Mary Ousley

Mary Ousley, chief strategy officer for long-term care giant PruittHealth and a past chair of the American Health Care Association, has been chosen as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner in the McKnight’s Women of Distinction program.

The award recognizes a woman leader who has made outstanding contributions in the area of skilled nursing or senior living over the course of a lengthy career.

“Mary has collectively done things that nobody else has. She is a towering presence in the field,” McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor said. “She is a wonderful choice as this year’s winner.”

A brilliant clinical and regulatory tactician, Ousley is a registered nurse by training. She also is a former facility owner and the person in whose honor AHCA’s Mary K. Ousley Champion of Quality Award is named.

She has held top management positions at several senior care chains and is credited as one of the architects of OBRA 1987, the landmark nursing home reform law.

“Mary is a pioneer in the healthcare profession. Beyond her decades of experience and accomplishments, what makes her such a phenomenal leader is her compassion, intellect and charisma,” PruittHealth President and CEO Neil Pruitt Jr. said. “She has the unique ability to take very complex business problems and break them down to understandable steps to a clear solution.”

Ousley was the third woman to be elected AHCA chair, a position Pruitt also eventually held. At one time, she also was the skilled nursing profession’s top spokesperson at hearings and panels in Washington.

“She continues to be a mentor to me, as well as countless others,” Pruitt said. “She is a fantastic lady, and I am thankful she is regarded as a top-tier spokesperson for our profession.”

Ousley is seen as a firm uniter. She is credited with getting AHCA and an alliance of secession-minded chains to continue as one, and with unifying providers and governing regulators to form new quality initiatives.

“The name Mary Ousley is synonymous with quality. Quality in every respect,” said AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson, who also leads the National Center for Assisted Living. “She has not only led the sector in our quality efforts; she has often pulled us to places we needed to be but were reluctant to go. Her work has benefited millions of staff and residents, and providers have learned that great quality is also great business.

“She has done something that is hard to do: She has single-handedly changed the sector,” he continued.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards inductees for 2021 in the Hall of Honor, Veteran VIPs and Rising Stars categories previously were announced. 

All of this year’s honorees will be celebrated at a May 18 online ceremony. That celebration will be followed the next day by the Women of Distinction Forum, which will feature a trio of sessions through which participants can earn continuing education credits. Events both days are open to everyone and are free of charge. Basic registration is required.

PointClickCare is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s event.

Visit to see a gallery of this year’s inductees and to find additional information.