Chief Executive Officer of Maternity Care Coalition Marianne South Fray ’77 became passionate about maternal and child health, especially supporting young women of color, after giving birth to a stillborn baby as a teenager. The insensitive treatment she received at her neighborhood health center drives her strong commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.
“I want to ensure no other woman feels the way I did years ago,” Fray says, “and the quality of one’s care isn’t dependent upon their ZIP Code.”
Maternity Care Coalition improves the health and well-being of pregnant women, young children, and their families, particularly in communities with high rates of poverty, infant mortality, health disparities, and changing immigration patterns. The nonprofit organization, which has assisted more than 100,000 families since its founding in 1980, also prioritizes another one of Fray’s passions—early childhood education—for children from birth to age 3 through Early Head Start, a federally funded early care and education program that serves low-income families in their homes and child care centers throughout South Philadelphia, Norristown, and Pottstown, PA.
“My immigrant parents instilled in us a discipline for learning and education. As a family, we read the Bible every morning. That’s how I learned to read,” says Fray, who volunteers at her local church, Community Gospel Chapel, in Voorhees, New Jersey, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Bryn Mawr College and an M.B.A. from Saint Joseph’s University. “This early exposure to reading and writing set the foundation for my belief in the efficacy of early education. Knowledge is power.”
Previously Senior Director and Head of Global Corporate Development at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, Fray went on to become a founding member of Women of Color in Pharma, which promotes a safe and nurturing environment for personal and professional development among black and Latina women working within the pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the organization grow and expand outside of the United States,” says Fray, who helped draft Women of Color in Pharma’s mission and vision statements; advised its co-founders, Board of Directors, Chapter Leads, and Advisory Council on various organizational structures; and suggested ways to raise corporate funds. “It’s proof that a few dedicated leaders can indeed change the world!”
Fray believes living and learning at The Shipley School—alongside girls from many different countries, cultures, and family backgrounds—allowed her to hone the leadership skills she now uses on a daily basis: “My diverse experiences prepared me to lead with heart and courage, shaping me into the leader I am today.”