Ron Haddock at an awards ceremony last month in Dallas. (Photo by Tim Sharp)

Ron Haddock at an awards ceremony last month in Dallas. (Photo by Tim Sharp)

Traveling the world for business, Ron Haddock has witnessed the global need for cardiovascular disease treatment and prevention. He’s also experienced it in his personal life.

“I’ve had my chest cracked twice with two open-heart surgeries,” Haddock said. In the mid-1990s, though seemingly healthy, he was diagnosed with artery blockage and underwent bypass surgery with seven bypasses. Then he discovered a history of heart problems on his mother’s side of the family, and in 2003 had valve replacement surgery.

Those events led to his involvement in the American Heart Association, and now he’s a veteran volunteer leader who has recruited many others to the cause.

“Obviously, it became a passion for me,” said Haddock, who last month was awarded the Gold Heart Award, the AHA’s highest volunteer honor, for 15 years of service locally and nationally. “Heart disease kills more people than any other disease.”

Haddock grew up in Illinois, the son of Clarence and Marie Haddock. His working-class parents instilled lessons he said he carries with him today: “Work hard. Meet your commitments. Mean what you say.”

A graduate of Purdue University, Haddock earned his engineering degree while he was married to his wife, Sandi. They will celebrate their 60th anniversary in September.

Haddock’s involvement in the AHA began with the Dallas division, where he joined the board of directors in 2002 and served as chairman from 2004-2006. He remains a member of that board. The Dallas division became the most successful in the nation, achieving sustained revenue growth year after year. It has the highest-grossing Heart Walk, Heart Ball and Go Red For Women events nationally.

The American Heart Association bases its programs on “real and accurate science,” and essential to that goal is raising money for scientific research, Haddock said.

“No money, no mission,” he said.

Haddock and his wife personally gave $1 million to the AHA in 2011 and used their gift to encourage other donations through the “Haddock Challenge,” generating another $1 million in contributions in their region.

“We were blessed to be able to do that,” Haddock said. “It worked out well.”

Over the years, Haddock’s role in the AHA grew. He joined the Texas Affiliate board of directors, chaired the SouthWest Affiliate board and served in numerous positions with the national board, including chairman in 2012-2013. He continues to serve on the national board and on several AHA national committees.

Global outreach at the AHA has been particularly meaningful for Haddock, who has an extensive background in the international energy field. He’s held management and executive positions a number of companies, including Exxon and FINA/Total. In total he has served on 12 corporate boards, chaired eight and has been CEO of four. In 2002 he was asked to join the Enron Corp. board after its bankruptcy filing to help return money to creditors, then the board asked him to lead a newly formed company, which became AEI.

Today he continues as Chairman and CEO of AEI. He also serves on two other corporate boards in the energy sector and on the Board of the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Haddock also served a term on the board of the World Heart Federation, where he was treasurer.

The Ron Haddock AHA/ASA International Impact Award named for him recognizes outstanding contributions to the association’s global efforts. He’s had a long-held interest in international health conditions, and he works with fellow AHA leaders to aid cardiovascular health programs in other countries.

Haddock has visited many countries where healthy eating and quality medical care were lacking.

“I’ve visited so many countries where I see the people’s need to have the science,” he said. “The American Heart Association has the science they need and can use.”

The AHA is spreading its Get With The Guidelines and CPR programs by working with local organizations in more than 40 countries. The cardiovascular hospital care quality improvement program has been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs due to reduced readmissions.

Haddock himself strives to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He watches his diet and exercises regularly. He does over 5 miles on a treadmill every day that he’s not traveling for business.

His private-sector business experience and involvement with numerous nonprofits help him appreciate the AHA’s outstanding leadership. He said he believes CEO Nancy Brown could easily be chief executive of a multibillion-dollar for-profit corporation.

After weathering the economy’s downturn in 2008 and 2009, Haddock noted, the AHA has rebuilt its financial strength and is on the verge of becoming a $1 billion operation. The financial and organizational strengths help him recruit additional volunteers.

“I can be a very strong advocate, and say what I mean and mean what I say,” Haddock said. “In spite of us having done a lot in the AHA, there is still much more to be done.”