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Updated 1:30 PM April 26, 2008




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Spotlight: Husband inspired Heart Walk participant

With a list of names draped behind her like a wedding dress veil, Lynne Peirce stood in a field at Washtenaw Community College following the American Heart Association's Start! Heart Walk.
(Photo courtesy Lynne Peirce)

In a pair of sweatpants and her long-sleeves rolled up to her elbows, Peirce received a congratulatory hug from her husband Tom, the primary inspiration for her involvement with the walk. She plans to participate again in this year's event May 3.

"I'm a little more than passionate about the cause," says Peirce, manager of training and development for Health Information Management in the Hospitals and Health Centers (UMHHC). "I nearly lost my husband to heart disease 10 years ago. Until that time, I never considered the important role of the American Heart Association (AHA) in education and research."

During Heart Walk, a paper list of names trails more than 5 feet behind her to represents the donors she walks to honor and remember.

"I experienced how meaningful it was to wear the names of my loved ones who have been victims of cardiovascular disease so I started doing it for all my donors, too," Peirce says.

Although U-M Health System (UMHS) has supported the AHA Start Heart Walk for years, it wasn't until 2001 that Peirce became captain of the Health Information Management (HIM) team.

"As head of my department's community service and wellness activities, I knew I'd be serving as team captain," Peirce says.

In the seven years working with Heart Walk, HIM has become the top team at U-M, raising more than $40,000.

"I have the best possible job, in the best department, for the best organization," says Peirce, who has been an employee of the UMHHC for 39 years.

What started as a summer job for Pierce quickly developed into a career. "I took on a job as a file clerk in Patient Accounting right out of high school and never left," she says.

After many years of working a variety of shifts, it was fellow employee Tom Biggs who helped steer Peirce in the direction of her current job.

"(He) recommended an opportunity to be trained as a corporate facilitator and trainer," Peirce says. "That position lead to my current role at HIM."

Peirce, who works out of the North Campus Administrative Complex, is responsible for the development of several projects on a daily basis, one of the most recent, "Stop, Look and Listen," a course on interpersonal communication.

Some of the other tasks throughout her day include reviewing the employee orientation process, scheduling team meetings, planning the "Take Your Child to Work" day promotion and revising the annual unit-based safety training program.

"One of the best things about working in this department is that it values the right things: people," she says. "My bosses brought me on 10 years ago and asked me to create a department that would be the benchmark in everything. Since then that's what we've endeavored to do."

For Peirce, the best part of her job is her department's involvement in the University's community service program.

"Because our work is about managing health information versus direct patient care, we can do what we do best, raising money," she says. "We average about $16,000 a year in money and gift donations."

Peirce also is involved with the Sweet Adelines, a women's a cappella group that has more than 30,000 member's worldwide.

"This is another big part of my life that has brought me so much joy," she says. "Not only does this organization help singers develop their vocal skills but it also has a positive impact on their personal and professional growth."

Since 1985 Peirce has performed at the local, national and international level with the Sweet Adelines. In the past six years she also has been part of the Novelty Shop, a comedy quartet.

A certified music director who donates her time to the County Connection Chorus in Ypsilanti, Peirce feels fortunate to be able to combine two of her biggest passions this spring; the Heart Walk and music.

Held at Washtenaw Community College May 3, Heart Walk will feature the County Connection Chorus, appropriately performing "You Gotta' Have Heart."

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the University. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at

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