Mary is a research scientist and former Director of the Institute of Philippine Culture, as well as a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University. She is also a Professorial Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines.
Her research interests have led to notable publications in urbanization, urban poverty and wellbeing, values, socio-cultural change, civil society, community organizing, gender, children and youth, development and equity. Her recent publications include: Making Philippine Cities Child Friendly: Voices of Children in Poor Communities (2005); and Bearers of Benevolence: The Thomasites and Public Education in the Philippines (2001).
Active in civil society affairs, she sits on several international and national NGO Boards. She has served as Regional Director of the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (1983-1992); Country Representative of the Ford Foundation, Philippines (1992-1997); and Consultant (1997-present) to the Philippine Government, United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, UN Centre for Human Settlements, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, AusAID, Nippon Foundation, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Misereor, The Rockefeller Foundation, and others.
Dr. Racelis received her AB in Sociology and Anthropology from Cornell University, New York; her M.A. in Sociology from the University of the Philippines; and honorary doctorates from De La Salle University (1985) and Ateneo de Manila University (2003).
In 2003 to 2004, she was appointed to the Secretary-General’s Panel on United Nations – Civil Society Relations (“The Cardoso Panel”). Her current consultancies focus on socio-cultural and gender issues in pro-poor sustainable tourism, and the social and cultural consequences of dam construction in the Mekong countries.
Mary is the Official Representative of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) to the PRRM Board of Trustees.