We catch up with Deb Banks just days after she ran with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) relay team in the Pittsburgh Marathon. Executive Director of the American Heart Association, Greater Pittsburgh region, Deb lives in Gibsonia with her husband Alan, daughter, stepdaughter, four dogs and a cat.

Deb and Alan are receiving the AHA’s 2019 Heart Saver Award for rescuing a man from the ocean, performing CPR and saving his life while vacationing in Puerto Rico. Don’t miss the AHA’s Pittsburgh Go Red Luncheon this Friday at the Fairmont.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

I’m looking forward to attending the next VisionPittsburgh series. I find these luncheons to be very informative and I appreciate the insightfulness of our business leaders and their thoughts and vision for the various neighborhoods and communities in our region.

Deb Banks, executive director of the American Heart Association, Greater Pittsburgh region.

What is the best part of your job?

In addition to working to build healthier communities for all, one of the best parts of my job is working with my Board members and volunteers. Also meeting the people we impact — whether that’s through meeting someone who was saved by CPR or teaching high school students how to perform CPR, or working with underserved communities on healthy ways to cook and manage their blood pressure. The American Heart Association does so much, and we couldn’t do it without the support of our Board and volunteers.

What is your big idea for Pittsburgh?

To ensure that all communities have access to safe places to play and exercise especially for the health of our next generation. More neighborhoods with walking and bike paths, basketball and tennis courts and neighborhood swimming pools and playgrounds.

Personally and professionally, my life’s work has always been focused on improving health and wellness. From the time I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician in rural Colorado to managing corporate wellness centers to my current role with the American Heart Association. These experiences have given me a broader perspective on the needs of our communities.

Podcast you’re addicted to?

I am all in with Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. He interviews celebrities, athletes, musicians, philosophers, psychologists, nonprofit leaders — everyone! I learn something new with each podcast. My current favorite episode is his interview with Michael Gervais, a sports psychologist who works with professional sports teams.

Deb Banks with her family.

What’s one thing you would love to change about Pittsburgh?

The way people think of our city. When I travel and meet people who have visited Pittsburgh, they are always surprised that Pittsburgh isn’t that smoky steel mill town it used to be 30-plus years ago. It baffles me that some people still have that perception. Organizations like VisitPittsburgh do a great job of getting people to our city and we as Pittsburghers need to do a better job “bragging” about our awesome city. We should all be proud to live in Pittsburgh!

Favorite place you’ve traveled to in the past year and why?

I met my parents in Glacier National Park and went camping over Labor Day. Growing up, every other summer my family (all six of us) would head west and go camping at the national parks. I hadn’t been to Glacier in over 30 years and it was so special to see it again and be there with my parents!

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