Mary Mahoney Award

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Recognizing significant contributions to advancing equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups.
Mary Mahoney Award


Established in 1936 by the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, the Mary Mahoney Award has been conferred by the ANA since 1952, following the dissolution of the NACGN in 1951. The award is named for Mary Elizabeth Mahoney, the first African American graduate nurse in the U.S. It was established to honor her active participation in nursing organizations and her efforts to raise the status of African American nurses in professional life. The Mary Mahoney Award recognizes significant contributions, by an individual nurse or a group of nurses, to integration within the nursing profession.

Mary Eliza Mahoney graduated from the Training School of Nurses, New England Hospital for Women and Children, in 1879. During her 40 years in nursing, she provided exemplary patient care and made outstanding contributions to nursing organizations. In 1909, she gave the address at the Colored Graduate Nurses. That association established the Mary Mahoney Award in 1936, in recognition of example to nurses of all races. When NACGN merged with ANA in 1951, the award was continued.

2012 Recipient

Gaurdia Banister, PhD, RN
Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses

Gaurdia Bannister, executive director at the Institute for Patient Care at Massachusetts General Hospital, is a role model, mentor, and advocate for minority students. Banister’s forte is collaboration and professional development, and her accomplishments have had a profound influence in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Described as a champion of diversity, Banister has dedicated significant energy to advancing a program to enhance the nursing career opportunities of minority students at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, as well as other schools of nursing. Through the Clinical Leadership Collaborative for Diversity in Nursing, minority students are offered both scholarship assistance and mentoring. More than 64 undergraduate and 16 graduate students have benefited from the program and are now employed in the Massachusetts General Hospital system.

Banister has demonstrated leadership and contributed to the impact of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program as a member of the National Advisory Committee. The program awards scholarships to nursing students from underrepresented groups. Banister serves as an exceptional role model for those following in her steps.

While in the District of Columbia, Banister’s vision led to the development of a program in DC schools for disadvantaged minority students who were interested in pursuing health careers. One by one, she has had a positive influence on those students as they entered nursing.

Compassion characterizes many aspects of Banister’s career. While on the DC Board of Nursing, Banister introduced a program to assist nurses with substance use problems. Entitled COIN (Committee on Impaired Nurses), the program is staffed with experts in the mental health field. Letters from former participants attest that this program not only saved careers, it saved lives. With the establishment of COIN, Banister has left a long-standing contribution to the DC nursing community.
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