Team will advocate for improved access to healthy food, appropriate stroke care
The American Heart Association announces that Martha Auster and Kristin Salvi have joined the health care organization as government relations directors for New York. Salvi began her job on Nov. 2 and Auster started on Nov. 16.
Salvi most recently was the assistant director for public information at the New York state Office of Mental Health. Prior to that, she was the assistant director of government relations for the New York State Nurses Association. While there, she helped pass a law making an assault on nurses a felony. She began her career in Sen. Joseph Bruno’s office as a legislative aide. She is a 2006 graduate of the University at Albany, where she majored in English and journalism.
“I’m excited to be here and start the legislative session,” Salvi said. “My focus for the American Heart Association will be prevention. In particular, I’ll be working on healthy food access programs. One point seven million New Yorkers don’t live near stores with healthy food options, and we need to change that. I think that imperative to changing the system is educating lawmakers about the importance of prevention funding.”
Salvi will also work on securing continued funding for the Tobacco Control Program and obesity prevention programs.
“In today’s world, we are faced with daily choices that affect our health – what to eat, how to exercise, whether to smoke,” said Salvi. “It’s staggering to think that 80 percent of heart disease is preventable through lifestyle choices. I’m looking forward to working with the New York state Legislature to improve the cardiovascular health of all New Yorkers by making the healthy choice the easy choice.”
Salvi, 32, grew up in Brunswick and lives in her Troy with her twin son and daughter, who are 3.
Salvi and her parents started the Christmas Pajama Promise in 2013. The project collects new pajamas and books to donate to children so they have those items on Christmas Eve – a tradition in Salvi’s home.
Martha Auster began her career looking to have a significant impact on the health of New Yorkers. Her first public affairs jobs were with the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society.
“What attracted me at this juncture to the American Heart Association was the investment in and the commitment to research, plus its strong volunteer and advocacy presence,” Auster said. “It goes so much farther than what just one person can do. I’m hoping that my background in the health care sector can combine with the American Heart Association volunteers and research in order to make an extraordinary impact on all New Yorkers.”
Auster said she “cut her teeth” on state tobacco control measures, including the New York Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act. From the voluntary health sector, Auster moved on to be a lobbyist for the Medical Society of the State of New York, where she was drawn to the mechanics of how the health care system works.
“I was particularly interested in how the public good can be served through the efforts of health care providers and systems,” Auster said.
For the past 15 years, Auster had been the regional manager of governmental affairs at Genentech.
“Our biggest achievement there was Oral Chemotherapy Parity Legislation,” she said. “In New York, we worked with a coalition of patient groups and organizations to pass legislation that equalizes the out-of-pocket costs for IV and oral cancer drugs. A total of 28 states have now enacted legislation based on our work in New York.”
Auster will focus on legislation designed to create stroke systems of care that will guarantee the most appropriate care for patients suspected of having a stroke. She will also work on implementation of the newly finalized CPR in Schools law.
“I am excited to be bringing the experience I’ve gained back to the kind of work I did at the beginning of my career,” Auster, 53, said. “The American Heart Association is passionate about passing legislation to improve the heart and brain health of all New Yorkers and I am excited to be part of the team that will bring that goal to fruition.”
Auster lives in Niskayuna with her husband and two daughters, ages 10 and 13. The Skaneateles native holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and a Master’s of Science in Administration degree from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. She is a board member of The Home Furnishings Program, which accepts furniture donations to distribute to clients who need furnishings, at no cost to donor or client.
“The work of the American Heart Association is too important to not have the most talented individuals at our helm,” said Robin Vitale, Senior Director of the American Heart Association’s government relations team in New York. “The process to identify Kristin and Martha as the newest members of our team was remarkably competitive. I’m very excited for the potential we now have to dramatically improve the cardiovascular health of all New Yorkers. Their skills, intellect and creative energy will serve to advance our policy goals to the betterment of everyone who lives in our state.”
A video greeting from Auster and Salvi can be found at https://youtu.be/iHnIQRKsUrc