At an age when some kids were still learning to tie their shoes, Elizabeth (Liz) Elting was getting life lessons on gender equality.
"My parents taught me how important it was to take care of myself, to make sure I'm treated as well as men in my career and to never be financially dependent on anyone," she said. "They made sure to instill in me the vital skills and values that fueled my success and continue to be fundamental to who I am today: self-reliance, ambition, fortitude, grit, compassion and integrity."
Empowering women and girls continues to be a guiding principle for the New York-based philanthropist and businesswoman, who is the recipient of the American Heart Association's 2022 Woman Changing the World Award. She will be honored during the National Volunteer Awards virtual ceremony on June 28. This award is given annually to a leader in her field or community who drives "significant change and outcomes that help forward the mission of the AHA."
Elting has volunteered with the AHA for nearly a decade, serving as an Executive Leadership Team member, a chair for the New York City Go Red for Women movement and a board member for the AHA's New York City Division. She's currently a member of the National Go Red for Women Leadership Council and has personally invested over $1.8 million in support of Go Red for Women and community-based efforts.
"Thanks to the Go Red for Women movement, we're making progress in awareness and health equity when it comes to fighting heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer of women. But there's still much more work to be done," she said.
In the early '90s, after graduating from NYU's Stern School of Business, Elting co-founded the translation and language solutions company TransPerfect and helped transform it from a dorm-room startup into a multi-billion-dollar global business.
After leaving the company in 2018, she created the Elizabeth Elting Foundation to promote health, education and gender equality, especially for those from under-resourced populations.
In 2020, near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elting launched the Halo Fund, a multimillion-dollar effort to stabilize food, housing, health care and child care for people in need, especially women. She also made a major contribution in 2020 to help start the AHA's Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund to empower and sustain a talent pipeline that's uplifting communities, reducing physical and mental health disparities and finding new solutions to ensure all people live longer, healthier lives.
In New York City, the Tyson Fund invested in minority-owned, female-led organizations focusing on mental health, education and helping survivors of domestic violence.
"I know Bernard J. Tyson was a huge believer in helping underserved communities, so it's exciting to see these wonderful women and minority entrepreneurs doing such terrific work and really making a difference," she said.
Elting vowed to continue to help break down barriers for people from all walks of life.
"Everyone deserves the same health care, nutrition, education and housing opportunities, no matter what ZIP code they grow up in," she said. "I'm delighted to partner with the AHA to help eradicate these disparities and reduce heart disease in all communities."
Elting has been actively involved in STEM Goes Red, an AHA program that encourages young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She said she was thrilled to help establish a collaboration between STEM Goes RED and GLAM (Girls Learning Advanced Math), a similar group for which she serves on the board of directors.
When it comes to career opportunities and advancement for women, there's still a lot of room for improvement, she said.
"There have been many long-overdue changes in the last few years, but we need more progress. Equal pay for women is one critical issue. But we also need more women in senior leadership positions, more women CEOs and more women on boards, including those in Fortune 1000 companies."
And as that gradually happens, Elting hopes to see more businesswomen volunteering and supporting the AHA and other nonprofit groups that are dedicated to equality in health care and the workplace.
"I feel incredibly fortunate to be involved in causes that are near and dear to my heart," she said.
"I really love helping to bridge the gaps in resources to reduce heart disease and save people's lives."