Publication Date

April 23, 2024

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

Maria Zavarello

Maria Zavarello

The AHA is pleased to welcome Maria Zavarello as director of finance. Maria oversees the day-to-day workings of the business office, financial reporting and analysis, budgeting, and compliance.

Maria has a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh and an MS in accounting from American University. She started her career in broadcasting, managing the finances for local, cable, and network TV. Maria was the first financial manager for News Channel 8, which at that time was a start-up 24-hour local news cable channel in Washington, DC. As she told Perspectives, she joined the channel so early that “my employee number was 3!”

Maria went on to work behind the scenes in network television as director of network accounting for the ABC-TV Washington News Bureau. ABC had 500 people working out of a building on DeSales Street in Washington, DC, broadcasting Nightline with Ted Koppel live five nights a week and This Week on Sunday mornings. Maria recalled, “Once I was returning to the bureau from lunch, and I saw a handsome man I thought I might know but couldn’t place, walk out of the building. It took me a moment to realize it was Peter Jennings.”

In 2008, Maria wanted to try something different and joined the Brookings Institution as associate controller. She told Perspectives, “It was thrilling to walk down the hallway in the building that Richard Nixon had wanted to firebomb in order to retrieve what he believed were secret files Brookings had stored in a safe.” Maria found she greatly enjoyed working for nonprofit organizations, where her financial management skills could support important mission work. Before coming to the AHA, she was the chief financial officer for the American Association of Immunologists (AAI). This organization can claim such early scientists as Albert B. Sabin and Jonas Salk, and, more recently, Nobel laureate James Allison and Anthony Fauci. AAI has two historians on staff, who regularly publish articles that mine the rich past of immunology. It was this historical reporting at AAI that attracted Maria to the AHA.

Maria has two rescue dogs, a corgi and a shih tzu, and she enjoys daily walks with them and taking them to the park. She is also an avid reader. About reading, she says, “I remember once being in an elevator, holding The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. A coworker spotted the book and asked, ‘Do you know what the worst part of that book is? That it had to end.’ Thus a true reader speaks to another.”

Maria comes from a musical family. In college, she sang with a choir that performed with the symphony orchestra. “Aretha Franklin left us in 2018,” Maria recalls, “but for years it was my fond career goal to abandon accounting and be a backup singer for Miss Franklin. Alas, her people never called.”

The AHA is excited to welcome Maria to the townhouse.

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Lizzy Meggyesy
Lizzy Meggyesy

American Historical Association