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World Heart Federation appoints new Chief Executive Officer

16.12.2010 09:49

World Heart Federation appoints new Chief Executive Officer


The Board of the World Heart Federation is pleased to announce the appointment of Johanna Ralston as the new Chief Executive Officer, effective from 1 February 2011


Geneva, 15 December 2010 –The Board of the World Heart Federation is pleased to announce the appointment of Johanna Ralston as the new Chief Executive Officer, effective from 1 February 2011.

Johanna has worked in global health and development for 20 years and brings with her a wealth of experience. She is currently Vice President, Global Strategies at the American Cancer Society (ACS). She joined the ACS in 1999 as its first-ever Director of International Programmes and Development and went on to build a department with training programmes and partnerships in over 80 countries. Johanna launched ACS University, a capacity-building programme to strengthen civil society’s role in cancer control in low- and middle-income countries, and designed and led the international rollout of International Relay For Life, a patient advocacy and community-based fundraising programme that is now licensed and operational in 20 countries.  Since 2009, Johanna has also been overseeing the global cancer advocacy programme which includes strategic outreach to the UN and partnership with WHO and the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance of which the World Heart Federation is a founding member. 

World Heart Federation President, Professor Pekka Puska, said “Johanna joins the organization at an exciting time. The UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs taking place in September 2011 provides us with a real opportunity to raise the priority of cardiovascular disease on the global health agenda. Johanna’s leadership skills combined with her extensive experience make her the ideal candidate to work with our member organizations to coordinate a global response in the fight against the world’s number one killer”. 

Johanna has also led global tobacco-control programmes including the Global Smokefree Partnership; multi-year smokefree and advocacy projects in Vietnam, North Africa, and China; and the development of the Africa Tobacco Control Consortium, a multi-year advocacy programme funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  She also piloted workplace-based health promotion programmes with large employers in China and India, including the China Smokefree Worksite initiative. Johanna has vast fundraising experience, which includes securing a number of major grants to support global capacity building and advocacy work.

Professor Sidney Smith, President-Elect, said “we are delighted to have recruited Johanna to serve as CEO of the World Heart Federation. She brings strong expertise and broad experience to our organization. Importantly, she can be involved from the outset in the development of the programme for the World Congress of Cardiology 2012, taking place in Dubai. Her strategic insight, networking and fundraising skills together with her previous chronic disease experience make her well-informed of the many issues facing the World Heart Federation. She is extraordinarily well equipped to take on the challenge of delivering a successful World Congress of Cardiology and provide valuable leadership for the upcoming UN meeting on NCDs”.  
A dual citizen of the United States and Sweden, Johanna has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA. She is an alumna of Harvard and the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme, and has studied public health at Harvard and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is married with two sons, Anders and Matthias, ages eight and six.

Johanna stated “I am honored to be appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the World Heart Federation, especially at a time when cardiovascular diseases are finally starting to be acknowledged by the UN and other key global stakeholders as a major health burden in low- and middle-income countries.  The World Heart Federation has boldly prioritized lower resource settings for many years and is extremely well positioned to leverage its leadership in this area to serve as the voice for cardiovascular diseases globally.  I am excited to help lead this effort along with an excellent team and fully engaged board, and as part of a broader and deeply committed NCD community