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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.

 

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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.

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Meet Our Staff

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

  • Jackie Boucher

    President

  • Anne Betzner

    Vice President of Programs and Evaluation

  • erin-bursch-childrens-heartlink
    Erin Bursch

    Vice President of Development

  • Bistra Zheleva

    Vice President of Global Strategy and Advocacy

  • brittany-beckman-abi-saab-donor-relations-and-stewardship-coordinator-childrens-heartlink
    Brittany Beckman Abi Saab

    Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator

  • kia-anderson-childrens-heartlink
    Kia Anderson

    Instructional Designer

  • Jenny Cook

    Executive Assistant

  • Adriana Dobrzycka

    Country Director

  • Laura Durden

    Program Manager, Grants Management

  • LeAnn Erickson

    Business Operations Specialist

  • Sam Flynn

    Director of Marketing and Communications

  • barry-jass-childrens-heartlink
    Barry Jass

    Senior Director of Program Operations

  • Lee Koch

    Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations

  • katie-kraft-headshot-childrens-heartlink
    Katie Kraft

    Advocacy Program Manager

  • Bobbi Morris

    Events Manager

  • samyukta-mutnury-india-partnership-manager-childrens-heartlink
    Sudha Samyukta Mutnury

    India Partnership Manager

  • Ann Odens

    Director of Operations and HR

  • julie-prokosch-headshot
    Julie Prokosch

    Marketing Specialist

  • Veeralakshmi Rajasekhar

    In-Country India Consultant

  • Heidi Stumpf
    Heidi Nobbe

    International Programs Assistant

  • Andreas Tsakistos

    Country Director

Jackie Boucher

President

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

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

 

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Erin Bursch

Vice President of Development

Erin Bursch, MA, CFRE, has more than 27 years of experience in the philanthropic and nonprofit fields, where she’s focused intently on bridging philanthropic visions with organizational missions. She is responsible for setting Children’s HeartLink’s strategic and philanthropic goals, diversifying contributed revenue streams and building a robust major gifts program. Most recently, Erin served as Executive Director of Children’s Hospital Association, an affiliated organization of Children’s Minnesota. Previously, she served as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Sr. Philanthropy Officer for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation; Director of Major and Individual Gifts for Planned Parenthood, MN, ND, SD; and Director of Communications at Family Philanthropy Advisors. Erin has earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive credential from CFRE International and holds a Master’s in Arts Administration from Saint Mary’s University Winona and Bachelor’s degrees in Business Marketing and Fine Art from the University of Minnesota – Mankato. Erin is a retired professional bodybuilder, holding a national title as IPE World Champion. Currently, she enjoys distance running near her home in Northeast Minneapolis with her husband, Todd, and dog, Remy.

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

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Brittany Beckman Abi Saab

Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator

Brittany is responsible for donor relations and care. She is the person behind the efforts that go into thanking Children’s HeartLink supporters, be that through phone calls, emails or letters in the mail. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a sociology minor from Hamline University and has previous experience in development and program evaluation. Her hobbies include running, walking, weightlifting, listening to live music and participating in walks and events for World Suicide Prevention Day in September.

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Kia Anderson

Instructional Designer

Kia’s role as Children’s HeartLink’s Instructional Designer involves developing and maintaining educational content and trainings. She holds a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Central Florida. With seven years of experience, she specializes in online course accessibility, universal design and implementing Quality Matters principles. Her passion and connection with Children’s HeartLink stem from her own journey of overcoming childhood cancer. Kia enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, dancing and serving the community as a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

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

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

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. Her role at Children’s HeartLink focuses on collaboration with the programs team on the activities and expenses of grant-funded work. In her spare time, you’ll find Laura walking local trails alongside her young family.

Email Laura

LeAnn Erickson

Business Operations Specialist

LeAnn’s responsibilities as Business Operations Specialist include payroll, accounts payable and support of organization operations and HR.  She joined Children’s HeartLink in 2020, after two decades in the billing department for a marketing agency.

Email LeAnn

 

 

 

 

Sam Flynn

Director of Marketing and Communications

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

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Barry Jass

Senior Director of Program Operations

Barry leads our country programs team members and oversees the progression of our partner hospitals toward becoming Children’s HeartLink Centers of Excellence. He recently retired as the Senior Director of Training Operations at Medtronic where he received the prestigious Star of Excellence Award. He has a master’s degree in education from the University of Scranton and has been an educator for nearly 40 years. Barry enjoys golf, traveling and playing with his 10 grandchildren.

