Women’s History Month Spotlight: Mary Joy Stead

Mary Joy Stead

Photo courtesy of The University of Iowa Center for Advancement

From her leadership as the first woman on the Lambda Chi Alpha Educational Foundation Board, to her belief in the Fraternity’s mission and her five decades of philanthropic investment in our Brotherhood, Mary Joy and her husband, Brother Jerre Stead, have impacted tens of thousands of our Brothers’ lives through the Stead Leadership Seminar and beyond.

Mary Joy began her love of philanthropy and serving others at a young age. She recalls watching her grandmother set aside money each week to give to her local church, which inspires her to this day to remember to keep a special place in the heart open for the organizations and causes that have truly made a difference in her life.

Throughout the years, Mary Joy has created a life of service in many different facets, from education to leadership. She is most proud of her work with various educational causes, including her alma mater of the University of Iowa, as well as her work with Alzheimer’s research, a disease that has personally affected the Steads. She is also heavily involved with and serves on the boards of the Healthy LifeStars, Sing for Life and the Honor Health Foundation. In addition to these noble pursuits, the Steads are passionate about children’s medicine, and in 2016, the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital was renamed The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

“As an Educational Foundation, we are so fortunate to have Mary Joy Stead deeply involved in our organization,” said Dan Hartmann, CEO of the Educational Foundation. “She, along with Jerre, are inspiring and leading philanthropists in America, having made an indelible impact in higher education organizations with which they are involved. Mary Joy cares about our mission and is without a doubt our number one encourager.”

Mary Joy is actively involved in several non-profit boards including serving as a Trustee of the University of Iowa Foundation and, of course, the Lambda Chi Alpha Educational Foundation Board. For Mary Joy, the connections she has made through the Fraternity and her husband’s continued involvement have been some of the most meaningful of her life. She remembers fondly the many times she and Jerre have opened their home to various Lambda Chi events. Mary Joy hopes to continue to help make a difference in the lives of young men across North America.

The Stead Leadership Seminar allows our members, dedicated volunteers, and the Office of Administration to come together for a weekend to better Lambda Chi Alpha. The program allows all participants to learn from one another and experts in the field, reenergize their passion for the Fraternity and network and bond with brothers from across North America. The Seminar provides training on leadership, growth and retention, fraternity education, men’s wellness, ritual application, and diversity and inclusion.

“They [collegiate Brothers] need to realize that when they go off to college, there is a small group that has a family feeling,” said Mary Joy.

Mary Joy has invested her own time, talent and treasure into the men of Lambda Chi Alpha by way of the Stead Leadership Seminar and supported the mission of developing the leaders of tomorrow.

In her lifetime, Mary Joy has become a champion of noble philanthropic efforts and hopes that her story inspires the men of Lambda Chi to create space for service and find causes they are passionate about to truly embody strength through service.

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