Elizabeth Perlich Sweeney joined Children's HeartLink as president in December 2002. She has 25 years of experience supporting children’s health initiatives. Following her daughter’s early diagnosis of phenylketonuria (PKU) in 1989, she helped found the Minnesota PKU Foundation, which supports children and families living with PKU and continues to serve on its Board of Directors. Through this experience, she learned, first-hand, the importance of children having access to quality medical care. She became involved with the University Pediatric Foundation, part of the Minnesota Medical Foundation at the University of Minnesota and served on its Board of Directors for five years, focusing on fundraising and community awareness.
From 1990 until she joined Children’s HeartLink, Elizabeth’s professional career was centered on helping individuals maximize their health and wellness. As founder and owner of Vita, a lifestyle management company, she worked with business and community leaders, professional athletes and at Flagship Athletic Club. Prior to that, she sold and leased commercial real estate in the Twin Cities. She has a BS in business from the University of Minnesota.
“All of my life experience led me to Children’s HeartLink and our underlying purpose that all children have access to quality medical care, regardless of where they are born. We live in a world with awesome power to heal the sick. The knowledge and skills exist to care for a child born with heart disease, but sadly, more than 90 percent of these children are born in places where appropriate medical care is inadequate or unavailable. As a parent, I can’t live with the idea that less than 10 percent of children with a heart defect get to take advantage of modern medicine; that for most, there’s nothing they can do to heal their broken hearts.”
What do you love about your job?
I feel blessed for the opportunity to work with such extraordinary people over the shared goal of helping children and empowering lives. Our talented staff, board and advisors, donors, volunteer medical teams, organization volunteers and dedicated partner hospitals all work together with a shared humanity and shared concern over the heart of a child. Children’s HeartLink has the unique ability to bring people from across the globe together to save the lives of children.
When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
When I’m not at work, you can usually find me with my family or friends. My husband, Mike, and I have four adult children and some of our favorite times are cooking for an evening together around the dinner table. I love the outdoors and enjoy running, biking, gardening, camping and walking in the snow. I also love sitting quietly in front of a fire reading a good book or listening to beautiful music.
What is one thing that most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a Vespa that I love riding around when there isn’t snow on the ground!
Congenital heart disease is the world's most common major birth defect, affecting one in every 120 children. Ninety percent of those newborns are in areas of the world where appropriate medical care is inadequate or unavailable.
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