When Vivian Rogers Pickard retired after a 42-year long career with General Motors, friends, family and colleagues along with the entire Southeastern Michigan community were confident that she would not fade into anonymity. Quite the contrary as the community advocate immersed herself even deeper in improving the quality of life for Detroiters and African American residents around the nation.
Recently Pickard added an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree to her lengthy list of accomplishments, saying that the recognition was one of the most important of her career. “To be honored by an institution that helped to shape me, both personally and professionally, is probably one of the most rewarding gifts I could have ever received,” said an emotional but elated Pickard during Ferris State University’s 2016 commencement ceremony earlier this month.
Pickard, a Ferris state alumna and the director of General Motors’ Detroit Community Partnerships received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014.
Pickard is locally and nationally renowned for her dedication to improving the quality of life for residents in Detroit and around the nation. Her role as an advocate during her extensive career with General Motors, has helped to generate financial support for a wide range of community and philanthropic organizations and profoundly affected the lives of thousands.
After serving in key roles in GM’s human resources, finance and public policy arenas, Pickard became the director of GM’s Detroit Community Partnerships, after more than seven years of service as president of The General Motors Foundation. Pickard had served as president of the GM Foundation and GM director of corporate relations from 2009 until November 2015 when GM (NYSE: GM, TSX: GMM) reassigned her to serve as director, Detroit community partnerships.
The General Motors Foundation frequently contributes to community and civic organizations commitment the areas of education, health and other initiatives. Even during the Great Recession that contributed to GM’s bankruptcy, the organization continued to give to worthy causes including such organizations as 100 Black Men of America, the United Negro College Fund — and in far greater financial numbers than most other corporations. In her current role, Pickard leads GM’s support and presence in Detroit on key community initiatives such as education, health and the arts.
Her current community advocacy efforts benefit such groups as Habitat for Humanity International, the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation and Fifth Third Bank Eastern Michigan, as well as other organizations.
Pickard’s leadership roles include being the immediate past-president of The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. and serving as an officer with the Detroit Economic Club. She was also named as one of the 50 most powerful African-Americans in southeast Michigan, and received the Spirit of the Dream award from the United Negro College Fund.
Pickard is also a past or present member on the boards of organizations including: Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, Inforum, Friends of African and African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation, The Parade Co., New Detroit, Fifth Third Bank – Eastern Michigan, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Council of Michigan Foundations and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.