Mary Bissell is an attorney, child, and family policy expert, and founding partner of ChildFocus. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where she teaches a class on advocacy for public interest lawyers. Mary was formerly a Fellow at the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute that brings new voices and ideas to America’s public discourse. She also served as a senior staff attorney and lobbyist at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) where she focused on poverty, child welfare, substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health policy issues.
Prior to her work at CDF, she was a Heinz Fellow, and later, a Legislative Assistant in the Office of Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) where she worked on family, judiciary, and banking issues. Mary began her career as the Equal Justice Works/Crowell & Moring Fellow at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia where she started the nation’s first legal services program exclusively for grandparents and other relative caregivers.
While at Legal Aid, she founded and directed the DC Kinship Care Coalition, a grassroots advocacy organization. Mary has published extensively in a broad range of publications including The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Miami Herald, and Philadelphia Inquirer. She has been featured on CNN, the TODAY Show, NBC, and National Public Radio.
Mary is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale College and the Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Supreme Court Bars. She is currently a board member at the National Center of Youth Law and board chair of NegotiationWorks. She lives with her family in Silver Spring, Maryland.