Heart of the matter: Chairwoman drums up support for Go Red for Women
Last August, the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative released a three-minute PSA on YouTube that went viral. “Just a Little Heart Attack” features Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks as a modern American super mom who is so busy managing her family and professional life that she neglects to take care of her own health and doesn’t even realize she’s mid-heart attack as she sends her kids off on a typical frenzied morning.
Like so many of us, Kelli Glynn can relate to the juggling act.
The 41-year-old balances a demanding career with family life. She is senior vice president and managing director of Kansas City M&I Wealth Management, a part of BMO Financial Group, as well as a wife and mother of three children ages 7 to 13. Glynn is also a committed leader for several community organizations. She’s on the Kansas City Symphony’s finance committee. She’s on the board of directors for New House Women’s Shelter. And, following a few years of involvement as a spokeswoman, Glynn is the 2012 chairwoman of Kansas City’s American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon.
The event takes place May 4 at the Overland Park Convention Center. Glynn’s related duties involve organizing, motivating and leading a committee of volunteers to raise more than $700,000 in donations for research and education.
“Kelli Glynn was chosen as the 2012 Go Red For Women chairperson for her philanthropic spirit, distinguished leadership, community involvement and strong desire to impact the American Heart Association’s life-saving mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke,” says Laura Lopez, Kansas City’s American Heart Association Go Red For Women director.
Over the next few months, Glynn will engage in countless phone calls, meetings and presentations to generate interest and sponsorship for the event. She’s not sweating it.
“It’s enjoyable if you really believe in the cause,” Glynn says. “When you have a personal interest, I think you’re a more genuine and compelling person when you ask for additional participation.”
Marilyn Samson, Glynn’s executive assistant at M&I, is used to her boss’ confident leadership style and busy agenda. “She just never ceases to amaze me,” Samson says. “I’m constantly asking her, ‘How in the world do you do it all?’”
For Glynn, part of the answer is that her employers encourage community participation. Glynn has worked for M&I since 1996, previously in her native Wisconsin, where she volunteered with youth-centered nonprofit groups. However, Glynn says her community involvement has increased since her family moved to the Kansas City metro area more than five years ago.
M&I’s history of supporting the American Heart Association initially led Glynn to the organization. But Go Red for Women’s mission of improving lives and reducing risk resonates for personal reasons.
“Heart disease has been prevalent in my family, both on my mom and dad’s side,” Glynn says. Then, last July, her 7-year-old daughter Hannah underwent open heart surgery for a congenital heart defect. Although Hannah’s problem was not specifically heart disease, everything involving heart health is related. Undetected issues like Hannah’s can compound the danger of heart disease later in life.
“For women over the age of 25, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, and stroke is the third leading cause of death,” Glynn says. “We hope that the events surrounding the Go Red for Women movement serve to increase awareness among women about their risk factors and prompt all of us to do something to improve our heart health.”
In the Glynn household, that means encouraging healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle.
All three of her children are budding athletes, which means the family calendar tends to fill up with soccer games, lacrosse matches and wrestling tournaments. Between the practices, far-flung tournaments, and family boating and camping weekends, Glynn makes a point to foster her kids’ participation in the nonprofit organizations important to her. “I’m trying to get them to understand what it means to give back to your community, what you can do and how you can make a difference,” she says. “They think it’s fun.”
Glynn’s husband gets in on the good deeds, too. He’s currently trying to establish a Red Tie Society in Kansas City — a group of men who support the Go Red for Women movement.
And of course, for little Hannah, the American Heart Association carries a natural appeal. She’ll be in the audience at the Go Red Luncheon, cheering on her big-hearted mom.
More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. But 80 percent of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. For more information and a list of upcoming events, visit www.heart.org.