Heart disease kills more women in the United States than any other cause. Yet, only about half of women recognize this leading killer. Fewer still know the risk factors and the steps they can take to lower the chances of getting heart disease. Artemis Emslie, a Tampa-based business executive, along with the executive cabinet of Tampa Bay’s American Heart Association Go Red for Women Initiative, is out to change that.
Emslie is chairing this year’s Go Red for Women Luncheon. This is the cornerstone event of the movement, which aims to raise $1 million to help prevent heart disease and strokes among women in our region. With more than 25 years’ experience in the medical field and a passion for helping women succeed in life and in the workforce, Emslie is well-positioned to champion women’s heart health.
A new corporate focus
While the Go Red for Women Initiative traditionally has been about empowering women to prioritize their own health, Emslie brought an additional focus this year. She got corporate business leaders involved.
“Any successful business leader will say the most important resource is human capital,” Emslie says. “We all want to have a happy, healthy workforce.”
Women make up 60 percent of the nation’s workforce. Emslie says it only makes sense that raising awareness about the leading killer of women should be a priority for every business leader.
“We need to close the gap of knowledge about heart disease and that requires that we educate everyone,” she says. “If you increase awareness, the broader population benefits.”
According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease at some point in their lives. These risks include high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. With awareness and lifestyle changes, 80 percent of these diseases are preventable.
“What struck me was that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, but so few people know that,” she says. “This population is driving our workforce. It’s really important to educate everyone about the risk and what symptoms to look for.”
Raising awareness among the entire population—not just women—is a key driver for Emslie. “A lot of women are really busy and that leads us to ignore symptoms,” she says. “We can be our own worst enemy. That’s why we need a buddy system. We need the other people in our lives, our husbands, partners, friends and family to be aware of the symptoms, too.”
Leading with experience
Emslie’s business experience supports her passion for empowering women to get involved in the medical field as well as take control of their health.
As an economics major at the University of South Florida, she thought she would go into the banking field. Instead, while working as a bartender to put herself through school, she served two men who couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved their jobs with a pharmaceutical company. Their enthusiasm led her to explore and eventually enter the field.
Emslie went on to become CEO of myMatrixx, a regional pharmacy benefit management company that she helped grow into a national player. From there, she founded ProspeRX Solutions, an auditing firm for worker compensation insurance providers.
She is currently president of CadenceRX, a peer-to-peer prescription technology platform to manage prescription benefits.
Mentoring tomorrow’s leaders
Emslie’s interest in helping women enter the medical field led her to create the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation. She currently serves on the executive board of the think tank, which shares ideas and mentors future industry leaders.
“I realized that those of us in leadership have access to a ton of tools,” she says. “We have coaching, and seminars and really cool educational opportunities. What would it look like if we created an organization that gives other women access to these tools?”
In 2014, Emslie invited 20 female CEOs and business leaders to Boston to discuss the idea. The Alliance was born and now holds over 50 events a year with an average of 500 attendees for each event.
“We offer two educational tracts: leaderships skills and emerging trends,” she says. “The organization is five years old and we have 5,000 members.”
Giving back to the community
Emslie also serves on the board of directors for Paradigm Outcomes, a catastrophic-care management company, and Ametros, a company that aims to make health care easier for the injured and anyone paying out-of-pocket for medical needs.
In addition, she’s a member of the advisory boards for the Committee for Economic Development in Washington, D.C., Business Insurance magazine, WorkCompCentral’s Comp Laude Awards, and Kids Chance, a nonprofit organization offering scholarships to children who have been affected by a parent’s catastrophic injury or death.
“I took some time off work to spend more time with my sons and I started joining boards,” she says. “We can define success when we have the time to give back personally.”
When asked how she packs so much volunteer work into an already-packed professional life, she says, “I’ve always been a laid-back person who takes things day by day. I don’t think about any of this as work. I think, ‘Wow. I get to do this really cool work.’ ”
Chairing the Go Red for Women Luncheon falls into the “cool work” category for Emslie. She’s passionate about closing the knowledge gap so that more people—men and women—are aware of heart disease and how to prevent it.
“We are so thankful for her passion and her commitment to empowering women around their health and to getting more men involved and supporting the cause,” said Amanda Palumbo, executive director of the Tampa Bay chapter of the American Heart Association. “Artemis has a really fun vision for the luncheon with a lot of tangible takeaways for the attendees. We appreciate that she’s bringing some sparkle to this year’s event.”
To learn more about the Go Red for Women Luncheon, Feb. 14, 2020, at Armature Works in Tampa, visit heart.org. ♦