Unsung Hero: Mary Maisano, Garden School

Maisano bolstered the school’s financial health while managing a successful head-of-school transition at the Garden School.

Sep 3, 2021


The Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation. At the end of each school year, new Unsung Heroes receive their award from their head of school, often at a significant school occasion such as a board meeting or an all-school ceremony. What makes these Unsung Heroes so special? The highlights below come straight from their colleagues' nominations.

Title: Director of Finance
School: Garden School, Jackson Heights, New York
Years in Position: 21
Years in an independent school business office: 26

Superpower: Innovative thinker: Over the past 20 years, Maisano has generated several creative programs that have helped the Garden School weather financial uncertainty. For example, under Maisano’s leadership, the school partnered with the Department of Education to create one of the largest Universal Pre-K programs in Queens. The program has allowed the school to be, “a better partner to local families, to create new sources of revenue, and to build a pipeline to our independent program,” explained Head of School Chris Herman. “Mary has been at the forefront of novel and innovative approaches that have literally saved the school’s financials. We are healthy because of Mary's intellect and perseverance,” added Herman.

Multi-hyphenate: In addition to overseeing the school’s financial operations, Maisano oversees human resources, food programs, transportation, facilities and enrollment management responsibilities. “Mary is the lifeblood of the school. Without Mary, there would be no Garden School.”

Unwavering dedication: “Mary is all-in at all times,” said Herman. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she came into the school every day to answer the phones, open the mail and keep payroll running while staff and students were distance learning. “She is dedicated beyond belief. It never matters what time of day it is — Mary is on call because she considers her work that important.”

Trusted colleague: As the face of Garden School’s HR and business operations, Maisano “creates a safe, honest, and transparent space for staff to seek advice, feel heard and find an empathetic ear,” said Herman.

See a full list of the 2021 recipients and read more about the Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award. NetAssets.org will post additional profiles of Unsung Heroes throughout the fall — check in to learn more about other recipients. 


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