Katherine began her journey with SCAD in 2003, soon after the birth of her second son. After several weeks of misdiagnoses, she survived heart attack and emergency double bypass surgery. Determined to find the cause of SCAD and prevent it from happening to others, she connected with fellow survivors through social media and used their collective voice to launch research at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
Over the years, she has supported patients and families, advocated for the clinical studies, and worked to achieve greater awareness of SCAD in the media and medical community. In recognition of her efforts, she received the Woman’s Day Red Dress Award in 2012. She has been invited to speak at a range of conferences on the topics of patient-initiated research, rare disease, and patient empowerment. A 2013 highlight was telling the story of SCAD at the #140you conference in New York. In 2014, she spoke at the World Orphan Drug Congress, Brussels, Belgium, on the importance of rare disease research. At the WomenHeart 15th Annual Wenger Award ceremony in 2015, Leon and two other WomenHeart champions accepted the Wenger Award for Excellence in Advancing Research on behalf of all women who have participated in medical research to advance women’s heart health.
Katherine spent her early career in corporate communication and today is board chair of SCAD Alliance. In addition to her advocacy through SCAD Alliance, she is a 2009 graduate of the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic, and volunteers to educate the public in person and online about the number one killer of Americans: heart disease. When she is not on a bleacher watching little league baseball, she enjoys playing golf with her two sons and husband.