Recognizing significant contributions to nursing practice and health policy through political and legislative activity.
Established in 1991 to honor a nurse who has made significant contributions to nursing practice and health policy through political and legislative activity.
Barbara Thoman Curtis has been a catalyst for political activity and awareness within the nursing profession for the past 25 years. She has made significant contributions as a nursing leader serving on the ANA Board of Directors, ANA-PAC Board of Trustees, ANA Committee on Committees, and ANA Finance Committee. Barbara “developed” the role model for the political nurse. She helped to pioneer ANA’s involvement in politics and legislation and served as a mentor to countless numbers of nurses across the country. Twenty-five years of educating nurses on the political and legislative processes and nursing’s role in the formation of health care policy has earned Barbara the reputation of being a political activist for nursing. She continues to be called on by SNAs and other nursing organizations to provide her expertise and political insight. Throughout her nursing career, Barbara has been active in various political campaigns serving in a variety of roles (i.e. consultant, campaign manager, fund raiser, scheduler, and volunteer). Her work as a campaign coordinator for the 1986 congressional campaign of Illinois Nurses Association member, Mary Lou Kearns, RN, earned her a national reputation as a political force for nursing.
Mary Jane Mongillo-Williams, PhD, RN
Connecticut Nurses Association
For nearly three decades, Mary Jane Mongillo-Williams has fearlessly advanced the profession of nursing through advocacy, education, and leadership. Williams has influenced a generation of nurses to become more civically aware and politically involved in policymaking.
As president of the Connecticut Nurses Association (CNA), Williams served as spokesperson and established CNA as the voice for nursing in the state. For more than a decade, she led the Government Relations Committee as chairperson and exerted her influence on issues of concern for nurses, with remarkable success. Her ability to articulate complex issues accurately and succinctly and her knowledge of the health care system have gained her the respect of medicine, policymakers, and the public alike.
Notably, she served as chief negotiator for the interests of nursing when the Nurse Practice Act was revised. With her expertise in the clinical and theoretic practice of nursing, she was able to negotiate and find consensus on proposed legislation. She has helped CNA develop and articulate its position on many issues, including access to health care, the role of nurses and allied health personnel in providing care, the environment and public health, the nursing workforce, and patient and nurse safety standards.
Successes include advocating to expand scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses in Connecticut, helping to implement an assistance program for health care professionals, and obtaining increased funding for nursing and capacity in schools of nursing.
Nationally, Williams launched into a position of national leadership helping nurses from around the country by serving on the Steering Committee that created the national Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and serving as co-chair of the policy and advocacy committee. In recognition of her contributions to the nursing profession and health care, in 2010, CNA established in her honor the Mary Jane Mongillo-Williams Award for Lifetime Achievement in Nursing.