Mary Joy Stead knows that with the right help, people can learn to soar. This was true for her when she fulfilled her dream of becoming a licensed pilot. And it also was true of the journey she and her husband, Jerre Stead, 65BBA, made from early years of hard work and sacrifice to a life of professional success and personal philanthropy.
During their humble beginnings as college students in Iowa City, the Steads lived in the Forestview Trailer Court while Jerre completed his B.A. degree in business at the UI. During this time, Mary Joy also took classes and worked hard to help support her family and raise two young sons. After Jerre's graduation in 1965, the high school sweethearts and Maquoketa natives set off for achievement and adventure.
Throughout their years of travel for Jerre's various CEO positions, Mary Joy busied herself with making a home for their family—and establishing community connections—in diverse locations from Minneapolis to Brussels, Belgium.
No matter where they lived, the Steads never forgot about the University of Iowa, and they have continued to be passionate volunteers and philanthropists. Mary Joy is a loyal friend who has devoted generous time and resources to the UI. Not only did she serve as vice chair of the national steering committee for the university's $1 billion, seven-year fund-raising campaign that ended in 2005, she and her husband also made one of the campaign's most generous gifts and one of the largest ever to the UI: a visionary $25 million commitment to benefit the Henry B. Tippie College of Business.
Part of this record-breaking contribution was an outright gift of $2.5 million for several areas, including the establishment of an endowed, named chair in honor of former College of Business dean and former interim UI president Gary Fethke, 64BA, 68PhD; ongoing support for the Stead Technology Center, which provides computer services and related programming within the college; funding for the Kloppenburg-Stead Speaker Series, which will bring prominent speakers to the college's executive M.B.A. program; and continued enhancement and maintenance of the John Pappajohn Business Building. Besides their loyalty to the business school, the Steads also support other areas of the university, including the UI Alumni Association and the Old Capitol Museum.
As a volunteer, Mary Joy has occupied many valuable roles, including membership on the UI Foundation's board of directors and in other educational and civic organizations.
Indicative of her broad interests and generosity, Stead is an officer of Operation QT (Quality Time), which funds educational programming for middle and high school students in economically disadvantaged areas. She has supported the Alzheimer's Institute at Banner Health of Phoenix and the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where she and Jerre made a $6 million gift to create the Stead Center for Ethics and Values. She is also involved with a computer learning program in Denver that provides funding for computer education for elementary and middle school children.
In all that she does, Mary Joy Stead lives a life of purpose, generosity, and commitment. Her unwavering friendship has not only opened educational doors for countless students, but has built a stronger University of Iowa.
Mary Joy Stead is a gold-level member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.