The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives relies on a core of people who are willing to give their time and energy to help enhance the quality of their communities. Recently the Eastern States region of the American Heart Association announced the honorees of the 2020 Volunteer Awards. These awards were presented to volunteers including survivors, members of local boards and committee members who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the cause. These awards were presented in recognition of extraordinary collaborative achievement to meet the Association’s goals. Four of those awardees are right here in the Greater Washington Region.
“Our volunteers are truly the lifeforce of the American Heart Association,” said Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the American Heart Association. “I am so proud to work alongside these four honorees. Their dedication and relentless focus on building a world of longer, healthier lives is so inspirational.”
The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has recently contributed significantly to the success of the Eastern States region or its divisions. This award went to Owen Billman, President of Blake Real Estate. Billman has been committed to the Heart Walk and health of the community. He joined the board in 2018 and in 2019 accepted the role of chairing the Greater Washington Region Heart Walk that led the event to raise $2.3M. He helped steward a transformative gift of $1.5M from longtime Heart Ball supporters, the Bender Foundation, to continue their legacy of commitment to the health of the Greater Washington Region. This gift addresses critical needs in the DC metro community for combating heart disease and stroke to promote healthier lives for all. Owen has also been named the incoming Chair-Elect for the Greater Washington Region Board of Directors.
The Leadership Legacy Award recognizes volunteers for exceptional service and contributions to the Eastern States region over a significant period of time, at any level of the organization. The congratulations go to Linda Gooden, an exceptional volunteer leader who has dedicated her business acumen to impact the organization on a national scale by serving on the AHA’s National Board of Directors. Locally, Gooden has Chaired the Greater Washington Region Board of Directors and served as Leadership Development Chair. She has championed the AHA and engaged many new companies, board members, sponsors and fundraisers and event chairs. Gooden herself has also Chaired the Heart Walk and annually participates in local events including the Heart Ball and Heart’s Delight in addition to the Walk.
The Corporate Leadership Award recognizes companies that demonstrate exemplary support of, and
involvement with, the mission of the AHA over a period of five years or more through their involvement in funding the mission, education and awareness, volunteer leadership, employee engagement, equitable health, and health messaging. Congratulations go to Perspecta along with Chairman and CEO Mac Curtis and the many teams that engaged around AHA’s lifesaving mission. Curtis chaired the Heart Walk in 2015 and achieved $2M for the first time. This past February, Mac and his wife Cindy chaired the Heart Ball and hit a home run with a sports-theme gala raising over $1.4M. The Perspecta team regularly incorporates healthy messaging for their employees and participates in National Wear Red Day, the Move More Step Challenge, CPR awareness and demonstrations, World Stroke Day, and National Eating Healthy Day.
The Health Equity Leadership Award recognizes volunteers whose leadership and efforts have
reinforced the AHA’s commitment to achieving maximum impact in equitable health and wellbeing and addressing social influencers of health to advance health outcomes with a strong commitment to health equity, diversity and inclusion. The AHA congratulates cardiologist Dr. Reginald Robinson from MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Robinson has been involved with the AHA for over 18 years in numerous capacities including serving as President of the Greater Washington Region Board, member of the Greater Washington Region’s Mission Committee, member of the former Mid-Atlantic Affiliate Board of Directors, and current member and President-Elect of the Eastern States Board. As a cardiologist Dr. Robinson has dedicated his life’s work to being a spokesperson for diversity and health equity. Locally, he has stewarded key volunteer leaders, keynoted at a variety of events, taken part in media opportunities and community impact events.
Elizabeth Akinsoji was also a recipient of the Health Equity Community Award. Akinsoji was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in February of 2019 when she signed up for a research study for where they were studying diabetes and heart disease among people born in Africa. She is also a dual MD/MPH candidate working on her residency in Neurology. Upon learning of her condition she made lifestyle changes and made it her mission to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in her community. She became an advocate and volunteer with the American Heart Association. Throughout the last year and a half, she participated in countless events and health fairs across the region prior to the pandemic. She also launched a successful personal fundraising campaign in support of the AHA Greater Washington Region.
To learn more about the work of the local American Heart Association and volunteer opportunities visit www.heart.org/greaterwashington