Discussion Leader -
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CEO & Executive Director, National Association for Healthcare Quality
Stephanie Mercado is the chief executive officer/executive director of the National Association for Healthcare Quality® (NAHQ), the leader in the development of industry-standard healthcare quality competencies and certification in healthcare quality. The Chicago-based association serves healthcare professionals across the country and internationally.
Mercado brings more than 20 years of healthcare industry experience to her lead role at NAHQ. Since joining NAHQ in 2013, she has implemented innovations and introduced methodologies to research and define standardized competencies for the healthcare quality profession. This has resulted in advancement of quality professionals and increased visibility of the value of the quality workforce within healthcare.
Under Mercado’s visionary leadership, the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® (CPHQ) certification has doubled from approximately 7,000 CPHQs to more than 14,000. Over the same time period, NAHQ membership has grown from about 4,500 members to approximately 9,000. She also orchestrated the development of the first and only database that articulates the work of those working in healthcare quality.
In partnership with NAHQ’s board of directors, staff and volunteers, Mercado led the development of industry-elevating initiatives, such as the twice-validated Healthcare Quality Competency Framework, and the profession’s first workforce study, offering critical insights to workforce development opportunities for healthcare quality and safety professionals.
She is committed to educating leaders on the impact competency-based training can make in advancing a workforce. To that end, Mercado is a highly sought-after speaker on workforce development and speaks nationally about strategies to drive quality and performance improvement in healthcare and improve healthcare outcomes. She is an innovative thought-leader and influencer who contributes insights on the critical need to reduce variability in healthcare quality competencies and the training needs that are vital with the decreasing shelf-life of skills in the rapidly evolving market. Mercado currently participates on:
- The Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s National Steering Committee for Patient Safety
- The Association Forum Healthcare Collaborative steering committee
- The Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education as a board member
- The Patient Safety Movement Foundation as an advisory member
- Patients for Patient Safety US (United States) as an organizational partner working to achieve the World Health Organization Global Patient Safety Action Plan’s strategic objective of health worker education, skills, and safety.
Prior to joining NAHQ, Mercado served in executive positions with the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the American Orthopaedic Association. Throughout her career, she has been focused on advancing competencies and skills in practical and actionable application within various professions.
Mercado holds the CPHQ credential and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE). In 2018, she was recognized by .orgCommunity with the Outstanding Nonprofit Leader Award. In 2022, she was included on the prestigious national list of nominees for Modern Healthcare magazine’s “300 Most Influential People in Healthcare” ranking. In 2023, Modern Healthcare recognized Mercado as one of the Top 25 Women Leaders.
Mercado is also a proud “hockey mom” to her two sons, Sam and Ben. She and her husband, Bryan, enjoy spending weekends at their many hockey tournaments.