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Association Honors Top Volunteers, Staff Member at Washington, D.C. Meeting

DALLAS, April 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Heart Association recognized several distinguished volunteers and an employee on April 28 during its 2008 "You're The Cure on the Hill Awards Luncheon" and "Gold Heart Awards Banquet" in Washington, D.C.

The association presented its Gold Heart Award to Coletta C. Barrett, R.N., M.H.A., Vincent J. Bufalino, M.D., Augustus O. Grant, M.D., Ph.D., and Reginald L. Washington, M.D. The award is the organization's highest volunteer honor, recognizing distinguished service in advancing the objectives of the association on a national level. Barrett, the association's chairman of the board in 2003-04, is Vice President of Mission of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La. Bufalino, a past member of the association's Board of Directors, is president and CEO of Midwest Heart Specialists in Naperville, Ill. Grant, the association's president in 2003-04, is professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Washington, chief medical officer at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, Colo., is a past president of the association's former Colorado Affiliate.

Herman A. Taylor Jr., M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and Shirley Professor for the Study of Health Disparities at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, received the Physician of the Year Award for his outstanding contributions toward advancing the association's mission.

Kathleen Berra, M.S.N., A.N.P., clinical director of the Stanford Heart Network at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., received the association's Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to or achievements in cardiovascular disease/stroke patient care or improvements in the quality of healthcare delivery.

Joseph T. Debbs Sr., an independent consultant for J. Taylor Associates in Elk Grove, Calif., received the association's Louis B. Russell Jr. Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding service to minority and underserved populations.

The association's Award of Meritorious Achievement, which recognizes specific accomplishments that affect the association on a national level, was presented to: Kenneth M. Baker, M.D., professor and vice-chair for research in the Department of Medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Temple, Texas, for his leadership in the development of the association's strategic plan for 2006-16; Lance Becker, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Resuscitation Science in Philadelphia, and Graham Nichol, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and director of the Harborview Center for Prehospital Emergency Care at the University of Washington in Seattle, for their work as founders of the association's Resuscitation Science Symposium; Ralph Szygenda, group vice president and chief information officer for General Motors Corporation World Headquarters in Detroit, Mich., and his wife Shelby, for their leadership of association "Heart Gala" fund-raising events; and John E. Warfel, president of the Westfield Financial Corporation in Westfield Center, Ohio, for his leadership in strengthening the association's audit function.

Virginia Gatlin, chief operating officer of field operations and development with the association's Western States Affiliate (which includes California, Nevada and Utah), received the Earl B. Beagle Award for Staff Excellence, which recognizes a staff person who has exhibited leadership, professionalism, dedication and excellence in performance.

About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart diseases and stroke. These diseases, America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular diseases, claim nearly 870,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2006-07, the association invested more than $554 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

SOURCE American Heart Association
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