Mhairi has been involved in Community Learning and Development (CLD) for a number of years. Starting as a volunteer in adult literacy with Deaf adults, she moved on to become a part-time trainer before taking on the role of senior community worker with responsibility for the whole service - the only specific literacy scheme for Deaf adults in Scotland at the time. After gaining her Community Education degree, Mhairi changed roles to run several community centres, staff and management committees, taking on the role of co-ordinating area-wide, multi-agency summer youth programmes.

In 2003, she joined the Scottish Government as part of the national CLD and Adult Literacies team, offering support, advice and guidance to local authority, further education and third sector managers, strategists and practitioners on a wide range of CLD issues. She has supported Scottish Government Ministers in relation to CLD topics with her specialisms being working with young people and families and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.