Distinguished Alumni Award: School of Nursing

Audrey M. Koertvelyessy, MS ’66, BS ’62.

Audrey M. Koertvelyessy, MS ’66, BS ’62 

Koertvelyessy was raised on the Cattaraugus Seneca Indian Reservation and is a member of the Heron Clan. She completed the nursing program at Buffalo General Hospital, then earned two nursing degrees at UB. She went on to a successful career at Ohio University, where her husband Tibor also taught, eventually becoming director of the university’s nursing program.  In 1988, Koertvelyessy joined the United States Public Health Service as a nurse officer in the Commissioned Corps, following in the footsteps of multiple family members she admired. Earning the rank of captain, she was one of the highest-ranking Native American women officers in uniformed federal service. She was named director and chief of nursing for the Indian Health Service, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, until retiring in 2009. In this role, she worked to address health disparities among Native populations across the nation.