Florence Champagne


Turning Heart Pain into Purpose

Ep. 95 - Florence Champagne is Chairperson and CEO of the Open My Heart Foundation. Florence suffered a heart attack in 2012 and, as a result, she had emergency open heart surgery. Due to being uninsured at the time, she did not readily receive the necessary diagnostic testing and life-saving treatment. She found that she was not alone and met other African-American women along the way, who were either uninsured or underinsured, which impacted their ability to receive treatment, thus, creating a life-threatening disparity. Being a heart survivor, she found purpose in her pain as she provides support, advocacy, and leadership to women living with heart disease. Florence is also a spokesperson for WomenHeart a national coalition of women who support women living with or who are at risk of heart disease. The mission of the Open My Heart Foundation is to help eliminate heart health disparities among African American Women and Women of Color.

""The only thing I had was a testimony. And I didn't know how to begin to share what I have been through." 

Heart Disease is the Number #1 Killer in the United States.  African American Women and Women of Color are disproportionately affected. Nearly 50,000 African-American women die annually as a result of the disease.  The organization helps  eliminate disparities in treatment through education, support and advocacy.  This includes monthly support group meetings, heart healthy food and produce, education by experts in the field of heart health and wellness, including fitness, yoga and professional trainers.  They also provide community resources and hospital visitations.  At the Open My Heart Foundation, they help to fill in a gap for much needed medical treatment, equipment as well as assistance with co-pays.  They believe by giving back and helping those with the highest rate of heart disease, they will help level the field and ultimately help to eliminate disparities in treatment.

Florence's accomplishments include being on the Dr. Oz show, speaking on Capitol Hill about heart health disparities, written articles as well as her participation in patient education videos, sharing her personal story empowering women to become advocates for their heart health. Through her advocacy, education, and speaking engagements, Florence has reached approximately 6,000 women. Florence received a BA from George Mason University in Art Therapy and a Master's Degree in Social Work from Howard University. Her history includes working at the White House, the Department of Justice and the US House of Representatives. She is a published author publishing her first book called "Inez's Granddaughter". Florence is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and Sisters4Sisters Network, Inc.

Top Takeaways:

    • How children learn to emulate their elders and eventually want to become like them
    • Understanding the fear that happens when you're on the edge of death.
    • Taking advantage of God-given second chances with life.
    • How to tell your story as advocacy work to empower people who may need to hear what you have to say
    • The power of turning your painful past into purpose for the greater good

Key Moments:

She explains how taking care of her sick great aunt as a child shaped her love for social work today [2:28]

She describes her journey from a college dropout to an assistant legal counsel at White house and rediscovering her love for social work [7:46]

Florence narrates the painful events that happened before she had her open-heart surgery [13:31]

How she learned to tell her story to anyone who listened and started her organization to help women with or at the risk of a heart attack [28:16]

Having a mission in educating women of color on heart-related diseases and supporting survivors [39:11]

How learned to turn her pain into a purpose of helping other women going through their own pain [41:41]

Relevant Links:


LinkedIn Florence Champagne

Open My Heart Board of Directors

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