Heart Challenge Leadership Announced in the Greater Washington Region

The American Heart Association program supports the overall health and well-being of the workforce

Cynthia Cifuentes, 2022 Heart Challenge co-chair and vice president of Brand, Communications and Community Engagement at Kaiser Permanente

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on ensuring longer, healthier lives for all, has named Cynthia Cifuentes, Vice President of Brand, Communications and Community Engagement at Kaiser Permanente, and Dr. Ameya Kulkarni, an interventional cardiologist and the lead for cardiology and cardiovascular surgery at Kaiser Permanente, as co-chairs for the 2022 Heart Challenge. The campaign will culminate in the Heart Walk, a celebration of life held on November 5 at the National Mall in Washington, DC.

This is the second year for Cifuentes as the lead for the Heart Challenge and the first for Dr. Kulkarni. “I look forward to building on last year’s Heart Walk success to help support vital cardiovascular research and ensure that everyone in our community receives the best possible care. By working together, we can create an equitable future where fewer people are lost to heart disease and stroke,” said Cifuentes. “With every step we take we are building a legacy that will save and improve lives.”

“As a cardiologist, the mission of the American Heart Association is foundational to my work,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “I am excited to be a part of a campaign that gets people active and raises funds that could lead to the next breakthrough in the treatment and prevention of heart attacks and strokes.”

The Greater Washington Heart Walk is the signature event of the American Heart Association’s Heart Challenge program which is designed to help companies positively impact employee overall health and wellbeing. The program is anchored in a series of customizable workplace events that inspire 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. Cifuentes and Dr. Kulkarni will be joined by other like-minded city executives working to increase physical and mental health, combat burnout, and promote community

Dr. Ameya Kulkarni, 2022 Heart Challenge co-chair and interventional cardiologist and the lead for cardiology and cardiovascular surgery at Kaiser Permanente,

engagement. The executive committee members include:

  • Owen Billman, Blake Real Estate
  • Linda Gooden. Gooden LLC
  • Tom O’Donohoe, Digital Realty
  • Mike Pittsman, DAVIS Construction
  • Vicki Schmanske, Leidos
  • Sarah Roberts, Leidos
  • Cedric Sims, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Vishal Tulsian, SAIC
  • Caroline Whittington, KPMG
  • Diane Zanetti, Capital One

The Heart Walk annually brings together thousands of people to fundraise and walk for the American Heart Association. Participants can join the fun among the monuments on the National Mall for a 1- or 3-mile walk, pay tribute to loved ones, enjoy music and fitness demos, and take part in the not-to-miss pet parade! Another way to support the cause is by walking wherever one finds inspiration, donating, and sharing on social media using #DCHeartWalk.

The funds raised from the Heart Walk go towards the American Heart Association’s work as a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. The research the Association funds through the generosity of donors is helping more and more people survive heart disease and stroke.  Locally, through advocacy and programs, the organization is working to ensure more opportunities for a healthy life.  The Association helped pass legislation that stopped the sale of flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes and menthol in Washington, DC in addition to CPR in Schools legislation in Maryland, Virginia, and DC that ensures every high school student learns to save a life with CPR before they graduate. That’s an additional 154,000 new life-savers graduating annually. Last year, the Association increased community access to healthy and affordable food through collaborative efforts and provided over 7,600 patients, students, and families in need with food. At the 2021 Greater Washington Region Heart Walk, 117 companies, 446 teams, and thousands of walkers raised over $1.8 million.

The Greater Washington Heart Walk is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Sheehy Auto Stores, Blake Real Estate, Capital One, KPMG, Leidos, Peraton, SAIC, Carefirst, Booz Allen Hamilton, Digital Realty, Nestle USA, and RSI. Media sponsors include the Washington Informer.

Get involved today as a sponsor or participant by contacting esgwrheartwalk@heart.org or visiting GreaterWashingtonHeartWalk.org.