Remembering Former Commonwealth Fund President Margaret Mahoney

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<p>Margaret E. Mahoney, president of The Commonwealth Fund from 1980 to 1995, passed away on December 22, 2011, after a long illness. </p><p>As president of The Commonwealth Fund, Mahoney was the first woman to head a major U.S. philanthropic foundation. Prior to joining the Fund, she was a senior executive at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and at the Carnegie Corporation. </p>
<p>"Margaret Mahoney was a pioneer in health care philanthropy, and the models she conceived for the role of foundations in effecting change continue to influence grant making around the U.S. today," said Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis. "It was inspiring to follow in her footsteps, and to build on the wonderful foundation she constructed at The Commonwealth Fund. She will be missed." </p>
<p>In a career spanning more than four decades, Mahoney helped redefine and reenergize American health care philanthropy. Under her leadership, The Commonwealth Fund became a significant force for improving the delivery of health care, addressing the health care and developmental needs of vulnerable populations, and strengthening key health care institutions. By bringing about the merger of the James Picker Foundation with The Commonwealth Fund in 1986, she assembled resources that were key in the emergence of the patient-centered care movement. Other major Fund initiatives carried out under Mahoney’s leadership—the Commission on Women’s Health, the Task Force on Academic Health Centers, the Commission on Elderly People Living Alone, and a national program promoting the mentoring of vulnerable adolescents—were based on her ability to spot emerging issues, engage national and local leaders in bringing attention to them, and mobilize resources to help address them in practical ways. </p>
<p>Upon her retirement from The Commonwealth Fund in 1995, Mahoney worked with the foundation and other funders to create Healthy Steps for Young Children, a national initiative to encourage pediatricians to pay more attention to developmental issues in the first three years of a child’s life. Some 50 Healthy Steps practices are in operation around the country, serving as models for integrating health care and social services needed by vulnerable children. </p>
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