2022 ACHA Volunteer Award Winners

Posted Wednesday, Dec 14, 2022

We are excited to announce our 2022 ACHA Volunteer Award recipients! ACHA staff and board members submitted nominations for the following four categories: Fundraiser of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Influencer of the Year, and Organizational Partner of the Year. Once all nominees were submitted, the ACHA Emeritus Board reviewed the nominations and selected the winner for each category. 

Thank you to our awardees for your dedication to furthering our mission this year!

Phoenix Children’s photo features (from left to right): Jordan Awerbach, MD, MPH, FACC, Dan Velez, MD, and Wayne Franklin, MD, FACC

Rookie of the Year Award: Jennifer Cortes
This award is presented to a member of the CHD community who has demonstrated exceptional enthusiasm and commitment to ACHA for their first time on the local, regional or national level in the past calendar year.

Jennifer has championed many ACHA initiatives in her first year on the Patient and Family Advisory Board (PFAB). She actively participated in the Virtual Advocacy Day last May, where she met with several lawmakers in Louisiana alongside Dr. Michael Brumund. Prior to Advocacy Day, Jennifer had never met Dr. Brumund, but she proactively worked with him to prepare their talking points and make each meeting as meaningful as possible.

Jennifer also volunteered at the Virtual National Conference during the summer. She was readily available to assist by speaking, hosting a Regional Conversation breakout session, and interacting with new members. After the Conference, she knew that ACHA was working on a Resource Directory, and she took the initiative of sending staff relevant information related to the forthcoming directory on a regular basis. Even though she is based in Louisiana, she thinks about ACHA as a national organization and looks for information that can help not only her region, but the entire country. ACHA is incredibly thankful to have Jennifer as a PFAB member and looks forward to her continued efforts!

Fundraiser of the Year Award: Kat Armstrong
This award is presented to a member of the CHD community who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and success in generating revenue for ACHA.

Kat served as walk chair of the 2022 Houston Walk for 1 in 100 committee, and she led the charge for this event. In fact, nearly half of all attendees on walk day were related to Kat and her team (nearly 50 strong). In total, Kat raised $4,650—earning the top fundraising spot for the Houston Walk. Kat has incrementally become more involved with ACHA over the past couple of years, and this year, she really showed incredible leadership taking over as walk committee chair from a longtime volunteer. ACHA and Walk for 1 in 100 are pleased to honor Kat for all of her efforts and look forward to continuing to partner with Kat to grow ACHA activities in the Houston area.


Influencer of the Year Award: Dubra Karnes-Padilla
This award is presented to a member of the CHD community who has gone above and beyond to spread the word about CHD and the need for lifelong care—an outreach aficionado.

Dubra, a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Board (PFAB), reached far in her networks and beyond to spread the word about ACHA and CHD both regionally and nationally. One way she did this is through her role as co-chair of the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee on the PFAB. Dubra was an active participant in ACHA’s Virtual Advocacy Day in May. She also spread awareness in multiple ways during Heart Month, including securing a CHD Awareness Week proclamation in her home state of New Mexico, and having a letter published in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Dubra also interacted with many through her involvement in ACHA events throughout 2022. She participated in the Virtual Arizona Regional Conference in March by sharing her story, and also letting the audience know that she is available for further support if needed. During the Virtual National Conference in June, Dubra was a featured speaker in the “How to Bring ACHA into Your Community” general session. She also co-led her Regional Conversations session and reported back on next steps in this general session. We look forward to supporting Dubra in her future outreach efforts!

Organizational Partner of the Year Award: Phoenix Children’s Hospital
This award is presented to a business, corporation, institution, or fellow non-profit entity that has joined forces with ACHA and fully embraced our mission of improving and extending the lives of those born with CHD.

ACHA is honored to receive the support of many hospitals and ACHD clinics across the country. Notably, this year, Phoenix Children’s and Phoenix Children's Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program went above and beyond expectations by not only co-sponsoring an ACHA Regional Conference and sponsoring our 9th National Conference, but also committing to be the first ACHD clinic to ever sponsor our Walk for 1 in 100 as a National Presenting Sponsor—a sponsorship level traditionally held by ACHA’s corporate funders only. Dr. Wayne Franklin, co-director of the program, also served as co-chair of the 9th National Conference, investing much time with ACHA on shaping the direction of the conference, as well as presenting at educational sessions. Similarly, many members of their team gave their time to plan, contribute, and present at the Arizona Regional Conference.

The Phoenix Children's Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center provides comprehensive and continuous care to teen and adult patients living with congenital heart disease. Based out of one of the largest children's hospitals in the United States, it is the only ACHA Accredited Comprehensive Care Center in Arizona.

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