He’s also the president, CEO and co-founder of Anybill, Inc, an accounts payable company, and he guards a special place in his heart for the AHA after having lost his father and both grandfathers to heart disease.
Although it’s his last year chairing the event, he said he will always be involved with AHA and is excited to embark on the search for a new Chair. “It’s one of those things – everyone is committed to the things that they’re passionate about,” Voorhees said, anticipating the incoming chair would likely harbor a similar connection to the cause. AT&T Federal President Kay Kapoor will chair the 2015 Greater Washington Region Heart Ball.
Voorhees cautioned about the many challenges associated with chairing an event like the Heart Ball – namely, that inducing individuals to donate, sometimes, requires some elbow-grease.
“Asking corporate folks out there to give us treasure is harder than I ever would have anticipated,” Voorhees said. “Health issues are obviously things that we don’t like to deal with and I think in some ways they are harder to raise money for, but that makes raising money all the more necessary.”
The event last year raised a total of $1,190,000 for critical research, education and heart health support advocacy. AHA spent eighty-five percent of that money on mission-critical projects and research areas ranging from obesity prevention to tobacco control and heart disease and stroke treatment.
This year, the group wants to raise $1.5 million and will have a theme surrounding the Lunar New Year. As is the tradition goes, during the Lunar New Year, there will be a celebration of longevity, happiness and good fortune.
And top sponsors, such as the American Legacy Foundation, might be able to help them accomplish that goal. The not-for-profit group established in 1998 has committed itself to encouraging smoking cessation and preventing teen smoking.
Voorhees said the correlation between smoking and heart disease and cardiovascular afflictions is enormous so he is thrilled about Legacy’s great contributions to the Heart Ball.
“Legacy was a wonderful sponsor last year and has stepped up with a huge contribution this year which we are really happy about,” Voorhees said. “What we are seeing is the continuity of the donor base to this event which is very exciting to me and for leadership at the American Heart Association. Also, we are seeing new and exciting companies and individuals getting involved in a way that I think is really special.”
And aside from its impact with the AHA, a lot of the money the Heart Ball raises each year stays local by flowing back into regional institutions and thereby serves the local community in what Voorhees deemed a “meaningful way.”
This year’s Heart Ball – set to take place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel — will differ from last year’s which was held at The Building Museum. And the event, Voorhees said, will capitalize on the Asian-inspired theme to promote heart health.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have begun discussions early with the Mandarin Oriental who has been really, really marvelous in working with us and managing budgets. I think while the event will be completely different because it will be in the hotel,” Voorhees said. “It will be sort of sumptuous and wonderful. Of course there is an Asian theme to what we are doing which fits into their branding. Also we are trying to watch diets and be heart healthy and all of that good stuff.”
Voorhees also told WashingtonExec about one of his company’s various philanthropic programs: Companies for Causes.
Through it, groups of local executives guide small to medium sized enterprises in adopting a school to fulfill the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.
“We have done that with great success on the Hill at Eastern High School for the last two years and we will continue that process and project. Tom Raffa leads the organization and anyone who knows him knows how big his heart is,” Voorhees said. “He is very committed to this. It is an unusual group because we try to stay very informal but we bring benchmarking and metrics to our philanthropy.”
For more on Voorhees, like how he went from earning a B.A. in English to starting his own company, read our 2013 Q&A with him here.
Click here to find out more about this year’s Heart Ball or to sign up for the event.