Mary Menell Zients

Chairperson of Steering Committee : Mandela 100 USA

Mary is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. She spent her early career in strategic management consulting for Fortune 500 companies at Bain and Company in Boston.

She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1991 and worked for a number of years on development projects throughout Southern Africa funded by bilateral and multilateral agencies. She was a founding member of the Urban Alliance Foundation (UA) in 1996, and currently serves as Board Chair.

UA is an inner city high school jobs and mentoring program that has served over 4,000 young people in D.C., Baltimore, and Chicago.   She served on the board of the independent K-12 Maret School from 2006 – 2018, and as Chair from 2013 – 2018. She joined the board of Women for Women International in 1999, chaired from 2005 to 2012, and continues to serve as Chair Emeritus.

WfWI is a global NGO that has assisted over 450,000 victims of war and civil strife to rebuild their lives in eight countries around the world.

Mary is a founding board member of City Year South Africa, a youth service community program in Johannesburg as well as a founding member of the U.S. effort to support the creation of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg, which opened in December, 2016. She was appointed by President Obama in December 2013 through to January 20th, 2017 to serve as the Chair of the Commission on White House Fellows. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a B.A. in Social Studies and holds an M.Sc in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics. Mary and her husband Jeff have four children and live in Washington, DC.