When Mary O’Hara joined ROC USA, it was just getting started as a national organization trying to scale the success of Resident Owned Communities nationwide. Fourteen years later, Mary has been promoted to Executive Vice President for ROC Movement and is empowering ROC leaders to become movement leaders. In this episode of Ownership Matters, Mary takes a look back at 14 years of history and tells us more about her new role supporting the ROC Association!
Episode: Building a Movement with ROC USA’s Mary O’Hara
Welcome to the Ownership Matters podcast, where hosts Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard of ROC USA highlight the stories of people at the heart of the resident ownership movement! In today’s episode, Paul and Mike welcome guest Mary O’Hara.
0:10 Today’s episode and guest introduced
Mary O’Hara is a ROC USA startup team member beloved across the ROC movement. After beginning her career working with community land trusts and cooperatives, she joined ROC USA in 2008 as the Director of ROC USA Network. In her fourteen years in the role, she was instrumental in building and overseeing ROC USA’s network of affiliates and technical assistance providers. Mary was promoted earlier this year to Executive Vice President of ROC Movement. In this position, she works closely with the ROC Association on outreach, education, policy work, and amplification.
5:32 – What gave Mary the confidence to jump into work of ROC USA?
At the time when Mary joined ROC USA, the organization was just getting its start, and had the daunting goal of building a national network of nonprofits to bring what has been so successful for the New Hampshire Community Land Fund nationwide. Mary was driven forward as she watched the New Hampshire organization try to help other communities and saw the need for technical assistance and strong systems in place for the help to be most effective. There was clearly a need for a support structure, and ROC USA had a good level of standardization from which to launch a network.
11:39 – When did Mary see the resident-owned model working outside of New England?
In its early days, ROC USA faced skepticism from those who didn’t believe the project would succeed in moving beyond New England to reach a national scale. However, two situations in particular convinced Mary that ROC USA was on the right track. One was an experience with two Massachusetts communities-turned-ROCs, and another was with three Washington state communities that chose the route of resident ownership.
19:27 – Mary shares about her new role with ROC USA
Mary’s new role is in a new ROC USA service unit: ROC Movement. The service unit is working on several strategic priorities to help ROC leaders become movement leaders. Mary and her team are taking steps to represent communities on multiple levels, foster peer-to-peer cooperation among communities, and support the efforts of the ROC Association. Getting into more detail, Mary shares about ROC Movement’s work with the Policy Advocacy Committee, and explains why ROC leaders’ advocacy for themselves is powerful because of both their enthusiasm and their personal experience with what they lobby for.
36:28 – How can ROC leaders step up and get involved with ROC Movement?
Mary shares how ROC leaders and members can plug into the efforts of ROC Movement, first recommending to them the ROC Association website, where they can explore committee opportunities, monthly Better Together calls, the calendar for open ROC Association board meetings, the Better Together Learning Leadership Program, and strategic planning training that will be available at the upcoming ROC Summit events.
40:48 – What does the future hold?
Looking ahead five years, Mary sees the ROC Association holding the same prominence as an advocate and resource for ROCs as ROC USA and ROC USA Capital.
Learn more about ROC USA through our website.
Check out the ROC Association website to check out the opportunities Mary mentioned!
Thoughts? Questions? Stories? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.