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January 29, 2022

Executive Compensation at the American Heart Association (2020)

by Anne Paddock

The American Heart Association (AHA) is one of the most popular and recognized non-profits in the United States with enormous public support but over the past two years, revenue has declined 18% from $852 million in 2018 to $746 million in 2019 to $700 million in 2020.  That the AHA has nearly $900 million in their net fund balance is also noteworthy.

By most accounts, this organization is a magnet for public contributions and an expert at raising and saving money.  But, are they accomplishing their mission, which is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke (especially with hundreds of recipes on their website calling for eggs, dairy products, beef, poultry, pork – including bacon, a Type 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization, oil, sugar and white flour)? With heart disease the number one cause of death in the United States for decades, one has to wonder if all the contributions to the AHA are really helping to prevent and reverse heart disease?

The AHA has 24 independent voting members (board members) on its governing body (Board) although the Form 990 lists 25 (which appears to be due to timing differences). 18 of the 25 (72%) are male while 7 of the 25 (28%) are female. Note:  The Form 990 does not disclose gender. Determinations were made based on name and google searches.

In 2020, revenue totaled $700 million with the primary source contributions, gifts, and grants.  Expenses totaled $740 million (including $15 million in depreciation) with compensation as the largest expense for AHA.  4,419 employees received $371 million in compensation, which equates to an average compensation of $84,000.  755 employees (compared to 440 employees in 2019) received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 14 most highly compensated employees reported to be:

  • $2,517,493:  Nancy Brown, CEO
  • $  761,504:  David Markiewicz, EVP Southeast (thru (9/19)
  • $  740,059:  Leslie Upton, COO
  • $  617,641:  Kathleen Rogers, EVP Western States
  • $  572,540:  Midge Epstein, EVP Southwest
  • $  562,770:  Larry Cannon, CAO, Corporate Secretary
  • $  561,829:  John J Meiners, Chief – Mission – Align
  • $  523,652:  Meighan Vafa, Chief Marketing Programs (thru 4/19)
  • $  511,122:  Rose Marie Robertson, Deputy CHF SC/MED
  • $  506,223:  Mariel Jessup, CHF SC/MED
  • $  494,421:  Kevin Harker, EVP Midwest
  • $  442,182:  Jeremy Beauchamp, EVP Southeast
  • $  443,026:  Nicole Sapio, EVP Eastern States
  • $  425,566:  Cynthia Roberts, CFO

The 14 employees listed above were compensated nearly $10 million, which equates to an average compensation of $700,000.  9 of the 14 (64%) most highly compensated employees are female while 5 (36%) are male.

AHA paid for first class travel for the CEO, and the officers and board members.

AHA paid for companion travel for spouses or companions of officers of the organization.

AHA made gross up payments and tax indemnifications. See Schedule J, Part III, Supplemental Information on the Form 990 for more information.

AHA paid for health or social club dues or initiation fees. See Schedule J, Part III, Supplemental Information on the Form 990 for more information.

It is important to point out 206 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation with the five highest reported to be:

  • $11.9 million:  Production Solutions, Inc., of Vienna, VA for direct mail marketing
  • $ 5.9 million:  Freeman Company, of Dallas, TX for audio/video
  • $ 5.1 million:  Orora Visual TX LLC, of Mesquite, TX for printing
  • $ 4.7 million:  Crispin Porter Bogusky, of Boulder, CO for marketing
  • $3.7 million:  Blackbaud, Inc. of Austin, TX for web services

In summary, AHA faced an 18% decline in revenue from 2018-2020.  Yet, the organization compensated the CEO $2.5 million in 2020 an $3.5 million in 2019.  AHA also paid for first class travel, companion travel, and other perks.  The 14 most highly compensated executives received nearly $10 million in compensation. But, what is more disturbing is that this tax-exempt non-profit raises nearly a billion dollars annually, has nearly a billion dollars in net assets and yet, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the USA.  Although AHA has been operating for nearly 100 years, maybe its time for the organization to re-direct their efforts to knock heart disease off the top killer in America.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019 for the year ending June 30, 2020), click here.

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