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Mary Mahoney Award

As nurses continue to advance health and health care for all, it is important that the profession grows in diversity to reflect the shifting demographics of the United States. While the registered nurse population is growing in diversity, minority backgrounds still represent significantly less of the workforce than their proportion of the country’s population.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes there is still work to do and The Mary Mahoney Award represents one of the ways we are living up to our commitment to maintaining and improving diversity in our health care system.

The award is named in honor of Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first African American graduate nurse in the U.S. The award recognizes an individual nurse or group of nurses for special efforts they have made towards increasing diversity and inclusion within the nursing profession.

Mary Mahoney: A True Pioneer of Nursing

Mahoney graduated from the Training School of Nurses, New England Hospital for Women and Children, in 1879. One of only three out of her 40-strong class to graduate, she became the first African-American nurse to qualify in the U.S.

A passionate believer in equality in nursing, Mahoney spent much of her life working to challenge perceptions and abolish discrimination in the field. In 1908 she became co-founder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN), and in 1909 gave the address at their first conference. During her 40 years in nursing, she provided exemplary patient care and made outstanding contributions to nursing organizations.

NACGN established The Mary Mahoney Award in 1936, in recognition of Mahoney’s example to nurses of all races. The award has been conferred by ANA since 1952, following the dissolution of NACGN and its merger with ANA in 1951.

When ANA established our Nursing Hall Of Fame in 1976, Mahoney was one of the first inductees. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall Of Fame in 1993.

Nominate someone for the Mary Mahoney award

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The American Nurses Foundation is a separate charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation does not engage in political campaign activities or communications.

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