NAHQ CEO Recognized for Chief Staff Executive Achievement 

The Samuel B. Shapiro Award for Chief Staff Executive Achievement is the highest honor the Association Forum bestows on an association professional. 

CHICAGO (April 27, 2023) — The National Association for Healthcare Quality® (NAHQ) has announced that Stephanie Mercado, CAE, CPHQ, NAHQ’s chief executive officer/executive director, has been awarded the 2023 Samuel B. Shapiro Award for Chief Staff Executive Achievement by the Association Forum. Named after Samuel B. Shapiro, CAE, past chairman of the Association Forum and the American Society of Association Executives, this is the highest honor the Association Forum bestows on an association professional, and it is presented to the chief staff executive for outstanding service and accomplishments in association/nonprofit management. Recipients of this award have made outstanding accomplishments in their professional and personal lives. 

“Little did I know when taking my first association job in 2003 that I was embarking on a career that would mean the world to me,” said Mercado. “Working in and leading non-profit organizations to advance healthcare, has been a labor of love and my highest privilege. I believe strongly in the power of associations, and I have seen firsthand what’s possible when boards, volunteers, staff, and members unite to advance a common cause.”   

The Association Forum’s criteria for the esteemed recognition is: an exceptional association/nonprofit professional who has advances his/her organization’s mission; a demonstrated ability and willingness to serve as a mentor; overcomes challenges faced in a leadership position as a chief executive officer; demonstrated leadership contributions that impact the advancement and/or recognition of the profession through service to the Association Forum, other professional societies and charitable organizations and related organizations; models leadership behavior by holding a CAE, or other professional certification in his or her specialty; and a strong investment in the field of association management and at least five years as an association/nonprofit CEO. 

In her career, Mercado has made a personal commitment to advance non-profit, mission-driven societies. Her contributions to the association community are leading the way to develop the next generation of association leaders and innovate the association business model to keep non-profits thriving and relevant.  

At NAHQ, Mercado is leading the charge to reframe and advance the profession of healthcare quality and to enable healthcare executives to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes through the power of their workforce. Under Mercado’s leadership, NAHQ is advancing the visibility and credibility of the profession and ensuring people working in quality are recognized and valued for their contributions.  

And people are following NAHQ’s lead. During her tenure, NAHQ membership and the number of Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® (CPHQ) certifications have doubled. Innovations have also been launched, such as Workforce Accelerator®, a solution that helps healthcare organizations create sustainable quality teams. 

“I see a future where patients are safer and where healthcare is accessible – and I know that will be in large part to the efforts of associations to advance the cause,” Mercado added. “I thank Association Forum for its commitment to supporting associations and for the leaders who achieved this award previously. I’m honored to be in their company.” 

About Association Forum 

Founded in 1916, the Association Forum is considered the hub for the Chicagoland association industry with a mission to advance the professional practice of association management. The organization has nearly 4,000 members and these members represent more than 44,000 association professionals from nearly 1,600 Chicago organizations. These organizations serve more than 27 million members, have 9 million donors, and generate $22 billion annually in global economic impact. 

About NAHQ

The National Association for Healthcare Quality® (NAHQ) is the only organization dedicated to healthcare quality pros, defining the standard of excellence for the profession, and equipping professionals and organizations across the continuum of healthcare to meet these standards. NAHQ believes that to reduce variability in healthcare delivery, we must first reduce variability in healthcare quality competencies, so we focus our efforts on healthcare quality competencies and workforce development. NAHQ published the first and only Healthcare Quality Competency Framework and validated it twice in the market. We offer the only accredited certification in healthcare quality, the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® (CPHQ), extensive educational programming, networking opportunities and career resources to help healthcare quality professionals enhance their competencies and their value. Learn more at

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