Theresa Petrone Butts, Leader of IT Vendor and Budget Management at MVP Health Care, and Adanna Akujuo, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon and associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Albany Med, are leading the Capital Region Advisory Board for the next two years.
Petrone Butts, who first joined the board in 2012, will be the chair of the board. Dr. Akujuo, who has been on the board for two years, will be its president. They will guide the board and consult with the staff as the American Heart Association implements its mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
Petrone Butts has been involved in many aspects of the American Heart Association. She supported the youth market division and created, with past board member Scott Momrow, a fundraising event geared toward young professionals called Heart 2 Heart. For the past five years, she has been part of the Go Red for Women committee, co-chairing its annual luncheon in 2017 with Leah Slocum of Peak Residential Partners Team at Williams Kellert. Passionate about health and fitness, Petrone Butts, along with Maria Decker, leads the women’s 12-week heart-health improvement program, BetterU, that is part of the Go Red for Women movement.
Dr. Akujuo has represented the American Heart Association in the media, spoken at events and invited participants to experience her world in Albany Med’s donation of “Be a Med Student for A Day” at the Heart Ball.
“The field has changed so much,” Dr. Akujuo said of her work. “How I evaluate patients is different from what it was six years ago. We can help a lot of people today who couldn’t be helped in the past. The mission of the American Heart Association is near and dear to my heart. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer but is 80 percent treatable. It’s important to get the message of prevention out there, and it’s important that we keep fundraising, so we can advance the treatment for the other 80 percent.”
“The thing about the American Heart Association, whether people realize it or not, is that the mission and work touches people’s lives in so many ways,” Petrone Butts said. “We help people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke; we talk about what you should be feeding yourself or your family; we talk about how to save lives with CPR. This is a critical mission to get behind and support.”
Raising awareness and educating people are top priorities for Petrone Butts and Dr. Akujuo.
“As the No. 1 killer of women, heart disease doesn’t get the attention it should,” Petrone Butts said. “We want to really paint the Capital Region red with the Go Red for Women movement, to raise awareness of women and heart disease, have women pay attention to the numbers of things like blood pressure and cholesterol and what that means for our health.”
“I have a duty as a health care provider to make an impact, and I would like to take the mission of the American Heart Association to places where people are perhaps unaware of it,” Dr. Akujuo said. “I’d like to see growth among people who are aware of the Heart Association – for instance, I’d like to make the Heart Walk big.”
“We are fortunate to have these two leaders advancing our mission, and our work,” said Jeanne Walsh, executive director of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region. “Theresa is entrenched in, and has a lot of knowledge about, the American Heart Association. She’s very organized and thoughtful, and will be a leader who can help others. Dr. Akujuo understands how heart disease and stroke affect patients, their families and caregivers. She will help us create the ‘why’ of what we do. Together, these two women will balance what our organization needs to do to be strategic and successful in our market.”
Petrone Butts grew up in Rhinebeck, is a University at Albany graduate, lives in Rexford with her husband and stepson and expects an addition to the family this fall. Petrone Butts has also been active in support of Huntington’s Disease; part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Blondes vs. Brunettes touch football game; involved with the Capital Area Young Professionals; and was named a “40 Under 40” by the Albany Business Review in 2012. She has run two full marathons, and many half-marathons, some in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. She and her husband also are general manager and head coach, respectively, and owners of the New York Knockout Women’s Tackle Football Team, the area’s first all-female tackle football team.
Dr. Akujuo is from Nigeria. She studied at York College, part of the City University of New York, graduated from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, completed her residency at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in New York City and a fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. She lives in Albany. She leads a charity called Voom, which provides heart care and surgery in Nigeria. She travels there twice a year to perform cardiac surgery.
Petrone Butts and Dr. Akujuo are joined on the board by:
- Kaweeda Adams, Albany City School District
- Jack Bevilacqua, Albany County International Airport Fire Department
- Alan Boulos, M.D., Albany Med
- Jennifer Corcoran Conway, Tully Rinckey
- Andrew Dahlen, Beech-Nut
- Maria Decker, Maria’s Catering and 84 Ferry, Troy
- Kate Fruscione, CAP COM Federal Credit Union
- Bill Galvin, PharMEDium
- Kathy Lanni, SEFCU
- Kristin Meehan, KeyBank
- Glenn Rockwood, Optimum Fulfillment
- Mandeep Sidhu, M.D., Albany Med
- Brandon Stabler, Columbia Development
- Dorothy Urschel, St. Peter’s Health Partners
- Lisa Wolcott, Capital District YMCA