Our Team – San Diego Project Heart Beat is a team of professionals dedicated to saving lives. We are proud to be associates with our Partners and supporters who make it possible for us to continue saving lives.

James DunfordJames V. Dunford, MD

Dr. Dunford is the Medical Director of the City of San Diego and a Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UCSD Medical Center. In 2000 Jim saw the potential of public access to defibrillation (PAD) programs and collaborated with key stakeholders to found San Diego Project Heart Beat. Jim serves as the President of the Greater San Diego Board of the American Heart Association. In 2008 he received the Volunteer Physician of the Year Award for the AHA Western States (California, Nevada and Utah).


Karen McElliotKaren L. McElliott
AED Advocate

Karen McElliott has lived in San Diego since April of 1972.  She attended Colorado State University and has served on and chaired various organizations and task forces within her community focusing on health, education, and land use issues. Karen McElliott was appointed to the Division of Medical Quality in 1992 by Governor Pete Wilson, Karen served as President of the Division of Medical Quality from 1993 to 1995.  She served as Secretary, Vice President, and President of the Medical Board of California from 1996-2000.  She is a former public member of the California Board of Podiatric Medicine where she served as President in 1991.

San Diego Mayoral appointments include; past Chairwoman of Qualcomm Stadium Advisory Board, past Vice Chairwoman of the San Diego Planning Commission, served as a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Padre Planning, and served as acting Vice Chair of the Naval Training Center Reuse Planning Committee.  She was the Volunteer Chairwoman for Super Bowl XXXII, and was responsible for the recruiting, training and organizing over 10,000 volunteers. She was Communications and Media Relations Co- Chair of Super Bowl XXXVII.  She was the Volunteer Chairwoman of the Yes, on Proposition “C” Campaign for the new downtown ballpark.  Karen is on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Holiday Bowl and serves on its Team Selection Committee.  She has chaired the Kickoff Luncheon for the San Diego Holiday Bowl and is the board liaison for the Holiday Bowl Red Shirts. Past Board member of LEAD San Diego, is an active member of the Board of Directors of the San Diego International Sports Council, and a Member of the Board of Committee 2000 for Women, supporting a baseball district in San Diego.  She is Secretary on the Board of the Port Tenants Association.  She ran unsuccessfully for the 5th District Council seat.  Karen is presently committed  to San Diego Project Heart Beat.  A program that provides awareness, education and early access to AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) in the city and county of San Diego to help SAVE LIVES.  She has been recognized for her efforts by receiving the Alonzo 2003 Downtown Partnership Award, KGTV Channel Ten Finalist Leadership Award, and City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Volunteer of the Year.

Maureen OConnorMaureen O’Connor
PAD Program Manager

Maureen O’Connor has been in the field of emergency services for nearly seventeen years. Most recently she acts as the Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) PROGRAM MANAGER for San Diego Project Heart Beat (SDPHB). SDPHB is one of our nation’s first defibrillation programs to offer such a unique opportunity for public and private venture. SDPHB was recognized by the National Center for Early Defibrillation (NCED) as best Large Community Program of the year in October of 2003. Most recently SDPHB received the 2009 Heart Safe Community Award PAD Program, Large Community from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association’s 2009 SCAA Public Service Award. Maureen takes great pride in her involvement with the development of this internationally recognized program since its inception in 2001.

Maureen has served the communities of San Diego County as an Emergency First Responder in many different facets. Maureen has worked on some of San Diego Cities busiest paramedic units for San Diego Fire-Rescue, served as a Firefighter for the City of Poway and worked as a Ranger/Diver for the City of San Diego and is a Citizen’s CPR Foundation Board Member.

Maureen’s passion for life saving PAD programs is apparent in the success of San Diego Project Heart Beat. Maureen and her team members have helped bring the dream and foresight of Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) and Early Access Defibrillation programs into fruition within the communities of San Diego County saving 68 lives to date and deploying over 5000 Automatic External Defibrillator’s (AED’s). Maureen won the San Diego Business Journal’s Annual Women Who Mean Business Award in October of 2004, for her success and accomplishments with the regional PAD program. She was also recognized by her department as EMS Administrative Support Person of the Year during National EMS Week in May 2005 and recipient of VFW Post 3788’s 2005 Paramedic/EMT of the year award.

Loralee OlejnickLoralee Olejnick
Community Relations Specialist

Loralee Olejnik is the Community Relations Specialist for San Diego Project Heart Beat and Rural/Metro Ambulance-San Diego. In this role, she develops comprehensive community education programming for public access defibrillation and emergency medical services. She is certified as an EMT-B, an American Heart Association CPR/AED instructor, and as a child passenger safety technician. Her special projects include CPR/AED outreach to schools and law enforcement agencies, as well as she heads emergency responder wellness programs.