Bernice Mathews (1933- )

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Bernice Mathews is a small business owner and the director of the nursing program at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. She is best known as a former Democratic member of the Nevada State Senate.

Mathews was born on November 12th, 1933, in Jackson, Mississippi. Little is known about her parents or her early life. By the time she was an adult, she had migrated to Nevada. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and there she earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing. She continued her education, obtaining a master’s degree in higher education administration at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Before becoming involved with politics Mathews worked as a nurse’s aide in the Reno-Sparks area. Her journey into the realm of politics began at the local level in 1991 when at the age of 58 she successfully ran for the Reno City Council. Her transition to state level politics occurred in 1994 when she was elected to represent Washoe 1 District as a member of the Nevada State Senate. In 1998, she was reelected to the Senate after defeating Republican opponent Mark Amodei. Mathews would continue to represent Washoe 1 District in the Nevada State Senate until January 2012 when state term limits prevented her from running for that office again. During her 18 years in the Nevada State Senate Mathews served as the assistant minority leader and was on the committees of Finance, Legislative Operations and Elections, and Natural Resources. While in the legislature Mathews was a dedicated proponent of education and women’s rights.

Mathews was formerly married to Arnold Martin but they later divorced. Mathews has seven children, Allen, Arnold II, Anthony, Aileen, Barbara, Clive, and Ruben. She continues to serve as the director of the nursing program at Truckee Meadows Community College and is also a member of the Governor’s Commission on Nursing and Nursing Education. In addition, she remains an active small business owner.