Polsky Member of the Month: Mara Gleason

June 2019 Polsky Member of the Month, Mara Gleason

Polsky member Mara Gleason joined the Exchange in March of 2018, and has played a very active role ever since. As she and her husband are both transplants to the Chicago area, the sense of community and interaction that the Polsky Center has provided them has been “invaluable” in more ways than one.

“I’ve always been a big believer in the collaborative energy of co-working spaces. The ability to go to an office every day, but be surrounded by people who are working on very diverse things is good for the mind and good for potential connections,” Gleason said. “Also, we’re a non-profit and we live and work in the South Side, so it made sense to join a workspace that’s in our community.”

And while Gleason has always thought of herself as very entrepreneurially-minded and has launched other startups of her own, she and her husband officially took the plunge two years ago to start a company together. Through their new startup, One Solution, they are working toward “creating a more peaceful and sustainable world for all by focusing on an increase in well-being and resilience across all fields: from communities, to organizations, to systems.” Gleason and her husband are firm believers that healthy education and training of the mind on an individual level can make a lasting impact on a global scale in all issues from gun violence to environmental sustainability.

As Gleason puts it, “Our solution is very narrow and specific […] but our scope is very broad.”

This summer, the Polsky Center is also thrilled to house One Solution’s summer youth program, “The Rebels for Peace,” a paid internship opportunity for teens and young adults in the South Side community who want to learn ways to “rebel” against the mindsets and systems that perpetuate violence and other social issues.

When asked if she had any advice for other Polsky members, Gleason first reminded herself that this advice goes for her as much as for anyone before saying, “take advantage of all the cool and helpful resources that the Polsky Center offers. I know there is so much more I want to learn by being a member of such a great network.”

Plus, of course, she shared some other facts just for fun…


If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

To alleviate unnecessary human suffering. Because, while of course some suffering is an inevitable and often healthy part of life, much of the suffering we see today is unnecessary and not healthy and it’s caused by grave misunderstandings. Racism, inequality, injustice, greed…these are inventions of the human mind.

What is your spirit animal and why?

Whales! They always show up in my dreams in profound ways and I have such respect for them when I see them in nature.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

I kinda sorta wrote one already. It’s called “One Thought Changes Everything” and I’ve sold over 15,000 copies on Amazon. As a first-time, self-published author, I was shocked to sell so many in less than two years!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t take yourself too seriously

You’re trapped on a desert island and can only choose one book to read, movie to watch, and album to listen to for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?

Book: “Mutant Message from Down Under” by Marlo Morgan – provides some basic survival training, and it’s a beautiful read.

Movie: a DVD of childhood home videos my older brother compiled so I could always remember my family.

Album: it’d be something instrumental. Probably piano. Can’t have the words of one album stuck in my head for the rest of my life!




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