Mary Menell Zients

Board Chair

Mary was a founding member of Urban Alliance in 1996, and currently serves as Board Chair. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Mary spent her early career in strategic management consulting for Fortune 500 companies at Bain and Company in Boston. From 1991 to 1999, she worked in Washington, D.C. on post-conflict community development projects throughout Southern Africa.

Mary is also a founding board member of City Year South Africa, a youth service community program in Johannesburg. She is the chair of the board committee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund-USA and serves on the US Advisory Council of the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. She also sat on the board of the independent K-12 Maret School from 2006 to 2018, serving as Chair from 2013 to 2018. She joined the board of Women for Women International in 1999, chaired from 2005 to 2012, and continues to serve as Chair Emeritus.

Mary was nominated by President Obama to chair the Commission on White House Fellows from December 2013 to January 2017. She graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Arts in social studies in 1985, and received a Master of Science in industrial relations from the London School of Economics in 1986. Mary and her husband Jeff have four children and live in Washington, D.C.