The American Heart Association is proud to announce that Caitlin O’Brien has joined its staff as the government relations director for New York. O’Brien will work with volunteers and advocates to enact legislation that will improve the cardiovascular health of all New Yorkers.

O’Brien, 26, grew up in Vestal, Broome County. Caitlin’s father, James O’Brien, is a lawyer, and she frequently accompanied him to court. That led her to Albany Law School after she finished her degree in political science at the University at Albany.

“It was so interesting to see why people need attorneys,” O’Brien said. “While I was at law school, though, I realized that there are different ways of helping people in the fields of law and policy. In many capacities as a lawyer, the problems come to you. But when you are advocating and working on public policy, you find the problem and create the solution.”

O’Brien worked at Environmental Advocates of New York before joining the American Heart Association. There, she lobbied for policies that would improve public health, something she is looking forward to continuing at the American Heart Association, with its mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

“I’ve always been interested in health, and I’m looking forward to drawing on the resources the American Heart Association has,” O’Brien said. “Since I started in November, I have been impressed with the science, research, volunteers and staff.”

O’Brien will continue the American Heart Association’s legislative work to make the healthy choice the default choice. In particular, she is looking forward to working on legislation that would make 21 the age to purchase tobacco products statewide.

“We’ve had great momentum in various counties across New York, and I’m excited to take this to a statewide level,” O’Brien said.

“I am excited to have Caitlin join our Government Relations team,” said David Day, vice president of advocacy, American Heart Association. “Her experience, enthusiasm and passion will allow her to contribute immediately and in the long term to our policy efforts to help New Yorkers of all ages to live a life free from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”

O’Brien lives in Albany, and was a figure skating competitor. She also plays tennis, is an avid reader, and loves dogs, travel and hot yoga.