Mary Fisher
Philanthropist and Activist

Mary’s life has been spent as an artist, an advocate, and philanthropist.

Her sculptures, quilts, and stylized textiles are exhibited globally, from the halls of U.S. embassies to the homes of private collectors. She’s given jewelry designs and work to vulnerable women in Africa and elsewhere, quietly altering their economy and their lives. As an advocate, she’s given voice to those muted by injustice, poverty, illness and fear.

Mary began her professional career organizing community events, working in public television (Detroit, MI), eventually moving to commercial television while producing a morning show at WXYZ-TV, a local ABC-owned station. When her gifts were recognized by the White House, she broke one of Washington DC’s glass ceilings by becoming the first woman “advanceman” in American history, serving President Gerald R. Ford.

Mary has delivered countless speeches and keynote addresses from university commencements to Congressional sessions. She’s spoken to congregations of every religious tradition, at the women’s prison on Riker’s Island, in board rooms and classrooms across the U.S. and in tribal villages across Africa and Asia.

For her work as an advocate and spokesperson, Mary has received five honorary doctorate degrees from distinguished universities.

Mary’s address to the 1992 Republican National Convention, “A Whisper of AIDS,” is well remembered thirty years later. It’s now found in dozens of rhetoric texts as a model of persuasive rhetoric and has been ranked (Oxford Press) as one of the “100 Best American Speeches of the 20th Century.”

Mary has authored six books. In 2012, while recovering from treatments for an aggressive breast cancer, she authored a second memoir. “My first memoir in 1995 was my story about dying,” she explained. “Messenger is my story about living.”

A tireless campaigner for public integrity and community, Mary is also an active philanthropist who prefers philanthropy that’s done personally and quietly.