Mary Nolan was born in Chicago, Illinois. She is married to Mark Gardiner; they have one daughter.
Nolan was in the first class of women admitted into Dartmouth College, from which she graduated magna cum laude in mathematics.
Following her departure from elected politics, Nolan was a finalist for a position with Planned Parenthood, and was then hired in 2013 as a vice president at FamilyCare, a Medicare and Medicaid managed-care provider in Portland.
Nolan was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2000. Upon winning her second term in 2002, she was named the assistant Democratic leadership. Before the 2009 legislative session, Dave Hunt, the then-majority leader, was elected speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives. The Democratic Caucus then elected Nolan as the new majority leader. She was the House Majority Leader in the Oregon House of Representatives from November 2008 until November 2010. In November 2010, the House Democratic Caucus did not re-elect Nolan to any leadership position.
According to The Oregonian, as of 2010 Nolan voted with Democrats 96.77% of the time, and had a 1.08% absence record. After Nolan voted "no" on House Bill 2001, which would have increased transportation taxes by $300 million a year in 2009, The Oregonian reported that the move could mean that she may be planning to run for another public office like Mayor of Portland or City Council because of what it meant for environmentalists who had opposed the transportation bill.
Nolan ran for a seat on the Portland City Council in the May 2012, challenging incumbent commissioner Amanda Fritz. Fritz won the runoff election in November 2012.
2009 Regular SessionConference Committee On HB 2227, Chair
Land Use Committee, Chair
Legislative Administration Committee
Session Schedule Committee
On March 14, 2003, Nolan introduced a bill that would make it a crime to possess a gun while on a public bus.
Oregon House of Representatives, 11th district, 2000Mary Nolan (D) - 18,008
Joan Gardner (R) - 7,752
Oregon House of Representatives, 36th district, 2002Mary Nolan (D) - 16,092
Oregon House of Representatives, 36th district, 2004Mary Nolan (D) - 25,876
Joe H. Tabor (L) - 3,684
Oregon House of Representatives, 36th district, 2006Mary Nolan (D) - 20,344
Frank Dane (L) - 3,520
Oregon House of Representatives, 36th district, 2008Endorsed by Willamette Week
Nolan is the chair of the NASA industry advisory council. In the 2010 election for governor of Oregon, Nolan endorsed John Kitzhaber, the Democratic former Governor of Oregon. The Kitzhaber campaign released this statement: