Mary Mountcastle has served on the Z. Smith Reynolds Board of Trustees for decades, serving as president of the board at least twice. She also serves on the Board of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the foundation named after her grandmother. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation concentrates its philanthropic efforts outside of North Carolina, whereas the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation focuses its grant-giving within the state. Between 2004 and 2012, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation gave more than $76 million to mostly liberal organizations outside of North Carolina.
Mountcastle works closely with nonprofits in the Blueprint NC network and has served as the president of the Center for Responsible Lending and assistant director and president of the Center for Community Self-Help – both of which are members of Blueprint NC. In March 2010, Sean Higgins, writing for the Capital Research Center, said that the Center for Responsible Lending is
“intimately tied to some of the worst actors in the lending business and its advocacy has too often hurt, not helped, the people it claims to defend.” The actors he is referring to are Herbert and Marion Sandler, who are credited with creating the Center for Responsible Lending.”
Mary Mountcastle’s great-grandparents were R.J. Reynolds and his wife, Mary Katharine Smith. Their daughter, Mary Katharine Reynolds (Mary Babcock Mountcastle’s grandmother), was Z. Smith Reynolds oldest sister. In 1936, Mary Katharine Reynolds inherited $30 million from R.J.’s estate, and at the time she was described as one of the richest women in the world. She went on to marry Charles Henry Babcock.
Mary Mountcastle is married to Jim Overton, who according to his bio on the NC League of Conservation Voters website, of which he is a member of the board, is on the executive staff of the Center for Community Self-Help – both organizations associated with Blueprint NC.