From the Heart: Margie Johnson

by Claire Gallo in Impact

How leading with heart took on new meaning for Margie Johnson (Beta Delta–UCLA)

For over 30 years, Margie Markson Johnson (Beta Delta–UCLA) has championed Alpha Phi through a multitude of volunteer roles with the fraternity from Recruitment and Chapter Advisor to District Governor and Trustee on Alpha Phi Foundation’s Board. It was through intergenerational and inspiring friendships with fellow alumnae like Liz Bean Crookston (Xi–Toronto), Margie was empowered to further her commitment to leadership and service to other women through Alpha Phi.

Pictured: Margie celebrating her birthday in August 2021

Seven years ago, Margie developed a moderate congenital heart murmur that was believed to be unproblematic. Her health care team believed Margie would see another seven or eight years before needing intervention or surgical procedure. Working at Syracuse University (SU), walking about 5 miles daily, and maintaining an active lifestyle, like so many women who are visibly in good health, she never expected to experience a cardiac event.

While climbing the stairs one day, she felt exceptionally winded, and her breathing labored. Confiding with a friend about this moment, she was encouraged to seek care from her cardiologist. After completing some tests with her cardiologist and a referral to a cardiac surgeon, Margie received a valve repair – a critical procedure for her overall heart health.

For Margie, the Leading With Heart campaign and Alpha Phi’s philanthropic commitment to women’s heart health takes on a whole new meaning after her cardiac event and procedure. Many women do not have the support system, insurance coverage, or equal access to top-notch cardiovascular care and treatment.

“(Alpha Phi) has an obligation to do whatever we can to support women directly or bolster research efforts so that other women have preventative care and do not find themselves in a situation like mine.”

Reflecting on the meaning of leading with heart, Margie’s life-changing experience caused her thoughts on the campaign to evolve. Starting at “What pulls at my heartstrings?” then wondering “What were the greatest moments of my collegiate and alumnae experience?” Margie has come to passionately believe in the importance of educating our collegiate sisters on our philanthropic focus and commitment to women’s cardiac care and research. She became inspired to support Alpha Phi and help prepare the organization to navigate uncharted waters.

“The work that the Foundation and our chapters are doing is life-changing and lifesaving. We are moving the needle to close the gap for research on how heart health complications present differently in women and the lack of medical research with women in the focus.”


Women’s Heart Health Program

Through donors’ generosity, Alpha Phi Foundation granted over $1.4M to heart health-focused projects and organizations through the Heart to Heart Grant. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in North America. For 28 years, the Heart to Heart Grant has invested in female-focused cardiovascular research and educational initiatives through its annual Heart to Heart Grant. Learn more about the Women’s Heart Health Program.

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