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Corporate Advisory Council

Corporate Advisory Council

The Corporate Advisory Council is formally recognized in the Mended Hearts bylaws and allows Mended Hearts leadership to connect on a regular basis with our corporate partners to discuss opportunities to work together to improve the lives of heart patients, their families and caregivers nationwide.   For more information, please contact Marcia Baker, Director of Corporate Development and Programs,





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About Mended Little Hearts

Every 15 minutes a child is born with a congenital heart defect.

Mended Little Hearts is there.

Mended Little Hearts is non-profit, volunteer-led program providing hope and support to children, patients and families affected by congenital heart disease.

Our Mission

To empower families affected by congenital heart disease (CHDs) through peer-to-peer support services, education, connecting families with resources, creating awareness and advocacy.

Our Vision

All families and patients affected by CHDs are able to share experiences and resources as members of a nationwide peer-to-peer support network.

Our History

The Mended Little Hearts program began in April of 2004 as part of the Mended Hearts, Inc., which has been providing hope and support to heart patients and their families since 1951. Mended Hearts started when four heart patients in Boston, Massachusetts came together to discuss their heart surgery experiences. They quickly realized their shared stories provided both hope and healing in spite of their circumstances. In 2004, Mended Hearts local and national leader, Tita Hutchens, recognized the unique need to support families of children born with heart defects and heart disease. The earnest desire to provide support to the “littlest heart patients of all” led to the formation of the first two Mended Little Hearts groups – one in Fresno, California and one in Hollywood, Florida. Today, Mended Little Hearts has over 10,000 members and over 80 chapters in the U.S. and Mexico and has recently added services and support that extend to teen and adult patients.

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Mended Little Hearts Advisory Board

Advisory Board

Colby Reed Miller
Director of Revenue Strategy and Sales at AOL

Colby launched his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, quickly becoming the top-rated CPA of his class at the firm; from there, Colby moved into the dynamic world of Ad Tech, advising some of the industry’s fastest-growing companies; and today is one of the top sales and strategy leaders for AOL, the nation’s largest premium video
network. In his role at AOL, Colby works with many of the world’s most notable advertising and media companies, and is responsible for developing innovative new solutions, content, and brands for the new media landscape. He sits on multiple boards including the Annapolis Film Festival, Mended Little Hearts, and the Advertising Hall of Achievement Executive Committee.

Dwain Young
Senior Manager for Accenture

Dwain is a senior manager for Accenture’s Management Consulting, Talent and Organization Practice based in Washington, DC. He has over 13 years of experience in building and executing change management/human capital initiatives in the areas of large scale change transformations, executive alignment, journey management, workforce & culture transformations, organization strategy & design, and program management. He has a proven track record of excellence in driving vision, planning, development, and launch of new programs. He is a results-oriented, data-driven, decisive leader, focused on the creation of change management journeys for projects through effective collaboration with cross-functional teams and managing stakeholders. Holds a BBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management and is Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certified.

Jennifer Page
Motivational Speaker and Philanthropist

Jennifer is probably best known to you as Mini Darth Vader’s mom! Before she became Vader’s chauffer, she earned a Communications Degree from University of Montana. Jennifer is a passionate leader with Children’s Hospital Association, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, several health related charities and dedicates countless hours giving back to her community. Jennifer has been seen numerous times on the Today Show, CNN, Access Hollywood, Extra, Inside Edition, Fox News, and several LA and NY local news affiliates. She is a special contributor to CNN, Ladies Home Journal, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Heart Institute and has appeared in In Touch magazine. Jennifer speaks nationally about her family’s journey of transformation and is passionate about helping others find their way to make a difference in our healthcare system.

Bob Kroslowitz
President and CEO, Berlin Heart Inc.

Bob Kroslowitz serves as the President and CEO of Berlin Heart Inc. and is responsible for the company’s business interests in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Bob also commercialized the EXCOR Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device System, the only viable long term circulatory support system available worldwide that was developed specifically for the pediatric population. Bob has participated on panels related to pediatric device development and commercialization with representatives from industry, the medical communidical community and governmental regulatory bodies, speaks frequently on topics related to pediatric device development, approval and commercialization, and serves as an advisor to other early stage medical device companies.

Medical Advisory Board

Kari Crawford, MS, APRN, BC, CPNP-AC
Pediatric Cardiology/Cardiac Surgery
Levine Children’s Hospital

Russell Cross, MD
Department of Cardiology
Children’s National Medical Center
Washington, DC 20010

Gul H. Dadlani, MD
Chief of Pediatric Cardiology,
Nemours Children’s Health System, Orlando, FL.

