Take 10: Mary Pille
Mary Pille has more than 30 years of experience in leadership, operations, marketing, human resources and workplace development across multiple industry sectors. Her educational background includes a B.S. in fashion merchandising and business administration from Illinois State University and an executive MBA from Bradley University.
She currently serves as president of Junior Achievement of Central Illinois, whose mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Over the last six years, Pille and her team have taken the organization to new heights—including a 33% increase in revenue, geographic expansion from 12 to 29 counties, and the creation of three local boards to grow grassroots efforts in outlying areas. A finalist for Junior Achievement USA’s national leadership award in 2016, the organization has achieved a four-star status with JA USA for exceeding operating standards five years in a row. Most recently, it set a new record by impacting 17,937 students with 93,940 contact-hours in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
A self-taught photographer, Pille sells her fine-art photography on her Etsy shop, MindsEyeGifts. She is a recent recipient of the 25 Women in Leadership Award and currently serves on the boards of Align Peoria, Creve Coeur Club and AppsCo. Her two children, Anna and Alex, both live and work in Chicago.
- Words to live by: Success lies in cans, not can’ts.
- Favorite musician: Billy Joel—I had a chance to see him perform on his 65th birthday at Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple. My favorite Billy Joel song is “Just The Way You Are.”
Favorite leisure activity: Photography, hands down. I enjoy not only capturing amazing places and things, but also editing them so they are more than just a photograph. I even have a photography side hustle.
- Favorite vacation spot: So hard to say—I’ve had the good fortune of being able to travel to some amazing places. If I have to narrow it down, I would say the Gulf Coast beaches along Highway 30A in Florida.
- Proudest achievement: Keeping in mind that I am not an athletic person… my greatest accomplishment is hiking to the summit of Quandary Peak in the Rockies. It is one of the “fourteeners” and reaches an elevation of 14,265 feet.
- My secret ambition: To be a motivational speaker. I have had the opportunity to see several, and every time I think to myself, “Wow, I wish I could do that.”
- Favorite splurge: I don’t do this often so when I do, it is really a treat: having a facial.
- Last novel I read: Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly. It was a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in President Lincoln and the Civil War.
- Favorite aspect of central Illinois: Born and raised in central Illinois, I would have to say the people. We are a community of caring, giving and innovative individuals.
- Person who’s had the greatest impact on my life: In my case, it's persons—and they are my two children. My life changed entirely (for the good) the day they were born. They are such a blessing to me. PM