• Give us a brief summary of your background, where you are originally from, your career, and why you relocated to Naples.
Mary Lynn and her husband Steve

Mary Lynn and her husband Steve

I am a South Dakota native, married 48 years to another SD native, Steve.  We met at the University of SD, and moved immediately following my graduation to Chicago.  With a BA in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration, I expected to spend my career in public service, but after 10 years at both state and federal levels, and a White House Fellowship (1976-77), I decided to change directions and became a banker in my hometown, Sioux Falls.

Banking was a rewarding career, with many opportunities for civic and community service as well.  I retired as Senior Vice President having managed Human Resources, Retail Banking and Commercial Lending at First Bank of SD (now US Bank).

When Steve retired in 2005 we began a thorough search for the best place in the US to have a second home, and Naples was the clear winner.    Great weather and friendly people, terrific golf (for Steve), excellent culture (for me), and a well-connected airport (because we love to travel).

  • How were you introduced to GNL?  When?

I was very lucky one day in 2007 when I happened to sit next to Jeanne Bolds at a meeting of our college alumnae chapter in Naples.  I was a new chapter member and she was President of GNL.  After a few strategic inquiries (typical of GNL’ers), she said, “you ought to be in GNL”.  I was in my last two years of a nine-year term on the World Board of the Girl Guides/Girl Scouts, with lots of international travel, so I suggested that waiting until 2009-10 (Class XIV) would be the best.  Jeanne made sure that I did not forget to apply when the time came.  I’ve always been grateful for that accident of fate—it was life changing for me.

  • How has GNL helped you become involved in the community?

I was asked to serve on the Class Leadership Team for the next two GNL classes (XV and XVI), and that made me a member of the GNL Board as well.  That led to networks with other GNL class members, and I just completed my GNL Board term.  Jen Walker, another GNL President, asked if I would join the Finance committee of the Community Foundation of Collier County.  She knew that I was a retired banker and had also served on the Board of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, so I could hit the ground running.  I’m now on the Community Foundation Board and have just become Chair-Elect (supporting Jen, who is now Board Chair, and Eileen Connolly-Kessler (Class XVIII) our President/CEO.

  • What boards or activities are you involved with now?

Now that we are full-time Floridians (having sold our home in Sioux Falls last fall), we’ve joined a local church, and I have become active in the annual Heifer Fair (alternative giving for the holidays), and the stewardship committee.  I also serve on two Board committees for the Club at Mediterra, chair a committee for my sorority alumnae chapter, and have transferred my membership in P.E.O. (an international women’s philanthropic and educational organization) to a local Naples chapter.

  • What would you like to see GNL do in the future?

In 20 years we have assembled a critical mass of GNL alums who are leaders in a wide variety of community organizations.  I would like to see us optimize those networks to address critical issues facing Collier County in the next decade.  As growth picks up again, we will face some real challenges, and GNL, working with other organizations, could make a meaningful contribution toward finding solutions to those challenges.

Mary Lynn visiting Girl Scouts in Kenan, Nigera

Mary Lynn visiting Girl Scouts in Kenan, Nigera