This month we celebrate Black History Month and American Heart Month by introducing our February Star, British A. Robinson, an African American woman working hard to change history by reverse some disheartening statistics:
As the executive director of Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA), British is working with her team to prevent women from suffering and dying from heart disease. WHA was founded in November 2014 by Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight women’s heart disease, which is under-funded, under-researched, and under-diagnosed. WHA is a unique collaboration between Cedars-Sinai and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, two of America’s leading medical institutions, and is the only heart-related organization focused entirely on women. WHA is advancing women’s heart health through programs like “Heart Healthy, Buckeye Strong,” a collaboration with the Ohio State University to educate young women about heart disease and encourage healthy behaviors and regular heart screenings. At the initial screening on OSU’s campus, two college-aged women were rushed to the emergency room with sky-high blood pressure. At Cal State LA, a commuter school serving immigrants and lower income students, WHA launched a similar program and collaborated with the Clinton Foundation to sponsor a hackathon challenging programmers to develop an app to educate women about heart disease. Additionally, WHA collaborates on federal programs like the Centers for Disease Control’s “WISEWOMAN” program that provides heart disease and stroke risk factor screenings and services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women aged 40 to 64 years. WHA is frequently on Capitol Hill educating members and their staff on the need for funding for more research on women and heart disease.
In 2014 WHA rolled out “Fight the Lady Killer” (FTLK), a nationwide campaign to build greater awareness and knowledge of the women’s heart health epidemic and the role gender differences play. FTLK empowers women to talk to their health care providers about heart health and encourages them to get heart check-ups. In 2017 WHA will be rolling out initiatives to address heart disease at a community level. The first of three initiatives will be announced very soon. Visit https://womensheartalliance.org for more news.
With 20 years of experience leading initiatives in international and domestic health, corporate social responsibility, and public-private partnerships, British was the ideal person to launch WHA. She has worked for the U.S. Jesuit Conference, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen and Women for Women International. While at PEPFAR, British secured in $400M in private/public partnerships and helped launch what was essentially a start-up within the U.S. government. This experience is crucial in her role at WHA in addition to the fundraising success she has realized.
Much of the work British does for WHA has resonance as her mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor. When British takes a break from work, she can found in the gym, clocking miles on the treadmill, or playing tennis or golf, to offset “as frequent as possible” dinner parties with dear friends. In addition to breaking bread with friends, British admits to a guilty pleasure of buying shoes. She is also energized by experiencing other countries’ cultures and says it is a gift to be part of a global, international community.
Speaking of gifts, funding for women’s heart disease research is critical. Even though heart disease kills far more women that all cancers combined, research into heart disease receives only $246M annually compared to $949M invested in women’s cancer research. We have a feeling that with British A. Robinson behind the wheel at WHA, these numbers (among others) will soon change.