AHA Invitation to the National Spokesperson Panel

June 7, 2011


Dear Kathy Magliato, M.D.:


I would like to personally invite you to join a select group of American Heart Association/American Stroke Association volunteers to serve on the National Spokespersons Panel in 2011-2012. This group of nationally renowned scientists, physicians, and experts has been identified by fellow volunteers and staff to represent the association in interviews with national media and, when appropriate, regional/local media outlets.


The national spokesperson’s panel greatly enhances the American Heart Association’s ability to communicate its mission, goals, and viewpoints to the public. As the immediate voice of the American Heart Association, members of the National Spokesperson Panel serve a vital purpose for the organization. Only by communicating frequently and effectively with the public can the American Heart Association achieve the public understanding and support needed to:


  • keep Americans informed of the latest developments in preventing and treating heart disease and stroke;
  • persuade the public (– including high-risk audiences) to adopt the health-enhancing behaviors that will reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke;
  • achieve our advocacy goals and other organizational priorities; and
  • Raise more money to sponsor research.


News media coverage is one of many ways that the American Heart Association reaches the public to achieve these goals. News organizations from The New York Times to Associated Press to ABC-TV routinely call upon the American Heart Association’s Communications’ staff to provide spokespersons about a wide range of subjects.  To be effective, Communications’ staff must be able to recruit a spokesperson quickly and be able to promote spokespersons when appropriate to reporters covering important cardiovascular and stroke science/medicine issues.


Please note the following expectations of panel members:

  • Affiliation.  When contacted to speak on behalf of the AHA/ASA, each panel member will be responsible for emphasizing to the reporter or producer that he or she is also to be identified as an AHA or ASA spokesperson.  Often, reporters interview representatives of the association but do not identify their American Heart Association connection.  Of course, the panel member’s institutional affiliation should be mentioned – in addition to the association affiliation.
  • Availability.  Panel members should be accessible for media requests, however we understand that schedules may preclude them from participating each time they are asked.  They also will need to provide Communications’ staff with contact information and expertise topics.
  • Keeping Up-to-Date.  Panel members will receive by e-mail the weekly news releases that the Communications’ staff distributes to reporters, editors, and producers about Circulation, Stroke and other association journals as well as media advisories and news releases about American Heart Association scientific statements and conferences.
  • Feedback.  Panel member views about this program will help improve it. If problems occur, please contact me and the Communications’ staff.
  • Time commitment:  At least one year of service on the panel is requested.


Panel members should expect the following from Communications staff:

  • Scheduling of media interviews – Communications’ staff will obtain your approval before providing your name to a reporter, editor, or producer, or committing you to an interview. 
  • “Message points” – Staff also will help you determine the key points that you will want to make in your interview and will brief you about the reporter, the news media outlet, and purpose of the interview.
  • Topics – Staff will note your preferences/expertise and provide AHA/ASA stats, recommendations/guidelines and programmatic information as needed.
  • Your time – Staff will spread the media opportunities among as many spokespersons as possible and respect your professional obligations, vacation schedule and other times when you cannot be available. You may receive anywhere from zero-several calls a month depending on the topical news of the day and/or news from an AHA/ASA Journal if/when it is related to your area of expertise.


By participating in the panel, you will help shape media coverage and influence the public’s awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the American Heart Association’s role in reducing the impact of these diseases on society and its individuals. As someone who has worked in this capacity before, it is quite gratifying. You will find the media to be very respectful of the opinions of the American Heart Association and you will find the assistance of the Communications staff both by way of updates and direct facilitation to be very helpful.


For questions and to respond to this invitation, please contact Julie Del Barto, a member of the Communications’ staff, at 214-706-1330 or e-mail her at Julie.delbarto@heart.org to inform her about your availability to join our group.  We would like to have your response by June 17, 2011.


We thank you for your consideration of this invitation and look forward to hearing from you.




Ralph Sacco, M.D., M.S.

President, American Heart Association, 2010-2011