purchase a tobacco product.  An additional 135 cities nationwide, including Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, have also passed this policy. 

If you would like to get involved in the Montana Tobacco to 21 Campaign, contact me Amanda Cahill at amanda.cahill@heart.org

 

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Please Join Us at a Heart & Stroke Walk

We are having a lovely summer this year in Washington and while I don’t want to fast forward the calendar, I do want to take a moment and invite you to join us at one of three Heart & Stroke Walks in Washington this fall:

Spokane – September 10th at Riverfront Park

South Sound- Saturday, October 8th at Cheney Stadium

Puget Sound- Saturday, October 15th at Seattle Center

The Heart & Stroke Walk celebrates survivors, those we’ve lost to cardiovascular diseases and stroke; and those who have pledged to live healthier lifestyles.

Create a team with your co-workers or family and friends and join us at this free family event! Join us for a morning of healthy snacks, music, walking, raising awareness, and help raise the dollars needed to fund life-saving research and community initiatives.

In 2013, 13,176 people in Washington died from heart disease and stroke. We, the American Heart Association, want to lower that number and that is why we’d love to see you create a team!

We hope to see you at the Heart Walk!

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Back to School Season

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

As a parent, this time of year brings a swell of anxiety and relief. With the end of summer comes the crispness of fall and the beginning of a new school year.

I remember growing up walking to and from school each day. Some days were definitely more fun than others but never did I have to worry about if I was going to get to school safely. The neighborhood I grew up in was older, not very busy, and had sidewalks. Whether I realized it or not, this round trip walk of 1.8 miles ensured that I got at least 30 minutes of physical exercise each school day. Rain or shine, wind or snow, it was a constant during those early years.

As a parent, I now see myself on the other side of this equation as I find myself constantly worrying about the safety of my kids. I also am struck with the realization of just how fortunate I was growing up in an area where sidewalks were along every road and crossing guards were at every major intersection. Now, one need only pay attention to the news to realize that these essentials for child safety are not found in every neighborhood.

The past few years the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association has worked with students from BYU to help students, parents, schools, and city officials to recognize the threats that exist in their communities. Their findings have been staggering – if not frightening.

Throughout this blog you will see pictures and stories from students and parents. These situations are real and they are found throughout our state. Cities and the Department of Transportation stretch limited resources as much as they can to try and fix these issues but the reality is that they need to hear from you.

As you prepare for the upcoming school year take the opportunity to walk the path that your children or grandchildren will soon be embarking upon. If there are problem areas, take the time to help your little ones know how to navigate around them. Document where these trouble areas are with photos. Next month we will be providing an opportunity to share these pictures, locations, and stories with your locally elected officials to help them to understand the issues. With your help, and working with the State’s Safe Routes to School Program, we will make a difference for the children around us and help create safer, more accessible neighborhoods for everyone to enjoy.

Some examples we have seen in our community include:

From missing crosswalks:

Missing Crossing Guards:

Missing or damaged sidewalks:

 

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My Experience Supporting CPR in Schools

Guest Blogger: Mattea Nicole Clarke, AHA Volunteer and Current College Student

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women—being responsible for every 1 in 4 deaths. This statistic hit much too close to home when my Grandmother, LaVerne Clarke, had her second major heart attack. After undergoing a quadruple bypass surgery and receiving a pacemaker, she decided to take her heart into her own hands by engaging in more physical activity and adapting healthy eating habits. Seeing the incredible changes in her energy, activity, and happiness, I knew Women’s Heart Health was a cause worth fighting for.

 

In February of 2016, my friend and fellow colleague, Julia Bortolazzo, and I teamed up to be the directors of UCLA Alpha Phi’s annual philanthropy—The Red Dress Gala. This event hosted 450 people who share our passion in supporting the Alpha Phi Foundation for Women’s Heart Health. Together, we raised approximately $40,000 at this event. This year Julia and I decided not only did we want to contribute at our national level, but also at our local community level. In order to accomplish this, we reached out to the American Heart Association team in Los Angeles and partnered with them where we became involved in their events, such as Go Red for Women, to help bring energy and advocacy toward their cause. Additionally, we decided that 25% of our proceeds from this year’s Red Dress Gala would be donated towards the American Heart’s initiative of passing policy to train all students Hands-Only CPR skills prior to high school graduation.

 

In donating roughly $10,000 to this campaign, we were able to supply Warner Elementary School with enough resources to train every student and faculty member Hands-Only CPR skills. Since 4 out of 5 sudden cardiac arrests outside of a hospital and only 10.4% of victims survive the event, we felt the need to play a role in helping secure resources for people of all ages to be informed and capable to react in the unfortunate case of a cardiac emergency.

 

At the state level we have an opportunity to take action and support AB 1719 (Rodriguez) and train all California students on Hands-Only CPR. With more hands becoming trained more hearts can be saved.  If you want to get involved, please contact Kula Koenig, Government Relations Director, today!

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