HCDE Employee of the Month brings life, culture to out-of-school time

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December 3, 2021 by HCDE-Texas

In 2021, CASE for Kids administered funding to over 80 nonprofits across hundreds of sites that offer afterschool activities and summer enrichment programs through the City Connections and County Connections grant initiatives. It’s arguable that this accomplishment, while the product of the collaboration of many, is due to one woman’s determination. 

CASE for Kids Resources Manager Mary Glover, HCDE’s December Employee of the Month, resolves to serve these community partners despite obstacles.

“I’m really proud of these programs, and I think my team and I, with the support of other divisions at HCDE, have been successful,” said Glover. “Each of those afterschool programs is part of the history of this whole city. So, to see what they’re doing in each of those scenarios and how they’re serving kids is really interesting to me.”

Glover, who has a long history with local nonprofits, describes her role as “making sure the community has what they need to serve the youth all over Harris County.” Upon successfully implementing the first-ever County Connections Youth Summer Initiative, a grant funded by Harris County, Glover turned her attention to managing the request for proposal (RFP) process for City Connections, a grant funded by the City of Houston. 

Glover adapted the RFP to adhere to new state laws, a new HCDE procedure for background checks, and new procurement software even as her entire team moved into new roles within a six-week period. Without any full-time staff members on her team, she comprehensively reviewed, properly scored, and notified all awarded applicants of grant funding.

Case for Kids conference at the Hess Club, 2017.

CASE for Kids Director Lisa Caruthers, Ph.D., credits the success to Glover’s dedication.

“We could have said no. We could have said that we don’t have the capacity or that the timeline is too quick, but she knew that would mean that there would be over $600,000 that wouldn’t go out to the community through these nonprofits,” said Caruthers. “So, she created a new system so that we could make sure it happened even in a difficult time frame.”

While Caruthers values Glover’s ability to identify and solve problems before they arise, she especially loves her creativity.

“Anytime you need a creative mind, you want to put her at the table,” said Caruthers. “She brings that ‘a-ha moment.’”

Though Glover began working for CASE for Kids in 2005, her experience in out-of-school time learning and enrichment dates back many years, colorfully woven into her passion for the arts.

After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern Florida, Glover and her husband felt drawn to Houston’s exciting and developing arts landscape. They both got jobs right away, and she began teaching in a contract out-of-school time position with the Glassell Junior School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Over the years, Glover worked in various roles for the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and FotoFest, a Houston-based contemporary arts organization dedicated to advancing discourse surrounding photography and visual culture.

In her free time, Glover enjoys collecting art, making art, attending exhibitions and performances, playing the ukelele, and spending time with her “buddy,” her 96-year-old mother, who shares her love of the arts.

Mary Glover and her mother play ukuleles.

“The arts is definitely part of me,” said Glover.

Her heavy involvement in the arts community eventually led her to CASE for Kids through a collaboration with FotoFest, where she was the director of literacy and photography. After seeing CASE for Kids’ impact through the arts, she decided to apply to an open role hoping that she could serve more children and communities.

“I like CASE because we do a lot of different things. It’s not the same job, ever,” said Glover. “One of my favorite projects at CASE for Kids is Kids Day at The Hobby Center, [which] provides children the opportunity to go to a real theatre, work with artists, and then bring their talents and perform on a real stage in front of a real audience. An important player in that has been MECA.”

Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA) is a community-based nonprofit committed to the healthy development of under-served and underrepresented families through arts and cultural programming, promoting academic excellence, support services, and community building. 

“I’ve always come back to MECA because of what they provide to the community, and it’s not just one thing,” said Glover. “I’ve gotten to know them well over the years, and it’s just amazing to see their talent and how they share that with kids, and how the kids take it and share themselves.”

MECA Arts Program Director Armando Silva testifies that the support received from CASE for Kids and Glover is invaluable to their mission.

“MECA without CASE and the support of Harris County Department of Education would be difficult,” said Silva. “Through this pandemic, they really have been the backbone for us to continue our work. With [the help of] Mary and her team, we figured out what we needed to do and found the communities that needed the support. They’ve been a lifeline for us.”

Glover did not hesitate when asked where she imagines herself in the future.

“In the next five years, I see myself at CASE,” she said. “Now, in the next 10 years, Hawaii maybe.”

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