Stacy Fischer MSN, RN, CPN
HHC Clinic Supervisor, Cardiology Clinic
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

John S. Hokanson, MD
Faculty, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
UW Health Department of Pediatric Cardiology

Walter H. Johnson, Jr., MD
Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology
University of Alabama at Birmingham & Children’s of Alabama

Heather Langlois, LICSW
Social Work Services
Children’s National Medical Center

G. Paul Matherne MD, MBA
Division Head Pediatric Cardiology
University of Virginia Health System

Alistair Phillips
Director, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Mark D. Townsend, MD
Pediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiology
CENTRA Stroobants Heart Center

Matt Oster, MD, MPH
Pediatric Cardiologist
Sibley Heart Center Cardiology
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

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Harken Award


As one of Mended Hearts’ most prestigious awards, the Dwight Emary Harken Award was created to recognize individuals or organizations for excellence in the field of cardiovascular medicine. It is named in honor of Dwight Emary Harken, a pioneer heart surgeon and preeminent cardiologist considered the “father” of Mended Hearts. Mended Hearts was co-founded in Massachusetts in 1951 by one of Dr. Harken’s patients, Doris Silliman.

Past recipients of the award reflect the longstanding tradition of Mended Hearts’ partnership with leaders in the field of cardiovascular medicine.

Past Harken Award Recipients

  • 2017, Dr. Alden Harken, Professor of Surgery Chief, UCSF-East Bay Surgery Program Chair, Department of Surgery, Alameda Health System
  • 2015 Mr. Stanton Rowe, Chief Scientific Officer, Edwards Lifesciences, Irvine, CA.
  • 2012 The American College of Cardiology
  • 2010 Earl E. Bakken, M.D., Hon. C. Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Medtronic, Inc.
  • 2008 Henry B.C. Low, M.D., Director Emeritus, Cardiothoratic Surgery, Hartford Hospital.
  • 2006 Jack Copeland, M.D., Chief, Section of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery; The Michael Drummond Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Endowed Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery; Medical Director, Cardiac Transplant and Artificial Heart Programs; Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency Training Program; Co-Director, University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center; Associate Head, Surgery Clinical Affairs of the Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona in Tuscon.
  • 2004 Walter Randolph “Ranny” Chitwood, Jr., M.D., Senior Associate Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs and Professor and Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
  • 2002 O. Howard Frazier, M.D., Chief, Cardiopulmonary Transplantation, Texas Heart Institute, Houston, TX.
  • 1999 Willis Hurst, M.D. of The Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.
  • 1997 Albert Starr, M.D., Albert Starr Academic Center for Cardiac Surgery, St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center, Portland, OR.
  • 1995 Allan M. Lansing, M.D., Ph.D., of The Advanced Cardiovascular Institute, Louisville, KY
  • 1993 Denton A. Cooley, M.D., and The Texas Heart Institute, Houston, TX.
  • 1992 Michael Wicks Dunaway, President and Chairman of the Board, Psicor, Inc., San Diego, CA.
  • 1991 Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH.

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A Word From Our President

Donnette Smith, Huntsville, AL


Doctors may have saved my heart, but Mended Hearts has saved my life. Thanks to the incredible vision of Dr. Harken and others, this organization has had such transformative power in my life, and in so many other lives. That’s why I’m so delighted at the opportunity to serve as the president of Mended Hearts.

I never thought I’d be the organization’s president, though I’ve long been an active member. My journey with Mended Hearts began in June, 1988. I’d known that eventually I’d need surgery to replace a valve in my heart, and that time had finally arrived. I was absolutely terrified; I didn’t know anyone who had been through anything like that, and I was convinced my life was over.

Then a man knocked on my door. He held a bud vase with a single rose. The nurse introduced him, but I didn’t even pay attention to his name. He said, “I had heart surgery two years ago.” This man was fit, healthy and happy. He talked about how he played golf and traveled. Heart surgery had been a bump in the road for him, nothing more. Hearing his story gave me such hope, such encouragement. I asked him questions that I hadn’t dared ask the nurses. When he left, I felt a new sense of peace, and I was determined that when I got well, I’d become part of this organization. Of course, after my surgery, I went back to my career and my family.

Five years later, in 1993, I suffered an aneurysm and was desperate to talk to someone who had pushed through the same condition. By then, our local chapter had disbanded. I resolved to start it again after I recovered. Starting a new chapter took about a year, but we’ve been around since 1994. I’ve been honored to serve at the local and regional level in multiple capacities. Mended Heart is truly the greatest organization I’ve ever been a part of.

And this organization is changing! Though my presidency has only recently begun, we’re already making tremendous progress. We’ve made impressive inroads on a project for medication adherence, forging new partnerships with pharmaceutical and medical device companies. They’re helping us to educate patients on the importance of taking their prescribed medications – and asking the doctor questions.

The new board members and I are excited to expand the organization’s reach. Our first step: engage a younger generation, who will soon be the lifeblood of the organization. We’ve begun to offer virtual training and webinars for our more computer-savvy volunteers, who may need to squeeze in their training on a lunch break or between their kids’ extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, we’re also focused on improving name recognition not only in patient care settings, but also in the broader community. We want people to know Mended Hearts, to trust us as a vital, reliable resource.

I also hope to enhance our resources for caregivers. The most romantic moment of my life was after one of my heart surgeries. I was still in the ICU, but I couldn’t sleep. The nurse suggested that I take a walk and told me that my husband was in the waiting room. I found him there, asleep on the floor, underneath a makeshift tent he’d made by draping a sheet over a table. He’s been so absolutely devoted, and he’s certainly not alone. Mended Hearts can support our caregivers, the way they’ve supported us.

