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January 29: Yuki Kotani
Yuki Kotani; Co-Founder of Harboring Hearts Housing
Hometown: Middletown, MD Education: University of Virginia Class of 2006 Where she lives now: New York What inspired her: Experiencing her father's long-distance heart transplant in New York

Yuki Kotani was raised in Middletown, Maryland, along with her two siblings. Yuki is a congenital heart defect survivor, and her family has a history of heart disease. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2006, with a bachelor's degree in Art History and East Asian Interdisciplinary Studies and moved to New York City after graduation.

In 2007, Yuki's father, who had been struggling with cardiomyopathy for many years and survived numerous heart attacks, underwent an operation for a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Then in the fall of 2007, he came to New York City to receive a heart transplant. Although Yuki and her father's relationship had not been strong over the past several years, their now-close proximity and her father's condition served as an impetus for them to rekindle their relationship and grow closer once again.

As Yuki went through the process of receiving a new heart with her father, she became aware of the many difficulties that patients and their families face during this time. In particular, she recognized that the immense medical costs combined with the additional costs of temporary housing and other living expenses can be a significant financial burden on most families. She also came to understand the importance of having a community of support; she was fortunate enough to find that through a newly acquired friend whose father was also undergoing a heart transplant that year. As Yuki and her father fixed their broken hearts and began making up for lost time, the new bond they created changed the course of Yuki's career. With her father's encouragement, she transitioned from a stressful finance job to co-found her own nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization along with her new friend Michelle Javian. Their charity Harboring Hearts Housing's mission is to provide affordable, temporary housing for heart transplant and cardiac patients in New York City during a time of need. Their facility will also serve as a center for emotional support through a network of people that can empathize with the struggles that cardiac patients and caregivers face. She hopes that Harboring Hearts Housing will not only provide patients and caregivers with temporary housing but also a temporary home.

Heart disease is Yuki's passion now. She has been recognized by American Heart Association 2009 Go Red For Women. She continues to be a heart health activist and to use her story to raise awareness about heart disease.