Mary Kathleen Haber, FNP-C, IBCLC, Contributing Writer
Mary Kathleen started her work in community wellness in the 1980s in West Hollywood and Los Angeles during the beginning of the HIV epidemic. This epidemic impacted her LGBTQ2SIA+ community in West Hollywood in devastating ways, both physically through the infecting virus and psychologically through alienating stigmatization. During these early years, she spent hours per week at the first community center in the region for people living with HIV (PLWHIV)—L.A. Center for Living. It offered acceptance, togetherness, shared laughs and overall TLC.
It was at this center that she conducted research on the psychologic effects of being in an accepting environment for PLWHIV. She found that although their diseases progressed, they reported greater sense of wellbeing and less fear than those who did not have such a space of safety.
L.A. Center for Living then branched out into the first food delivery service for PLWHIV: Project Angel Food. Before the permanent kitchen was finished, Mary coordinated with local restaurants to donate food everyday to meet the needs of folks who were increasingly isolated. This work was the beginning of her life long commitment to public health initiatives, including food security in vulnerable populations, destigmatization, addressing disparities and sexual health.
She considers her academic career never ending and has studied philosophy, religion, the history of math and science, community development, intercultural communication, and history of colonialism. She holds a master’s degree in International and Intercultural Management and a Master of Science in Nursing.
Currently, she is a certified family nurse practitioner and an international board certified lactation consultant with special interest in substance use disorder treatment, chronic pain management, sexual health, harm reduction, reproductive health and inclusive breast/chest/body feeding and family support. She is always working to identify, highlight and ameliorate healthcare disparities among folks with intersecting identities.
She is founder of Charm City Wellness Collaborative in Baltimore City. Most importantly, she is mama to two rapscallion teens who teach her more everyday about herself and the universe than any school or book ever could.