Albany Med CEO to chair Heart Ball

Albany Med CEO to chair Heart Ball

Dennis P. McKenna, M.D.

 Some 244,000 Capital Region residents have high blood pressure, and many cope with nutrition insecurity and continue to smoke, placing them at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. Too often, health inequities create the conditions that put people at this greater risk. Many of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke also increase people’s chances of contracting COVID-19 or having a poor outcome.

The Heart of the Capital Region Heart Ball is working to change that. Set for Saturday, Feb. 12, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Albany Capital Center, Dennis P. McKenna, M.D., President and CEO of Albany Med, is leading the campaign to build a legacy that will help reduce some of the health disparities in our community 

“Throughout the pandemic, we have encouraged patients to continue to focus on their health and well-being and not to delay medical care,” Dr. McKenna said. “Albany Med is proud to collaborate with the American Heart Association as we work together to improve the health of every member of our community. I am especially proud to serve as chair of the Heart Ball and to assist the American Heart Association to continue to address the social determinants of health that stand in the way of people living full and healthy lives.”

The Heart Ball will honor James J. Barba, president emeritus of Albany Med, with the American Heart Association’s Moving our Mission award. 

“During his time at Albany Med, Mr. Barba supported the American Heart Association in many ways – financially, by embracing our in-hospital quality program, Get with the Guidelines; by having Albany Med experts engage with the American Heart Association; and working with us on community programs,” said Jennifer Corcoran Conway, partner at Tully Rinckey and chair of the Capital Region Board of Directors of the American Heart Association.  “He has left a powerful legacy in the Capital Region, and we are honored to have benefitted from his time with us.”

“Albany Med’s ‘Life is Why’ collaboration with the American Heart Association began under Mr. Barba’s thoughtful leadership and we are proud to continue his vision in support of the Heart Association’s critical mission,” Dr. McKenna said.

Dr. Lewis W. Britton III, who retired from his role as chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Albany Med at the end of 2021, will receive this year’s Donald Led Duke Heart Hero award at the Heart Ball. Named for the founder of BBL Construction, the annual award honors someone who has made a significant impact on the lives of Capital Region residents.  

“Dr. Britton is a true heart hero to countless patients throughout our region and their loved ones. It is fitting that he be recognized with the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero award following his much-deserved retirement. We are grateful to the American Heart Association for recognizing his life-saving work, much of which was made possible in part through the American Heart Association’s important research,” Dr. McKenna said.

Dr. McKenna is joined by an executive leadership team to help him reach the Heart Ball’s goal of raising $500,000. That team comprises:

  • John Bennett, M.D., president and CEO of CDPHP
  • Michael Castellana, president and CEO of SEFCU
  • Peter Connolly, general manager, The Mercedes-Benz Center at Keeler Motor Car Company
  • David Cornell, director, Merrill Market Executive/Bank of America Market President,
    Bank of America
  • Robert Cushing, Retired, Trustco Bank
  • James R. Kellerhouse, Vice President for Philanthropy & Chief Development Officer,
    Albany Med
  • Joe Nicolla, president, Columbia Development
  • John Nigro, President, Nigro Companies
  • Daniel T. Pickett III, Co-Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer, aptihealth
  • Peter Semenza, Vice President of Philanthropy, Peter’s Health Partners

“I’m proud to have this team stand beside me as we support the American Heart Association at The Heart of the Capital Region Heart Ball on February 12,” Dr. McKenna said.

As president and CEO of the Albany Med Health System, Dr. McKenna oversees Albany Med’s hospital system of more than 100 locations in 25 counties; Albany Medical College; a workforce of more than 9,300; and a physicians group of 500. He is an emergency department physician who joined Albany Med in 2000, where he also served as medical director of the emergency department, of the hospital and was president of the Albany Med Faculty Physician Group.

Dr. McKenna spent 20 years in the military, which included tours of combat duty in the Middle East and Africa. He retired as a Navy Captain.

Dr. McKenna graduated from Christian Brothers Academy, Cornell University and Albany Medical College. Board certified in emergency medicine; he continues to work as an attending physician. He has been a medical volunteer at the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne and serves on their board of directors.

About the Capital Region Heart of the Capital Region Heart Ball 

The Heart of the Capital Region Heart Ball is Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Albany Capital Center, 55 Eagle St., Albany. Dennis P. McKenna, M.D., President and CEO of Albany Med, is the chair of the event. James Barba, President Emeritus of Albany Med, will receive the “Moving Our Mission” award. Lewis W. Britton III, M.D., of Albany Med, will receive the Donald Led Duke Heart Hero Award. Liz Bishop of CBS 6 Albany will emcee. Albany Med is the Life is Why sponsor. Local sponsors include SEFCU, Nigro Companies, CDPHP, BBL Construction, St. Peter’s Health Partners, and Ellis Medicine. Media sponsors are B95.5, CBS 6 and the Times Union. For information, visit


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