Centralina News

Centralina WDB Celebrates Women’s History Month by Honoring the Career and Accomplishments of Board Member Mary Walls

Apr 23, 2020

Centralina WDB Board member, Mary Walls has proudly served on the board for over 25 years – longer than any other individual in Centralina WDB’s history.

Mary was born and raised in Union County and recalls growing up in Monroe and attending a segregated elementary school through the third grade, and then attending the integrated East Elementary School in the fourth grade. “Being a kid, it wasn’t that bad. The biggest fear I had was not knowing what to expect,” said Mary about attending the newly integrated school.

During integration, she also remembers the black and white water fountains and separated seating in the local movie theater. In Belk particularly, she remembers using the restrooms and water fountain reserved for African-Americans was in the basement of the department store. “Separate but not equal,” she chuckled as she recalled.

Despite it all, she went on to graduate from Monroe High School. Then attened North Carolina Central University on a basketball scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration, with a minor in Therapeutic Recreation. “I’ve always wanted to work with individuals with disabilities,” said Mary who graduated with the highest GPA in her department.

Mary and her sister’s drive to get a college degree came from their mom, “She knew that education was the key so that we wouldn’t have to work hard like she did,” Mary said. Her mother worked at Holly Farms, later Tysons for years.

After college, Mary worked with youth and local organizations before eventually taking a position with the NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS).

Today, Mary is the Stanly and Union County Unit Manager for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and has held that position for 17 years and been with the state for a total of 32 years.

DVRS helps people with disabilities achieve their goals for employment and independence. Many of DVRS services are in line with what the resources that Centralina WDB and NCWorks Centralina offers, including job training and placement. “We try to help find employment to where their abilities will be showcased verses the restrictions or limitations that they may have,” said Mary.

Mary says she enjoys the productivity of Centralina WDB offers from its resources throughout the region to working with our Executive Director, David Hollars.

“We’re pushing programs that make a lot difference in the lives of the individuals that actually take the opportunity to utilize these services,” said Mary about what keeps her committed to Centralina WDB.

“Mary Walls is the true definition of a great workforce development board member. She is passionate about her work with Vocational Rehabilitation, connected to her community, understanding of the local labor market, and willing to provide input. As the longest serving member of the Centralina Workforce Development Board with over 25 years of dedicated service, Mary has provided the leadership and the direction to make the Board and our region successful,  We truly appreciate Mary’s commitment to workforce development,” said David Hollars, Centralina WDB’s executive director.

Mary eventually earned a master’s degree from San Diego State University in Rehibition Counseling in 2003 and certifications and awards throughout her career.

A wife and mother, she is also involved in her church and enjoys gardening, movies and playing basketball. To learn more about Centralina WDB and our Board Members, click here.

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