Mary Kay Henry was named one of the nation's "Top 25 Women in Healthcare" for 2009 by Modern Healthcare. For nearly 30 years, Henry has represented health care workers at the Service Employees International Union, where she helped lead the fight to expand health care for millions of children and strengthen the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Henry has devoted her life to helping America's health care workers form unions, improve their jobs and the quality of care, and advocate for a more rational and humane health care system. Her faith and values as a practicing Roman Catholic led her to pursue union organizing as a vocation.
Her vision and leadership has helped pave the way to groundbreaking agreements between SEIU and hospital chains such as Beverly Enterprises, Catholic Healthcare West, Tenet, and HCA, and to the national Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest HMO. In the Midwest, a strategic alliance between SEIU and Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota is centered on improving the quality of patient care, with caregivers now working side by side with management to solve problems.
Henry began working with SEIU in 1979 and rose to become a leader and chief health care strategist and was elected to the International Executive Board in 1996. In June 2004, she was elected to serve as an International Executive Vice President of SEIU, leading the union's efforts to build a stronger voice for health care workers. More than one million health care workers nationwide, including registered nurses, technicians, doctors, and hospital and clinic workers are united in SEIU Healthcare.
In 2010, Henry was unanimously elected to serve as International Executive President of the 2.2 million-member union.
An active champion of health care reform, Mary Kay envisions a U.S. health care system that provides universal coverage and gives front-line caregivers a real voice in patient care. She is a member of the executive board of Families USA, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. She was formerly a labor adviser to and member of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' Subcommittee on Catholic Health Care.
Recognizing that today's global economy demands a new and different model of labor-management relationships, Mary Kay is leading a national effort by SEIU to build new kinds of partnerships with hospital employers-partnerships that will improve the quality of patient care, strengthen the hospital's competitive performance, and give workers a voice in decisions that affect care and working conditions. Mary Kay is also active in the fight for immigration reform and gay and lesbian rights. She is a founding member of SEIU's gay and lesbian Lavender Caucus.