Mary E. Walsh Ph.D.
Cushing-Gavin Award Recipient
Management Award, 2019
Mary Walsh, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of City Connects and the Daniel Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovative Leadership at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. She has a Ph.D. in clinical-developmental psychology from Clark University.
Growing up, Mary attended Catholic school in Brighton, the daughter of Irish immigrants from County Cork. Her father, a union factory worker, instilled in her from an early age the importance of education, of the labor movement, and of the value of ensuring social justice for everyone.
Mary went on to study psychology at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and from there she went on to complete her graduate studies at Clark University. Prior to joining the faculty at Boston College, she worked at UMass Medical School and taught at Regis College.
As a clinical psychologist, Mary has studied intervention in schools for over two decades. The approach she employs at City Connects is based in years’ worth of evidence from interventions to address the out-of-school factors that can negatively affect a child’s development. With the cooperation of school districts, City Connects places trained Coordinators in schools who assess students and ensure that they receive support through programs that meet their strengths and needs.
Mary emphasises the importance of robust data in creating the model, and her team includes statisticians and policy experts who ensure the data the program continues to produce are properly analyzed. Longitudinal studies of students who received City Connects interventions have found striking success. Since its inception City Connects has seen improvement in such factors as students’ test scores, graduation rates, and report card scores, while negative indicators like chronic absenteeism and retention in grade have dropped significantly. The model has been especially successful in improving outcomes for English Language Learners.
In cities ranging from Holyoke to Salem to Boston to New York City, the City Connects system of identifying and addressing the needs of students on an individual level has proven effective.
City Connects currently operates in twelve school districts in seven states, and Mary and her team are in the process of expanding overseas to Dublin, Ireland, to implement the system in the low-income northeast portion of the inner city.
The Labor Guild is presenting the Management Award to Mary Walsh for her commitment to education and the mission of City Connects.