About Us - Bios

Updated:Apr 21,2015

Nancy Brown

Chief Executive Officer

Nancy Brown has been Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association (AHA) since 2009. Under her leadership, the AHA announced its bold 2020 Goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. The 2020 Goal reflects the AHA’s key priority of instilling a culture of health by improving prevention and emphasizing lifestyle modification. Brown’s leadership was instrumental in creating the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7, seven key steps that are essential to achieving ideal cardiovascular health (Manage Blood Pressure, Control Cholesterol, Reduce Blood Sugar, Get Active, Eat Better, Lose Weight, Stop Smoking).

In addition, Brown has led the AHA in launching major new initiatives including the Cardiovascular Genome-Phenome Study – a ground-breaking research enterprise focused on fulfilling the promise of precision medicine, the Science & Technology Accelerator, the CEO Roundtable, the Innovation Think Tank, and the organization’s first-ever global strategy.
Brown has held multiple leadership positions since joining the AHA in 1986, including eight years as Chief Operating Officer before being named CEO.

In addition to her work with the AHA, Brown is a board member and co-chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care. She is also the Immediate Past Chairperson of the National Health Council and serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Health Council, Research!America, and on the Boards of Directors of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the American Legacy Foundation and the Valentin Fuster-Mount Sinai Foundation for Science, Health and Empowerment, among others.

Brown earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications and advertising from Central Michigan University.


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.

Among the many areas Girgus oversees are strategic planning, the American Stroke Association, consumer health programs, CPR and First Aid training, communications, advocacy and healthcare quality. 

Girgus has spent much of her career dedicated to improving the quality of the healthcare delivery system. She has been integrally involved in multiple national panels and writing groups dedicated to fighting cardiovascular disease. She was a co-author of the groundbreaking “Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers,” published in JAMA, which was the precedent for a radical shift in stroke care in the United States and the premise for The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center certification program.

Girgus joined the American Heart Association in 1996. Before her promotion to Chief Mission Officer in 2009, she served as Executive Vice President of Health Care for seven years.

Girgus earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, her Master’s in Business Administration from Southern California University, and completed her Graduate Marketing Certification at Southern Methodist University.


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.

Dr. Robertson also serves as the association’s science representative to outside organizations, both governmental and private.

Before joining the association in 2003, she also served as a longtime volunteer, including a term as the association’s president in 2000-01.

Dr. Robertson is professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she created and directed the Vanderbilt Women’s Heart Institute. Her academic research career has focused on autonomic cardiovascular control. 

Dr. Robertson has served on numerous review and advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Cardiology and the European Society of Cardiology. She currently chairs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Advisory Committee for the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Award. 

She received the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Partner in Public Health Award in 2001. She is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, a founding member of the American Autonomic Society, and a founding member and past President of the Association for Patient-Oriented Research.

She received her M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1970 and trained in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and in cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 


Sunder D. Joshi, FCA

Chief 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.

Joshi began his career at the American Heart Association in 1984 as Director of Internal Audit. He held several key positions before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer, Business Operations, of the association’s Western States Affiliate in 2003. There, he oversaw a wide variety of business functions.

Joshi was named Chief Financial Officer for the entire organization in 2006, and added the Chief Administrative Officer title in 2009.

Joshi holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Bombay University, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, and received his CPA certification from the Colorado Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


Suzie Upton

Chief 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.

Growing revenue and volunteer resources is critical to saving and improving lives through research and education. These resources are key to achieving the association’s 2020 Impact Goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

Upton joined the American Heart Association in 1990 and was promoted to Vice President of Development in 1998. She was named Executive Vice President of Development in 2002 and Chief Development Officer in 2010.

Upton earned her degree in business administration in marketing/management from Baylor University.


Elliott Antman


Elliott Antman, M.D., is president of the American Heart Association for its 2014-15 fiscal year.

As president, Antman is chief volunteer scientific and medical officer, responsible for medical, scientific and public health matters.

He is a professor of medicine and Associate Dean for Clinical/Translational Research at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician in the Cardiovascular Division of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

He was chairperson of the Association’s Committee on Scientific Sessions Program in 2011 and 2012. He is the 2006 recipient of the Association’s Meritorious Achievement Award and also received the Herrick Award of the Association’s Council on Clinical Cardiology in 2010. He was Chairperson of the joint American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines from January 2003 through December 2005.

Video: Elliott Antman's Presidential Address
Read profile on Elliott Antman

Bernie Dennis


In 2014-15, Bernie Dennis is chairman of the board of the American Heart Association, his second consecutive year in the role.

As chairman, Dennis is responsible for the overall administration of business affairs, public relations and fundraising and will preside over meetings of the board of directors and administrative cabinet.

Dennis is owner of Dennis Associates, LLC, a management consulting firm in Sudbury, Mass., which he founded after retiring in 2004 as vice president at Oracle Corporation. Previously, Dennis was an executive at Eastman Kodak.

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.

Read profile on Bernard Dennis


David Bush


David Bush is treasurer of the American Heart Association for its 2014-15 fiscal year, his second consecutive year in this role.

Bush is executive vice president of The First, A National Banking Association, in Hattiesburg, Miss. As treasurer, he is responsible for the funds and securities of the American Heart Association.

An association volunteer for more than 20 years, Bush was the 2010-12 chairman of the association’s Greater Southeast Affiliate and has been a member of the national board of directors since 2011. He is chairperson of the association’s Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee and Budget Review Subcommittee, and a member of the Scientific Publishing Committee.





Alvin Royse is the chairman-elect of the American Heart Association and was their secretary-treasurer for the 2012-13 fiscal year. He retired as a senior partner with Deloitte & Touche in San Francisco in 2010, where he served as Global and US National Managing Partner for Tax Industries, and Tax Marketplace Development.

He is a member of the association’s Audit Committee, Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee and Nominating & Awards Committee.

Royse’s involvement with the association began in 1997, when he chaired the San Francisco Heart Walk. He was recently named the Nonphysician Volunteer of the Year for the association’s 10-state Western States Affiliate.

Since 2010, Royse has served as an Executive in Residence at the University of North Dakota and as a guest lecturer at the University of Shanghai Science & Technology in Shanghai, China, where he presents on global corporate business practices, ethics and responsibilities, and the role of global business leaders. Previously, he served two terms in the North Dakota State Legislature.


Mark Creager


Mark Creager, M.D., is president-elect of the American Heart Association. He is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Vascular Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

He is vice chairperson of the association’s Science Advisory & Coordinating Committee and a member of their Board of Directors, Administrative Cabinet, Advocacy Coordinating Committee, Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee and Nominating & Awards Committee.

He is a past chairperson of the association’s National Research Peer Review Committee and Strategic Planning Task Force, and in 2010 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award of the organization’s Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease. From 2002 to 2008, he chaired the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association/American College of Physicians/American Society of Internal Medicine Task Force on Clinical Competency.

Dr. Creager’s major research and clinical interest is in vascular medicine, specifically vascular regulatory mechanisms and the effect of treatment on patients with peripheral artery disease. He is an editor of the textbook, Vascular Medicine and the editor of the journals, Vascular Medicine and Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine.


Ron Haddock

Immediate Past Chairman

Ron Haddock is the immediate past chairman of the American Heart Association. He is executive chairman of AEI Services, LLC, and serves on the boards of Alon USA and Petron Corporation. He was Chairman and CEO of FINA from 1989 until 2000.

A volunteer for more than 10 years, Haddock was the association’s secretary-treasurer in 2010-11 and the 2010-12 chairman of their SouthWest Affiliate. He is a member of the association’s Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee, Advocacy Coordinating Committee and Compensation and Benefits Committee.

In 2010, he received the AHA Dallas Division’s first One In A Million Award for his outstanding volunteer service. He helped establish the Ron Haddock AHA/ASA International Impact Award, which recognizes volunteers for outstanding contributions to AHA global initiatives, and the Haddock Challenge, which encourages increased participation in SouthWest Affiliate campaigns. This includes the Côtes du Coeur gala in Dallas, the Dallas Heart Walk Executive Challenge and the Circle of Red for the Dallas Go Red For Women Luncheon. His commitment to corporate involvement in AHA activities helped the 2013 Dallas Heart Walk achieve a record $4.7 million in fundraising.


Mariell Jessup, M.D.

Immediate Past President

Mariell Jessup, M.D., is the immediate past president of the American Heart Association.

She is medical director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center, professor of medicine and associate chief-clinical affairs at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. She is a nationally recognized expert in heart failure and co-editor of Heart Failure: Providing Optimal Care and A Clinician’s Guide to Heart Failure Management in the Ambulatory Setting.

An American Heart Association volunteer for more than 15 years, Jessup was chairperson of the organization’s Committee on Scientific Sessions Program in 2009 and 2010, and chaired the committee that created the 2009 revision of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Guidelines for the Management of Congestive Heart Failure.