Saturday Evening, February 14, 2009: Medical volunteers, donors, and other supporters have come from across the United States and Russia to join us for the evening. Honored guests include the Russian Consul General, Vladimir Vinokurov, with his wife Lyubov, and Heart to Heart’s first patient, Maria Senotova, and her parents.
Emcee XXtraordinaire Carolyn Johnson: Emmy-nominated news anchor Carolyn Johnson kindly lends her talent to emcee. Most evenings, she is busy anchoring ABC7 News.
Awardee Dr. Vadim Lubomudrov with his wife Vera: Pediatric cardiac surgeon Vadim Lubomudrov and his wife Vera traveled from St. Petersburg for the occasion. He received the Dr. Nilas Young Humanitarian Award for Medical Leadership.
The Honorable Vladimir Vinokurov with his wife Lyubov: The Consul General of the Russian Federation and his lovely wife are strong supporters of Heart to Heart’s work. On this occasion, they again generously offer an elegant dinner à la Russe at their private residence as an auction item.
Maria Senotova (left) with Heart to Heart Board Member Margaret Niland: Maria was Heart to Heart’s first patient. This occasion is not only our 20th anniversary, but also marks 20 years since Maria’s heart was fully repaired in Oakland by founders Drs. Nilas Young and Stan Higashino. Margaret Niland has been involved with Heart to Heart for over 10 years and has participated on a surgical education mission in Maria’s hometown of St. Petersburg.
Dwight Cocke (left) with Board Chairman Steve Holland: Dwight Cocke served as Heart to Heart’s interim director in the 1990s, coordinating teams of cardiac specialists to perform open-heart surgery in the USSR. Steve Holland joined our Board in 1998 and has been Chairman since 2002. Under Steve’s leadership, we have significantly expanded our children’s programs throughout Russia and reached firm financial footing.
Executive Director Josie Everett with Dr. Nilas Young and Valentine Cupids: Josie Everett has helped Heart to Heart launch three new children’s programs in the heartland of Russia. Since 1998, she has provided administrative leadership on more than 15 surgical-educational missions. Josie continues to serve as chief interpreter in the operating room during Heart to Heart surgeries, coordinating the OR interpreters and overall communication.
Valentine Cupids: Before the evening’s program begins, our Cupids circulate among the guests accepting donations.
Long-Time Donors Jenny Hacker and Paul Bonnar: Jenny and Paul compliment their Cupid on her halo and offer her their donations.
Awardees Natasha Lusin and Dr. Kuzmina-Krutetskaia with Dr. Nilas Young: To celebrate with us, Natasha Lusin flew from New York, and Dr. Svetlana Kuzmina-Krutetskaia traveled from St. Petersburg. Heart to Heart’s children programs began in St. Petersburg and have since expanded into the heartland of Russia, providing thousands more children with the miracle of modern heart care.
Incoming Board President Dr. Keith Flachsbart with his wife Judith: Long-time board member Dr. Keith Flachsbart has performed open-heart surgery on multiple Heart to Heart educational missions in Russia. Collectively, the members of our Board possess decades of cardiac expertise as well as an understanding of Russian history, language, and culture.
Awardee Michael Osborne with Jane Anderson (wife) and Alyson Kuhn: Michael Osborne is the founder of Joey’s Corner, the non-profit arm of Michael Osborne Design. Joey’s Corner provides professional-level branding and design services to Heart to Heart and other non-profit organizations that help children. Designers Michael and Jane frequently collaborate with Heart to Heart copywriter Alyson, who serves on the Board of Joey’s Corner.
Awardee Hersh Saluja with his wife Shalu: Shalu and Hersh are long-time supporters and generous patrons at all of our events. They have hosted exquisite cocktail parties for Heart to Heart medical volunteers and other donors in their beautiful home. Hersh finds time to consider not only the health of our patients and programs, but also the health of Heart to Heart as an organization.
Heart to Heart Extraordinary Donor Award: This award acknowledges the spirit behind giving. We have had the great fortune to attract donors who are personally motivated to support our mission. For many people, our cause might seem like a long-term abstraction from from home. For our donors, helping to save a child’s life, regardless of where or when, is a precious opportunity not to be missed. Heart to Heart benefits not only from these donors’ generosity, but also from their respective talents.
Heart to Heart Extraordinary Donor Award: Michael Osborne has been Heart to Heart’s guardian angel of graphic design for more than five years. Joey’s Corner, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by Michael, provides strategic branding and design to non-profit groups at a fraction of market rates.
Heart to Heart Extraordinary Donor Award: Hersh Saluja has generously supported us for many years, opening his heart, his home, and his checkbook. A gracious entrepreneur, Hersh has funded three Heart to Heart internships and provided meeting space, a utility van, and modern computer equipment.
Dr. Stanley Higashino Award for Exceptional Medical Volunteerism: Dr. Stan Higashino (1930-1991) founded Heart to Heart in 1990 with Dr. Nilas Young and businesswoman Jo Ann McGowan. Stan and his wife Marcia went on Heart to Heart’s first four missions to Leningrad. Marcia recalls, Stan couldn’t accept the fact that if these children had been born in the US, they could be fixed and lead normal lives. Stan loved his work and the golden rule was his constant standard.
Board Member Lizbeth Hasse Announces Awardees: Lizbeth Hasse has served on the Heart to Heart Board as legal counsel for nearly 20 years. Liz has also served as chief legal counsel for international joint venture projects based in Russia, Ukraine, and Senegal, as well as in the US. She has traveled on several surgical-educational missions with Heart to Heart, using her proficiency in Russian to help develop children’s heart programs.
