The coming of age novel, In a Silent Way, (forthcoming Oct. 2016) emerged out of Mary Jo’s experience teaching in one of the first progressive, alternative high schools in the U.S. in North Philadelphia in the late 1960’s and from her life-long involvement in a series of grassroots social movements for racial, economic and sexual justice. Her 1985 doctoral thesis in political science is entitled, Dilemmas of Human Service Work in a New Conservative Era. It focused on the devaluation of women’s work of care and service, its centrality in a just and healthy society, and the importance of the leadership of women of color as we move forward.
In the mid to late eighties she directed the adult education program at the Jackson/Mann Community School in Boston, utilizing a participatory management approach. In 1989 she joined the faculty of the Manchester, N.H. campus of Springfield College, School of Human Services. From 1996 to 2013 she was the founding director, then full time faculty member, of the Boston Campus of Springfield College School of Human Services, which primarily serves low-income adult students of color, and whose mission is to offer accessible higher education for social justice and service to humanity through a philosophy of mind/body/spirit interconnection. She also enjoys facilitating free “destiny talks” with individuals at any stage in their lives who are seeking clarification of their life purposes and direction.
For many years Mary Jo has been active in efforts to transform urban education in ways that support the development of all students’ unique gifts so that they may, in turn, deepen the quality of life in the community. She is currently active in the struggle for racial justice and quality in urban public education in the Boston area, and is a member of the Coalition for Equal, Quality Education, Citizens for Public Schools and the Boston Education Justice Alliance.
Several years ago Mary Jo was invited to co-host Mass. Circle processes, rooted in indigenous cultural principles, in an effort to break down institutional hierarchies of power and oppression in order to co-create the conditions for community growth and transformation. She is currently an ongoing member of the diverse Circles leadership group.
Simultaneously, she has spent the last 25+ years learning the craft of fiction writing in order to do justice to the characters in her novel, In a Silent Way, about a young teacher activist in urban America, which is set in the late sixties, but is even more relevant today. She has also written a young teen novel manuscript, Julian, Song of the Dawn. She enjoys music, especially jazz, all forms of creative writing, film, drama, art, athletics, nature, spirit and friendship. Mary Jo lives in Jamaica Plain, a community of Boston, Massachusetts.