Enthusiastic, Empathetic, & Ethical
By Karen Harris Brooks
Mary E. Calland, known as “Emmie,” is proof that the power of a woman is valued and appreciated in the business world today, be it non-profit or corporate. But when one is found who possesses enthusiasm, empathy, and ethics, you come across a genuine and transparent leader. Known for her work in the realm of non-profit, the Director of Strategic Projects and Foundation Initiatives for The Pittsburgh Foundation is a woman who continues to make strides in a world that opens opportunities for others. The Mt. Lebanon native carries within her heart a “passion for volunteering.” Possessing the gift of recognizing community needs, her dossier includes experience with the Vincentian Service Corp, Americorp, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, and Higher Achievement Pittsburgh.
Passionate about her roots and the community in which she grew up, Calland studied Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree. Continuing her education, she returned home to pursue her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public and International Affairs. During her studies, the department’s Leadership Program recognized the capabilities of the graduate student, thereby recommending her to serve as a Board member for the Pennsylvania Organization of Women in Early Recovery (POWER). The one-year appointment enabled the born leader to “not only serve but continue a path of learning while serving.”
During that time, a friendship of mutual respect and admiration was formed between Rosa Davis, POWER’s Chief Executive Officer, and the student Board member. Completing her year of service, Rosa and Emmie both came to the realization that it was not time for her ‘POWER tenure’ to come to an end. It was the “mission of the organization” that led the young woman to readily accept a position on POWER’s Board. Without hesitation, she states, “POWER selected me and I selected POWER. Rosa is a wonderful leader who leads a passionate staff. This is a caring organization and that care is evident from the top down. Compassion and care are so embedded in the work itself. We are empowering society’s most stigmatized people. There is a sense of true care and respect in a group that wants to empower women. I was drawn in by the Board, the ethics, and the way the organization does its’ work with so much compassion for people who are experiencing addiction. They do it well and they do it with empathy. The staff, Rosa, and the Board members are there for the right reasons and are improving our city by helping and assisting the people we serve. The organization is focused on the right things. Addiction is something that runs across our entire culture in Pittsburgh.”
Elected President of the Board on June 28, 2018, one can readily perceive that Calland does not take her responsibility lightly. Excited about the accomplishments of POWER, she is also proud of the future opportunities of the organization. “The new Detox Center in Wilkinsburg offers a continuum of care that will provide services to women as they go through this journey, reaching important steps. We are intentional in filling in the gaps for women by providing opportunities and helping them feel full of hope and happiness. The future Swissvale campus of the POWER House will allow us to be able to serve more people while providing a variety of services such as primary health care, child care, resources, and wraparound services.”
When questioned about the Board’s interaction with the personnel and clients of POWER, the confident President states, “I see the Board as being a resource to the staff, supporting them as they work to support our clients. Our position is to help POWER with strategic planning, providing guidance for decision making, and providing financial and legal responsibility for the agency. My hope is that, at the end of the day, the staff and clients can come and let us know where support is needed and how we can help. The Staff is enabled to do their work and the clients should be entitled to their privacy; however, we serve as a constant resource to assist POWER’s staff”.
In response to the tough question of the Board’s input with the active Anti-Racism Task Force, Calland answers thoughtfully, but without hesitation. “My hope is that the Board can really lead the fight against racial injustice. It is a journey and that journey is ongoing. It is not something that we work on for a few months and complete. It is a lens from which we have to do all our work going forward. I want the Board to lead our commitment and in so doing, tackle the tough questions. We need to be a leader in taking the step of commitment that ensures that POWER is an equitable place and a good example of an organization that embraces equity and inclusion.”
There are so many ways that define the qualities of Mary E. Calland. Her integrity stands on the foundation of her ethics; her individuality is enhanced by her empathetic nature and her confidence is embraced by her enthusiasm. It is the leadership of the Board of Directors, the Administrative Team and the POWER staff that provides the opportunity of endless possibilities for the clients of POWER.