|Ashley Christensen, Heart Ball Director|
I love my job, which I find is not always the case with most people. Every day I get to help people I care about, people I haven’t met yet and people I may never meet. The idea that what I do actually saves lives is an amazing feeling and something I never thought I could do. My Grandpa had his first heart attack at the age of 55 and found himself in and out of the hospital from heart attacks and strokes the next 25 years. Because of the American Heart Association, I had my loving Grandpa in my life for another quarter century. When my cousin Kael was born, he was premature and unable to breathe and play outside like his twin brother. He had an open heart valve that made it nearly impossible for him to do anything but sit inside – not easy for a little boy. The summer of 2010, 4-year-old Kael was able to have a fairly simple procedure to repair his valve. Now he can run and play with his brother. Everyone has their own reasons for working here, but for me, I am thankful and excited to be a part of helping to save mine and others’ loved ones each and every day.
|Pamela Miller, Grassroots Advocacy Director|
I am excited to be working for the American Heart Association because of the prevalence of heart disease and other heart-related health issues. Sadly, I lost my grandfather to heart disease and both of my parents have concerns related to heart health. As a new employee, I look forward to being an advocate for making healthy lifestyle choices and education related to heart disease and stroke prevention.
|Melanie Wilgenbusch, Regional Vice President – Youth Market|
I have been with the American Heart Association for 13 years and have been a Regional Vice President for Youth Market for nine of them. I currently supervise a team of six directors in Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa. I am most passionate about my job as a supervisor because I am able to acknowledge the potential of others. Being able to watch a staff person learn and grow within this passionate field is very rewarding. Coaching, training and encouraging our team is a celebration each week. I also enjoy working with PE teachers that are making a difference in children’s lives by being proactive with childhood obesity. I hear so many passionate stories each year about heart survivors, that it makes me enjoy my job even more. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, golf, water sports, working out, reading and spending time with my husband, friends and family.
|Terri Taute, Development Associate|
My “desk job” is so much more than that. For more than 23 years I have been a part of the American Heart Association team. I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many of the individuals and families whose lives have been touched in some way by our work - children who have undergone open heart surgery, stroke survivors leading full lives, those saved by CPR and the heroes who saved them, and even the families who have lost a loved one and need our work to continue. And so for them, it helps to know that my small piece of the puzzle completes the big picture of why we do what we do – “building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke” – and that’s no normal desk job.
|Brent Jensen, Youth Market Director|
I am very fortunate to be a part of the American Heart Association team and do my part to impact people’s lives for the better. I have always been passionate about educating others on the importance of a healthy lifestyle while providing them with the resources needed to accomplish their goals. As a Youth Market Director, I am able to impact the lives of school-age students. I feel that if I can show them that a healthy lifestyle can be easily attained, they will continue to carry that mindset through adulthood, making them less prone to heart disease and stroke..
|Rick McHugh, Manager of Affiliate Technology Services, Midwest Affiliate|
More than 30 years ago, I was fresh out of the military, not knowing what to do next. While scanning the want ads in the local paper (yes paper, no internet) I found an opening at the American Heart Association. I put my name in and was hired. Fate caused me to pick up the paper that day. My father passed way at the age of 22 of an enlarged heart. I was only 2 at the time. When I saw the opening, I thought working for the American Heart Association would be a great way to understand what happened to my father, but also help, in some way, other 2-year-olds grow up with their dads. The surgery that did not save my father’s life can now be done as an out-patient procedure. Every day I feel a connection with my father and that is one of many reasons I continue working here. It has been a great 30 years.
|Brian Krannawitter, Advocacy Director|
I am very proud to be part of the American Heart Association team. My first experience with the organization was as a volunteer when I was 19-years-old. My fraternity’s philanthropic event raised funds for the American Heart Association. Little did I know then that I would work for the American Heart Association several years later. Like so many others, heart disease and stroke have impacted my family. My grandpa died of a heart attack before I was born and my grandmother died of a stroke before she had a chance to see and hold her new grandson. Since I’ve begun working for the American Heart Association I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet a number of amazing survivors and their families. These folks are my heroes and provide me with inspiration to get up every day and do my part to help reduce cardiovascular disease.