Hi -- I'm Megan Klein from Austin, Texas, and I've been the new Senior Grassroots Director for the SouthWest Affiliate for three months now. Vanessa Fuentes (who you probably know from action alert emails) has been promoted, so she's still around, but you'll be hearing more from me now.
I'm excited to join the AHA for many reasons. After working for many years in the political sphere, it's a breath of fresh air to spend my days advocating for heart-healthy policies and engaging volunteers for a nonpartisan cause. At the AHA, we're often asked about our "Why," and mine is my Uncle Jeff.
You probably remember a few months ago when Jimmy Kimmel was all over the news and social media because of his heartfelt story about his son who suffered from a congenital heart defect (CHD) and made a plea for a strong health care system that would cover people with pre-existing conditions. The CHD is called Tetralogy of Fallot and is a few different problems dealing with a hole in the heart and complications surrounding it. My Uncle Jeff, my dad's youngest brother, died in his teens from complications from Tetralogy of Fallot before I was born. My grandparents have told me lots of stories about him, including how he was home-schooled because he was too sick to go to regular school.
I think of Uncle Jeff every day when I walk in to the office and when I write emails to volunteers urging them to take action on one of our policy priorities. It makes me proud to work for an organization that's truly making a difference when it comes to cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention - and I know it makes my family proud. My grandpa may have shed a few tears when I told him I got the job.
As part of my job managing grassroots outreach in Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, I'll be attending events like heart walks, public hearings and lobby days. I'll be emailing you to ask you to come help us collect signatures on cards to legislators and maybe even speak with your lawmaker. I'm looking forward to meeting in your state. Please introduce yourself when you see me at an event - I'll be in Arkansas and Colorado in August!
Right now we're gearing up for the Austin Heart Walk in October. I'd invite you to join my team called Pkaye's Passion, in honor of one of our top advocates in Texas, Pkaye Washington, who we lost a few weeks ago. Anyone can join - no matter where you live or whether or not you can actually walk with us in Austin. You can also make a contribution, if you'd like. Pkaye and I spent a day at the Capitol when I was just a few weeks into the job, and getting to know her and hearing her story was such a great first impression of the AHA and our advocates. She spoke with heart and passion about her family history of heart disease, and she was a force in the community advocating for people to live healthy lives. She will be missed.
So thank you for what you do and what you will do. I know we have amazing advocates across the SouthWest Affiliate who are doing great things in your communities, and I can't wait to meet you. I'll see you at an AHA event soon!