Meet the New York Chapter Board of Directors
President: Jacqueline Pecora
Jacqueline has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management with a minor in Marketing. She is the owner of her 18 year old business, J. Pecora Creative Marketing Studio, providing individuals and organizations graphic design, printing, signage and promotional products. She is also a committee member of her sonís scout troop. Jackie enjoys boating, fishing & baseball with her husband and son and also likes to read and meditate. She got involved in the heart community because her daughter, her son’s twin, passed away from HLHS 9 days after they were born. She is passionate about the Childrenís Heart Foundationís mission to fund research for pediatric congenital heart defects.
President – Elect Cindy Senzon
Cindy Senzon has been involved with CHFNY since January 2013. Her daughter Isabella, now age 4 was born with an A/V heart canal defect.
Cindy wanted to get involved with CHFNY after her daughter had open heart surgery at age 3 months
Cindy has been involved in many fundraisers with our organization from heart walks to chairing the cardio Challenge and kids cardio Challenge and Paint Nite
She gets involved with every walk and has a blast doing it
Outside of CHFNY, Cindy enjoys traveling,photography and many fun activities with her daughter
She is so happy to be on the board of CHFNY and is the administrator of The New York Heart Moms, an online support group for Heart moms.
Vice President: Samantha Blandi
Samantha has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, minoring in sociology. Currently, she is a stay at home mom, but before that she worked as a counselor in a community residence for the mentally ill.
She enjoys spending time with her family, exploring playgrounds, taking pictures and reading.
Secretary: Danielle Visvader Pradas
Danielle is a Partner with the law firm of Abrams Fensterman, located in Lake
Success, NY. She primarily practices Elder Law and she handles all aspects of Article 81 guardianship proceedings for both individuals and institutional clients, including nursing homes and hospitals. She also practices Mental Health Law dealing with the retention and treatment of patients in psychiatric facilities. Danielle holds a BA from Fordham University and a JD from Hofstra University.
Danielle is married to Joe Pradas and they have two children: Zachary, who is an active and heart healthy toddler, and Olivia, who is a heart warrior who was born with Tetralogy of Fallot. At six weeks old, Olivia underwent open heart surgery at CHONY to repair the defect. Surgery was a success and Olivia is thriving. Olivia is expected to need at least one more surgery in her lifetime for a Pulmonary Valve Replacement. Danielle hopes that through her work with the Children’s Heart Foundation, she will raise funds to support CHD research so that more children, like Olivia, will live long and happy lives and that the options for repairing these defects will be less invasive.
Cathy Heyman – Treasurer
Cathy became interested in the Children’s Heart Foundation when her grandson, Caleb, was born with several congenital heart defects. She had gone to a few of their events during the last three years always hoping for a way to help out and was excited to learn of the position opening up as treasurer. In 1979, she earned her Associates Degree in Accounting from Suffolk County Community College and has been working doing bookkeeping ever since. She worked part time doing bookkeeping while raising her four children and eventually switched to full time when her youngest started first grade. She currently works as a bookkeeper and office manager for a concrete manufacturer out east. During her years as a girl scout volunteer for her daughter’s troop, she became North Babylon service units treasurer and then their coordinator. These positions involved not only handling the service units finances but also planning and organizing their many yearly events, some of which were fundraisers for Suffolk County Girl Scouts Council. Her interests are piano, boating, gardening and reading.
Lauren holds a Masters degree in Early Childhood & Childhood Education from Hofstra University. Her passion for The Children’s Heart Foundation stems from her sons Congenital Heart Defect. Her son, Ronnie, was born with a Dysplastic (ebstenoidal) Tricuspid Valve, which allows regurgitation of blood and an enlargement of the right side of his heart. Lauren’s life-long promise to her son is to help fund medical research to ensure children who are born with CHD’s are given the best chance to a long and happy life.
Lauren looks forward to working with the foundation for years to come. She is honored to serve as a board member for the New York Chapter.
Jennifer C Kropff L – BCBA
Jennifer has a Master’s degree in Special Education and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She works as a behaviorist in a school district on Long Island. Jennifer enjoys yoga and spending time with her family. She is looking forward to serving the heart community in a more meaningful way.
Jennifer and her husband, David, met while working at a school for with children with autism. They have since married and had a son, Caleb. Caleb was born with several heart defects, including Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, Tricuspid Stenosis, a small aorta, Transposed Great Arteries, an ASD, and VSD. Caleb had his first open heart surgery at 2 days old; his second at 6 months; and his third at 22 months. Caleb is now a thriving 2 year old, who, aside from his zipper scar, is indistinguishable from his peers
Lauren has a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Molloy College. She currently provides at home services for children on the Autism spectrum and their parents. She started her most important and rewarding job, being a ‘Heart Mom’ on April 25, 2011 when her son, Jack Michael was born with HLHS at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in NYC. Jack’s series of 3 open heart surgeries were documented by local newspapers. Because of this publicity, Lauren has been contacted by several parents who read Jack’s story and stated that it gave them hope for their unborn babies that were newly diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, specifically HLHS. She wants to continue to bring hope to families affected with congenital heart disease.
Lauren wants to make her son Jack proud by working with CHF to help fund research that will hopefully allow him and all children born with life-threatening CHDs to live long, happy and healthy lives!
Lauren enjoys spending time with Jack and her husband, Rob. She especially enjoys watching Jack accomplish all the things that many doctors said he never would!
Kaitlyn Beleckas has a Masters’ Degree in Elementary Education from Stony Brook University. Kaitlyn has been involved in the Children’s Heart Foundation since 2011. Her interest in research for congenital heart defects began when her daughter Reagan was born with coarctation of the aorta, three ventricle septal defects, and one atrial septal defect. It was further discovered that her daughter developed subaortic stenosis. Reagan has had three open-heart surgeries and continues to be watched closely by her cardiologist. Kaitlyn believes research is vital for saving and improving the lives of children born with congenital heart defects. In addition to working with the Children’s Heart Foundation, Kaitlyn is very involved in her children’s education. Kaitlyn is the current PTA President at their elementary school. In this role, she works to provide educational programs for all of the students in the school. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, Gerard and Reagan. She looks forward to fundraising with CHF to help better the lives of children born with heart defects.
Tom has a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University at Buffalo and teaches Economics at Suffolk County Community College’s Ammerman Campus as well as conducting educational research as part of the University at Buffalo’s program in Curriculum, Instruction, and the Science of Learning. Tom became involved with the Children’s Heart Foundation as an ally after several friends had children with congenital heart defects.
When he isn’t teaching, Tom coaches youth wrestling for the Great Neck Park District and studies sports strategy using statistical modeling. He is passionate about the scientific research process and hopes to help fund research to help more children have happy and active childhoods.
Medical Advisory Board Member: Emile Bacha, MD
Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center Director of Congenital and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital/Columbia.
Founder/Past President: Beatriz N. Collado
Beatriz Collado holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and English and a Master of Science in Literacy and Learning. She has been involved in the teaching field for 8 years and is a loving mother to her two children, Charlie and Riley. In memory of her daughter Charlie, she is dedicated to helping raise congenital heart defect awareness and helping to raise funds to support essential CHD research.