Ten Local Women Lead Effort to Fight No. 1 Killer – Heart Disease

For 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 Women of Impact because of their passion and dedication to effecting change in their communities. All funds raised by our Women of Impact support the Go Red for Women movement, a nationwide initiative aimed at increasing awareness and funding research on heart disease and stroke in women.

Meet our 2024 Women of Impact:

Zoe Corrigan

Zoe’s journey began with open heart surgery at just five days old, a response to an aneurysm on her aorta. Despite facing early challenges, Zoe has emerged as a steadfast advocate for heart health. She is passionate about raising awareness about heart health, supporting others in their resilience when facing similar adversity, and promoting the importance of maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. Get to know Zoe.

Shavini Fernando

Shavini’s personal journey as a severe Eisenmenger’s patient living with a congenital heart defect has fueled her commitment to sparing others from similar hardships she faced. Her mission is to contribute to a future where congenital heart defects are detected early and managed effectively. Get to know Shavini.

Estelle D. Jean, MD, FACC

Dr. Jean is a board-certified cardiologist with MedStar Health, specializing in women’s heart health and cardio-obstetrics. Her dedication to educating women on reducing cardiovascular risk during and after pregnancy stems from research showing adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, elevate the risk of heart disease later in life. Dr. Jean is committed to enlightening women about the pivotal role of healthier lifestyles in mitigating cardiovascular risk. Get to know Dr. Jean.

Krysta Jones

Krysta is on a mission to shine a light on healthcare disparities experienced by women, especially those in underrepresented communities. Her commitment extends beyond gender equality to racial equality in healthcare, aiming to address systemic injustices and promote access and quality care for all. 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 Krysta.

Crystal Mosser Anderson

Crystal’s commitment to the American Heart Association’s mission, particularly the Go Red for Women movement, is a heartfelt tribute to her late mother, who passed away unexpectedly from heart disease. Her personal motivation is to further the message of heart health awareness, emphasizing preventive measures and recognizing warning signs. Because losing even one woman to cardiovascular disease is one too many. Get to know Crystal.

Krysta Pearce LCSW, QMHP-A

In September 2021, Krysta underwent a pre-scheduled surgery, waking up two days later to the news her heart had stopped on the operating table, the result of a stress-induced cardiomyopathy, commonly referred to as broken heart syndrome. Krysta’s experience highlights the connection between mental and physical health. Throughout the campaign she hopes to encourage meaningful dialogue and raise awareness, inspiring others to prioritize mental health as a crucial aspect of their overall wellness journey. Get to know Krysta.

Chereace Richards

Research consistently shows a strong correlation between lower socioeconomic status and an increased risk of heart disease. As a Woman of Impact, Chereace is dedicated to advancing women’s heart health and addressing the diverse challenges that intersect with cardiovascular wellness, including social determinants of health (SDoH) such as socioeconomic status. Chereace is championing health equity because where someone lives, works, and plays should not limit their opportunity for a healthy life. Get to know Chereace.

Aimee Rodriguez-Zepeda

By 2030, heart failure cases are projected to reach almost 8 million, with 1 in 5 people in the United States facing this diagnosis. Aimee’s journey navigating heart failure has transformed her into a passionate advocate for women’s heart health. Her emphasis on symptom recognition, early detection, and dispelling online misinformation reflects her commitment to raising awareness and supporting others facing similar challenges. Get to know Aimee.

Delya Sommerville

Delya was on a morning run with her jogging club near the US Capitol when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately, she was found, and Capitol Police were alerted. Their response, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), saved her life. Each year, 436,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest, with over 350,000 occurring outside the hospital. Survival rates decrease by 10% every minute without CPR while waiting for emergency medical services. Delya’s story underscores the importance of knowing heart health indicators, AED awareness, and acquiring life-saving CPR skills. Get to know Delya.

Andrea Wongsam

At 35 and 13 weeks pregnant, Andrea suffered a heart attack, an event that fueled her commitment to raising awareness about cardiovascular health. Dismissing classic signs and attributing it to morning sickness, she reflects on her journey, emphasizing the role of education in recognizing the warning signs and symptoms. Her mission is to ensure every woman knows her risk, sparing others from similar hardships. Get to know Andrea.

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 Leaders of Impact. Email Anne.Pappas@Heart.org to learn more.