Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Mahaffey, Maryann

Maryann Mahaffey was born in Burlington, Iowa on January 18, 1925. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell College and went on to study at the University of Southern California, where she earned a Master’s degree in Social Work. Later in life, she obtained her Doctorate of Humanities from the Detroit International School of Ministries.

Mahaffey was elected to the Detroit City Council in 1974. She served as a council member, President Pro-Tem and was President from 1990-1998. During her time in public service, she was known for championing the rights of everyday citizens and fighting to improve the lives of her constituents. While on the Detroit City Council, Mahaffey developed the first Rape Crisis Center within the Detroit Police Department and she also chaired the City Council Housing Task Force where she stressed the need for low-income housing options within the city.

Mahaffey was an active participant in the National League of Cities and in 1974 she went to China as part of an eight-member delegation. She also chaired the Michigan Delegation to the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and served on the National League of Cities board from 1994-1996. She was Chair of the Human Development Policy Committee in 1972 and served as a member of the Women in Municipal Government.

Mahaffey was the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from Cornell College in 1995 and she also received awards such as “Councilwoman of the Year” in 2004 from Alabama A & M University, the “Bread & Roses” Award from the University of Michigan, and was the first recipient of the “Silver Saint Award” from the New Bethel Baptist Church.

Maryann Mahaffey died of leukemia at 81 years of age on July 27, 2006.