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Local Healthcare Executives Supports Living Longer, Stronger, Heart-Healthy Lives

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association announced Judith M. Persichilli, RN, BSN, MA, president emeritus of CHE Trinity Health Inc. and Christy Stephenson, RN, MBA, interim president and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center will serve as co-chairs of the Greater Mercer Heart Walk scheduled for Sunday, September 7th at the Mercer County Park Marina in West Windsor, NJ.

Heart Walk, sponsored nationally by Subway and locally sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, St. Francis Medical Center, NJM Insurance Group, Bank of America and NRG Energy, is the American Heart Association's premiere event for raising funds to save lives from this country's No. 1 and No. 4 killers - heart disease and stroke. Held in more than 400 communities throughout the US, the Heart Walk is designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living through an environment that's fun and rewarding for the entire family. 

As co-chairs of the Greater Mercer Heart Walk, Persichilli and Stephenson will encourage local businesses, employees and residents from the Mercer County area to get involved to help raise funds while taking action to reduce their personal risk for cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, over 83.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease and one person dies from these diseases once every 40 seconds.

“As healthcare executives, we see too many of our friends, family and neighbors suffering from cardiovascular diseases,” notes Ms. Stephenson.  “But research suggests that nearly 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented if certain risk factors are under control such as high blood pressure, obesity and physical inactivity.”

 Persichilli and Stephenson will manage a volunteer executive leadership team charged with recruiting more than 4,000 walkers and raising $450,000 to support American Heart Association and American Stroke Association research and education programs. 

“The American Heart Association Heart Walk is a great opportunity to pull your friends and family together to raise money for a great cause while doing something good for yourself,” notes Persichilli.  “It’s our hope that the entire community comes out to join us for a heart-healthy walk to show support against heart disease and stroke.”

Heart Walk is part of My Heart. My Life., the American Heart Association’s national movement to radically improve Americans’ health through a comprehensive wellness and fitness platform for businesses and families. This is in response to America’s obesity crisis, the lack of physical activity among the population and rising healthcare costs. More than 140 million people are overweight or obese and sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950, says the American Heart Association.

As co-chairs of the Greater Mercer Heart Walk, Persichilli and Stephenson are helping to change those figures.

 Persichilli serves as president emeritus of CHE Trinity Health Inc. in Newtown Square, PA. Prior to her current position and the consolidation of Catholic Health East and Trinity Health, Persichilli held a variety of positions of the Mid-Atlantic Division since 2003.  Before joining the CHE’s System Office, she served for eight years as the CEO of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, NJ. Earning degrees from St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, Rutgers University, Rider College as well as honorary recognition from Georgian Court College and Sacred Heart University. Persichilli serves on multiple boards and has received several accolades including being inducted into the New Jersey State Nurses Association Hall of Honor.

Stephenson serves as interim president and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, NJ. In 2010, Christy joined St. Francis Medical Center as executive vice president, strategic and clinical transformation.  Before joining St. Francis, Stephenson served as president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Healthcare Corporation at Hamilton for nearly a decade. Under Christy’s leadership, RWJ-Hamilton became the first New Jersey hospital (and only the fourth in the nation) to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  She earned degrees from Temple University, Rider University and Borgess School of Nursing Christy has received numerous awards for her leadership and community service during her distinguished career.

To learn how you can join Persichilli and Stephenson at the American Heart Association Greater Mercer Heart Walk, visit or call 609.223.3710.

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