ALBANY, N.Y. – From 1985 to 1995, Joan Clifford worked for the American Heart Association, setting up an employee wellness program called “Heart At Work,” and a program that brought health programming to area churches called “Community at Heart.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Clifford, now Director of Alumni Relations at Russell Sage College, and executive director of the Russell Sage Alumni Association, will return to her roots when she chairs CycleNation, set for 4 to 8 p.m. at the Armory at Russell Sage College. CycleNation is a relay-style, stationary cycling event that raises awareness about, and the funds to fight, stroke, the nation’s No. 5 killer.
“I’ve participated in past CycleNations,” Clifford said. “It’s a great event, and it has a lot of potential for growth.”
Clifford is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region, and a longtime supporter of the organization.
“My family has a history of heart disease,” Clifford said. “I’ve seen firsthand the benefit of the fundraising and sponsorship that the American Heart Association does.”
Her family history means that Clifford pays close attention to her health, and shares that message with other.
“My degree was in health education, and I’ve always been physically active,” the Russell Sage graduate said. “I can’t change my genes, but I can change my lifestyle. If we all ate right, exercised and managed stress, we’d all be happier.”
Clifford also sees the in-person CycleNation as a way for people to come back together as COVID restrictions ease.
“COVID really isolated us, and we haven’t been physically active,” she said. “CycleNation is a chance to come together again. It’s a fun event, and rallying around the goal of raising funds to support the American Heart Association brings people together. It builds camaraderie with your coworkers, friends and family.”
Clifford is also proud of the ways that Russell Sage College supports the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Faculty and students wear red, and the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Center on campus is illuminated red on Wear Red Day. The college is regularly recognized as a healthy employer by the Heart Association, and Sage’s nutrition students work with the BetterU, a 12-week heart-health improvement program that is part of the Go Red for Women movement.
“Social engagement is really important to the Sage community, and this is a great opportunity for us to come together to support the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association,” Clifford said.
Clifford also worked at the American Diabetes Association, and began her working life as a teacher.
“Joan has always been an important part of CycleNation, bringing her enthusiasm for the event and passion for the American Heart Association together at it,” said Kaweeda Adams, superintendent in the City School District of Albany, and chair of the Capital Region Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. “I know this year’s campaign will be a good one with Joan in the lead.”
“This is a fun event, and people can cycle for as little as 15 minutes or as long as two hours,” Clifford said. “When you think about the number of people affected by heart disease and stroke, and the fact that stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans, that makes this a really worthwhile event. I encourage everyone to come join us to improve those statistics.”
Joining Clifford in supporting CycleNation is an executive leadership team whose members include:
Jack Bevilacqua, Infinity Med
Mark Duffy, SEFCU, a division of Broadview Federal Credit Union
Robyn Kaminski, Albany Medical Center, a member of Albany Med Health System
Susan LaFond, NYSUT
Cassandra Moore, Glens Falls Hospital
To register for CycleNation, visit cyclenation.org/capitalregionny or contact [email protected].