Gold Standard

The members of the American Heart Association’s Corpus Christi board of directors are honored for their dedication to transforming heart health in the Coastal Bend.

By: Erin Wilder

What does it take to turn a ship around? It seems we’re inundated daily with the bad news about our country’s declining health situation – more children are obese, more adults are inactive, too many people still smoke and heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of Americans across all ethnicities.

But working behind the scenes to slowly, but surely steer us into a brighter, healthier future are an army of volunteers for the American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization in the United States. This summer, the members of the Corpus Christi board of directors for the American Heart Association were honored for their outstanding work in transforming the heart health of Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend region.

The board of directors – which draws from a diverse and inclusive volunteer base of medical professionals, business leaders and philanthropists – was honored for their contributions in the Coastal Bend region toward the American Heart Association’s ambitious 2020 Impact Goal. The 2020 Impact Goal aims to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. For its work, the board of directors was recognized at a Silver Level in the association’s nationwide Gold Standard Board program, where just under 100 cities across the country were honored.

It takes dedicated, consistent hard work toward a singular mission to turn a ship around and transform the health of a region and a country. And it takes great dedication and a giving heart to achieve an award like this. Over the last year, the board met a high number of criteria, including engaging local companies and community groups to participate in health initiatives such as CPR training, nutrition education, high blood pressure management and walking or corporate fitness programs.

Nationwide, boards may focus on increasing access to safe places for children to be active and ensuring access to nutritious food and beverage choices in each community – criteria that have been shown by research to have positive impacts on population health. Our local board is currently working on protecting and expanding physical education in schools.

The Corpus Christi board of directors is as follows:

• Board Chairman Larry Elizondo Sr., CITGO
• Board President David Saldana, M.D., Radiology & Imaging of South Texas
• Victor Aguirre, Valero
• Steve Arnold, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
• Rafael Berio-Muniz, M.D., Coastal Cardiology Association
• Hugo Berlanga, Berlanga Business Consultants
• Morgan Campbell III, M.D., Corpus Christi Neurology
• Regina Garcia, H-E-B
• Dr. Mary Jane Garza, NAS Corpus Christi
• Gabe Guerra, Kleberg Bank
• Dr. Roland Hernandez, Corpus Christi Independent School District
• John LaRue, Port of Corpus Christi
• Michele Mora-Trevino, CHRISTUS Spohn Health System
• Nicholas Nilest, Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital
• Sudhakar Papineni, M.D., Corpus Christi Hospitalists PLLC
• Julio Reyes, AEP Texas
• Carol Scott, Kailo Communications Studio
• Salim Surani, M.D.
• Iain Vasey, Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation
• Tammy Weaver, Driscoll Children’s Hospital
• Jay Woodall, Corpus Christi Medical Center

The award is shared with the following former board members:

• Past Board President John Liu, M.D., Radiology & Imaging
• Polly Harris, Polly Harris Insurance Agency
• Paulette Kluge, Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau
• Darcy Schroeder, Valero

If you would like to learn more about how the American Heart Association is taking on the challenges of transforming the health of the nation, visit


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