Mary Hayashi was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2006, representing the 18th Assembly District.
She is an award-winning author and is among this country’s most accomplished advocates for expanding the delivery and coverage of health care.
Ever since she came to the Legislature, health care has been Mary’s top priority. She has authored a number of bills focused on health and health care reform.
Among her bills that have been signed into law is AB 25, a concussion safety bill that placed California alongside Washington as the states with the toughest return-to-play laws for student athletes.
Mary also authored AB 108, prohibiting health plans and insurers from rescinding an individual health insurance policy, protecting consumers from
losing their health care coverage during the times they need it most. In addition, she authored AB 235, a mental health parity bill that requires
insurers to cover treatment for psychiatric emergencies without prior authorization, and AB 509, which served as the catalyst for establishing California’s
first Office of Suicide Prevention. She has also championed public education, authoring AB 142 to help increase funding for schools through changes to the California State Lottery.
Mary was a member of the leadership team for Assembly Speaker John Pérez, serving as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection. The committee’s primary purpose is to protect consumers, with oversight of the Department of Consumer Affairs occupational licensing and enforcement boards. She also served on the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Insurance Committee. Mary chaired the Assembly Select Committee on Community Colleges, and served as Vice Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.
Prior to serving in the California State Legislature, Mary advised the nation’s top policy leaders, and established unprecedented partnerships in support of social causes that previously had no financial or public backing. She served as the Alameda County Coordinator in the winning campaign to pass Proposition 63, which provides increased funding for a broad continuum of prevention, early intervention, and treatment services in county and statewide mental health programs.
Mary was a Commissioner on the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, which was created to monitor the implementation of Prop 63. Since its inception, Prop 63 has provided almost $250 million dollars to Alameda County. She is also a member of the Executive Committee for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, a public-private partnership that helps guide the implementation of the goals and objectives of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Previously, Mary was the California Director of the American Public Health Association, and served as a lead consultant for the Foundation Consortium for California’s Children and Youth on their child welfare services redesign project. She advised former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher on his national campaign to eliminate health disparities, and has contributed her expertise to a number of other health organizations.
Mary served as a member of the California Board of Registered Nursing and as Chair of the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate Political Action Committee. She was also a board member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Research!America, which successfully doubled the federal budget for the National Institutes of Health. She is a former board member of Girls Inc of Alameda County, and served as the honorary chair for their “Strong, Smart and Bold” annual luncheon. In addition, she was a board member for the Chabot Community College Foundation. As a featured speaker, Mary also contributed to the development of the first White House Conference on Mental Health.
Mary’s remarkable journey from her childhood in Korea to prominence as a health care leader is documented in her book, Far From Home: Shattering the Myth of the Model Minority. She has been honored by a diverse range of organizations for her work on behalf of families and communities, from Redbook Magazine and Ladies' Home Journal, to Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the Center for Elder Independence.
Mary was named Legislator of the Year by the California Medical Association and the California Chapters of the American Red Cross. She also received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club. In addition, she received the National Public Policy Award from the American Association of Suicidology, and the Leadership Award from the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center.
Mary earned her Bachelor of Science degree in
Applied Economics from the University of San Francisco, and her Master in
Business Administration degree from Golden Gate University. She lives in Hayward with her husband Dennis Hayashi.