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Meet Kari Rinker: Kansas's Government Relations Director

Greetings, my fellow Kansans! I am your Government Relations Director.

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hero_image_alt_text===Kari Rinker
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Since starting with the American Heart Association at the end of the summer, I’ve been learning the ins and the outs of our important and vast mission to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives.  So, my introduction is overdue! I’ve spent more than a decade advocating for women’s health care access and for people living with serious illness.  As heart disease is the number one killer of women and a leading cause of disability, my experience is well suited to this new chapter in my professional journey. 

At the start of the 2020 Kansas Legislative session, I enjoyed starting a new year advocating “under the dome” in Topeka for heart and stroke awareness.  February followed quickly with celebrating Heart Month, which included talking Governor Kelly into doing a video for Wear Red Day! Entering into March, I continued my work educating legislators about the harms of vaping and tobacco use, advocating against non-comprehensive junk insurance and adding the AHA voice to the chorus of other Kansas advocates in support of KanCare Expansion (Medicaid). Now it’s April, and I’m working from home learning more than I ever wanted to know about COVID-19, including the disparate impact on certain racial and ethnic groups and how the virus specifically affects the heart. 

I’m thankful for my family’s health during this time. Despite my oldest daughter’s college classes being moved online, and my twin daughters missing their 8th grade graduation and the District All Star Basketball game and more generally, the companionship of their friends…we are well.  My house is large enough, my husband and I have space to work, and this new “safe at home” life is just the motivation we needed to do something with a long-ignored yard and tend to our flock of urban chickens.

I hope each of you are staying safe, eating healthy, getting a dose of sunshine and fresh air, while keeping as active as you are able. I look forward to meeting some of you when we make it to the other side of this health crisis and invite you to join me in Topeka in the years ahead.

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