Mary Donnelly was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. She earned a BA from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1971 with a double major in English and French. She helped to organize two children's choruses while still a student, and enjoyed it so much that she reentered school to become certified to teach music. She is married to Rich, a music lover and supporter.
For more than twenty‑seven years now, Mary has taught music in the Washoe County School District in Reno. She instructed at Greenbrae Elementary School for twenty‑two years and then, five years ago, moved to the new school, Bud Beasley Elementary. Intermittently, she spent two years at Dilworth Middle School.
Now a member of ACDA, NMEA, NEA and ASCAP, Mary received her Masters Degree in Education in 1993 from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
About seventeen years ago, Mary and her writing partner, George Strid, met while team‑teaching a sixth grade general music class. The school principal asked them to write a musical for Reading Week and since then, the collaborators have written over 100 songs and twenty‑five musicals.