Our Mission

We save children's lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world.

Our Vision

Children around the world have access to high-quality heart care.
Read Our Core Values here.


We build local-level capacity for pediatric cardiac care through long-term partnerships and robust monitoring.

We optimize patient care using education and a train-the-trainer model.

We advocate for better access to care with governments and stakeholders.

We sustain access to quality care through Centers of Excellence.

Meet Our Staff

We share a passion for making high-quality care a reality for children with heart disease.

  • Jackie Boucher


  • Bistra Zheleva

    Vice President of Global Strategy and Advocacy

  • Anne Betzner

    Vice President of Programs and Evaluation

  • marc vaillancourt
    Marc Vaillancourt

    Vice President of Development and Communications

  • Andreas Tsakistos

    Country Director

  • Adriana Dobrzycka

    Country Director

  • Lee Koch

    Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations

  • Bobbi Morris

    Events Manager

  • Veeralakshmi Rajasekhar

    In-Country India Consultant

  • Ann Odens

    Operations Manager

  • Sam Flynn

    Communications and Marketing Manager

  • Laura Durden

    Program Manager, Grants Management

  • Kayla Meyers

    Evaluation and Research Manager

  • Zhanna Petersen

    Marketing Services Specialist

  • LeAnn Erickson

    Development and Finance Specialist

  • Jenny Cook

    Executive Assistant

  • Clare Fisher

    Instructional Designer

Jackie Boucher


Jackie has a passion for improving lives and has spent her entire career in health care, with a special focus on population health. She was named president of Children’s HeartLink in 2015. She previously held leadership positions at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, where she was chief operating officer and institutional officer for research, and led its Hearts Beat Back program, and at HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the U.S. A registered dietitian, Jackie has served on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Board of Directors. She served as editor-in-chief of Diabetes Spectrum and received the Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award from the ADA in 2018. Jackie has an M.S. in nutrition from the University of Minnesota.

Email Jackie

Bistra Zheleva

Vice President of Global Strategy and Advocacy

Bistra leads our global thought leadership strategy with governments and international development institutions, and she leads our country-level growth. She has worked at Children’s HeartLink since 2003 and is a passionate advocate of improving access to care for children who need pediatric cardiac services. She serves on the boards of Global Alliance for Rheumatic and Congenital Hearts, and One Heart Health. She is also a member of the steering committee of the International Quality Improvement Collaborative, a global initiative aimed at improving cardiac care for children in low- and middle-income countries. A native of Bulgaria, Bistra has an MBA in nonprofit management from the University of St. Thomas and has studied global health at the Harvard School of Public Health.


Email Bistra

Anne Betzner

Vice President of Programs and Evaluation

Anne Betzner, Ph.D., oversees program development and standardization, program impact measurement, quality improvement and research efforts. Anne likes working with systems and using stories and hard statistics to improve performance for social betterment. Before joining our team she served as senior research scientist at Allina Health and was vice president for a research and evaluation firm. Anne has a master’s degree in policy analysis and a doctorate in research methods from the University of Minnesota. Anne loves serving her community through volunteering with The Martha Ripley Memorial Foundation, The Humphrey School of Public Affairs Alumni Board, The University of Minnesota Alumni Association Collegiate Council and her church.

Email Anne


marc vaillancourt

Marc Vaillancourt

Vice President of Development and Communications

Marc is a connector with a passion for building community and bringing people together to serve the greater good. A Certified Fundraising Executive, he has been active in the not-for-profit and fundraising world for more than 18 years. For the last several years, Marc has served as vice president of development and operations at Meeker Memorial Hospital & Clinics in Litchfield, MN. Prior to that he was a major gifts officer at two large health care systems and a development director for a regional community foundation. Marc is a native of Canada, equally fluent in French and English. A dedicated cyclist, Marc is also a musician and has released two albums of original piano music available on Spotify and iTunes.

Email Marc

Andreas Tsakistos

Country Director

Andreas leads our programs in Brazil, China and Malaysia. Before joining our team in 2006 he worked with humanitarian aid programs in sub-Saharan Africa. He has a master’s degree from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Andreas has had wanderlust since he was a child, when he moved with his family from London to Nairobi and points in between.

Email Andreas

Adriana Dobrzycka

Country Director

Adriana leads our programs in India and Vietnam. Earlier in her career she worked for organizations focused on human rights, cultural competency and engaging diverse communities. Adriana has a Polish father and an Italian mother and was raised in Warsaw and Florence. She has master’s degrees in international development and public health from the University of Pittsburgh.

Email Adriana

Lee Koch

Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations

Lee is a passionate relationship builder who learns with and from partners each and every day. Her career includes leadership and advancement for nonprofits such as Capital City Partnership, Ordway Center, Minnesota Women’s Consortium and Rochester Art Center where she helped build understanding and support for institutions and projects in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, she pivoted to participate in pandemic response systems development and implementation with the Minnesota Department of Health. She attended Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas in journalism and spent her early career in media. She recently completed the MBA and Fundraising Executive Education programs at St. Thomas. Lee loves the outdoors and is a cross-country skier, swimmer and grandmother to four inspiring children.

Email Lee

Bobbi Morris

Events Manager

Bobbi is happiest when she’s planning and producing fundraising events, conferences and meetings. She’s been doing this work for a variety of organizations for 25 years. Bobbi leads the strategy and execution of our large annual fundraising event, HeartLink Gala.

Email Bobbi

Veeralakshmi Rajasekhar

In-Country India Consultant

Based in Coimbatore, Veera is a consummate connector and trusted colleague who develops and strengthens relationships with our program partners in India. She has worked as a social work educator and practitioner, and she has a postgraduate degree in social work from the University of Madras and a predoctoral degree in psychiatric social work from NIMHANS in Bangalore.

