American Heart Association names new national volunteer chairman and president

DALLAS, July 1, 2021 — The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, named Raymond P. Vara, Jr. chairman and Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, as president of the organization for its 2021-2022 fiscal year, which begins today.

Raymond P. Vara, Jr., who will serve as the volunteer chairman of the board, is the president and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health in Honolulu, Hawaii. Vara has a long history of service to the American Heart Association in key volunteer leadership roles. He served as treasurer of the Association from 2015-19 during which he was responsible for the funds and securities of the Association. He has been the chairperson of the Association’s Corporate Operations Coordinating Committee, Business Solutions Oversight Committee and Budget Review Subcommittee, a member of the Audit Committee, and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2012. He was the 2009-11 chairman of the Association’s former Pacific Mountain Affiliate and served on the Western States board for five years beginning in 2010-2011. Vara is the first person from Hawaii to serve as chair of the national Board of Directors and will hold the position for the typical two-year term.

“Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Making a healthy impact on each of these, and setting measurable goals to do so, will be crucial for me as chairman. I plan to play a pivotal role in the advancement of the Association’s mission by applying my knowledge of the American healthcare system to further our work in creating healthier communities through improved access to care and clinical quality, while eliminating disparities and inequities.”

Lloyd-Jones, who will be the 85th president, is among the world’s most highly regarded experts in cardiovascular disease prevention and epidemiology. His volunteer leadership has had a profound impact on the Association’s efforts to improve patient outcomes and create healthier communities across the nation for more than two decades. Lloyd-Jones is the chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He is also the university’s Eileen M. Foell professor of heart research and professor of preventive medicine, medicine-cardiology and pediatrics. An Association volunteer since 1997, Lloyd-Jones recently served as the chair of the Committee on Scientific Sessions Program and is a member of the Science Advisory & Coordinating Committee. As chairperson of the Strategic Goals Subcommittee, his vision was critical to creating the Association’s first-ever definition of ideal cardiovascular health, as well as the criteria for the “Life’s Simple 7” health metrics. He has also provided invaluable guidance as a science advisor to the AHA’s CEO Roundtable and as the president of the Midwest Affiliate and member of the Workplace Health Steering Committee July 2015 – June 2017. He was named the Association’s Physician of the Year in 2017.

“Along with supporting the overall mission of the American Heart Association to create a world of longer, healthier lives, my goal is to focus on the prevention of cardiovascular risk factors through lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet, to support strong relationships between patients and their health care teams to manage chronic conditions, and to continue to encourage those eligible to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and flu,” Lloyd-Jones said. “I will continue to be a strong advocate for cardiovascular prevention and brain health research and be a leading voice for public policy initiatives supporting healthier kids, health equity, smoke-free air, CPR training and systems of care.”

Vara and Lloyd-Jones take the helm during an unprecedented time for the world and the organization as a global pandemic continues, as well as the continued need to address social and healthcare injustices with far reaching impacts on people of color and sexual minorities. Health equity, mental well-being, maternal health and brain health are just a few sectors of the organization’s mission they will be focused on.

Lee Shapiro, co-founder and managing partner at 7wireVentures, an investment firm located in Chicago, begins a two-year term as treasurer. In this role, Shapiro is responsible for the Association’s funds and securities. Previously, Shapiro volunteered on the Association’s board of directors chairing the audit committee and serving on the business operations committee. He has been actively engaged in other financial and advisory volunteer roles on the national and regional level for the Association and other leading nonprofits and academic institutions including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation. 

“With the strong volunteer leadership of Ray Vara, Dr. Don Lloyd-Jones and the entire board, the American Heart Association will continue our strong trajectory toward equitable and accessible health for all,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “I am confident their experience and expertise will advance the organization as a global authority in overall health and well-being.”

The Association also announced its president-elect and chairman-elect.

Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, professor of medicine, associate dean of admissions, and director of the CeNter for the StUdy of AdveRsiTy and CardiovascUlaR DiseasE (NURTURE Center) at the University of California, San Francisco, has been selected as president-elect to serve in 2022-2023. Albert, who is currently the president of the Association of Black Cardiologists Association, will be the first Black women to serve as president. In November 2020, she was awarded the Association’s Population Research Prize for outstanding contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science via an exceptional laboratory focused on population research. Albert has served on various local, regional and national boards including president of the American Heart Association San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley Board of Directors.

Marsha Jones has been named chairman-elect beginning in fiscal year 2021-2022 for two years. Jones, executive vice president and chief diversity officer of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, most recently was the Association’s treasurer. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Allegheny Division of the American Heart Association and sits on the national Board of Directors.

Together, the national volunteer leadership board will guide the Association to drive breakthroughs in science and technology, change systems and policies, address disparities and transform health care and the health of communities nationwide and around the world.

The American Heart Association’s fiscal year runs July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


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