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5930 W. Race Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60644
(773) 626-2762/h
(773) 759-0139/c

1991-Present Forest Preserve District Cook County, IL

Secretary-Treasurer/Board Officer

Serve as the fiduciary Treasurer (overseer) of the Forest Preserve District $170 million
budget, as well as the authorized agent for all official Forest Preserve documents. As
Board Secretary, day-to-day responsibilities include the preparation and dissemination of
all board and committee materials, the maintenance of all official records of the Forest
Preserve District. Respond to Freedom of Information requests. Assignments of task
force projects by the General Superintendent and the Office of the President. Preparation
of electronic records of the “Record of Proceedings,” the official journal of proceedings
for the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District that documents yearly
activity and actions of said board.

1988-1991 U. S. Senator Alan J. Dixon Chicago, IL

Housing and Community Outreach Coordinator

Monitored the implementation of various federal initiatives associated with the Tenant
Management Housing Program designed to assist public housing residents become
property managers. As the Outreach Coordinator, responsibilities included facilitating
and disseminating housing information to community organizations, and public speaking
on behalf of the Senator on various housing issues throughout Cook County.

1985-1988 Board of Commissioners Cook County, IL

Staff Assistant

Responsibilities included compilation of support documents for the monthly Board

Meetings. Scheduling. Maintenance of active and current filing systems of various
county board issues.

1984 Cojeunaze Nursing Center

Patient Account Coordinator
1980-1983 Operation PUSH
Communication Aide
1977-1979 American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP)

Concordia University, B.A.
Jones Commercial High School
Candidate for Alderman of the 29th Ward

The middle child of eight, Mary Russell Gardner experienced her parents’ financial struggles after they
migrated from Alabama to Chicago’s West Side. During her second year of high school, Mary became a
teen mother. Determined to complete her education, she enrolled in a program for pregnant girls,
graduating from Jones Commercial High School. She worked her way through college while providing for
her two daughters and earned a BS in Organizational Management from Concordia University.

One of Mary’s college internships led to her first job, in the communications department of Operation
PUSH. She gained firsthand experience with positive people tackling critical community issues and
encouraging everyday citizens to respect their power to make a difference in their lives. She became
involved with 100 Women for Harold Washington, whose historic campaign opened the opportunity for
several of those women’s election to the city council, state legislature and U. S. Congress. She fulfilled
some of her own leadership aspirations as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Women.

PUSH also introduced Mary to her future husband, the late Joe Gardner. They shared a passion for putting
others’ needs above self-promotion. His successful campaign for Chicago Water Reclamation District
commissioner taught Mary effective political strategy and temperament.

At Joe’s suggestion, Mary applied for a county position that required someone with administrative skills
who could operate in a political environment.

Some 20 years, Mary continues to serve as a board officer and first woman secretary/treasurer of the Cook
County Forest Preserve District – through four board presidents and overseeing a budget of nearly $170
million. She believes her broad-based background, network of resources, and courage to fight the status
quo will enable her to carry out her vision for the 29th Ward to deliver services equal to the highest standard
set in other parts of the city.

Mary’s priorities:

Transparency and Accountability: Restore trust in the office, especially by ensuring complete,
timely, two-way communication about potential opportunities or projects throughout the ward.

Public Safety: Work with constituents and law enforcement to effectively address crime and violence.

Economic Development: Develop a five-year plan to support and attract businesses that provide quality
products, a living wage, job opportunities for residents, and which recycle within the ward revenues
generated by local patrons.

Responsive City Services: Shore up general maintenance throughout the ward, determining priorities for
the ward’s diverse neighborhoods.

Education/youth: Convene monthly meetings between school administrators and the 29th Ward to create
partnerships of parents, the private sectors and others to make education a priority within the ward.

Mary has lived in Austin for 25 years. She has three daughters and four grandchildren.


5253 W. Madison (2nd Floor), Chicago, Il 60644 - 773-630-9896