The Advocacy subcommittee, in association with the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure Foundation, seeks to improve the lives of Kentuckians through preventative efforts aimed at improving cardiovascular health. By way of communication with legislators and community advocates, Advocacy aims to secure policy and environmental changes to improve the overall health of Kentuckians. The Kentucky Public Policy Agenda for 2018-2019 highlights these policies at each level of implementation, including both the state and local levels. These policies seek to build healthier communities by preventing cardiovascular disease in individuals within each community. Community environments where individuals live, work, and spend time are important focuses of Advocacy efforts, given their impact on health choices made by Kentuckians. Each policy level seeks the support of the community, as well as legislators, in the implementation of healthy lifestyle and preventative actions. Fulfillment of these policies is accomplished through collaboration with these lawmakers and policy funding sources.

Collaboration with members of the Kentucky Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (KHDSP) Task Force allows for greater support across the state for tobacco-free, healthy eating and active living policies by developing and securing support for policy priorities. Work with members of the KHDSP Task Force seeks to additionally identify and secure sources for state fund matching. This is accomplished through education of citizens and lawmakers about the program and the need for funding.

Committee Chair

Shannon Smith

American Heart Association

State Director of Government Relations

Contact Kari:


View Shannon’s full bio on the Task Force’s Steering Committee page.

Shannon Smith is the State Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association (AHA) in Kentucky and is responsible for driving AHA’s public policy agenda at the state and local level, while also working to support the AHA’s federal priorities. Shannon’s advocacy efforts mainly focus on critical public health issues such as reducing tobacco use, improving access to healthy foods, setting early care and education standards, ensuring safe and equitable complete streets for all users, and passing comprehensive smoke-free policies to promote safe and healthy work environments. Additionally, Shannon provides strategic direction on statewide grassroots efforts while building powerful partnerships within coalitions.

Shannon was recently appointed by the Governor to serve on the State Board for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and named one of The Kentucky Gazette’s “2020 Notable Women in Kentucky Politics and Government.”


listed alphabetically

What is Advocacy

Public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

What is Lobbying

Seek to influence (a politician or public official) on an issue.

State Priorities

  • Pass Local Tobacco Control​ by Repealing Preemption
  • Restore Prevention and Cessation Funding
  • Set Physical Activity and Screen Time Standards in Early Care and Education Centers​

Health Consequences of Smoking

  • Kentucky ranks 1st in the nation for cancer deaths.
  • Kentucky ranks 2nd in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Kentucky ranks 9th in the nation for heart disease deaths.

Cost of Smoking-Related Illness in Kentucky

  • Kentucky ranks 1st in the nation for cancer deaths.
  • Kentucky ranks 2nd in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Kentucky ranks 9th in the nation for heart disease deaths.



AI/AN: 22.6%
White: 15.0%
Black: 14.6%
Hispanic: 9.8%

Annual Household Income


<$35,000: 21.3%
$75,000–$99,999: 13.3%

Education Level


GED: 36.0%
< High school: 21.8%
Undergraduate degree: 7.1%

Health Insurance


Uninsured: 23.9% Medicaid: 23.9%
Private: 10.5%
Medicare: 9.4%



Yes: 19.2%
No: 13.1%

Sexual Orientation


Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual: 20.6%
Heterosexual: 13.5%

Serious Psychological Distress


Yes: 31.6%
No: 13.0%

Source: Creamer MC et al. Tobacco Product Use and Cessation Indicators Among Adults – United States, 2018. MMWR 2019; 68:1013-1019.

Nationwide Priorities

  • NIH research funding
  • Surprise medical billing
  • Improving access to care
  • Tobacco control, prevention & cessation

Grassroots Advocacy


What is You’re the Cure?

  • Grassroots advocacy network with the AHA that has existed for almost 40 years 
  • Connects volunteers with their lawmakers in meaningful engagement opportunities allowing them to advocate for policies that improve health in our communities 
  • Presence in every state & Puerto Rico

Volunteer Engagement


High Priority Actions

  • Face to Face meeting with lawmakers
  • Phone Call with lawmakers
  • Spokesperson/Testimony
  • Advocacy Training
  • Letter to the Editor

Other Engagement Opportunities

  • Recruitment to You’re the Cure
  • Serve on a State Advocacy Committee
  • Postcard/Petition Campaigns
  • Town Hall Meetings
  • Share Your Story
  • Youth Engagement


  • Include an advocacy update on a sponsorship ask.
    • This is a valuable (and “free) feel-good addition
    • Invite Shannon to join a virtual meeting to offer this is person
  • Partner with us!
    • Let us know about upcomming events that we can engage advocates in
    • Include a Join You’re the Cure ask in your events
  • Refer volunteer who might need a refresh or a new opportunity to Grassroots
    • Shannon schedules a 1 on 1 with the advocate from a staff referral, and includes the staff who made the referral, so they’re kept in the loop
    • Great way to “re-energize” volunteers to get them excited to return to fundraising!
June 24, 2022 @ 12:46 pm
%d bloggers like this: