About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest, largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, our organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters working tirelessly to eliminate these diseases. We fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to save and improve lives.
Our nationwide organization includes 144 local offices and nearly 2,700 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.
Our Mission: Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Our mission drives everything we do.
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 ensure the best treatment for every patient, every time. We educate lawmakers, policy makers 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
Mariell Jessup, M.D., is president of the American Heart Association for its 2013-14 fiscal year. As president, Jessup is chief volunteer scientific and medical officer, responsible for medical, scientific and public health matters.
Jessup 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.
Read More about Mariell Jessup
Bernie Dennis is chairman of the board of the American Heart Association for its 2013-14 fiscal year. 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.
Read More about Bernie Dennis
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.
Read More about Alvin Royse
Elliott Antman, M.D., is President-Elect of the American Heart Association. 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.
Read More about Elliott Antman
Ron HaddockImmediate 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.
Read More about Ron Haddock
Donna ArnettImmediate Past President
Donna Arnett, Ph.D., is professor and chairperson of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. She is the Immediate Past President of the American Heart Association.
Read More about Donna Arnett
David Bush is treasurer of the American Heart Association for its 2013-14 fiscal year. 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.
Read More about David Bush
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