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Mary Naylor, Chairwoman, Long-Term Care Quality Alliance
Mary Naylor, Chairwoman, Long-Term Care Quality Alliance
Last summer Mary Naylor, Ph.D., took a leap. Out of a plane.

On a family trip to Whistler, British Columbia, she went zip lining, whitewater rafting and then, when she saw a sign for sky diving, decided to add that to the list.

“I am someone who is spur-of-the-moment, although I may not appear that way in my professional life,” says Naylor, chairwoman of the Long-Term Quality Alliance, professor of gerontology at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and director of NewCourtland Center for Transition and Health. “I believe that if you always make a risk assessment of the things in life, you'll never do anything.”

Whether it's new adventures in her personal life or in the field of long-term care, Naylor's achievements are eye-opening. She's a pioneer in researching transitional care, which she largely credits to the University of Pennsylvania and the mentors she found there.

After starting her career as a staff nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital, by 1985, Naylor was chairwoman and professor in the Department of Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. It was a fellowship that year with the U.S. Senate Special Committee in Aging that kindled a passion for studying the care for hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries. Today, her investigations include a National Institutes of Health-funded study of cognitively impaired elders and their caregivers, another of quality of life measures for elders in long-term care, and a Penn study of care coordination components.

Among Naylor's many achievements is receiving this year's American Association of College of Nursing Policy Luminary Award. She lectures across the United States but always returns to Penn, a place where, she says, you “can live out your dreams.”

“It's never been the same,” she says. “We've been able to live out all that we wanted to do. I've been fortunate at every step of the way.”

Naylor is described as “totally brilliant” by long-time mentor Claire Fagin, RN, Ph.D., a Dean Emeritus in Penn's School of Nursing and a former interim president of the university. Fagin describes Naylor as a “true rock star” in the field of transitional care.

Naylor's work on hospital readmission rates provides a “vision of how to make it better,” adds Randy Krakauer, M.D., the national medical director of Aetna. 

“She has incredible foresight in terms of what will work and provides practical solutions,” he says.

In her free time, Naylor visits with her family, including her three daughters. The oldest, Alison Corter, is the married mother of toddler Aiden and a communications specialist at NewCourtland. Carolyn is an ADA in the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, while youngest daughter Stephanie, who graduated from Lehigh University last year, is an intern at the LTQA. Naylor declines to give her age, but says she's “five years younger than you think I am.”

Away from work, she enjoys history books and Jane Austen, and also likes classic movies, especially “It's a Wonderful Life.”

She says her big challenge now may be saying no to other commitments — not uncommon for someone who's known to like jumping into new adventures.


Earns bachelor's degree in Nursing from Villanova University

Graduates from University of Pennsylvania with doctoral degree

Completes yearlong W. K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship with the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging

Named senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at University of Pennsylvania

Becomes full professor at University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Receives Claire Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Serves as a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission