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Faculty & Research

Mary Grassa O'Neill

Senior Lecturer on Education

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 Coordinator:  Robyn Ennis


Mary Grassa O'Neill is a senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the lead faculty member for the Online Certificate in School Management and Leadership, a partnership program with Harvard Business School and powered by HBS Online. The program includes four courses and offers professional development to principals at scale. It engages leaders in a new and interactive way of learning and a pioneering 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 schoolwide focus on equity and diversity.  It is 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 and her team built a robust and very successful 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.

The first layperson to serve as Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, Grassa O'Neill served on the Cardinal’s Cabinet, led the second largest school district in the state with 120 schools and 42,000 students primarily located in Greater Boston’s ethnically diverse urban areas. She created the first ever strategic plan with a scorecard to measure success at each school and throughout the district. Scorecard data increased steadily in academic achievement and mission focus. She established 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 the money to make every school building 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.

Grassa O'Neill 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.

She is also 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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