About Us - American Heart Association

Our Mission. To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  That single purpose drives all we do.  The need for our work is beyond question.
A Message From CEO Nancy Brown (opens in new window)

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, our organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. We fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide critical tools and information to save and improve lives. Our nationwide organization includes 156 local offices and more than 3,000 employees. We moved our national headquarters from New York to Dallas in 1975 to be more centrally located. The American Stroke Association was created as a division in 1997 to bring together the organization’s stroke-related activities.


What We Do: To improve the lives of all Americans, we provide public health education in a variety of ways. We’re the nation’s leader in CPR education training. We help people understand the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. We provide science-based treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals to help them provide quality care to their patients. We educate lawmakers, policymakers and the public as we advocate for changes to protect and improve the health of our communities.


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Our Lifesaving History

Before the American Heart Association existed, people with heart disease were considered to be doomed to complete bed rest – or worse.


But a handful of pioneering physicians and social workers believed it didn’t have to be that way. They conducted studies to learn more about heart disease, eventually leading to the founding of the American Heart Association in 1924.


“We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease,” said Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who founded the organization.


The early American Heart Association enlisted help from hundreds, then thousands, of physicians and scientists. The association reorganized in 1948, transforming from a scientific society to a voluntary health organization composed of both science and lay volunteers and supported by professional staff. Since then, the American Heart Association has grown rapidly in size and influence – nationally and internationally.


In 1975, the headquarters moved from New York City to Dallas to be more centrally located. Volunteer-led affiliates formed a national network of local organizations providing research funding, education, community programs and fundraising.


In the 1980s, the association became a much more visible champion of public health, starting advocacy efforts that remain active today locally across America in all 50 states and in Washington. Large gifts allowed the association to support new research projects and education programs, including more efforts to address heart disease and stroke in women and minorities.


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Meet the team

John Warner - President (opens in new window) Dr. John Warner
President
James Postl - Chairman (opens in new window) James Postl
Chairman
Bertram Scott- Chairman-Elect (opens in new window) Bertram Scott
Chairman-Elect
Ivor Benjamin - President-Elect (opens in new window) Dr. Ivor Benjamin
President-Elect
Alvin Royse - Immediate Past Chairman (opens in new window) Alvin Royse
Immediate Past Chairman
Steven Houser - Immediate Past President (opens in new window) Dr. Steven Houser
Immediate Past President
Raymond Vara Jr. - Treasurer (opens in new window) Raymond Vara Jr.
Treasurer
Nancy Brown - Chief Executive Officer (opens in new window) Nancy Brown
Chief Executive Officer
Suzie Upton- Chief Operating Officer (opens in new window) Suzie Upton
Chief Operating Officer
Rose Marie Robertson - Chief Science Officer (opens in new window) Dr. Rose Marie Robertson
Chief Science and Medical Officer
Meighan Girgus - Chief Marketing and Programs Officer (opens in new window) Meighan Girgus
Chief Marketing and Programs Officer
Larry Cannon - Chief Administrative Officer (opens in new window) Larry Cannon
Chief Administrative Officer
Gerald Johnson, Chief Diversity Officer (opens in new window) Gerald Johnson
Chief Diversity Officer
John Meiners, Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses (opens in new window) John Meiners
Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses
Eduardo Sanchez, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention and Chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation(opens in new window) Dr. Eduardo Sanchez
Chief Medical Officer for Prevention and Chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Laura Sol, Chief of Staff to the CEO (opens in new window)
Laura Sol
Chief of Staff to the CEO
 

John Warner - PresidentDr. John Warner M.D., MBA

President
John Warner, M.D., MBA is the 2017-18 president of the American Heart Association. He is chief executive officer of UT Southwestern Hospitals in Dallas. Also at UT Southwestern, he is the Jim and Norma Smith Distinguished Chair for Interventional Cardiology.
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James Postl - Chairman

James Postl

Chairman
James Postl is the 2017-19 chairman of the board of the American Heart Association. He is the retired president and chief executive officer of Pennzoil-Quaker State Company.
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Bertram L. Scott - Chairman-ElectBertram L. Scott

Chairman-Elect
Bertram L. Scott is the 2017-19 chairman-elect of the board of the American Heart Association. He is senior vice president of population health and value based care at Novant Health.
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Ivor Benjamin - President-ElectIvor Benjamin, M.D., FAHA

President-Elect
Ivor Benjamin, M.D., FAHA is 2017-18 president-elect of the American Heart Association. He is director of the Cardiovascular Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Read More about Ivor Benjamin
Alvin Royse - Immediate Past Chairman

Alvin Royse, J.D., CPA

Immediate Past Chairman
Alvin Royse, J.D., CPA is the immediate past chairman of the American Heart Association. Royse is a retired senior partner with the national accounting firm of Deloitte, where he was Global and U.S. National Managing Partner for Tax Industries and Tax Marketplace Development.
Read More about Alvin Royse
Steven Houser - Immediate Past President (opens in new window)

Steven Houser, Ph.D., FAHA

Immediate Past President
Steven Houser, Ph.D., FAHA is the immediate past president of the American Heart Association. He is senior associate dean of research, chairperson of the department of physiology, and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.
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Raymond Vara Jr. - TreasurerRaymond Vara Jr.

