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COMO YOU KNOW: Mary Hussman

Sunday, May 11, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

CoMo You Know, a community wiki, adds context to stories of local interest and serves as a reference tool for readers.

Summary

Mary Hussman is a long-time activist in the Columbia community and a semi-retired organizer for Grass Roots Organizing. She has spoken before the City Council on behalf of the rights of mobile home residents, those with disabilities and victims of police misconduct. She has been outspoken on the issues of social welfare, voter registration and human rights, receiving recognition from both chambers of the Missouri legislature for her efforts.

Factbox

Birthdate: March 1947

Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas

Notable accomplishments: Grass Roots Organizing's first paid organizer, missionary in Africa as a Lutheran Bible translator for two years, frequent contributor to Columbia Missourian Letters to the Editor

Full text

Mary Louise Hussman was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1947, the middle of five daughters born to Bertha and Otto Hussman. Originally a primary school teacher in Kansas City, Hussman took a trip to Liberia in 1972 with her parents and sisters for two years, serving as a Bible translator and Lutheran missionary. The influence of that trip and her parent’s philanthropic focus pushed her toward a life of community service. When she returned to the U.S., Hussman became a registered nurse and began a career in community organizing that has spanned more than three decades.

During that time, Hussman became involved in the Reform Organization of Welfare, a social justice group based in St. Louis that has since disbanded. There she met Robin Acree, eventually a founder and executive director of GRO in Mexico, Mo. Hussman’s name was on a short list when GRO was deciding who would be its first paid organizer in 2001. Hussman had been advocating for psychiatric care for inmates at Boone County Jail.

In her six-plus years on the payroll at GRO, Hussman became an outspoken advocate for issues such as rights for the disabled, mobile home residents and victims of police misconduct. She also spoke on behalf of the “Pepper & Friends” television program remaining on the network KOMU and the need for more affordable housing in Columbia.

Although Hussman officially retired from GRO in June 2007, she has remained active in the Columbia community. She was a major figure in the call for a Taser ban for Columbia police officers after their use of the devices on Phillip McDuffy in 2008 and argued against a rezoning of the Regency Mobile Home Park and then rent relief for its residents in late 2011.

Related links

Hussman retires to kind words, Columbia Missourian article

City pays off man injured in Taser use, Columbia Daily Tribune article

First Night Columbia events should be free, Columbia Missourian letter to the editor

Grass Roots Organizing, website

Updated: May 9, 2014


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