She's Got WINGS

Even before WINGS had a Creed, Mary Utne O’Brien was a living example of all the principles we hold dear. An accomplished educator, she belongs to the small cadre of people responsible for bringing social and emotional learning into the mainstream.

She Lives and Breathes The Creed

Mary, a research professor of psychology and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a founding member of CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Recognized as a leader in the field, CASEL is devoted to advancing the science and expanding the practice of social and emotional education.

CASEL’s mission states: We envision a world where families, schools, and communities work together to promote children's success in school and life and to support the healthy development of all children. In this vision, children and adults are engaged life-long learners who are self-aware, caring and connected to others, and responsible in their decision-making. Children and adults achieve to their fullest potential, and participate constructively in a democratic society.

Mary was instrumental in designing this vision. She played an influential role in research and publications that mapped out the value and key components of evidence-based social and emotional programs. Now battling cancer with grace and persistence, she has been a voice on behalf of children for many years.

When the movement to advance social and emotional education has spread far and wide, and these vital skills are available to every child, Mary is one of the pioneers whom we can thank.

She’s got WINGS.


It is with regret that we report that Mary died on April 28th, 2010 after this article appeared. We will miss her and her contributions to the field of social and emotional learning.

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