Treasurer
Raymond Vara Jr. is the 2015-17 treasurer of the American Heart Association. Vara is president and chief executive officer of Hawai‘i Pacific Health in Honolulu, Hawaii. As treasurer, he is responsible for the funds and securities of the American Heart Association. He is the 2015-16 chairperson of the association’s Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee and Budget Review Subcommittee, a member of the Audit Committee, and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2011. He was the 2009-11 chairman of the association’s former Pacific Mountain Affiliate.
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Nancy Brown - CEO

Nancy Brown

Chief Executive Officer

Nancy Brown has been Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association (AHA) since 2009. The Association is widely known and highly respected as the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to preventing, treating and defeating cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

During her tenure as CEO, the AHA has become a global leader in the discovery and dissemination of heart disease and stroke science. Notably, under Nancy’s leadership the Association announced its bold new 2020 health impact goal: To improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. Nancy’s drive to set a brave long-term goal, at a time when many other organizations were focused on short-term needs, has provided a rallying point for the Association’s millions of volunteers, staff, and donors.


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Meighan Girgus - Chief Mission Officer

Meighan Girgus, MBA

Chief Mission Officer
Meighan Girgus is Chief Mission Officer of the American Heart Association, responsible for a wide range of organizational efforts that support our mission: Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Read More about Meighan Girgus
Rose Marie Robertson - Chief Science Officer

Rose Marie Robertson, M.D., FAHA

Chief Science Officer
Rose Marie Robertson is Chief Science Officer of the American Heart Association. In this role, she is responsible for the overall science and medical policies and initiatives of one of the nation’s leading science-based organizations, including its work in supporting and accelerating biomedical research, in publishing the leading medical journals in cardiovascular and stroke science, and in providing a home for the broad range of professional members of the association.
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Suzie Upton - Chief Development Officer

Suzie Upton

Chief Operating Officer
As Chief Operating Officer for the American Heart Association, Suzie Upton oversees the association’s nationwide fundraising and volunteerism efforts.

She is accountable for volunteerism strategy and fundraising that includes the field campaign, planned giving, individual and major gifts, and corporate relations. She is also accountable for creating additional revenue sources through innovative approaches to fundraising and new business models.
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Gerald Johnson - Chief Diversity Officer

Gerald Johnson, MBA

Chief Diversity Officer
As Chief Diversity Officer for the American Heart Association (AHA), Gerald brings a wealth of experience in building brands and driving sales results for great brands including Lever 2000, Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Dr Pepper, 7-UP, Snapple, Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher and Earvin “Magic” Johnson at fortune 100 companies including Unilever, Nabisco, Cadbury Schweppes, Dr. Pepper/7-UP, ConAgra Foods and Magic Johnson Enterprises. During his tenure he’s held various leadership positions in Marketing, most recently as Chief Marketing Officer for Magic Johnson Enterprises and the Magic Johnson Foundation with accountability for leading marketing across all businesses, as well as driving revenue and sales for Strategic Alliances, Licensing and Fund Raising.
Read More about Gerald Johnson
John Meiners - Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses

John Meiners

Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses
John Meiners is Chief of Mission Aligned Businesses for the American Heart Association (AHA). In this key role, John leads the development and expansion of AHA’s businesses that support its global mission to reduce mortality from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 25 percent by 2025. Additionally, he assumes responsibility for furthering AHA’s development of new products, technology platforms and services. The four business segments that fall under John’s leadership are Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC), Workplace Health, Global Programs and National Corporate Relations.
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Eduardo Sanchez - Chief Medical Officer for Prevention and Chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP

Chief Medical Officer for Prevention and Chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Eduardo Sanchez serves as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Prevention and Chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the American Heart Association (AHA). Prior to joining AHA, he served as Vice President and CMO for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) where he focused on worker and worksite wellness, clinical prevention, and chronic disease management, particularly diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Read More about Edurado Sanchez
 

Laura Sol - Chief of Staff to the CEOLaura Sol

Chief of Staff to the CEO
As Chief of Staff, Laura Sol serves as a key staff partner to the Chief Executive Officer and has organization-wide accountability for strategic planning and new business initiatives that integrate across functions of the association. Laura is also responsible to develop strategic partnerships and relationships on behalf of the CEO, that result in highly motivated and fully engaged volunteers and partners while achieving the goals of the American Heart Association (AHA).
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Larry Cannon - Chief Administrative OfficerLarry Cannon

Chief Administrative Officer
As Chief Administrative Officer, Larry Cannon drives the American Heart Association’s day-to-day business operations through the design and implementation of best practices and strategic planning. In addition to overseeing all financial management, he is responsible for the Association’s technology, human resources, facilities and other strategic business investments and operations.
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