Mary Emeny grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but with strong roots and many visits to the Amarillo area where her grandfather first arrived in 1880. The Frying Pan Ranch, which he bought on behalf of his father-in-law, is still in the family with Mary overseeing her family's half of the original ranch. It took her 35 years to actually move there.
She received a BA from Connecticut College (1964) and a Master's in Public and International Affairs from the U. of Pittsburgh (1969), spent two years doing community development in Tanzania (1964-66) under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee and close to a year in Viet Nam (1967/68) much of the time living in a Buddhist orphanage in DaNang, getting food to refugee camps and setting up milk programs in day care centers and orphanages. For 9 months in 69/70 she worked with the fledgling organization started by Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh in France.
In 1971 she met her husband, Dr. Hunter Ingalls in Texas where he taught at UT and she worked for the AFSC in San Antonio. During the next several years she was involved on the founding boards of the Austin-based Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, (a group dedicated to research and teaching sustainable building systems), the organization that became San Antonio Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity, International. She served on Habitat’s international board from its beginning in 1976 until 1985, serving part of that time as secretary.
In 1978 she and Hunter moved to Amarillo, and over the next several years had three children, started an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity in Amarillo and became involved in experiments in living sustainably on the Texas high plains, including building what was believed to be the first free standing adobe dome in the US, and retrofitting an open shed barn into a straw bale residence. She has completed the Permaculture Design Course and a basic course in Holistic Resource Management.
In 1992 she turned a section of the Frying Pan Ranch near Amarillo into Wildcat Bluff Nature Center. Currently she is working to develop land adjacent to the Wildcat Bluff into a sustainable community. Over the years she has served on the board of many organizations and helped organize or re-organize several of them – including Amarilo Habitat for Humanity, The Don Harrington Discovery Center, the Globe News Center for the Performing Arts and its education program Window on a Wider World, and Panhandle Promise Project, which works with children whose parents are incarcerated. She is also chair of her family’s foundation, the Tecovas Foundation. She has received several awards, the highest being named Woman of the Year by the Amarillo Globe News in 2001. In 2014 she received a EdD degree in Transformational Leadership.