Email Veera

Ann Odens

Operations Manager

Ann is responsible for the development and oversight of our operations and governance systems, including human resources, information technology, physical infrastructure, financial functions and Board administration. She was previously our finance specialist and international programs assistant. Earlier in her career Ann worked as a Spanish teacher.

Email Ann

Sam Flynn

Communications and Marketing Manager

Sam is responsible for overseeing marketing and communications efforts for Children’s HeartLink. With a background in TV news, public relations, and nonprofit marketing, she leverages her unique skill set to advance our mission and brand recognition. She is a natural problem solver, relationship builder, and believer in outside-the-box thinking. During her time off, you’ll find Sam and her husband staying busy with their two very active young boys.

Email Sam

Laura Durden

Program Manager, Grants Management

Laura comes to Children’s HeartLink with ten years of experience in the non-profit and philanthropic sector, including serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Azerbaijan. Before joining our team, she managed education grants for a charter school network, coordinating grant budgets, deliverables, and donor compliance across multiple campuses and partners. In her spare time, you’ll find Laura walking local trails alongside her young family.

Email Laura

Kayla Meyers

Evaluation and Research Manager

Kayla has more than a decade of experience evaluating nonprofits across many fields, including federal projects and international development. At Children’s HeartLink, she plays a key role in helping us understand our successes and areas for improvement so that we can serve more children.

Email Kayla

Zhanna Petersen

Marketing Services Specialist

Zhanna brings both professional and personal experience to her communications position at Children’s HeartLink. Being a parent of a child with heart disease, Zhanna is passionate about making high-quality medical care a reality for more families around the world. A native of Russia, she has taught English as a second language and worked as a freelance writer. She worked at a news agency in Moscow before she met her husband and moved to Minnesota, where she earned a master’s degree in strategic communication from the University of Minnesota.

Email Zhanna

LeAnn Erickson

Development and Finance Specialist

Development and Finance Specialist LeAnn Erickson ensures the integrity of donor data, event management, administration and finance functions. She joined Children’s HeartLink in 2020, after two decades in the billing department for a marketing agency.

Email LeAnn





Jenny Cook

Executive Assistant

Jenny brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofits to her role as the Children’s HeartLink executive assistant. Her expertise includes a combination of high-level administrative skills as well as program development and fundraising skills. Jenny is a licensed occupational therapist with a background in social work and child welfare. She currently volunteers in international child welfare efforts in Romania and India.

Email Jenny

Clare Fisher

Instructional Designer

Clare supports our volunteers and programs team in developing and implementing educational programming. Previously Clare worked as a nurse in a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit. She has a master’s degree in nursing with a nurse educator concentration and has also studied feminist theory and health equity.

Email Clare

Meet Our Board of Directors

They ask hard questions and give us the guidance we need. They’re our best ambassadors and go above and beyond to support our ambitious goals. (Information current as of March 15, 2021. All directors are independent voting members.)

Jackie Boucher, President
Children's HeartLink
Jeff Evanson, Chair
Chief Commercial Officer, Outlook Therapeutics
Tom Armitage, M.D., Vice Chair
Medtronic, Retired
Dannette Smith, Secretary
Secretary to the Board of Directors, UnitedHealth Group Inc.
Taryn Lynch, Treasurer
Audit Partner, Deloitte
Mark Lewin, M.D., Medical Director
Co-director, Seattle Children's Heart Center
John Babitt
Partner, Life Sciences, EY
Anu Codaty
Vice President & General Manager, Interventional Pain, Medtronic
Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN
Professor and Dean, University of Minnesota School of Nursing
Susan H. Gebelein
Business and Leadership Consulting LLC
Jeffrey Gleason
Partner, Robins Kaplan
Jeff Haan
Audit Partner and Professional Practice Partner, KPMG’s Northern Heartland Business Unit
Fernanda Kattar Petto
Vice President, Treasurer, CWT
Geoff Martha
CEO, Medtronic, Inc.
Betsy Moran-Johnson
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Retired
Darren Nauss
Founder & CEO, RAZR Marketing, Inc.
Andrew Nelson
Senior Advisor, HealthPartners, Inc, and Senior Research Fellow HealthPartners Institute
Heather Hudnut Page
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Philips Healthcare
Abhi Patangay
Partner, McKinsey & Company
Peter Quimby
Director, Google Cloud
Kenneth Stein, M.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Rhythm Management and Global Health Policy, Boston Scientific
Patrick Stoneking
Attorney, Jeff Anderson & Associates
Elizabeth Perlich Sweeney
Children's HeartLink, Retired
Directors Emeriti
Thomas A. Keller III
Principal, Gray Plant Mooty, Retired

Meet Our International Advisory Board

They are experts in global health and advocates for children's health, and we benefit from their advice and expertise.

James A. Rice, Ph.D., Chair
Managing Director & Practice Lead, Governance & Leadership, Gallagher Integrated
Kathy Jenkins, M.D., MPH
Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Executive Director, Center for Applied Pediatric Quality Analytics, Boston Children's Hospital
John C. Langenbrunner, Ph.D.
Senior Health Economist, consultant to World Bank, Middle East and India, to USAID, Indonesia
Nick Seddon
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Transformation, Optum
Kate Tulenko, M.D., MPH, MPhil, FAAP
CEO, Corvus Health
Lijing L. Yan, Ph.D., MPH
Head, NCD Research Program, Global Health Research Center, Duke Kunshan University, Kunshan, China
Liesl Zühlke, MB ChB, D.C.H., MPH, Ph.D.
Director of the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit, Cape Town, South Africa

Our Partners and Programs

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