Holly Morrell


 Heartfelt’s Founder / Executive Director, Holly Morrell, pioneered the grassroots cardiac screening effort/industry beginning in 1999.

In 2021, Heartfelt reached an incredible milestone, having screened a total of 55,000 adults and children.  Heartfelt’s screening events have resulted in approximately 6,600 individuals being referred for further evaluation, and over 1,000 lives have been saved. In addition, data from these
screenings have been published and utilized for research purposes.

Holly is knowledgeable, experienced, and professional,
but she also has a very personal connection as well. She dedicates her work to the 6 family members lost to HCM. Nine Morrell family members, out of 11, had
the disease; 6 died and 2 live with devices implanted in their chests to protect them from sudden death.


Two family members have received heart

transplants which saved their lives.  Holly herself was diagnosed with HCM in 2002, survived emergency open-heart surgery by only 90 seconds in 2012 and
had her seventh heart-related surgery in April 2019.

Holly established Heartfelt to better serve the general public and preserve the integrity of her mission: to save more lives through early detection, education, and increased public awareness.

Daniel Cortez, MD

supervising cardiologist and research management

Dr. Cortez was was born in Venezuela and raised in the United States. During medical school Dr. Cortez had the opportunity to learn about about electrocardiograms and 3-dimensional EKGs from an excellent physician at the Johnson Space Center. This motivated him to continue to pursue his dream of becoming a cardiologist and subsequently an electrophysiologist.

Dr. Cortez attended medical school at the University of Minnesota, and did his residency at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (now CHOC Children’s). Later he completed a cardiology fellowship at the University of Colorado and trained in a combined adult/pediatric electrophysiology fellowship at Penn State.

He continues to see pediatric and adult patients and performs electrophysiology studies/ablation procedures to cure arrhythmias. He is proud to say he treats patients like family, and strongly values prevention through patient education. He has been happy to be a part of the Heartfelt program and will continue to help throughout its future.

Dawn Atwal, MD

supervising cardiologist and research management

Dr. Dawn Atwal is a cardiologist in Laguna Beach, California and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including MemorialCare Saddleback Memorial Medical Center and Mission Hospitals, in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach.

Dr. Atwal received her medical degree from David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in 1990.  She completed her internal medicine internship, residency, and cardiology fellowship training at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. She has been in practice for over 20 years.

Michele Barilla 

Community Relationship Manager

Hello! As a passionate Heartfelt volunteer here in Orange County, CA, I help foster and maintain Community Relationships to further our collective goal of saving lives.

My Heartfelt Why

At our son’s annual doctor’s appointment, when he was 10 years old, our Family Physician – who had seen him since birth – mentioned hearing a faint whistling sound she hadnt heard before. She referred us to a cardiologist for further exploration. Our son was a big, strong, healthy kid and it took me 6 months to get the cardiologist appointment even scheduled. I found some time right before his baseball practice one afternoon.

We got the EKG done and the cardiologist wasnt worried. She said “I think I hear what your doctor heard but she wants pictures so we’ll do the Echo, too.” When she came in to discuss the results, I was already ancy because the appointment was making us late to practice. What she told me, though, stopped MY heart.

Your son, Nico, has a large hole in his heart and needs open heart surgery as soon as possible!

Turned out he was a ticking timebomb with three holes and leaky valves. It took two open heart surgeries and he still sees his cardiologist yearly, but this is how I know screenings save lives and why I will advocate for screenings and for all Heartfelt does til my last breath. Our family was lucky and Nico’s heart issue was found and repaired. I think about the very real chance it might not have been discovered until he became an SCA statistic on the baseball field.

Let’s Connect

Now that you know why I am so passionate about our services, let’s connect! I’d love to discuss how your company can offer affordable screenings to your employees and their families, how your family can be screened in the comfort of your home, or how we make it comfortable to come to the office to get screened etc.

I’d love to talk about ways you and/or your company can donate to ensure we can continue to provide these services affordably.


Kelsi Rogers

Director of Strategic Communications and Advocacy

Kelsi joins Heartfelt with a robust background in public relations, communications, and marketing, bringing expertise to her role as Director of Strategic Communications and Advocacy. Her career is distinguished by her ability to craft compelling narratives that drive awareness and support for critical causes. At Heartfelt, Kelsi is dedicated to advancing the nonprofit’s mission to provide essential cardiac screenings to children and adults aged five and older. Her commitment to the organization is deeply personal and driven by her own experiences as a heart mom.

Kelsi’s journey with pediatric cardiac care began with her son, Jett, who was diagnosed with a rare and complex heart condition called Ventricular Tachycardia at just 10 days old. Jett’s first year was fraught with life flights, hospital stays, and critical medical interventions, including a challenging cardiac ablation procedure that addressed 17 different sites over nearly nine hours. Despite facing severe complications such as cardiac shock and metabolic acidosis, Jett’s resilient spirit and a miraculous save by an off-duty firefighter after a cardiac arrest in a park, have been nothing short of inspiring.

Today, as Jett continues to thrive and inspire after celebrating his second birthday, Kelsi’s resolve to support and advocate for advancements in pediatric cardiac care has only strengthened. Her personal narrative fuels her professional drive, making her a passionate and heartfelt advocate for the lifesaving work done at Heartfelt. Through her strategic communications efforts, she aims to elevate the visibility of Heartfelt’s critical services and galvanize support to ensure that every child receives the cardiac care they deserve.