Mary-Ann and Walter D. “Wally” Pinkard Jr. represent a rare find in this busy world: a philanthropic power couple willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work themselves for the many Baltimore area boards and organizations with which they’re affiliated — chairing committees, arranging events, raising funds, mentoring others and setting strategic direction in areas ranging from the arts to education.
Friends say they’re equally driven as individuals and deeply committed to the city they were raised in, particularly on issues of social justice and racial equity. They work tirelessly to revitalize neighborhoods, strengthen schools and bolster the business community through professional and personal pursuits.
“The Pinkards’ default is to do what is best for Baltimore,” said Olive Waxter, executive director of the Hippodrome Foundation, where Wally is chairman of the board. “They are each other’s sounding board and are able to create great results because of their teamwork.”
They clearly admire one another. Sitting side by side during a virtual video interview over the summer from their second home on St. Helena Island in Crownsville, they each readily offered up praise for the other. Wally is a “man of great integrity” who commits 100% to whatever he takes on, a nurturer who always gives of himself, said his wife of 26 years. Mary-Ann is compassionate, highly sought after by various organizations and excellent at overcoming difficult challenges.
She’s also skilled at correcting her husband when she thinks he’s gone too far in boasting about her feats: “Of course, I have a lot of other people who work with me on everything I do,” she said, cutting short a laundry list of accomplishments her husband had been ticking off on her behalf.
The limelight is not a place either Pinkard is particularly comfortable; each prefers to highlight the works of others over their own, taking great joy in helping people achieve.
“Sometimes Wally gets so emotional when he’s with the students and sees their achievements, he’s incredibly proud of them,” said Patricia Davidson, dean of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where Wally is chairman of the national advisory board. “Everyone has a story about Wally and Mary-Ann, how they’ve helped them in some way, shape and form.”
They quietly subsidized one student’s college scholarship, one friend said, and always give generously of their time. Mary-Ann is a magician at organizing events, and has been known to stay up into the wee hours of the morning working on spreadsheets for one organization or another, while Wally puts everything he has into every endeavor.
“Many people play active roles in the community to gain power and visibility or to achieve social status. Mary Ann and Wally are at the other end of that spectrum. They are about rolling up their sleeves, doing the hard work and making sure in the end, a difference has been made,” said Fred Lazarus IV, president emeritus of the Maryland Institute College of Art. He met Wally more than 40 years ago and worked closely with Mary-Ann starting in 2010, when she helped found the Baltimore Design School, a transformation school for grades 6 through 12 with an emphasis on graphic and fashion design, and architecture.
“They do not need titles and do not look for accolades,” Mr. Lazarus said. “They look for results and work to make Baltimore better.”
Wally’s roots in Baltimore are deep. The paternal side of the family was in commercial real estate, and he followed his grandfather and father into the family business: W.C. Pinkard & Co., Inc. (Through mergers, the company would later transform into Colliers Pinkard, where Wally would serve as CEO and chairman, then Cassidy Turley, where he was again chairman, and finally, Cushman & Wakefield, where he’s a senior adviser today). His maternal grandfather was a prominent banker in town, Robert G. Merrick, and his mother, Anne Pinkard, was the first woman elected a trustee to Johns Hopkins University.
Mary-Ann came to Baltimore by way of France, where her parents met when her father was in the Army. Her mother, the eldest of 10 children, was from Ukraine, but her family escaped to France during World War II. Mary-Ann was born in Metz, a city in Northeastern France, but the young family moved to Baltimore, her father’s hometown, shortly thereafter.
Wally and Mary-Ann married in 1994. Mary-Ann had a child from a previous marriage, and Wally had two; the combined family could not be closer, they said.
Mary-Ann is a founding member and a current grants administrator of the Women’s Giving Circle, which invests in organizations that empower women and their families in the Baltimore region. Since its inception in 2019, the Circle has grown from 52 members to more than 450 today and has distributed more than $5 million. She’s also vice president of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation. Her past board experience includes the Maryland SPCA, Baltimore School for the Arts, young Victorian Theatre Company and Maryvale Preparatory School, as well as organizational affiliations with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the Hippodrome Foundation and Maryland Therapeutic Riding.
“I try to do things that make life better for people, I guess pretty much every organization I get involved in does that,” she said.
Among Wally’s civic appointments are board positions on the Central Maryland Transit Alliance and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, along with three locally headquartered foundations: the France-Merrick Foundation, where Wally is president; the Stulman Foundation (vice president) and the Hippodrome Foundation (chairman of the board).
He served on the board of Johns Hopkins Medicine for 23 years and still serves there on the Dean’s Council and is a past trustee or director of: the Maryland Zoological Society, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Gilman School, Calvert School, the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education and the Washington/Baltimore Regional Association.
“I’m not great at saying ’no,’ although I think I’m getting a bit better,” he said.
Douglas Brinkley, senior managing director at Cushman & Wakefield said the couple’s efforts are nonstop and fueled by the best of intentions.
“I seriously don’t know who is more driven, Wally or Mary-Ann. They still drive themselves 24/7 to further engage, understand and act,” Mr. Brinkley said. “I think they continually inspire each other.”
Mary-Ann and Walter D. “Wally” Pinkard Jr.
Ages: Mary-Ann, 64; Wally, 69
Hometown: Baltimore (both)
Current residence: Two homes, one in Baltimore, one in Crownsville
Education: Wally, Yale University, Bachelor of Arts; Harvard University, Master of Business Administration. Mary-Ann, Catonsville Community College, Associate of Arts; Archbishop Keough High School
Career highlights: Wally, senior adviser at Cushman & Wakefield; previously: chairman of predecessor companies Cassidy Turley and chairman and CEO of Colliers Pinkard. Mary-Ann worked as an administrative assistant at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1970s, then was a director at Our Lady’s Center, director of marketing services for Colliers Pinkard and director of special events for Catholic Charities
Civic and charitable activities: Wally, chair of the National Advisory Board of The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing; board member of the Central Maryland Transit Alliance, the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation and Brown Investment Advisory & Trust Co; president of the France-Merrick Foundation; vice president of the Stulman Foundation and chairman of the board of the Hippodrome Foundation. Mary-Ann, founding member of Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, current grants administrator; founding board member of the Baltimore Design School, co-chair fundraising committee; vice chair Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation