Vivian Rogers Pickard
President, GM Foundation;
Director, Corporate Relations, General Motors Co., Detroit, Mich.
Vivian Rogers Pickard spent most of her early years in Flint, Michigan, where local people became either an educator or an employee of General Motors Co. “It was the path to success, if you will,” says Pickard. Members of her family became teachers, others worked in GM’s engineering and manufacturing departments. She chose the automotive world.
Her career began on GM’s finance team before moving to personnel, and then to impacting public policy. “I quickly realized there was potential for growth within the company. Each role provided me an array of learning opportunities,” Pickard says. Today, she is the president of the General Motors Foundation and director of corporate relations for GM, overseeing allocation of the Foundation’s funds to support nonprofit organizations focused on education, health and human services, environment/safety and community development.
In 2011, the GM Foundation pledged its largest grant ever, $27.1 million, to United Way for Southeastern Michigan, establishing a “GM Network of Excellence” in seven Detroit-area high schools. The grant provides resources to increase graduation rates from roughly 50 percent to 80 percent by the end of 2015. The program is on track to achieve this goal. “When my team and I toured one of these high schools, we met a young man who had missed a total of one hundred and seventy-two days prior to participating in this program, and now he was showing us around his school,” Pickard says. “I enjoy the work that I’m doing now, because you have immediate gratification.”
Pickard holds a bachelor’s degree in human services administration from Ferris State University and a master’s degree in personnel management from Central Michigan University. She enjoys golf, traveling, spending time with her family and raising funds with her friends for senior citizen programs. “We’re all going to become senior citizens one day, so it’s important to do our part now,” she says.