A seven-term state representative from El Paso, McDonald first served in the 1984 special session that enacted major reforms relating to public education; she was elected to a full term in the fall of 1984 and continued to serve through 1998, when she declined to run again.
The only Registered Nurse serving in the legislature when she first came to the Texas Capitol in Austin, McDonald played a key role in securing funding for health and human services programs, authored landmark child immunization legislation, and advocated for AIDS patients; her committee assignments included the vice chairmanship of the appropriations committee, longtime service on the public health committee, and service on the Ways and Means and the labor and employment relations committees.
The youngest of eight children, she was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky as Nancy Jane Hanks on October 21, 1934. Her parents were Alger Hanks and Calla Sullivan Hanks. She graduated from the St Thomas School of Nursing in Nashville in 1954, the same year she married Willis Burr McDonald, with whom she would have 10 children. Her children are Mary McDonald (Hothan), Charles B. McDonald III, Nancy Hanks McDonald (Siefken), Christopher McDonald, Stephen McDonald, Gregory McDonald, Catherine McDonald (Binswanger), Elizabeth McDonald, Brendan McDonald, and Mark McDonald. Her daughter Elizabeth died in 2005. Nancy was at her side. All of her other children are living. Nancy and Will have 36 grandchildren.
In 1975 she became active in the Texas Nurses Association in El Paso, eventually serving as president of the governmental affairs committee and forming a TNA political action committees. She also held membership in the National Organization for Women and took part in the 1980 march in Washington, D.C. in support of the Equal Rights Amendment.
|Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 76 (El Paso)
1984 – present