Helen Mautner was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1930. While living in Chicago, she attended Marshall High School on the west side of the city. At the age of sixteen, Mautner moved to California with her family and finished high school there. At this time, World War II was coming to an end, and Mautner recalls, 'I grew up in the World War II era.'
After high school she attended the University of California at Berkeley and received her Bachelor's degree and then her Master's in Social Work. While in college, Mautner kept busy with a number of activities.
After college, Mautner moved to Tucson with her husband and child in 1965, and two more children were born in Tucson. While in Tucson, Mautner got involved in several of activities, some of which were community-based. She served for a number of years on the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Desegregation Committee appointed by the Court and acted as its Chair. She also served a number of years on the People with AIDS Coalition (now the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation) and participated as a chairperson. Mautner worked for the American Civil liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona that defends individual rights guaranteed to every person in the United States.
Mautner was appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court and served on the Judicial Performance Review Commission, which is the committee that reviews sitting judges when their term is up and sends its findings to the public before elections take place.
She now serves on the Board of the Children's Action Alliance, which is an advocacy group for children. She presently volunteers once a week for the Primavera Foundation for the homeless. She also is a member of the City of Tucson's Merit Selection Commission to recommend candidates for City Magistrate positions on the City Court, and is on the executive council of the University of Arizona Retirees Association (UARA).