Dr. Stanley Higashino Award for Exceptional Medical Volunteerism: Dr. Frank Cetta is Division Chair of Pediatric Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic. His versatility as a pediatric cardiologist and an adult congenital specialist, coupled with his talent for teamwork and teaching, make him an invaluable medical volunteer.
Dr. Stanley Higashino Award for Exceptional Medical Volunteerism: Dr. Gary Raff is a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California. As the Lead Surgeon for our Samara project (2003-2009), Gary has been instrumental in helping our program there progress toward self-sustainability. Heart to Heart’s colleagues in Samara have already saved 1,500 children.
Jo Ann McGowan Humanitarian Award For Outstanding Volunteerism: JoAnn McGowan (1939-1996) was on a business trip in the Soviet Union in 1988 when she decided to save the life of a critically-ill child. By battling the Soviet bureaucracy to get the child to the US for help, Jo Ann became the catalyst that led to the saving of our first patient in 1989, and the founding of Heart to Heart the following year. Her tenacity and the compassion that inspired her initial act of kindness are permanently imprinted on our organizational culture.
Jo Ann McGowan Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Volunteerism: Rose Glickman, PhD is a retired professor of Russian history. On Heart to Heart surgical missions, Rose excels at conducting in-depth interviews in Russian. Her writing gives voice to the realities, the fears, and the hopes of doctors, parents and children fighting heart disease.
Jo Ann McGowan Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Volunteerism: Michelle “Corky” Hasting, RN retired from cardiac nursing in 1989, just in time to begin assisting Heart to Heart as a volunteer. For 20 consecutive trips, she has worked in our office three days a week. Corky’s sense of responsibility and meticulousness have set the standard for volunteer commitment.
Jo Ann McGowan Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Volunteerism: Natasha Lusin, PhD joins our medical volunteers annually on Heart to Heart surgical-educational missions. Her fluency in Russian and knowledge of cardiac medicine make her an exceptional interpreter. Year-round, this skilled statistician lends her talent so Heart to Heart can convey complex surgical data at a glance.
Jo Ann McGowan Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Volunteerism: Elena Senotova never gave up trying to find doctors in the USSR to treat her daughter’s life-threatening heart defect. Once Dr. Nilas Young had repaired 7-year-old Maria’s heart in Oakland, California, Elena began to work tirelessly on behalf of other Russian families – becoming a beacon of hope to mothers everywhere.
Dr. Nilas Young Humanitarian Award for Medical Leadership: Cardiac surgeon Nilas Young founded Heart to Heart in 1990 with Dr. Stan Higashino and businesswoman Jo Ann McGowan. Nilas’s determination that our work have lasting impact has been the key to Heart to Heart’s successful educational program model. Nilas’s drive has been instrumental in helping us stay the course – demonstrating that our approach not only leads to self-sustainability but also is replicable.
Dr. Nilas Young Humanitarian Award for Medical Leadership: Svetlana Kuzmina-Krutetskaia, MD, PhD has been a valued colleague in St. Petersburg since we met her in 1992. To share Heart to Heart’s teachings with the entire cardiac community, she established a city-wide forum. Dr. K’s integrity and her graceful leadership inspire others to emulate her professionalism.
Dr. Nilas Young Humanitarian Award for Medical Leadership: Vadim Lubomudrov, MD, PhD began to train as a pediatric cardiac surgeon in St. Petersburg with Dr. Nilas Young in 1990. Dr. Lubomudrov – despite having almost no colleagues in his own country – has successfully led his cardiac team in St. Petersburg to national acclaim, saving the lives of more than six thousand children.
Nika Pleshkova Thayer Humanitarian Visionary Award: Nika Pleshkova Thayer (1919-2008) supported Heart to Heart’s mission unconditionally, nourishing our growth financially for over a decade. “In recognition of the good works of Heart to Heart, please find enclosed our check for general charitable purposes. I’m confident it will be used wisely.” Nika understood that the return on her investment would not be immediate, but she had faith that it would ultimately lead to thousands of children’s lives being saved.
Nika Pleshkova Thayer Humanitarian Visionary Award: Alexandr Zorin, MD, PhD – widely considered “the father” of cardiac surgery in Leningrad – was Heart to Heart’s first true partner. During the Cold War, his strategic thinking, leadership, and diplomatic skills helped launch our US-Russian collaboration – which has already saved the lives of more than 10,000 children and adults.
(Dr. Alexandr Borisov, a protégé of Dr. Zorin, accepts the award on his behalf.)
The Honorable Vladimir Vinokurov, Consul General of the Russian Federation: Since assuming his diplomatic post in San Francisco in 2007, Mr. Vinokurov has been an important liaison for Heart to Heart with Russia. His hospitality and generosity are matched by his eloquence as a spokesperson for Russian-American cooperation. He and his wife Lyubov have taken a personal interest in Heart to Heart’s expansion into the heartland of Russia.
Maria Senotova, Heart to Heart’s First Patient, with Emcee Carolyn Johnson: Twenty years ago, ABC News provided extensive television coverage of 7-year-old Maria’s arrival from Soviet Russia to receive life-saving open-heart surgery in Oakland. This evening, ABC News Anchor Carolyn Johnson celebrates the dramatic achievements since 1989 with Maria and Heart to Heart.
Toasting Heart to Heart’s Continued Success: The evening concludes with guests standing to honor Heart to Heart’s achievements and to toast our future success. With the continued support of our board members and donors, our medical volunteers will train more colleagues and develop more pediatric heart centers where thousands more children will be saved every year.
Heart to Heart Founder & Medical Director Dr. Nilas Young: Dr. Young celebrates with all our guests his profound joy in Heart to Heart’s continued expansion and the saving of more and more young lives. Dr. Young expresses Heart to Heart’s 20th anniversary wish, reaffirming our vision: A child born with heart complications – anywhere in the world – will have access to the miracle of modern heart care.