The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® has deep core values in innovation, collaboration, integrity and excellence. The staff and physicians working to achieve our vision of creating a world without heart disease are passionate about their work and are leaders in their field. Currently we have two primary awards to recognize individuals for their efforts:


The Ray Bentdahl Distinguished Service Award, bestowed by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation®, recognizes an individual’s contributions to the Foundation through their accomplishments as a leader, mentor, philanthropist, educator, or researcher. This award specifically honors an individual whose achievements exemplify outstanding leadership and exceptional service to the Foundation, furthering its mission of creating a world without heart and vascular disease. The award was first awarded in September 2012. Past recipients include an esteemed group of physicians:

2012: Fredarick Gobel, MD

2013: Robert Van Tassel, MD

2014: Michael Mooney, MD

2015: Kevin Graham, MD

Profile: 2015 Award Winner

Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham, MD, is the 2015 Ray Bentdahl Distinguished Service Award winner. Dr. Graham served as a distinguished cardiologist with Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital from 1989 to 2011. Some of his initial work included establishing the Under 55 Registry to identify those most at risk for cardiovascular disease and other groundbreaking work on preventive cardiology. His practice spanned Minneapolis and the outstate area, with a deep interest in the New Ulm, Minnesota community. Kevin’s bold leadership paved the way for the visionary prevention model Hearts Beat Back®: The Heart of New Ulm Project, which began in 2009 aiming to eliminate heart attacks and promote healthy lifestyles in New Ulm. In the seven years since HONU’s inception, the community of New Ulm has been transformed. Today, at a community level, more individuals have their blood pressure and cholesterol at the desired level and more people eat the recommended daily number of fruits and vegetables compared to national estimates. Dr. Graham’s vision and leadership are creating a national model for community health. In 2014, HONU was awarded the prestigious NOVA Award by the American Hospital Association.


The Robert G. Hauser Leadership Award, bestowed by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation®, recognizes an individual who promotes visionary leadership. Innovation in clinical practice and research requires champions who take risks to identify necessary changes and create innovative solutions to set those improvements in motion. The award is given to an individual who is a catalyst in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention or treatment, is a change agent that advocates strongly for the needs of patients and the profession and who is an influencer at Minneapolis Heart Institute®, the Foundation and/or related organizations that affect the landscape of cardiovascular disease.

Profile: 2015 Award Winner


John Lesser, MD, is the inaugural 2015 Robert G. Hauser Leadership Award winner. Dr. Lesser was nominated by peers for his dynamic leadership of the cardiac MRI and CT program at Minneapolis Heart Institute®. This cutting-edge work supports the breadth of cardiovascular specialties, providing information that is essential to the diagnosis and treatment of many heart and vascular conditions. He is known as an innovative and creative thinker with the energy and persistence to implement his vision. Dr. Lesser’s authentic leadership has been instrumental to the advancement of many projects and studies which are creating healthier lives for those with or at risk for cardiovascular disease.