Mary Beall felt so passionately about a Montana with a strong ACLU that she decided to include the ACLU in her estate plans. But at the tender age of 23, first she had to create some estate plans in order to include the ACLU in her legacy!
Born and raised in Helena, a graduate of Capital High School and Carroll College – majoring in Women and Gender Studies, Mary grew up with conservative influences. When she was first introduced to the ACLU in high school, she wasn’t necessarily a fan. “I went to a town hall the ACLU and Montana Abolition Coalition put on about the death penalty. It was an issue I didn’t have an opinion on, so I wanted to check out the event,” shared Beall. She left “thoroughly persuaded” about wanting to abolish the death penalty, but still wasn’t sure about what she thought about ACLU.
By her junior year of college, she indiscriminately applied for an internship with Niki Zupanic, ACLU-MT Public Policy Director, to help with the 2013 Legislative Session. She figured it would be an interesting experience and an education in Constitutional law, even if she didn’t agree with the ACLU on everything they worked on. During her semester internship, she helped with background research on public defender funding, did several first drafts of letters to the Governor, developed educational materials for legislators on the technical capabilities of drones and how that technology could infringe on civil liberties, among other tasks. Mary remarks on that experience as “such a cool level of exposure!” She learned from an experienced team how to lobby legislators and was immersed in the public policy advocacy process for five months. She walked away from that internship being “thoroughly sold on what the ACLU does and how it does it.” Mary recognizes that it’s still okay to not agree on every single stance, but left feeling an infinite respect for the quality of people who work with and for the ACLU.
Mary is headed off to Law School this fall at the University of Minnesota and she’s keeping an open mind as to whether she wants to work in the public policy realm or as a litigator, though she knows she wants to be involved with criminal justice reform issues. Since graduating from college, Mary has worked as the Assistant Legal Services Developer with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, where she provides legal advocacy for senior citizens and persons with disabilities across Montana.
It is in this role of helping seniors navigate their own estate plans that Mary began thinking about her values and the legacy she wanted to leave once she’s gone. Wanting to practice what she preaches, Mary describes “thinking about the rock star ACLU and how proud I am of the work and accomplishments” that it spurred her to want to leave a legacy to ensure a strong ACLU. As Mary remarked, “I’m happy to help out in my own little way.
In her free time, Mary is a drummer in a band called “Detta and The 45’s,” which she describes as, “the best rock and roll band ever!” Check them out on www.soundcloud.com/detta-the-45s.