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.
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.
Meet the team
Mark Creager, M.D., FAHA, is president of the American Heart Association for its 2015-16 fiscal year. As president, Creager is chief volunteer scientific and medical officer, responsible for medical, scientific and public health matters. Creager is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Vascular Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. On July 6, 2015, Creager assumes the position of director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and professor of medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Read More about Mark Creager
Alvin Royse, J.D., CPA, is the 2015-17 chairman of the board of the American Heart Association. As chairman, Royse is responsible for the overall administration of business affairs, public relations and fundraising and will preside over meetings of the board of directors and Executive Committee. A volunteer since 1997, Dennis was the association’s secretary-treasurer in 2012-13, chairman of the association’s Western States Affiliate from 2008 to 2010, and is also a past chairman of its San Francisco Metro board. In 2010 he was named the Western States Affiliate’s Volunteer of the Year.
Read More about Alvin Royse
James Postl is the chairman-elect of the American Heart Association. He is the retired president and chief executive officer of Pennzoil-Quaker State Company. Postl is the 2014-16 chairman of the association’s SouthWest Affiliate and co-chaired the organization’s International Committee from 2013 to 2015. He has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2010, and is also a member of the association’s Advocacy Coordinating Committee, Audit Committee, Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee, Executive Committee, and Nominating Committee. Postl became a volunteer in 2001 in the Houston area, and has played a leading role in fundraising for local events including Heart Walk and Heart Ball. He chaired the Houston Heart Walk in 2003.
Read More about James Postl
Steven Houser, Ph.D., FAHA, is president-elect of the American Heart Association. He is director of the Cardiovascular Research Center and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physiology at Temple University in Philadelphia. He was the 2013-15 chairperson of the association’s Research Committee and is a member of the Advocacy Coordinating Committee, Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee, Executive Committee, Manuscript Oversight Committee, Nominating Committee, and Science Advisory & Coordinating Committee. A volunteer since 1995, Houser is also a longtime member of the association’s Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. In 2013, he received the council’s Distinguished Achievement Award and Thomas W. Smith Memorial Lecture Award.
Read More about Steven Houser
Bernie DennisImmediate Past Chairman
Bernie Dennis is the immediate past chairman of the American Heart Association. A volunteer for more than 15 years, Dennis was the association’s secretary-treasurer in 2011-12, chairman of the association’s Founders Affiliate from 2008 to 2010, and is also a past chairman of its Rochester, N.Y. Division. In 2010-11, Dennis chaired the association’s Workplace Giving Initiative, and has also been active in engaging employees from leading companies in volunteerism. As chairman from 2013 to 2015, Dennis’s leadership and business acumen were critical to developing key AHA initiatives including the 2014-17 Strategic Plan, the Life is Why branding and marketing platform, and the Vision for Volunteerism movement. Dennis has also been a passionate supporter of AHA advocacy priorities including CPR in Schools and smoke-free air legislation, and represented the association at meetings with the National Insitutes of Health and with Capitol Hill legislators at the organization’s 2015 You’re the Cure on the Hill event.
Read More about Bernie Dennis
Elliot AntmanImmediate Past President
Elliott Antman, M.D., FAHA is the immediate past president of the American Heart Association. He is professor of medicine and associate dean for clinical/translational research at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician in the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A highly respected leader in cardiovascular research, he has authored or co-authored more than 700 scientific articles and led numerous multicenter trials. Antman has been an AHA volunteer since 1977, and among his many leadership roles, he chaired the association’s Committee on Scientific Sessions Program in 2011 and 2012. As president, Antman emphasized the importance of technology and data strategies in advancing cardiovascular and brain health and improving patient outcomes. He chaired the AHA’s first-ever Data Summit in April 2015 and provided key guidance for the association’s inaugural Health Tech Summit in September 2014.
Read More about Elliot Antman
Raymond 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.
Read More about Raymond Vara Jr.
Nancy BrownChief Executive Officer
Nancy Brown has been Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association since 2009. During her tenure as CEO, the association has become a global leader in the discovery and dissemination of heart disease and stroke science. Under her leadership, the association announced its bold 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.
Read More about Nancy Brown
Meighan GirgusChief 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 RobertsonChief 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.
Read More about Rose Marie Robertson
Sunder D JoshiChief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer
As Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, Sunder Joshi is responsible for a wide range of operations at the American Heart Association. In addition to overseeing the finances of the association, he also is in charge of technology, human resources, facilities and many other business functions necessary to keep a nationwide organization operating effectively.
Read More about Sunder D Joshi
Suzie UptonChief Development Officer
As Chief Development 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.
Read More about Suzie Upton