By Helen Widman
Giving is good. Societally we have high expectations for those who are well off. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Daddy Warbucks. We tend to imagine that giving should be left to people with more than most — important people in grand offices, wearing fancy suits, and driving expensive cars.
Dr. Mary Stevenson would be the first to admit she doesn’t have deep pockets, but she humbly gives and, as a result, has impacted countless people.
“I think it just feels good to help people out. Maybe it’s just a kind word, but oftentimes you’re able to brighten somebody’s day at very little trouble or expense on your part,” Mary said.
Mary, The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF) Immediate Past Chair and co-owner and Director of Deltech Furnaces, earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Colorado. Initially she began working at Deltech part-time while attending graduate school before she became the eventual president.
Mary’s path with CGIF converged when she was asked by the then-president of The American Ceramic Society to become a founding board member. She described Deltech as a small company and originally thought the caller had the wrong number.
After learning more about CGIF, specifically that the mission involves education and inspiring the next generation of ceramic and glass professionals, Mary was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to its cause. Since 1998, Deltech’s corporate mission has been to further education in whatever way they can.
Mary said working on the board with Dr. Kathleen Richardson was one of her favorite experiences during her involvement with CGIF.
“Her insight as a Board member in the early years of CGIF helped shape the foundation which has led to further growth and expansion towards present day programs having an impact on our students and workforce,” Kathleen said.
She saw Mary as a representative of important views that smaller size industry partners make up in the ceramics and glass community.
J.J. Stevenson, engineering manager of Deltech and Mary’s son, said he couldn’t ask for a better partner in Mary and described the way she handles the business as perfect.
“Both experience-wise and innovation-wise she’s got a great business mind. She’s always thinking of new ways to help generate more traffic to the website, more ways to distribute the business and grow the business. She works tirelessly at it,” J.J. said.
Mary’s family is involved in Deltech’s day-to-day operations and is integral to its legacy. J.J. noted that while many family businesses are plagued with infighting, they don’t experience those issues at Deltech.
“Thankfully my mom and I get along extremely well. And I feel like we’re both pretty easygoing, and have the same direction to the business. We have very few conflicts and when we do they are resolved very quickly,” J.J. said.
When looking at the full breadth of the projects Mary aligns herself with, it’s clear that giving back and working toward the betterment of others is a recurring theme.
In honor of her late husband, Deltech’s founder and CEO Calvin L. Stevenson, she established the Calvin L. Stevenson Annual Scholarship for the department of metallurgical and materials engineering at Montana Technological University in Butte, Montana.
“I wanted to honor him in some way when he got the ‘Distinguished Alumnus Award,’ and I felt like that would be a great way to do it because it would serve the school and we’ve been involved to a small extent with some donations,” Mary said. “It’s a great place and so it just seemed like a great way to honor him, again no deep pockets, but it all helps.”
Mary values the work she does through the foundation and her company because of the importance materials science has for future generations.
“Materials are everywhere and every day I look at the Ceramic Bulletin or online news story developments in one area or the other, and it just seems to me like materials is definitely growing in importance,” she said. “(Materials scientists) are getting attention and certainly doing some amazing work, and I’m impressed by the interdisciplinary work that’s happening.”
In particular, the Stevenson family is an advocate for research and sustainability efforts.
“If somebody needs a furnace to potentially help the planet we like to help and invest,” J.J. said.
When asked why Mary dedicates so much of her time and resources to others, her response is simple.
“It just makes people feel good and it’s just the right thing to do,” Mary said.
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