Mary Pender Greene
Chief, Social Work Services • Jewish Board of Family and Children Services Inc. • New York, N.Y.
Close ties to her husband, children, large extended family and hand-picked friends make up the fibers that sustain Mary Pender Greene’s tapestry of sustenance.
“A person should develop a personal board of directors, a virtual board where people are chosen [and are assigned] roles as mentors in different subject areas to make sure that their personal and professional life runs as effectively as a company and where your issues are taken care of. The price of this board is to give back,” she says.
Pender Greene has been giving back to the community since 8th grade when she realized that she wanted to be a social worker. She is chief of social work services for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the nations largest, non-sectarian mental health and social service agency serving close to 70,000 clients, and former president of the National Association of Social Workers, N.Y.C. “I have a passion about my work and I believe in excellence and in doing my very best, no matter what the task,” she says.
She solidified her commitment to social work more than three decades ago, when she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in that subject from New York University and subsequently obtained certifications in family and group therapy. More recently, upon tracing her heritage to slaves in North Carolina, she focused her studies on institutional racism and multiculturalism in the workplace.
Pender Greene maintains a private psychotherapy practice for adults and is often referred to as therapist to some of New York’s “movers and shakers.” She co-edited the book Racism and Racial Identity: Reflections on Urban Practice in Mental Health and Social Services, and received her training on Institutional Racism from The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Institutional Racism is not about individual acts of meanness, that’s bigotry, she says, it is about prejudice plus power which leads to institutional policies and procedures that empower some people and put road blocks and hurdles in the path of others.