Mary’s first career was as a mathematician, researcher and lecturer at Lincoln University, Christchurch. Beside this she has walked a long volunteer journey which initially followed the usual parental path of play centre, schools, sports and church. In 1976 she helped set up her local branch of ‘Pregnancy Help Inc’, an organization in which volunteers provide emotional support and practical help for pregnant women and new mothers. Within Pregnancy Help she filled a range of local and national roles until 1993 when she moved her focus to the wider aspects of volunteers and volunteering,
In 1991 she received a Churchill Fellowship to explore volunteering in Canada, USA and Britain. This resulted in her mathematics career being overtaken by roles that involved supporting volunteers. Since then she has been a supervisor and trainer for volunteers and paid workers from many NZ voluntary organizations. She has presented workshops on aspects of volunteering at conferences in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
In 1997 she was again involved in breaking new ground in helping set up spiritual and community support for people with intellectual disabilities who were de-institutionalised from Templeton Centre, Canterbury, NZ. This involved negotiating with churches of all denominations as well as local community groups and care providers. It included developing standards, recruiting, training and supporting volunteers of all ages.
Mary has a Bachelor of Science from Otago University and a Certificate in Volunteer Management from the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA . She is author of Volunteers: A Guide for Volunteers and their Organisations and she has also written a chapter in Spirituality and Social Care, edited by Mary Nash and Bruce Stewart.