Mary Jane (MJ) Rynd

President and CEO, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

I’ve been told I inspire others by treating every person with care and kindness, with a spark in my eye conveying interest in them and what they are working on.

Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?

There are several reasons that recognizing achievement is important. First, recognition inspires the recipient to keep working on things they care about, providing that little extra boost we all need every once in a while. Recognition can also demonstrate to other people that their own work can make a difference. Importantly, recognition may inspire other people to imagine, build and/or support ways for a business to contribute to society in addition to becoming a successful business enterprise. Recognition events also provide an opportunity for community members to come together to celebrate and enjoy their accomplishments.

What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?

I have learned that the first step is getting the best education you can. Arming yourself with the finest education opens the right doors to opportunity and prepares you to do your work competently and to achieve increasing levels of responsibility (usually accompanied by increasing levels of compensation). Having confidence in your technical or professional skills means you don’t have to cut corners to get ahead and allows you to conduct yourself with integrity and high standards. That, in turn, encourages colleagues to perform their best and to believe their team can not only get it done but can also get it done right. 

Coupling a can-do attitude with high standards and a warm smile reflecting genuine care for others creates a team that performs well, enjoys their work, and is proud of themselves and their colleagues.

What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?

There are several things we can and should do. First, ensure that all young people and women have access to a fine education beginning with pre-school. Research shows that people who receive quality pre-school education are more productive in school, work and society; have higher levels of education and earnings, less involvement in delinquency and crime, and even fewer chronic health problems. 

The quality of primary, secondary and higher education needs to be improved and applied more equitably. People are working to make this a reality, and we all need to make our voices heard. 

Many young people and women would benefit from mentoring, and my hope is that more and more people will volunteer to do so. There are wonderful nonprofit organizations that match and follow up. I benefitted from being a Big Sister as much as my Little Sister did — we all have things to learn from each other and I certainly learned from Alisha, even when she was quite young. 

There is much work to be done and it will result in benefits that ripple from individuals to their families and to the entire community.

About Me:

During my long career as a CPA in public accounting, I served on many boards, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, AWEE, Arizona Society of CPAs, Valley Leadership, and others. The greatest privilege of my professional life has been working at Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust for almost 22 years, helping to steward the assets and fulfill the dreams of a woman who was a role model for me and for many others.

In Few Words

  • What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? Aspen Institute Seminar for mid-America foundation CEOs 
  • What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Tenacity
  • What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Focus 
  • What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Dedication
  • What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Divisiveness that has led to lying, name calling, shaming and other poor behavior.

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