Staff Meeting: Mary O’Neill, Director of Programs

Staff Meeting is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum through which we check in with Forum staff members to find out what they’re working on, how you can get involved, and what they do in their off-hours.

Name:Mary O’Neill
Position: Director, Programs
Years with the Forum: 6.5

What are your primary responsibilities at the Forum?

As is the case at many regional associations with smaller staffs, I do a little of everything. My primary areas of focus are member benefits, programs, events, public policy, external partnerships, and special initiatives. I also handle administrative issues such as human resources and support Mike with board and funder relations. Every day is different!

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I enjoy having a variety of projects to work on, and there is never a shortage of projects at the Forum! I am a task-oriented person so I like being in a position to use the ideas and guidance of those of you who are experts in a topic and turning them into a program or resource that can benefit everyone. I also love working with and learning from my colleagues at regional associations and other infrastructure groups. I’ve been in this field for almost 15 years now and have built strong relationships that help me do my job better but have also led to real friendships which I value greatly.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve been on semi-maternity leave since my daughter was born in June, but I have kept involved in all of my projects. Right now I’m focused on planning related to Foundations on the Hill and our 2012 annual conference in Pittsburgh. I’ve also been serving as a liaison between regional associations and the Council on Foundations related to their annual salary survey and the Defining Philanthropy’s Role in Society initiative, and am determining next steps for the Forum’s involvement in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

How can regional association staff get involved?

We will soon be asking for volunteers to serve on the planning committee for the annual conference, and we always welcome input on how to make the program most useful to the network. We also need volunteers to serve on the advisory group for the COF salary survey, so please contact me if you are interested!

What are you passionate about outside of work?

As the mother of two daughters (ages four and six months), I’d say right now I am most passionate about sleep. Unfortunately I get very little of that, but I do try to have a life other than work and parenting. I try to read for pleasure every day, even if it just the newspaper, and I always do the daily crossword puzzle. I love travel and photography but don’t get to engage in either as much as I would like. Our family loves sports — we have season tickets to Washington’s baseball and women’s basketball teams, my older daughter plays soccer and swims, and my husband and I been playing on the same softball team for 15 years. I used to play on a women’s basketball team but decided I was getting too old and creaky for that. In my ideal world I would be more passionate about exercise and less about food.

Anything else we should know?

In general I’d like to apologize to the network for not being as engaged in the last several months while I’ve been on part-time leave, but just want to assure everyone that come January I’ll be back full time, re-energized and ready to go in the new year!


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