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Mary is a Deputy Director of PolicyLink, a national advocacy organization working to advance racial equity, economic and social justice. As a member of the organization’s health team, Mary helps guide the PolicyLink Center for Health Equity and Place, providing research, technical assistance and training to public and private agencies collaborating to build healthy communities. She has coauthored reports and journal articles on access to healthy food, the built environment, and the impact of place and race on health. She is also a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience working in communities throughout California, with special emphasis on issues of housing, land use and community economic development. Her work has always focused on the legal rights of low-income people. She began her legal career at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) and then joined the Western Center on Law and Poverty as a housing attorney. She later returned to LAFLA as Managing Attorney of that agency’s South Central Los Angeles office and later maintained a private practice focusing on community economic development and housing law, including housing discrimination, landlord/tenant, foreclosure, land use law and civil rights.
Mary began providing legal assistance to non-profit, community based organizations committed to improving the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods in 1990. She has worked extensively with community groups, particularly in South Los Angeles to revitalize neighborhoods and enhance public participation in the public policy arena. Among the projects she has undertaken are strategic revitalization campaigns in the Vermont/Manchester, Hyde Park, and Central City East (commonly known as “skid row”) sections of Los Angeles. She has also worked with groups that have developed affordable housing, child care centers, created jobs, and monitored the land use and redevelopment practices of local government. For many years,
Mary has worked with neighborhood groups in a number of California cities on issues related to restricting the availability of alcohol and drugs, and the negative consequences that result from substance abuse. Her efforts on behalf of non-profit organizations include drafting legislation at the state and local level, providing training and technical support, strategic planning, non-profit management and board development, administrative advocacy, and litigation in state courts.
In addition, Mary has been an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, and taught public policy at Occidental College. For more than ten years, she taught a class she designed on Fair Housing/Fair Lending regulations as part of the Mortgage Finance certificate program within the Los Angeles Community College District at L.A. Trade Technical College. In addition, Mary teaches courses on Health Policy Advocacy and Health Leadership and Community Development, also at the community college level, as part of a certificate program that seeks to build community based leadership on issues related to health and healthy communities.
Mary has also served as a board member of several community organizations, including the Liberty Hill Foundation and Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, and she served as the president of the board of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California. She has undertaken work in the public sector as well. She served as a Transportation Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles, and as a campaign manager for a successful candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. She worked as a consultant to the commission elected to reform the Los Angeles City Charter, and she completed a Community Builder fellowship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mary currently serves as a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council that was established to make recommendations local government about food system reform strategies for the Los Angeles region. She was recently named to the board of the Community Coalition.
Mary is a native of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and Boalt Hall School of Law, U.C. Berkeley
Jimar Wilson is Adjunct Faculty at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in the Community Planning and Economic Development Program. A native Angelino, he works as Community Investment Officer at Boston Private, where he is responsible for managing the Bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) programs in Greater Los Angeles, overseeing residential, small business and commercial community development products and services, originating affordable housing and community development loans, and managing CRA investment, volunteerism and charitable giving for the Bank’s Greater Los Angeles market.
Prior to joining Boston Private, Mr. Wilson was regional community development manager at Northern Trust, managing community lending, strategic philanthropy and volunteerism in the bank’s Arizona, California and Colorado markets. Mr. Wilson also worked at West Angeles Community Development Corporation (CDC), a leading South Los Angeles-based nonprofit affordable housing developer, as real estate project manager and then as housing director, overseeing the CDC’s housing development, asset management and financial literacy programs. He began his career in community and economic development as a city planner for the City of Ypsilanti (MI), staffing the city’s Historic District Commission which is oversaw the second largest historic district in the state.
Mr. Wilson currently serves on the Board of Directors of numerous nonprofit organizations, including Holman Community Development Corporation and Ebony Repertory Theatre. He also serves on the Local Advisory Committee of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Los Angeles.
Mr. Wilson holds a Master in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he attended as a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a graduate of the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate Finance and Development at the University of Southern California and the LISC Housing Development Training Institute.