Monday, January 20, 2020

A Tribute to Mary Jo Ginty

By: Sam Piha

We were very saddened to hear of the passing of Mary Jo Ginty. Mary Jo served at Los Angeles County of Education (LACOE) as CDE’s Region 11 Lead for Expanded Learning Programs in Los Angeles County for over 12 years. She led a unit that provided training and technical assistance to the 1300+ school sites providing after school programs funded through the Afterschool Education and Safety Program (ASES) and/or 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. She was a tireless advocate for young people and leaders of afterschool programs. Mary Jo believed that after school programs have the potential to assist youth to gain the skill sets, tools, and knowledge and have the experiences necessary to make a life for themselves and their families. Prior to her leadership of Region 11, Mary Jo was the owner of a successful consulting firm, a high school teacher, high school principal, college professor, lobbyist, and community organizer.

Mary Jo Ginty

We had the pleasure of working with Mary Jo over the last decade and below are some comments from afterschool leaders who worked alongside her.

Mary Jo was so incredibly dedicated to the Expanded Learning field, and she was always extremely supportive of those doing the great work.  Her leadership and influence is found, and will continue to impact the Expanded Learning field all over California, not just in Region 11.  However, her work in Region 11 was more than exceptional and effective, which is truly remarkable when you factor in the exponential number of programs she served.  She was an amazing force and a truly great friend, so her passing is a loss to the field and a great personal loss for me.  Godspeed Mary Jo!

BOB CABEZA, YMCA of Greater Long Beach
I have known Mary Jo for over 20 years. She was a dear friend and a warrior in the fight to serve and support disenfranchised youth of color. When she worked for the Conservation Corps, she helped hundreds of these youth get their GED’s and move on to college. She carried on that mission of moving youth out of poverty through education as an After School Advocate at LACOE. She never wavered from her mission nor passion. She was wise, patient, kind and so very full of humor. I will miss you my friend, but I’ll see you again in that meadow in the forest.

STACEY DARAIO, Temescal Associates
I’m thinking about MaryJo’s daughter, Savannah. I’m thinking of the many conversations MaryJo and I had about the children we parent. The intersection of youth development and parent development. I’m thinking of the many roles she played and the authenticity with which she played them. I’m thinking of the way she frustrated and inspired and spurred dialogue – always with the intent of making us see how we got in the way of the work. I’m so deeply and profoundly affected by MaryJo’s passing. I’m thinking that she’d kick my *ss and tell me to get back to work.

JENNIFER PECK, The Partnership for Children and Youth 
I so appreciated her extreme honesty, in every situation I ever saw her in. She was never afraid to speak up about what she thought was best for programs and kids, no matter what.  Mary Jo also liked to gossip which you had to love about her, because she so often said kind things about others and when she didn’t, she was probably right!  She was so generous with her invaluable advice and guidance over the years – I will miss her presence and wisdom and her deep kindness and caring.  I am grateful to have known her.

MICHAEL FUNK, California Department of Education
Mary Jo Ginty was a force for good and a warrior for kids. She would always ask me hard questions, and she would then listen closely to my thoughts. That made for many memorable, authentic and generative conversations. MJ was also strongly committed to her own personal growth. In the last couple of years, I watched her challenge herself and join our entire System of Support for Expanded Learning as we embarked on a journey of social and emotional growth together. I will miss her profoundly.

From making sure children’s art decorated the halls of BOOST to relentlessly connecting with line staff to ensure their professional development needs were being met, Mary Jo left a fingerprint on our field that will never be forgotten.  She was a friend, a mentor and one of the strongest social justice warriors I have ever met.  She will be deeply missed.

EDUCARE Foundation
Mary Jo’s brilliance and magnitude of influence goes beyond words.  Her energy, commitment, and kindness ignited the best in each of us and lifted the lives of thousands of young people. Being with Mary Jo was like being in a powerful force field of love in action.  How fortunate for us all to have been touched by her dynamic presence and inspired by her life of heartfelt service.

It’s not easy to share thoughts about Mary Jo and keep it brief because there’s so much to say about her. I considered Mary Jo to be a great role model and mentor because she was one of the most passionate, committed and inspiring champions for young people, as well as the adults who work with them. Whenever I had any questions or challenges, she was my go-to person because she was always willing to assist, and she did so with a smile on her face and an answer or suggestion that was just what was needed. I came to know and admire her even more as a Co-Chair of the CA Afterschool Network because of her impeccable clarity of vision, purpose and direction. We have lost an amazing human being who will be missed by so many, but we are forever touched by who she was and who she will continue to be in our hearts. Thank you, Mary Jo, and God bless you on your new journey!

JOHN HAN, Beyond the Bell LAUSD
As many of us process the loss of our dear friend MaryJo, I am reminded about how precious life is, and how people come in and out of our lives. In the business of education, one comes across hundreds if not thousands of people throughout one’s career. Some leave a lasting impression, while others not so much. MaryJo, was one that left a large footprint, not only in me professionally, but personally as well. From the moment I met MaryJo, I knew she was someone who cared not only about students, but the people that served them as well. She was an amazing teacher and I always learned from her. READ MORE.

We lost a giant and it hurts. Mary Jo made a significant impact on all of us in so many ways, personally and professionally. Her passing is a momentous loss to everyone that knew her. Her contributions to the Expanded Learning field will be one of her greatest legacies. It is fair to say, she taught us so many valuable lessons along the way.

As many of you know Mary Jo was chosen as our 2020 BOOST OSTI Award winner for the trailblazing contributions that she made to our field. We were so excited to honor Mary Jo in front of her peers at the BOOST Conference and recognize her for the tireless love and commitment she made to Expanded Learning programs. She deserved to be on the stage in all the glory as she planned for her retirement in October 2020 and to celebrate her immense legacy. As a field and community, we still plan to honor Mary Jo on the stage on Wednesday, April 29 that the BOOST Conference. Behind the scenes, we have been collecting video testimonials and photos of Mary Jo over the years that will result in a video tribute to honor Mary Jo. This video will live on as a special memory of LOVE for her family, for Savannah, and as an inspiration to the field to carry on Mary Jo’s legacy.

We hope that you will contribute a 15-20 second video tribute to honor Mary Jo, feel free to use the prompts below. You can also send photos to be included in the video.

Option 1

We are offering an opportunity with a professional videographer immediately following the LACOE Advisory meeting on January 24, 2020 in Room 610, located just inside the entry of the building and on the way to and from the meeting room. Please sign up for your timeslot here

*Deadline to sign up, January 15, 2020.

Option 2

Please email your video submission and/or photos to Gabriela Delgado by 5pm Jan. 25, 2020.
Prompting Questions for Tributes 
Sample prompting questions below- you can answer as many as you like or create your own.

  • A favorite memory with Mary Jo
  • What you loved most about Mary Jo
  • How Mary Jo has influenced/impacted your life/program/career
  • The greatest lesson Mary Jo has ever taught you
  • Your favorite quality about Mary Jo
  • Funniest story about Mary Jo

Go Fund Me
Another lasting legacy that Mary Jo has left behind is being a mother to Savannah. She took great pride in loving and raising her daughter, Savannah. Right now, we are trying to navigate next steps and determine what support is needed to make sure Savannah has everything she needs to be aided through this loss. We have set up a Go Fund Me page to assist Savannah financially in the short term. We hope that you will consider giving back the same way Mary Jo always did for all of us.

Flowers can be sent to Savannah Ginty at 5224 E Daggett St, Long Beach, CA 90815. A Celebration of Life will be held January 26th. For more information contact

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