ACHA Awards Presented at 9th Annual Conference

Posted Thursday, Jul 14, 2022

During the joint closing session of the ACHA conference on Saturday, June 25, 2022, the Adult Congenital Heart Association was honored to present awards to longtime members of the congenital heart disease (CHD) and ACHA communities.

Barry and Wendy Meil were the joint recipients of the Karen Klein McNulty Leadership Award, which is presented to a patient-family member who exemplifies unparalleled commitment to connecting, empowering and advocating for the CHD community within their local community and/or across the nation.

The Meils became involved with ACHA in 2007 after being introduced to the organization by a dear friend whose son also had a congenital heart defect. Their adult son, who has tetralogy of Fallot, was having some issues and went to an adult general cardiologist. They soon realized that this doctor did not understand the intricacies of congenital heart defects. They reached out to the then-CEO of ACHA, who spent over an hour explaining the importance of seeing an ACHD specialist. They followed that advice and credit ACHA for saving their son’s life.

Ever since, Barry and Wendy have been involved in virtually every aspect of ACHA. Barry began serving on the ACHA Board of Directors in 2009, and ultimately went on to serve two terms as Board Chair in addition to serving as chair of several board committees. Wendy has served as a Peer Mentor and both Barry and Wendy have been involved with leading the DCMARVA Walk for more than a decade. Each year during Heart Month in February, the Meils provide a generous matching gift to inspire others to financially support ACHA, and when ACHA made the strategic decision to begin funding research in 2019, the Meils stepped up once again to provide the seed funding that fueled our initial investigations. No matter what ACHA asks, Barry and Wendy are always there, ready to help and ready to encourage others to do so as well. For their incredible dedication and support over the past 15 years, it was truly an honor for ACHA to present Wendy and Barry Meil with the Karen Klein McNulty Leadership Award.

“Thank you for presenting us with the Karen Klein McNulty Leadership award. We are honored and grateful to be awarded with this very special recognition. We are so thankful that our friend, an avid ACHA supporter herself, referred us to the organization when our son Jason began having health issues at age 26. Learning the importance of seeing an adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) cardiologist, as well as using the ACHA ACHD Clinic Directory to search for one, was integral to Jason finding a local ACHD cardiologist who he still sees regularly, as a thriving 41-year-old with a growing family and career. Our family hears these types of stories far too often, and it is our hope that by supporting ACHA in a variety of ways, others can learn how to help their loved one with congenital heart disease thrive, too.”

Jamil Aboulhosn, MD, FACC, FSCAI, received the Amy Verstappen Leadership Award, which is presented to a medical provider who exemplifies unparalleled commitment in the fight to achieve ACHA’s vision that every adult with CHD receives specialized cardiac care.

Dr. Aboulhosn, who has been a part of the ACHA Medical Advisory Board (MAB) since 2009, is a cardiologist specializing in ACHD. His accolades are many: He is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is the current Director of the Ahmanson/UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center; the Streisand Chair in Cardiology at UCLA; and a renowned ACHD specialist with a focus on interventions and imaging. He has performed and participated in a variety of clinical research projects in the ACHD field. Dr. Aboulhosn and his ACHD center are involved in a number of multi-center clinical research trials, and he is a founding member and former president of the Associations for Adult Research in Congenital Cardiology (AARCC). He has also served on the ACHD Guideline Writing Committee for the ACC/AHA and the ABIM ACHD Board Examination Writing Committee.

Through his more than a decade on the MAB, Dr. Aboulhosn eventually went on to serve as Vice Chair, Chair, and currently Immediate Past Chair. He has been one of the leading voices guiding medical policy for the organization over the past decade. He has also been instrumental, along with Dr. Curt Daniels (who was the recipient of this award at our last National Conference in 2017), to the formation and implementation of the ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program and has served on the Accreditation Steering Committee since its inception. In addition, Dr. Aboulhosn has fostered several key relationships between pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies and ACHA leadership that have helped to fund several of ACHA’s educational programs and patient resources. For his incredible dedication and support to the organization, ACHA was thrilled to present Dr. Aboulhosn with the Amy Verstappen Leadership Award.

“I have worked closely with ACHA since I was an ACHD fellow in 2005, that is now going on 17 years! I have seen ACHA grow and adapt to the changing needs of our patients and medical providers, to the point where ACHA is now a patient support organization, an ACHD advocacy organization, a medical provider trade organization, and an organization that supports and performs medical research. I have also seen the organization go through staffing and leadership changes. Amy Verstappen is a friend and a charismatic leader whose energy and determination were essential to the growth and development of ACHA for well over a decade of its existence; many practitioners of my generation have experienced first-hand just what an effective leader she was. I am proud to receive the Amy Verstappen Leadership Award from ACHA; working with ACHA has been one of the great pleasures of my life and being recognized for it is something I am deeply thankful for!”

Barry, Wendy and Dr. Aboulhosn—thank you for your decades of dedication to ACHA, and congratulations!

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