Mary Willis is a rare breed, a 4th generation native San Franciscan. Earlier in her life, she worked for 13 years as a researcher at UC San Francisco in the field of neonatal and pediatric intensive care. At midlife, deciding to head off the proverbial crisis, she switched gears to pursue her other lifelong passion, early childhood education. Mary taught for four years, and as a result, when she and her mother decided to set up the Morris Family Foundation in 1998, they chose quality early childhood care and education for low-income families as their primary focus. She has served as executive director of their Foundation since then. In addition to early childhood, they also fund environmental justice and progressive infrastructure building.
Mary joined WDN in 1999 and her experiences at WDN have encouraged her to be a more progressive funder and to promote the social change that prevents downstream problems. She has found WDN to be an incredible group of powerful women getting more powerful all the time thanks to the increasing number of very successful joint funding efforts. In addition to many past joint funding efforts, she has most recently been involved with the Reflective Democracy Campaign, the Jean Hardisty Catalytic Impact Fund and the Emergent Fund. All of these strategic initiatives are perfect examples of the power of WDN’s network.
Ten years ago she pulled her 4th generation CA roots and moved to Whidbey Island, WA, an incredible, progressive-minded community in one of the most gorgeous settings on the planet.