Boston executive named to leadership role for Heart Challenge

Like many people, Shaun Real has long known that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

But it wasn’t until he started volunteering for the American Heart Association two years ago that he began to understand just how close the disease hit to home.

A friend or a colleague would write him a note, thanking him for his work with the Association, and sharing how the disease had impacted them or their family. Shaun heard stories about parents’ lives taken too soon; friends working to adopt healthier habits after a warning from a doctor; children living with a congenital heart defect.

“I’ve found out a lot about people, stuff I never knew,” said Shaun, a partner at EY’s Boston office. “In some way, shape or form, nearly everyone I know has been impacted by cardiovascular disease.”

Shaun began volunteering for the American Heart Association in 2019 when he joined the Executive Leadership Team of the Boston Heart Challenge. This year, he stepped into a new leadership role as the chairperson of the Heart Challenge campaign, which kicks off next week with the Boston Heart Walk.

In this role, Shaun is charged with helping to raise funds to support the mission of the American Heart Association. In Boston, controlling hypertension and increasing access to healthy food are among the priority issues supporting the Association’s 2024 Health Equity Impact Goal, reducing barriers to health care access and quality.

“We’re trying to get as many people involved and raise as much money as we possibly can to ensure that more cardiovascular research is funded, more hospitals administer the highest standards of care and that fewer people become a statistic,” said Shaun.

The American Heart Association’s Heart Challenge is a suite of activities and initiatives designed to help companies positively impact employee overall health and well-being. The program is anchored in a series of customizable workplace events that inspires employees to be more engaged, reconnect with colleagues, get in their physical activity, support a great cause and have a lot of fun doing it.

In Boston, the Heart Challenge includes the Boston Heart Walk, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30. This year’s theme, Heart Walk Here, invites participants to create a path of their own. From park and parkways to tucked away trails, participants can Heart Walk at any location that inspires their heart health.

Shaun is joined by other likeminded area executives on the Heart Challenge Executive Leadership Team:

  • Keith Linhart, partner, CrossCountry Consulting
  • Brian Williamson, partner, PwC
  • John Keaney, chief, cardiovascular medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Keith Slattery, global head of operations and solutions, JPMorgan Chase
  • Ken Starr, head of product operations, ICE Data Services
  • Dana Martin, senior vice president, medical affairs and patient advocacy, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals
  • Linda Lennox, vice president, corporate communications, and chief of staff, Lantheus

“We are grateful for the support from our community and look forward to seeing how everyone joins us and makes the Heart Walk their own unique experience on October 30,” said Shaun.

Shaun started his career at EY in 1987. In addition to his involvement with the American Heart Association, he serves on the Board of Directors for the New England Council. He is also a director emeritus of the Expect Miracles Foundation and has served on the local community boards of the Milton-Hoosic Club and Canton Youth Hockey.

A 1987 graduate of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, Shaun lives in Canton with his wife Cara, and their two sons, John, 25, and Matthew, 21.

To learn more about engaging your workforce in Heart Challenge events, or to join Shaun and other area executives, visit or contact Robin Maxcy at for more information.