Mary Nell McPherson BIO

Mary Nell McPhersonSince January 2000, Mary Nell McPherson has served as the executive director of Freedom School Partners working toward their mission to engage, educate, and empower children to succeed in school and in life through quality, year-round educational enrichment programs. McPherson has been a leader in Freedom School Partners’ growth from one site serving 100 children to nineteen sites serving 1,200 children.

McPherson has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years. Her substantial history in nonprofit management includes serving as the director of operations for Habitat for Humanity in Charlotte and support specialist for Crisis Assistance Ministry.

McPherson also served on the Friendship Trays Board of Directors and has remained a Meals on Wheels driver for the past 20 years. McPherson also served on the Johnson YMCA Advisory Board for a short time in the early 1990’s. In October 2009, McPherson received Mecklenburg Ministries’ honorable Community Leader Award for ten years of service in the Charlotte community.

Due to the success of Freedom Schools in Charlotte, McPherson was appointed to the national  Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Advisory Board in 2011. An ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she believes that education and the knowledge of God’s love are the keys for children growing into their potential.

She graduated from Mary Baldwin College 1979 and moved to Charlotte, NC to work for then, Duke Power and made a move to the nonprofit sector in 1985 to work for Crisis Assistance Ministry. After 10 years, she worked for Habitat for Humanity and was hired as the executive director of then, Seigle Avenue Partners in 1999.

Mary Nell is married to Kevin Strawn with whom she has two college-aged daughters, Mollie and Rosemarie. In her free time, she enjoys practicing centering prayer and yoga. Her favorite childhood book is Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.