Penn Medicine Cardiologist is Honored with American Heart Association Top Award: 2023 Edward S. Cooper, MD Award

The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting cardiovascular diseases, announces Paul J. Mather, MD, as the 2023 recipient of the Edward. S. Cooper, MD Award. The award … Read more

Listening to Our Community to Advance Equitable Health for All

“It is critical” – said Kofi Essel, from Children’s National Hospital when talking about food

The American Heart Association convened a virtual listening session with critical community partners.


“We need to reevaluate how we’re creating solutions” – said Kristy McCarron from the Metropolitan YMCA when talking about food security as well.

“We need to collaborate with other community organizations to make a change” – said Domonique Panton, from the Children’s National Health System when also talking about this topic.

These were some of the comments that we heard during the first of several focus group with key stakeholders to evaluate and receive feedback in order to create a 2020 Community health assessment. This assessment will serve to provide information about the community and what different stakeholders feel like are areas the organization should focus on. By providing that information, the American Heart Association will be able to focus their activities and efforts based on what the community thinks is important.

The American Heart Association cares about the community and wants to shape programming designed to improve the health and wellbeing of all members of the Greater Washington Region community. In September, the Association convened a community partners via Zoom to listen to input about different health priorities like tobacco cessation, food access, chronic disease prevention, women’s health and more. The first meeting was comprised of members from the FLiP initiative, which stands for Family Lifestyle Program, a DC-focused, clinical-community initiative that connects families to nutrition, physical activity, and community resources to support and maintain their health and wellbeing.  FLiP members represent a variety of organizations including Children’s National Health System, the Metropolitan YMCA, the Nationals Baseball Academy, and the American Heart Association. The foundation of all the member organizations core mission is the critical need to sustainable health for our community.

Valuable insight was shared that will help to shape priorities and create the action plan around programming for the American Heart Association in the Greater Washington Region. The group created a productive environment where participants felt able to share their opinions and observations about the health equity work, and how the American Heart Association can continue to serve the community.

This focus group was one of several online meetings to be held to gather information from a variety of stakeholders. We look forward to our future listening sessions to gain a greater understanding of the real barriers people across the DC metro region face that prevents them from achieving better health and wellbeing.

If you are interested, in learning more about joining a virtual stakeholder feedback session to learn about our overall priorities and share your insights on where we should focus our efforts, locally, to have the greatest impact please contact Erica McIntyre at  We see these discussions as a first step towards a new period of collaboration and an opportunity.

Contributed by: Jeffrey Fraatz, Health Strategies Intern, American Heart Association