Chicago executive recognized nationally as champion for health equity
(NewMediaWire) - December 21, 2022 - DALLAS — Zip codes are more than an address. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, they can also indicate how long a person may be expected to live. The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, is working with leaders across the nation to ensure everyone has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life regardless of their zip code. Recently, more than 200 community leaders in cities coast to coast joined the Association’s nationwide Leaders of Impact initiative and worked to drive health equity by raising funds to support grassroots initiatives to combat social determinants of health, the conditions in which people are born, live, work and play and which can impact the length and quality of their lives. As part of this process, individual participants competed to become their local city’s Leaders of Impact award winner. John Zachara, American Heart Association volunteer and Vice President at Integrated Facilities Solutions, Inc. in Chicago, is named the 2022 National Winner.
Zachara earned this prestigious recognition by raising more than $76,000 to directly fund the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association. Funds raised through Leaders of Impact will support the Association’s 2024 Impact Goal which aims to advance cardiovascular health for all. This includes identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality by advocating for healthy policies and driving system and environmental changes. As the National Winner, Zachara will be recognized across the country and will be celebrated locally at the Heart of Chicago Heart Ball.
“The leaders that participated in this campaign represent trailblazers in the community that are dedicated to making a lasting impact on the health of their neighbors” said Raymond P. Vara, Jr., volunteer chairman of the board of the American Heart Association, “John’s work and the hard work of all of our nominees will only help amplify our mission and fuel our lifesaving work.”
Zachara serves as the vice president at Integrated Facilities Solutions, a construction and facilities management company. He has been a member of the local Chicago American Heart Association board since 2019 and dedicated his campaign efforts to his father. In Chicagoland, actual life expectancy can vary by up to 30 years depending where in the region someone lives. This gap is often attributed to the impact of social determinants and the barriers to achieving health equity for all communities -- factors that include structural racism, lack of access to quality healthcare and scarcity of healthy food options.
“If I can do anything, I’d love to be able to go out and teach others how to do this; to be able to make that greater impact,” Zachara said. “The support that I’ve gotten from the American Heart Association was really what made a huge difference in this.”
The Leaders of Impact project launched on Sept. 29th, World Heart Day, and culminated on Nov. 15th, National Philanthropy Day. Participants were nominated by Association peer volunteers to participate in the seven-week initiative where they worked to raise awareness for heart disease and stroke, drive action to improve health and fund the mission of the American Heart Association.
About the American Heart Association
he American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries:
Megan Ramsey: 980-613-9066; Megan.Ramsey@heart.org
Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)