Eight local changemakers accept nominations to be Leaders of Impact in the Greater Washington Region

WASHINGTON, DC, October 6, 2023 — For nearly 100 years, the American Heart Association has made bold moves to save lives and pioneer scientific discoveries. We haven’t done it alone.

Every year across the country, a select group of individuals are nominated to be a part of Leaders of Impact because of their passion and drive to make a difference. All funds raised by our Leaders of Impact go to support lifesaving efforts made possible by the Heart of Greater Washington Campaign. Culminating with the Greater Washington Region Heart Ball on Saturday, March 2, 2024, we are celebrating life, driving forward scientific research and forging ahead into our second century of sustainable change and lifesaving impact.

Meet our 2023 Leaders of Impact:

Barbara Azzinaro

For Barbara, the mission of the American Heart Association and opportunity to save and improve lives as a Leader of Impact hit close to home. In 1995, she lost her infant son, David, to a congenital heart defect, and in the same five-year period, she lost both of her parents, Blanche & Irv Cohen, to stroke and heart disease. She’s dedicating her efforts as a Leader of Impact to her daughters Sarah and Rachel, the memory of her loved ones, and her husband Lew, who survived a heart attack in 2016 thanks to medical advancements made possible by the Association. Get to know Barbara.

Felicia Brewster-Bradshaw

Felicia is passionate about how her role as a Leader of Impact supports the Association’s commitment to advancing health equity. In the U.S., 50 million people face a higher risk of heart disease because they lack the most basic needs – healthy food, clean air and drinking water, quality education, employment and housing. We’re committed to breaking down barriers to health through our work in communities, scientific research and advocating for healthy public policies. Get to know Felicia.

Lois Cook

As a professional athlete with the D.C. Divas, Lois knows how the heart, mind and body are connected. Through the Leaders of Impact campaign, she’s inspiring our community to take care of their hearts by moving more, eating a healthy diet, prioritizing mental well-being and more. The funds she’s raising will help to break down barriers to health equity and ensure that all people have the chance for a longer, healthier life. Get to know Lois.

Jacqueline Costell

In the early hours of Saturday, January 16, 2021, Jacqueline lost her brother Kurt Walter Rieschick, Jr. to a sudden cardiac arrest at just 50 years old. Each year, 350,000 people experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, about 70% of which happen in homes. Early CPR from a bystander and access to an automated external defibrillator (AED) can more than double a person’s chance of survival. As a Leader of Impact, Jacqueline is fundraising in Kurt’s memory and honoring his loving spirit by raising awareness of CPR and AED education. Get to know Jacqueline.

Margie Halem

In so many ways, heart health is rooted in our homes – from the meals we share at the dinner table to creating a sacred space for sleep. As a Leader of Impact and Relator, Margie is championing health equity because where someone lives, works and plays should not limit their opportunity for a healthy life. Get to know Margie.

L. KeShawn Harris

Each year, 40,000 babies are born in the U.S. with a congenital heart defect. KeShawn’s passion for making a difference as a Leader of Impact is fueled by his personal experience growing up with a heart murmur and a desire to create a lasting impact on our community’s health. Get to know KeShawn.

Jude Maboné – Miss District of Columbia

As Miss DC, part of the Miss America organization and a six-time heart attack survivor, Jude is an advocate for healthy hearts and has worked for over a decade to dismantle the stigma surrounding heart disease. Despite many advances, cardiovascular disease remains the No.1 killer of women, claiming one in every three lives. Women are more likely to die from a heart attack, present symptoms that often go unnoticed, and are less likely to receive CPR when they experience a cardiac arrest. These are not just statistics; they’re a battle Jude fought and continues to fight each day and her reason for signing on as a Leader of Impact. Get to know Jude.

Donnese Tyler

Donnese was attending the Mother’s Club meeting at her sons’ school when she felt an unusual pain in her chest and lightheadedness. Initially writing her symptoms off as acid reflux, she was reluctant to go to the hospital but went under the advice of her fellow mothers. There, Donnese learned she had experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), which caused a heart attack. As a Leader of Impact, she’s passionate about sharing her story to raise awareness of heart attack warning signs and wants to shape the health of our community through bold action. Get to know Donnese.

Are you ready to make an impact? We’re looking for passionate changemakers committed to transforming the health of our region and are actively seeking nominations for Women of Impact and Teen of Impact. Email Anne.Pappas@Heart.org or visit Heart.org/DCLeaders to learn more.


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries:

Rachel Stevenson: Rachel.Stevenson@Heart.org

Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org


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