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Faculty & Research

Mary Grassa O'Neill

Senior Lecturer on Education
Faculty Director, School Leadership

Mary Grassa O'Neill

Degree:  Ed.D., University of Massachusetts, (1990)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.6850
Office:  Gutman 431
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Member
Faculty Assistant:  Lee A. Marmor


Mary Grassa O'Neill is a senior lecturer on education and faculty director of the School Leadership Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the lead faculty member in an HGSE/HBS/HBX partnership to pioneer a new online certificate for school leaders. The program will offer professional development to principals at scale and will engage leaders in a new and interactive way of learning and faculty in a new approach to case teaching.

Grassa O'Neill created a new course, Race, Equity and Leadership with her colleagues Deborah Jewell-Sherman and Adria Goodson. The course supports the school-wide focus on equity and diversity. It's a required course for Education Leadership Doctoral students, School Leadership Program students, and became the inspiration for a brand-new Principals' Center Institute.

As the former HGSE Managing Director of Programs in Professional Education and Director of The Principals' Center, she was responsible for on campus, online and hybrid Pre-K through Higher Education executive education programs that reached more than 6,000 professionals each year from public, private and faith-based schools, colleges and universities from the U.S. and around the world.

As the first layperson to serve as Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, she served on the Cardinal's Cabinet and led the second largest school district in Massachusetts composed of 120 schools and 42,000 students primarily located in Greater Boston's ethnically diverse urban areas. Grassa O'Neill wrote the first ever strategic plan with a scorecard to measure success at each school and throughout the district. Under her leadership, scorecard data increased steadily especially in academic achievement and mission focus. She was responsible for establishing collaborations that raised $11M to enrich and enhance the curriculum and support other initiatives.

While Superintendent of the Milton Public Schools, she worked with Milton leaders and residents to raise funds to make every school new or like new, significantly expanded the fine and performing arts program and the French Immersion Program and created the Milton Foundation for Education. In the Boston Public Schools, she served as a Zone Superintendent, Principal of the nationally recognized James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury and a classroom teacher.

She was a founding member of the Massachusetts School Building Authority Board. During her ten years on the Board, it distributed $10B to cities, towns and regional school districts to support the design and construction of educationally-appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public school facilities.

Grassa O'Neill is currently a member the University of Massachusetts Boston Board of Visitors and the board of Lawrence Catholic Academy.

She is a graduate of the University Massachusetts and has earned many awards and honors for her contributions to education.

Click here to see a full list of Mary Grassa O'Neill's courses.

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