Links Chapters of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia Host the Community’s Biggest Heart Health & Wellness Program on National Wear Red Day


Program Garnered Global Education and Awareness During Heart Health and Black History Month

ARLINGTON, Va. February 21, 2022 — Live from Facebook on National Wear Red Day, the 14th Annual DMV Links Red Dress Program — Heart Health and Wellness Weekend — from Friday, February 4 through Sunday, February 6, 2022, created global awareness around the importance of the leading killer among Black women, heart disease. Fourteen (14) Links Chapters from the District of Columbia, Maryland and northern Virginia (DMV) in partnership with the American Heart Association® Greater Washington Region, provided crucial information on heart health and wellness.

The program’s theme looked toward the future — “A Heart Healthy You in 2022.” Michelle Bailey, Links national PR chair, served as Red Dress chairwoman for the fourth consecutive year.

Programming kicked off on Friday night featuring medical and public-health thought leaders and special guests including Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, PhD, National President, The Links, Incorporated (Links); Roland Martin, Roland Martin Unfiltered; Dr. James Hildred, President & CEO, Meharry Medical College and Biden-Harris Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force appointee; and Germaine Williams, celebrity wellness expert and Platinum Sponsor MELĒ Skincare brand ambassador. NBC 4 Anchor/Reporter Jummy Olabanji served as emcee for the program. Links national Health & Human Services (HHS) director, Dr. Nicholette Martin and Links national HeartLinks chair and Walk for Healthy Living chair Mary E. Clark also spoke on opening night.

“The Links, Incorporated is proud of this opportunity to drive impact on a global scale. We are creating awareness about the importance of heart health and wellness, particularly for Black women and women of African descent,” said Red Dress speaker Kimberly Jefferies Leonard, PhD, national president of The Links, Incorporated. “While we hoped to be in person this year, our virtual programming has enabled us to expand our reach beyond geographic borders and positively engage a broader audience of women who need this critical information. This reach allows us to be even more impactful as we continue Transforming Communities ~ Fulfilling Our Purpose.”

This year’s program reached over 10,000 viewers from the US, Canada, Virgin Islands, Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, India, Turkey and Gibraltar. A panel of nationally-renowned experts explored vital topics such as total heart health, mental health, self-care/wellness, covid-19 and the breast cancer connection to heart disease.

Panelists included Dr. Reginald Robinson (cardiologist) American Heart Association® Board President, Eastern States Region Board of Directors; Dr. Corey Hebert, on-air medical expert and Dillard University Chief Medical Officer; Dr. Regina Hampton (breast cancer surgeon) medical staff president, Doctor’s Community Hospital; Ricki Fairley (breast cancer advocate) TOUCH The Breast Cancer Alliance; Dr. Lisa Cooper Lucas (psychologist); Germaine Williams (celebrity wellness expert) The Red Bloom Wellness Spa; and Rev. Gail Harris-Barry (5x heart attack survivor) American Heart Association Ambassador®. Multi-Emmy Award winning media veteran Andrea Roane moderated the panel.

Of course, no Links Red Dress opening program is complete without a special opportunity and gifts. MELĒ Skincare provided a virtual photo booth and winning participants were delighted with their awards. More than $8000 in prizes were awarded, including signature Grand Prize packages from Cultura Dermatology and Laser Center, Paris Alexander Day Spa, Dr. Denise Bruner, MD and the Red Bloom Wellness Spa.

On Saturday afternoon gold sponsor Monarch Magazine presented “Culinary & Conversation: A Red Dress Brunch” on their YouTube channel. Celebrity Chef Cynthia Pean, vegan chef to actor Will Smith, interviewed MSNBC’s Symone Sanders while preparing an instructional delicious brunch. Links members filled the virtual studio and engaged around a pertinent Q&A on politics, self-care and nutrition.

Red Dress Sunday “Virtual Praise and Worship” was live streamed from Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC. Rev. William H. Lamar, IV is pastor. Links national HHS Director Dr. Nicholette Martin, a member of Metropolitan, brought heart health remarks. Red Dress Sunday is also an opportunity for the DMV Links to provide faith based community partners with pertinent heart health materials from the American Heart Association® and INOVA Heart and Vascular Institute.

Friday’s Red Dress generous corporate sponsors were national partner, the American Heart Association®; Platinum Plus Sponsors MELĒ Skincare, and Northrop Grumman; Platinum Sponsors Walgreens Boots Alliance and Black Health Matters; and Gold Sponsors INOVA Heart & Vascular Institute, S&P Global, Northern Virginia Community Foundation: The Chatman Fund and Monarch Magazine.

With generous sponsorships from corporations and DMV Links Chapters, this marks the 2nd consecutive year donations were made to three DMV non-profit organizations. This year’s community partner awardees are Dress for Success (DC), The TRIO Program at Montgomery College (MD) and the Ciera Brookins Lupus Education Foundation, Inc. (VA).

DMV Links Red Dress 2022 sponsoring Chapters are as follows: Arlington (VA) – Chair Chapter, Capital City (DC), Greater Rappahannock (VA), Loudoun County (VA), Metropolitan (DC), Mount Rose (MD), Patuxent River (MD), Potomac (VA), Prince George’s County (MD), Reston (VA), Silver Spring (MD), Southern Maryland Chain (MD), Washington (DC), and Willow Oak (MD).

14th Annual DMV Links Red Dress

For full program details, speaker and participant bios and a directory of donors, Click Here.

In 2008, the Arlington (VA) Links Chapter started a Heart Truth Program through a grant from The Links, Incorporated and national partner the American Heart Association®. With the goal of educating women of color in the Arlington, VA community about Heart Disease, the program laid the foundation for what became the Red Dress program. The inaugural Arlington (VA) Links Red Dress attracted 50 attendees on National Wear Red Day, February 1, 2008. The free community-wide program has taken on a new direction. Focused on greater scale, impact and reach, 10-14 chapters across Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland (DMV) have joined together in partnership annually since 2018. As a result, the DMV Links Red Dress program has become known as the largest program of its kind in the region, among the largest regional programs highlighting heart disease. And over the past two years it is considered to be the community’s biggest virtual heart health and wellness program.