Mary Munson Runge was the first woman, African-American and employee community pharmacist to become president of the American Pharmacy Association, ending a 126-year run of white men in the role. Mrs. Runge’s commitment to increasing diversity in membership ranks was fueled by her father’s devotion to the poor and disenfranchised.
Runge was born in 1928 in Donaldsville, La., where her father was the town’s first pharmacist. Using his considerable wealth and influence, Runge’s father helped the town’s poor residents obtain necessary medicine for their needs.
After graduating from Xavier University in 1948, Runge moved to California and worked in the Bay Area as a hospital pharmacist for 21 years. She then began working for a community practice that helped poor residents obtain medicine, just as her father did.
In 1979, Runge was named AphA’s president and used the platform to increase women and minority membership, serving two terms that ended in 1981. She continued her stellar work, all while raising a family, becoming a grandmother and a mentor to other pharmacists.
Runge passed in 2014, and the AphA honored her by establishing a scholarship in her name that is awarded annually to AphA student members.
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