mary bio

Mary Lanning

President and CEO of Yes!Solutions

We are so excited to honor Mary Lanning a Boys Hope Girls Hope Woman of Hope in 2020.

Sister Mary Lanning is all about stepping up to do whatever needs doing. As a child, she helped her family during the strain of World War II by taking care of her many younger siblings while juggling schoolwork and a job. Growing up in a large Scots-Irish family, Mary Lanning chose to become a nun at 17 and spent her first 13 years of religious life at a monastery in the South Bronx. But looking out from her cloister in the Bronx, she saw poverty, violence, and injustice. She decided there was more she could do for the world by getting out and taking direct action to help people. Seeing the increasing poverty around her, she felt she could no longer remain cloistered and began to explore various ways to put her faith into practice in New York City.

An activist nun for over 60 years, Sister Mary then founded YES!Solutions, a grassroots neighbor-to-neighbor service organization based in Harlem, to aid community members in need who are elderly, poor, homeless, sick or grieving. The idea behind this organization is that whatever you need help with the answer is Yes! from Mary. Mary gathers volunteers to prepare meals for the hungry, visit the lonely, bring blankets and clothing to the homeless, give solace to those bruised by the criminal justice system, provide low-income children with back-to-school backpacks, organize get togethers for those new to the US, and help young people prepare for college and careers. Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York scholars have been an integral part of these events over the past few years. Dozens of BHGH scholars volunteer for each event to provide community service through labor and set-up assistance and come out with spirit, joy, and kindness that Mary exudes. 


With a background as a consultant on regulation in the insurance and financial industries, Sister Mary is also a board member for Boys Hope Girls Hope New York and has been volunteering with us for the last 39 years! She sits on the boards of several area organizations, including Sports Angels, the New York City Clothing Bank, and the Institute for the Healing of Memories. It is truly a special joy to have someone in life as selfless, driven, motivated and compassionate as Mary Lanning.