Family health history inspires alumna’s community service

By Steve Seepersaud 

When she’s not wearing Binghamton University green, Lisa Abbott, MBA ’93, is sporting red — especially in February, which is American Heart Month. Through her service on the American Heart Association’s Southern New England board in the Providence, R.I., area, Abbott helps raise awareness and research funding.

“Cardiovascular disease runs in my family, so the connection is very personal to me,” Abbott said. “When I had the opportunity to join the board, I accepted because of my family’s history. I hope our efforts will help eradicate heart diseases in the future.”

Abbott, senior vice president of human resources and community affairs for Lifespan Corporation, is chairing the local Go Red for Women luncheon later this month. The event is part of a larger movement nationwide to, as she said, “create a world of longer, healthier lives.”

“The Go Red campaign is a movement,” Abbott said. “I want women to believe that self-care is not selfish. We want women to know their numbers, take care of themselves and know the signs of heart disease. We also need to rely on the generosity of our donor community so we can level the research playing field between men and women.”

Maintaining heart health is a mix of being both active and proactive. Cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis is certainly helpful, and so is making time for preventive care. With a busy lifestyle, it’s too easy for neither of those to happen.

“Women are usually the primary caregivers in their families, often dismissing or ignoring their own well-being,” Abbott said. “It’s important to know that heart disease is the top killer of women in this country, and the signs and symptoms can be very different than in men. Women often ignore the signs and sometimes are unaware of what they should be looking for.” 

Through her work at Lifespan and her service with the American Heart Association, Abbott regularly meets women who share inspiring stories of surviving heart disease. And, that’s how she knows the organization’s work and her volunteerism are making an impact. Abbott, who serves as president of the Binghamton University Alumni Association, said the engagement with her alma mater provided the spark to make a difference in her community.

“When I was elected to the alumni board seven years ago, it was actually the first formal volunteer role I had,” Abbott said. “It has been incredibly rewarding to engage alumni with the University and see them contribute in various ways because they love Binghamton. I got so much from the experience that it inspired me to think of how I could support and advance other causes I feel passionately about.”