Mary Robbins was nurtured and inspired from a young age by her Mom’s community activism and inclusive spirit. Mary’s many years of community engagement and organizing date back to her participation as a data observer/ collector for a MIT sponsored Acid Rain study as a middle schooler and volunteering with Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign as a freshman in high school.
Following college (Mount Holyoke College - 1987) and graduate school (Yale School of Environmental Management - 1989), Mary spent 10 years at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. As a Project Engineer Mary was first tasked with working with community groups to reduce toxins in both wastewater and storm water. In this capacity Mary helped bring the “Don’t Dump, Drains to Boston Harbor” plaque project to New England from Seattle, co-directed the piloting of the first regional household hazardous waste collection program in Massachusetts and successfully established 10+ community-based used oil education and collection centers across Boston and surrounding communities (at the time the dumping of used car oil into storm drains was a significant issue). As the Policy and Planning Manager for the MWRA Executive Office, Mary led the development of mitigation measures that would ensure fair and consistent treatment of community impacts related to MWRA construction projects, wrote many staff summaries in collaboration with staff who were presenting to the Board and authored MWRA’s first 5 year Report to the Governor and the Legislature.
More recently (Dec. 2012 to Jan. 2022), Mary worked on behalf of the Worcester Area Mission Society (WAMS) to develop socially-based community programs and events including, 1) Summer CUBS, a collaboration with Clark University and Woodland Academy that offers innovative and effective summer learning to Woodland Academy students; 2) ReachOut Worcester, a collaboration with Worcester Fellowship and Thursday Cafe that introduces teens to the subject of homelessness in ways that promote understanding, respect and opportunities for affecting positive change; and 3) the Sustainable Massachusetts Conference Event Series aimed at breaking down silos within the Massachusetts social welfare system. At the time of this conference series Massachusetts was experiencing an unprecedented number of families seeking housing assistance, necessitating the increased use of hotels/motels as emergency shelters. Together with numerous non-profit groups across the State, most notably Friends of Families in Transition (FIT) and South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), WAMS sought to bring about greater efficiency, compassion and equity among service providers, clients and "do-gooding" community members alike, in their approach to this crisis. We are experiencing a similar crisis in our approach to the many Haitian refugees occupying hotel/motel shelters today.
Before, during and following her time at WAMS, Mary passionately served as a volunteer in the work of Matthew25 Worcester, Habitat for Humanity MW/GW, Worcester Fellowship/ Thursday Café and the Pastoral Counseling Centers of MA. She currently co-chairs a NST supporting an Afghan family who has come to reside in her home town of Northborough and is actively involved in the foster care system. Mary and her husband are parents to four children including a pre-adoptive foster son who has been in their care since 2019. In 2021 they added Cali to their family - a rescued dog from Mississippi.