Email Barry

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

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Katie Kraft

Advocacy Program Manager

Katie is responsible for managing advocacy projects at Children’s HeartLink. She has more than a decade of experience in global health policy advocacy and organizing for international nonprofit and faith-based organizations. Most recently she served as a senior leader on the US advocacy team for CARE, helping to lead campaigns for robust investments in global health and development programs. Katie’s passion for advocating for children who need pediatric cardiac services comes from her mom who was born with congenital heart disease.

Email Katie

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

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Sudha Samyukta Mutnury

India Partnership Manager

Samyukta’s role involves developing and fostering relationships with hospital partners and volunteers in India, as well as identifying geographic growth opportunities there. She has a master’s degree in sociology and a postgraduate diploma in transplant coordination. Based in Vijayawada, Samyukta has been working in the NGO and development sector since 2014, including with an organization that sparked her investment in transforming heart care for children. Her interests include reading, listening to Indian classical music and art, and she enjoys spending time deep within nature.

Ann Odens

Director of Operations and HR

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

Email Ann

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Julie Prokosch

Marketing Specialist

Julie is responsible for supporting the marketing and communications department’s initiatives and operations by designing, creating and executing marketing projects. With more than a decade of experience in marketing and communications, Julie lends her expertise to sharing stories of impact; testing, optimizing and recommending best practices; and contributing to raising awareness of Children’s HeartLink. 

Julie grew up in Minnesota and enjoys exploring the Twin Cities with her husband and son. She also loves to swim, bike, read and meet with the book club she’s been a member of since 2015.

Email Julie

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

Heidi Stumpf

Heidi Nobbe

International Programs Assistant

Heidi is our International Programs Assistant and plays a pivotal role in supporting country directors and medical volunteers. As a mother of a child born with congenital heart disease, Heidi is passionate about the Children’s HeartLink mission. Her previous experience includes executive search and recruiting as well as volunteer management. She joined the team in 2022.

Email Heidi

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

Meet Our Board of Directors

They ask hard questions and give us the guidance we need. They’re our best ambassadors; going above and beyond to support our ambitious goals. (Information current as of January 4, 2024. All directors are independent voting members.)

Officers
Jackie Boucher, President
Children's HeartLink
Tom Armitage, M.D., Chair
Retired Executive, Medtronic, Inc.
Taryn Lynch, Vice Chair
Audit Partner, Deloitte
Anu Codaty, Secretary
Community Leader
Patrick Stoneking, Treasurer
Attorney, Jeff Anderson & Associates PA
Mark Lewin, M.D., Medical Director
Professor and Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, Seattle Children’s Hospital
David Overman, M.D., Medical Director
Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Directors
John Babitt
Partner, Life Sciences, Ernst & Young, LLP
Karim Bandali, Ph.D.
President of Cardiac Surgery, Medtronic, Inc.
Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN
Dean, University of Minnesota School of Nursing
Kristy Duffey
Chief Nursing Officer, Optum
Jeff Evanson
Chief Commercial Officer, Outlook Therapeutics
Susan H. Gebelein
Consultant, Savannah Consulting
Maria Macuare Gorden, M.D.
Global Vice President of Medical Safety RM, Boston Scientific, Inc.
Brian Moore
Partner, Dorsey
Betsy Moran-Johnson
Retired Executive, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Darren Nauss
Chairman and CEO, RAZR Marketing, Inc.
Heather Hudnut Page
Peripheral Vascular Category Leader, Philips Image Guided Therapy Devices
Abhi Patangay
Partner, McKinsey & Company
Fernanda Kattar Petto
Vice President of Finance, Supply Chain & Logistics, UNFI
James Powell
Managing Partner, KPMG
Peter Quimby
Key Account Director, Google
Elizabeth Perlich Sweeney
Past Children's HeartLink President and Chair of the Board of Directors

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.

John C. Langenbrunner, Ph.D., Chair
Senior Health Economist, consultant to World Bank, Middle East and India, to USAID, Indonesia
Greg Holman
Operating Partner, LYFE Capital
Kathy Jenkins, M.D., MPH
Executive Director, Center for Applied Pediatric Quality Analytics, Kobren Family Chair for Patient Safety and Quality, Boston Children’s Hospital
James A. Rice, Ph.D.
Managing Director & Senior Advisor, Governance & Leadership, Gallagher Integrated
Liesl Zühlke, MB ChB, D.C.H., MPH, Ph.D.
Director of the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit; Pediatric Cardiologist, Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

Our Partners and Programs

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