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American Heart Association CEO Announces Retirement
Date:7/28/2008

DALLAS, July 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- M. Cass Wheeler, the chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, the nation's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to heart disease and stroke, has announced that he will retire at the end of 2008.

Wheeler, who began his career with the association in 1973 at the former Texas Affiliate in Austin, said the coming months will be bittersweet as he prepares to leave the organization he has served for 35 years.

"It has been a true privilege for me to work with so many wonderful individuals in the non-profit sector who have a passion for our cause. We've seen huge progress in the fight against heart disease and stroke over the last few decades," he said.

Wheeler, who moved to the association's National Center in Dallas in 1982, has been CEO since 1997.

Under Wheeler's leadership, the American Heart Association improved its efficiency and effectiveness by merging its 56 state and metropolitan affiliates into eight regional affiliates and adopted a single corporate structure. It also approved a far-reaching health-impact goal calling for the reduction of coronary heart disease, stroke and risk by 25 percent by 2010. The coronary heart disease portion of this goal was achieved this year, two years ahead of time.

During Wheeler's 11-year tenure as CEO, the organization has experienced its greatest period of financial growth and made many significant advances, including:

-- Creating the American Stroke Association as a division of the American Heart Association.

-- Launching four cause initiatives: Go Red For Women, a heart disease awareness campaign for women; Power To End Stroke, a stroke awareness and prevention campaign for African Americans; Start!, a workplace walking program that promotes employee fitness; and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership with the Clinton Foundation to fight the childhood obesity epidemic.

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SOURCE American Heart Association
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