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By Cyd King | Photos courtesy of American Heart Association

“Her Story is Our Story” of Heart Health

Dawn Norvell is looking at life through a different lens since her “glambaby” was born. She’s looking forward to spending as much time as she can with her granddaughter.


Life expectancy matters more than ever, and quality of life is equally important. As a member of the American Heart Association-Northwest Arkansas Board of Directors, Norvell has put together a committee to examine the state of maternal health and ways to improve it.


Norvell, global head of Retail Center for Excellence at NielsenIQ, is keenly aware that, as a Black woman, the cards are stacked against her when it comes to heart health. From 2017 to 2020 in the United States, 59% of non-Hispanic Black men and women had some form of cardiovascular disease — the most among all races, according to the American Heart Association’s 2024 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics.


“I just feel a real sense of responsibility to make sure that people who look like me — Black and brown people, generally speaking, but women as well — really start taking care of our health because as caregivers, we typically think of everybody else before we think of ourselves,” she said.

In addition to being on the local American Heart Association board, she’s a member of the association’s Circle of Red giving group.

Dawn Norvell.png

Dawn Norvell

This year, the American Heart Association celebrates 20 years of the Go Red for Women movement, a comprehensive platform designed more than two decades ago to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally. The local movement will culminate with the 2024 NWA Go Red for Women Luncheon on May 21 at the Rogers Convention Center.


Norvell’s aspirations for the maternal health committee include creating awareness for weaknesses in the system that supports women before, during and after pregnancy. The goal is to create policy changes to improve prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease for women of reproductive age. “I want to leave a legacy now for my daughter and my glambaby,” she said.


The committee is one of several impactful programs to spin off from the local Go Red. Another initiative, STEM Goes Red, draws from the association’s strong legacy of science, education and discovery to help propel young women into rewarding STEM careers. Research Goes Red launched in 2019 in collaboration with the Institute for Precision Medicine, building a highly engaged women’s health registry and research database.


Such programs are made possible with funds raised through the Go Red for Women Luncheon and memberships to the Circle of Red giving group. This group consists of passionate women and men who are dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and stroke in their communities. Circle of Red members make a financial commitment to support the American Heart Association’s mission, and in return, they receive exclusive benefits and access to special events. Debbie Alsup, Twilla Brooks and Shana DeSmit are co-chairs of the 2024 Circle of Red.


The luncheon is well known as a gateway to deeper involvement with the local American Heart Association market. That’s how Misty Quaid with The Emerson Group became interested. She attended the luncheon several years in a row and is now in her second year as co-chairperson of the luncheon. The event is also being led by co-chairperson Staci Cochran and honorary chairperson Creighton Kiper, both of Walmart.


“Everyone has a connection to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, whether it’s personal experience or that of a loved one,” said Quaid, who is also on the Northwest Arkansas board.


When Quaid was a sophomore in college, her mom experienced several strokes throughout the year, some worse than others, and each impacted her body in different ways. “Not being able to get there to help her was one of the hardest things,” she said.


“Looking back now, she was a little younger than I am right now when that occurred, which is very eye-opening and makes me stop and question what I need to do so that, hopefully, my kids do not have to experience the same thing,” Quaid said.


In addition to funds raised by the luncheon and Circle of Red, eight prominent local women will help advance heart health and raise lifesaving funds as members of Northwest Arkansas’ 2024 Woman of Impact class. They are Ashley Diamond with Procter & Gamble, Bethany Davis of The Barcode Group, Brenna Groves with Product Connections, Danelle Cobb of The Emerson Group, Jennifer Cowell of Sam’s Club, Leigh Dean of Market Performance Group, Marcy Chavez with Weichert Griffin and Tracy Neal Butzlaff of Nestlé Health Sciences.


Nominees and their Impact Teams, made up of friends or family members, have been participating in activities designed to create a culture of wellness and health equity. Activities may include educational events, learning and spreading the word about CPR, getting active, and recruiting women to participate in research.


The woman whose team has the highest number of impact points — awarded through a combination of fundraising and mission impact activities — is named the Northwest Arkansas 2024 Woman of Impact Award Winner. The campaign was Feb. 2 through April, with the winner to be announced at the luncheon.


As of April 8, the nominees had already raised more than $120,000 collectively. The nominee with the most points nationwide will be named the National Woman of Impact Award Winner.

Sponsorships and tickets are still available by contacting Mellissa Wood at or by going to

For more information, visit


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