We’re excited to announce that AHA's Kentucky Government Relations Director, Shannon Smith, is now the new Vice President for Field Advocacy for the Midwest Region.
Shannon came to the American Heart Association as the Director of Government Relations in Kentucky in 2018. She was promoted to a Regional Team Lead of Government Relations in 2021, which added responsibility for supporting staff in both Ohio and Michigan as well.
Shannon has focused on working in collaboration with both staff and volunteer partners to successfully advance 24 policy campaigns in Kentucky in high priority areas. Some of these successes were the first in the nation, including legislation that ensures new and renovated schools in Kentucky provided access to water bottle filling stations, telehealth coverage for all Kentucky Medicaid recipients, comprehensive early care and education standards, as well as legislation that ensures Kentucky's heart and stroke patients get to the right hospital in time to receive the care they need to return home to their loved ones.
Shannon has also worked with AHA's federal team on a Congressional Act to increase National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funding for the research in valvular disease in support of an effort by Congressman Andy Barr following the death of his wife, Carol Barr, who passed away in 2020 from mitro-valve prolapse. Shannon was also instrumental in creating the Carol Barr Fund to support the most meritorious research in Mitral Valve Prolapse and to encourage more women to pursue STEM Careers. In addition, Shannon has been awarded the Kentucky 2020, 2021, and 2022 Notable Women in Politics for her leadership in government relations in the state.
Prior to her time at the AHA, Shannon was a contract lobbyist for 14 years for Bird Consulting Group. In this role, she provided contract lobbying support for over 35 nonprofit clients, including Centene, Necco, Amteck, Chess Solutions, Child Care Council, Little Elks, Gateway Children’s Services, Lotts Creek Community School, Christian Appalachian Project, and Community Ventures. During this time, she worked to advance her clients’ legislative and fiscal interests in the Kentucky legislature, with a particular focus in public health, health and family services, education, justice, economic development, clean energy, and healthcare policy. She was also responsible for fundraising activities and events for her clients.
Shannon also contributes to her community outside of the AHA. She was appointed by the Governor to serve on the State Board for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and is co-founder of FEED – Fayette Eating, Education and Delivery Backpack Program, a non-profit extending financial resources/volunteer support to Fayette County Public Schools, providing weekend bags of food to children in need. Shannon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Biology from the University of Pikeville. Shannon resides on their farm in Nicholasville, KY with her husband, Seth, and daughters, Alexandra, and Adelynn. As a family they spend their time riding horses, gardening, hiking, and enjoying all things outdoors.
We look forward to continuing to work to create healthier communities across the Midwest under Shannon’s leadership. Congratulations, Shannon!