TEACHING & PUBLIC SCHOOL ADVOCACY
Early in her career, Mary worked for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education as a Carl Albert Executive Fellow, followed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Governors Walters and Governor Henry invited Mary to review the legislation at the end of legislative sessions to make recommendations after reviewing the law and community comments.
In 1998 Mary taught Intro to Legal Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She also taught several pre-law courses at Rose State College, Oklahoma Christian, and the University of Central Oklahoma. Currently, Mary is finishing her Masters of Education at the University of Oklahoma, emphasizing using education data by non-educators to better serve at-risk students in foster care and mentoring programs.
Mary expanded her professional experience as a child advocacy attorney by becoming a certified school counselor for 4 1/2 years in Little Axe and Norman. During this time, Mary taught social-emotional skills to more than 550 students, distributed Food For Kids weekend food packs to kids every weekend, facilitated medical and mental health referrals, served on IEP teams, started a Homework Help Club at the mobile home community for parents and their students. Mary also worked to improve the terms of the teacher's contract in Norman Public Schools as an elected member of the bargaining team.
Since 1992, Mary's advocacy efforts included serving on the Young Lawyers' Children and the Law Committee, Voices for Children, and becoming a Kids Count Leader through the Oklahoma Institution for Child Advocacy, and worked and volunteered with the state-wide initiative for early childhood education in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City Urban League and NAACP welcomed Mary as a volunteer to join their tireless work to bring equity in education. Mary is also a regular volunteer for Oklahoma Lawyers for Children.
Mary's experience with health care policy began when Mary reviewed legislation for Governor Walters (1993 & 1994) and Governor Henry (2003), which included some health care legislation. As a child advocacy attorney Mary also assisted numerous clients in navigating the financial obstacles to secure affordable health care. In 2008 Mary worked with the Oklahoma Family Network to help parents of children with significant medical needs. As a school counselor, Mary served children with serious medical needs and worked with parents, educators, and medical providers to write medical plans and Individual Education Plans. Mary also advocated for parents and assisted them in obtaining and referring students for mental health care and medical services. Mary was appointed to serve on the state board for Schools for Healthy Lifestyles and worked for the Center for Children and Families to connect storm survivors with health care and mental health care.
JOBS & EMPLOYMENT ADVOCACY
Mary's first paid job was chopping weeds out of cotton fields in Tillman County, Oklahoma. In high school, she worked as a waitress at The Tiger Den (hamburger shop), a custodian for the bank, the Cotton Patch (florist), and a sacker at Sam's Food Store. In college, she worked for the Vice-President for Student Affairs and an assortment of other part-time jobs, including a birthday clown at McDonald's.
During law school, Mary earned the highest grade in Employment and Labor Law. After graduation from law school, she managed her family's two small businesses. As an attorney Mary continuously connected parents in need of job-related training to college or career programs. While serving as a school counselor, several parents needed GED and other job training skills, and Mary used her connections and network to connect parents to those resources.
While working for the State Regents for Higher Education, Mary worked with an interagency collaborative to facilitate compliance with the newly enacted Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. Her research and training materials were presented to university leaders to ensure the fair treatment of workers with disabilities and families needing time to care for a family member.
The Norman Public Schools' teachers also elected Mary to represented teachers on the bargaining team for 2013-2016. The team successfully increase salary, maternity/ paternity leave, and better boundaries for extra duty expectations.