EDI: Hi Mae! CONGRATULATIONS on being honored as a Director of the Year from the Puget Sound Business Journal! That’s huge!
Mae: Thank you very much! I have been fortunate to have many wonderful mentors and coaches in my life – including many associated with EDI. I am quite humbled.
EDI: How did you first get involved with serving on Boards?
Mae: My first involvement on boards was in the nonprofit world in 1986 when my then banking CEO asked that I take his place on the Ryther Child Center board. That is where I found my love for community service and it simply grew from there through my involvement in many other nonprofit boards and their capital/endowment campaigns. I firmly believe my involvement with nonprofit boards provided me with a great baseline of board education and leadership experience that prepared me for the for-profit board world. There are definite differences between the two, but the governance issues, growing shareholder/organizational value and board dynamics can be similar.
EDI: What would you recommend to EDI alums about how they can start getting involved? And what’s in it for them to serve on Boards?
Mae: I am frequently asked: how do I join a corporate board? My initial return responses are: what nonprofits are you involved in and what leadership positions on those boards have you had? I recommend getting one’s feet wet first by joining a nonprofit board whose mission he/she is passionate about. It is important to learn about governance, strategic planning and demonstrating collaboration and leadership. Nonprofit boards are also comprised of diverse professionals, so it is a great opportunity to expand one’s network and learn from others’ perspectives.
EDI: Why is it important to you to serve on Boards?
Mae: I have always loved sitting on nonprofit boards as I wanted to give back to my community. It also provided me with a safe haven to experience chairing various committees and collaborating with a diversity of professionals and personalities for an organizational mission I was and am passionate about. I now thoroughly enjoy sitting on corporate boards, but again, they are ones that I firmly believe in their “mission” and strategic direction. For example, I am a former banker with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Having grown up in banking, I felt I had come home when I joined the Columbia Bank board. When I joined the Oberto Brands board, I wanted to support a family-owned company whose products were part of my childhood and always in my golf bag!
EDI: Why do you think it’s important to have diversity on Boards?
Mae: Diversity brings better performance to a company/organization as it adds different perspectives and voices to be shared and heard at a strategic level. I believe that companies/organizations truly want their personnel to reflect the communities and customers they serve in order to be more effective and successful. It is therefore incumbent on boards to do the same.
EDI: You were a part of the first EDI cohort in 1994. You’ve served as a volunteer (program chair) and then on the EDI Board. You recommended your daughter-in-law, Ashlyn, to go through EDI’s Leadership Discovery program in 2018. What is it about EDI that keeps you involved and engaged over the years?
Mae: Back in 1994, I was a SVP with KeyBank of Washington and had just moved away from the Finance area into Corporate Development – a newly created position reporting to the then CEO, Debbie Bevier. Debbie encouraged me and supported me in my executive leadership development as she saw something in me that I did not know myself. She was my ultimate female executive role model and it was also through her support that I chaired the program for three years – so in essence I went through the EDI program for four years! I attribute my leadership accomplishments to Debbie, subsequent (and many) other mentors, and EDI. Having gained so much, it only made sense that I give back and remain involved with EDI in its growth and strategic direction as a board member. I am very proud that Ashlyn went through the program and I hope Boeing will support her in also participating in Leadership Navigation in the future. I continue to encourage my son, Jerry and my daughter, Kristen to attend EDI, along with my nephews. Hopefully soon!
EDI: If you could give one piece of advice to the 2019 EDI class what would it be?
Mae: Be passionate about what you do – whether it is in your personal life, in business and/or in community service. Life is short -- so make certain you truly enjoy what you are involved in!
EDI: Thank you Mae, for all that you do for not just EDI but all of the communities that you serve! Feel free to give a shout out and moment of recognition to any/all of the organizations that you’re currently supporting.
Mae: I am privileged and grateful to sit on three corporate boards: Columbia Bank, OSCCorp Inc. (the successor board to Oberto Brands after its asset sale last year), and GeoEngineers, and also two nonprofit boards: EDI and Girl Scouts of Western Washington. This would not have happened without the guidance and support of many individuals over the years, but more importantly, I am very thankful to my family: my husband Larry of 34 years, my son Jerry and his wife Ashlyn who is a 2018 EDI graduate, and my daughter Kristen. I want to continue to make them proud.