When Mary Ann Connell was born, her father told the town: If it's a boy, I'll send up black smoke; if it's a girl, I'll send up white. The entire town of Louisville, Mississippi, saw white smoke billowing from the chimney - announcing Bill Strong had a daughter. This smoke--determined by gender--would come to define Mary Ann's life in ways none of them could have excepted. As a child, fire robbed her of a precious piece of her life. Later, Mary Ann faced a different kind of firestorm as she became one of the first women lawyers practicing in Oxford, Mississippi. An Unforeseen Life is Mary Ann's account of the many joys and trials of her life--from attending Harvard Law School with classmate Barack Obama, to serving as the president of a national association of university attorneys; from losing her husband to cancer to defending the wrongful termination suit of beloved Ole Miss football coach Billy Brewer. This powerful memoir is a funny, touching account of a life "most richly blessed," if sometimes in unexpected ways.
About the Author
Mary Ann Connell practices law with Mayo Mallette, PLLC. She served as university attorney for the University of Mississippi from 1982 to 2003 and as school board attorney for the Oxford School District from 2003–13.
Connell taught courses in higher education law, school law, legal research and writing, business law and employment law. She is a frequent presenter at national, regional and state conferences on subjects involving higher education and school law.
She is a past president of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, past president of the Mississippi Council of School Board Attorneys, and a fellow of the The Mississippi Bar Foundation. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of College and University Attorneys; the Distinguished Service Award from the Lafayette County Bar Association; the Thomas S. Biggs Jr. Award for leadership, integrity, and service in the legal profession and the higher education community from Stetson University Law School; the NAACP Freedom Award for lifelong service in the area of education and civil rights; the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association Outstanding Woman Lawyer in Mississippi Award; the University of Mississippi Chancellor’s Award for outstanding contributions toward increasing diversity; and the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society Award for outstanding teacher of the year.
Connell is a member of the Vestry of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford. She received her LLM from Harvard Law School. A native of Louisville, Mississippi, she has four daughters: Elizabeth Sessums, Stella Connell, Mary Ann Percy, Jane Lee, and four grandchildren.