Letter from the Chief Executive Officer

American Heart Association C E O Nancy Brown
Nancy Brown, CEO

Relentless … That is the operative word in the mission of the American Heart Association to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

Unlike ever before, that mission was put to the test in 2019-20 as the novel coronavirus cut a path across the U.S and around the world, claiming more than 1 million lives.

Among the most vulnerable were the people we exist to serve — heart disease and stroke patients and those with risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Disproportionately, they are Black, Hispanic and Indigenous.

As COVID-19 infection and mortality rates rose, so did a global chorus of diverse voices decrying social injustices and disparities that imperil people of color.

While we addressed the global crises of both the COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest, the memory of the late Bernard J. Tyson propelled us forward.

The celebrated member of the AHA board of directors and CEO Roundtable, who also served as CEO of Kaiser Permanente, died suddenly in 2019. His life’s work was shattering barriers to affordable health care, shining a light on mental health and shaking up oppressive social systems.

In his name and in partnership with his widow, Denise Bradley-Tyson, we stepped up investments in community-led health solutions through the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund. We also created a $2.5 million fund to fast-track rapid action research and technology solutions and created the COVID-19 CVD Registry to track patient data and inform treatments and future studies.

RQI Partners, our partnership with Laerdal Medical, expanded its resuscitation training programs through nimble, technology-forward solutions.

We protected medical heroes on front lines with training and resources, and provided vital information to essential workers, people sheltering in place, patients and families.

Our bold advocates championed economic relief for families and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Current priorities are Medicaid expansion, open enrollment reactivation, health care reform and food security. Meanwhile, we continue to take on Big Tobacco/e-cigarettes.

We were made for this moment. And the results reflect the determination and dedication of volunteers, donors, supporters and staff.

You are the heartbeat of the AHA. Thank you for a remarkable year. Enjoy this video dedicated to The Year of the Relentless(link opens in new window).

All my best,

Nancy Brown