Mary Black was a trailblazing innovator who had the rare distinction of having her agency featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal
for innovation in delivering nonprofit family services.
Mary received the Martin Luther King “the Living Dream Award”. In 2020 Congressman Greg Stanton honored Mary as a woman of conviction, whose passion and leadership have inspired Arizona’s to do justly, love, kindness and keep fighting to ensure all children grow up in a safe and supportive homes.
Mary was a fearless champion of children, who fought for a better life for Arizona’s children and families.
Mary was founder and CEO of Black Family & Child Services for 35 years.
Since 1984 Black Family & Child services has kept families together and created prosperity and opportunities for all races and backgrounds. Her legacy lives on in the programs that she established, placing thousands of children in foster homes and with hundreds of adoptive families. These programs also offer therapeutic foster care, substance abuse counseling, child & family therapy, after school programs and services to help at-risk youth prevent gang violence, pregnancy and substance abuse.
An example of a family that Mary’s organization helped sustain was Sara
Coleman’s. When Sarah hit 60 years old she thought she was done raising children. She was among millions of American left to fill the void for family members gone to jail. Sarah didn’t intend to raise her great-grandchildren but said the she had to try. In South Mountain, a district in south Phoenix, more than 3,800 family members are displaced. According to the Pew Center, a nonpartisan research group, from 2008 and on, Arizona had the fastest growing prison population of the Western States. This matters because children of jailed parents are five to seven times more likely to end up behind bars, according to federal statistics. What these young people don’t understand is they are dooming their kids and families. When they mess up, they are taking other people with them. The long term decline of today’s minority community neighborhoods - from drug epidemics and white suburban flight - has taken it’s toll in a gradual rise in prison populations and budgets.
Mary Black’s Black Family & Child Services offers some of the most comprehensive services for South Mountain residents like Sarah Coleman . Each week the Black Family & Child Services has paid Ms. Coleman’s utility bills and helped her obtain medical care. Each week the center gives her a “food basket” that includes breakfast cereals, diapers, canned juices and other staples as she raises her great-grandchildren.
Mary’s legacy lives on through the agency that she founded and led. Our Arizona community is grateful for Mary Black and her significant contributions.