Mary serves as the Continuum of Care Manager. She conducts CoC planning and operations activities to strategically prevent and end homelessness. Mary ensures the CoC is operating according to its governance structure, policies, and procedures; supports the CoC Board; and coordinates the CoC efforts with other programs, funding streams, and community planning efforts.
Mary has expertise in HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs, facilitating Continuum of Care processes on a CoC-level and with local homeless coalitions and ESG recipients. She has 22 years’ experience in homeless services, including direct practice, program administration, performance evaluation, and grant applications in a school district, city and state governments, and non-profit organizations.
Mary is a Licensed Master Social Worker who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work from The University of Texas at Austin.
How did you get started in homeless services?
I came into homeless services when I was looking for a new social work position. The school district in the city where I was living had received a grant to assist students experiencing homelessness and was seeking a program manager to develop the project. I didn’t know much about homelessness, but I was hired, and I quickly discovered my passion. I believe it’s unjust and unethical to allow people to struggle to have decent housing and end up living in harmful, unstable situations that they cannot afford. So, my career has focused on ensuring that every person has a safe, affordable, and supportive place to live and thrive.
What did you do before working in homeless services?
Before homeless services, I attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. After graduating, I briefly worked at a residential treatment center and at a hospital. I found my calling when I was hired as a Homeless Education Liaison for Bryan ISD and worked with students and their families who were living in homeless situations yet still striving to attend and succeed in school. After that, I worked for the City of Austin, supporting the homeless coalition and overseeing city-funded social service contracts and the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) Program. Next, I spent a few years operating Trinity Center, a day resource center for people experiencing homelessness, in downtown Austin, where I felt the power of loving community every day. Then, I worked for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) on the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) Program and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program. Finally, I arrived at THN in 2013, and I’m thrilled to be working with our THN team and communities around the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care to develop systems and plans to strategically and effectively address homelessness.
Complete the sentence: In a parallel life, I would be traveling to different countries (to meet people from around the world) on an airplane/train/car/rickshaw/camel with my husband and pets and lots of curiosity.
What was your first job?
My first informal job was babysitting for children who were family friends and church friends. My first formal job was working as a server at Pizza Hut. I like caring for children, and I like cooking (and eating), so those were great jobs for me! Both of them taught me some valuable relationship and customer service skills.
Dog or cat?
Definitely cat, but I’m warming up to dogs. I had two cats, Chloe and Rainey, and my now-husband, had two dogs, Barney and Patches. After getting married in 2018, we now have four pets in our home. They get along pretty well but aren’t snuggle-buddies. I love petting them and talking to them in my “cat voice,”