The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, announced its volunteer board leadership for fiscal year 2022-23. Raymond P. Vara, Jr., continues as the board chairperson and Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, is president of the organization for the fiscal year, which began July 1.
Vara, who is serving the second of his two-year term as the volunteer chairperson of the board, is the president and CEO of Hawai’i Pacific Health in Honolulu, Hawai’i. 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 chairperson 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 chairman of the national Board of Directors.
“Creating healthy communities is a foundation of the American Heart Association’s work and a key to ensuring our mission as a relentless force for longer, healthier lives for all,” Vara said. “I’ve spent the last decade building a platform to do exactly that here in Hawaii. I’m honored and excited to continue to use my expertise to expand this work globally through the Association as we serve as a model for addressing access to and inequities in care among all people.”
Albert is the Association’s 86th president and the first woman of color and Black woman to serve as the organization’s highest volunteer medical officer. She is the Walter A. Haas-Lucie Stern Endowed Chair in Cardiology, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and Admissions Dean for UCSF Medical School. As the director of the UCSF CeNter for the StUdy of AdveRsiTy and CardiovascUlaR DiseasE (NURTURE Center), she is a renowned physician-scientist-epidemiologist, specializing in research related to health disparities, adversity and cumulative toxic stress, with a focus on cardiovascular risk among women and diverse racial and ethnic populations.
A long-time volunteer with the American Heart Association, Albert has served on various local, regional and national boards including president of the Association’s San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley Board of Directors. She is a recipient of an American Heart Association COVID-19 Rapid Track Grant, leading cutting-edge research studying the impact of the pandemic on Black women. She was awarded the Association’s prestigious 2018 Merit Award for visionary research and also received the Association’s distinguished 2020 Population Research Prize for outstanding contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science via an exceptional laboratory focused on population research. As a generous and highly sought-after mentor, she was recognized by the Association with its 2016 Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award.
Albert is the immediate past president of the national Association of Black Cardiologists. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, was recently selected as a member of the federal Advisory Committee to the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and serves on the Board of External Experts for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
“I am honored and committed to work collaboratively within the American Heart Association through the organization’s science, policy, clinical and international agendas to address economic adversity as a root driver of poor health, especially cardiovascular health” Albert said. “As a longtime volunteer and a beneficiary of important science funding, I know firsthand the Association embraces differences and outside of the box thinking to generate capacity and make a real impact. I admire this organization for its data driven approach towards supporting all people through deliberate and focused actions.”
Lee Shapiro, co-founder and managing partner at 7wireVentures, an investment firm located in Chicago, continues to service in his second of a two-year term as treasurer of the American Heart Association. 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.
The Association also announced its president-elect and chairman-elect.
Joseph C. Wu, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, is the Association’s president-elect for 2022-23. A board-certified cardiologist and trailblazing physician scientist, Wu is director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and professor of medicine and radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. His immeasurable impact includes supporting promising, young mid-career and senior investigators and expanding international collaborations. During a long history of American Heart Association volunteer service, he has been chairperson of the Research Committee and the Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences, as well as a member of the national board. He also has championed fundraising and community programs in the Bay Area Division.
Marsha Jones continues to serve her two-year term as the Association’s chairperson-elect. 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.
“With the strong volunteer leadership of Ray Vara, Dr. Michelle Albert and the entire board, the American Heart Association will drive continue to 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,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “I am confident their experience, expertise and passion will position the organization as a global leader in overall health and well-being and elevate our work at this monumental time in the history of the Association as we prepare to mark a century of life-saving work.”
The American Heart Association’s fiscal year runs July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.
About the American Heart Association