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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

White House to Host The American Heart Association and WomenHeart as part of the Community Leaders Briefing Series

WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, February 24th, in celebration of American Heart Month, the White House Office of Public Engagement will host the American Heart Association and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, as part of the White House Community Leaders Briefing Series.  One hundred and fifty American Heart Association and WomenHeart volunteers, members, advocates, and staff from across the country will attend this briefing for individuals and organizations who work to  raise awareness among women about their risk of cardiovascular disease.

The White House Community Leaders Briefing Series, a weekly program that began in the summer of 2011, is a unique opportunity for grassroots leaders to have a two-way dialogue with the White House about issues that are affecting their communities and to ensure that they are well-informed about government policies and programs and how they can use or maximize these resources.

“The American Heart Association and WomenHeart are key partners in our efforts to win the fight against heart disease and educate people about this critical public health challenge,” said Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson. “We’re looking forward to having them here at the White House to discuss ways to take action against a disease that takes the lives of over half a million Americans every year.”

To watch this event live, visit from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET on Friday, February 24th. 

The following individuals will be participants at the Community Leaders Briefing tomorrow:

Emery Miller- Chandler, AZ
Emery, now 13 years old, was born with congenital heart defects.  The morning after his birth, the doctors informed his parents he had several valve issues, aortic stenosis, ventricular septal defect and rhythm issues. Throughout his young life, Emery has had four open heart surgeries, and his fifth is scheduled for shortly after the White House Community Leaders Briefing. Emery has been in and out of hospitals across the nation.  He has become an outspoken advocate for heart research and loves sharing his story throughout his community. 

Celeste Maria Philip- Daytona Beach Shores, FL
Celeste is a family and preventive medicine physician who has seen the effects of cardiovascular disease first hand through her work with patients and her own experiences with family members.  She has dedicated her career to prevention and public health, with a special focus on the elimination of health disparities.  Through her position with the Florida Department of Health, she is working with communities to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, including starting a school garden and developing farmers markets that accept Florida’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP.

Jose’ Rafael Maldonado- Columbia, MD
José lives his motto:“There is Life after Stroke”.  Since suffering from a stroke over 9 years ago at the age of 48, he has re-learned how to speak, read, and write. He has dedicated his time to counseling several stroke survivor groups throughout his state and is a founding member of the Maryland Stroke Association.  José is also featured as part of the CDC’s Million Hearts initiative ( and he has volunteered for several stroke-related clinical studies at the NIH, VA, University of Maryland and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Michelle Tipton- Beulah, ND
In 1999 Michelle’s oldest son died of cardiac arrest at the age of 17.  Autopsy and toxicology reports revealed no reason for cardiac arrest.  Eleven months after his death, Michelle and her youngest son were diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, which resulted in both of them having cardioverter defibrillators implanted. Michelle stepped forward during the healthcare reform discussion to share her story, and the difficult choice her young adult son was making between cost of college and having healthcare coverage.  Michelle has also been a strong advocate for the placement of AEDs in public places, the passage of Good Samaritan laws, and research funding to learn more about genetic heart conditions like the one that has affected her family. 

Jack Simono- Two Rivers, WI
Jack has been a marathon runner and a daily jogger for over 30 years, yet he has severe heart disease.  Jack’s cholesterol level without medication, even with exercise, was over 400, and he now has 4 stents.   Both his mother and father had heart disease and the majority of his siblings do as well. Jack is on a mission to get the word out that even when your genetics are stacked against you, heart disease does not have be the devastating and costly disease that it is for so many people.  He is a strong advocate for a healthier diet and exercise starting at a young age and regularly shares his story in his community to encourage others to know their risk factors.