I look forward to building on Dr. Harken’s extraordinary vision alongside our members and our newly elected board members.

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Board of Directors

  • President of the Board: Donnette Smith
  • Executive Vice President: Millie Henn
  • Vice President: Patrick Farrant
  • Treasurer: Gordon (Gus) Littlefield
  • Vice President, Mended Little Hearts: Angel Olvera
  • Central Regional Director: Bruce Norris
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Director: Bill Carter,
  • Midwest Regional Director: Larry Mantle
  • Northeast Regional Director: Bob Hoffman
  • Rocky Mountain Regional Director: Bob Oberfield
  • Southern Regional Director: Marvin Keyser
  • Southwest Regional Director: Lynn Berringer
  • Western Regional Director: Ron Manriquez
  • Past Presidents’ Council Chairman: Margaret Elbert
  • Director, Mended Little Hearts: Beth Gray
  • Appointed Board Member: Jack Britt
  • Appointed Board Member: Kathy Boyd David
  • Appointed Board Member: Tina Sampath


Left to right: Gus Littlefield, Treasurer, Donnette Smith, President, Patrick Farrant, Vice-President, Millie Henn, Executive Vice President, and Angel Olvera, Mended Little Hearts Vice-President.

Mended Little Hearts Steering Committee

MLH Vice President: Angel Olvera

MLH Board Member: Beth Gray     

MLH Social Media Chair: Shannan Pearsall

MLH Advocacy Chair: Dana Hageman

MLH Heart Run Chair: Emily Schaffenhausen

MLH Conference/PR Chair: Lauren Gray

MLH Technology Chair: Len Schendel

Visiting Committee Chair: Fredonia Williams


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Our History

Mended Hearts is a national and community-based non-profit organization that has been offering the gift of hope to heart disease patients, their families and caregivers. Mended Hearts is the largest cardiovascular support organization in the world.

Founded by Dr. Dwight E. Harken, The Mended Hearts was started with four of Dr. Harken’s open heart surgery patients. In January 1951 Dr. Harken asked Doris Silliman, one of the first 50 patients to ever have heart surgery, and three other post-surgery heart patients – Keith Otto, Alphonse Santomassimo, and Elizabeth Wilkinson – to meet at the hospital. They spoke of their new feeling of well-being, their plans and hopes for the future — and with renewed happiness they spoke of their “mended hearts.” They realized how wonderful it would be to provide support and help others facing the same experience.

With the assistance of Dr. Harken they formed an organization, wrote up a charter and planned their membership contacts with the aid of the hospital workers. They called themselves the Mended Hearts. They often spoke of how great it was to be alive and to help others. Our organization recently received a copy of a Mended Hearts Article 1953 announcing the first annual meeting in Boston in 1953.

In 2004, Mended Hearts realized that families whose children were born with a congenital heart defect were in need of the peer-to-peer support that Mended Hearts provided.

Recognized for its role in facilitating a positive patient-care experience, Mended Hearts has provided over 60 years of service. View the Mended Hearts 60-Year History PowerPoint and Timeline Highlights , prepared for the 60th anniversary convention, May 2012. We have over 300 local chapters and satellites nationwide, and partners with 460 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics. Mended Hearts offers services to heart patients through visiting programs, support group meetings and educational forums.

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Mission Statement and Strategic Plan

Mended Hearts’ Strategic Plan

As Mended Hearts grows and adapts to the ever-changing cardiovascular world, the Board of Directors conducts a strategic review of the previous 24 months and determines new goals for the organization. This process is designed to move our organization in a new direction with the goal to reach more patients and caregivers. The 2016-2018 Strategic Plan is the result of a national board planning meeting held in September 2015. The Strategic Plan outlines Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts’ objectives and is designed to be implemented and executed in 36-months to meet these new goals.


Mended Hearts 2016-2018 Strategic Plan

The Plan includes six major organizational goals that build on MHI’s solid foundation. The Board of Directors created this strategic plan to strengthen our patient outreach efforts, increase awareness and broaden our patient and family reach. The six major goals are:

  • Goal 1: Mended Hearts has high-impact educational programs that meet the needs of individuals, hospitals, patients, communities and caregivers.
  • Goal 2: Mended Hearts has predictable and robust revenue flow from diverse sources, individuals, sponsors, foundations, donors, advertisers and partners.
  • Goal 3: Mended Hearts produces relevant, interesting publications that engage and enlighten its many audiences.
  • Goal 4: Mended Hearts has an engaged, growing member population, comprised of diverse audiences, including age, race, disease, language, gender.
  • Goal 5: By December 2018, double the number of Mended Hearts chapters that are engaged and which offer impactful, virtual and physical support groups
  • Goal 6: By Dec 2018, reach a total of 2,000 people in face-to-face conferences with purpose of chapter development and member training

Our current strategic plan serves our mission of: “Inspiring hope and improving the quality of life for heart patients and their families through ongoing peer-to-peer support.” If you have further questions about our Strategic Plan, you may email us at

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