Mary Ann Wagner


Endless Ways to Support the Community Keeps Engagement and Passion for Giving at an All-time High

Mary Ann Wagner, a proud Notre Dame alum, is a Sr. Analyst, Executive Compensation & Equity at MSA Safety.

Are you from Pittsburgh or the Southwestern PA region? Have you ever lived anywhere else?
I grew up locally, in Beaver County, but went to college in Indiana (Notre Dame—Go Irish!).  After college, I landed in Madison, Wisconsin.  I lived and worked in Madison for about ten years, and that’s when I started getting involved with United Way.  I moved back to Pittsburgh to be closer to family after my oldest child was born.

Tell us a little about your family.
I’ve been married to my husband, Brent, for almost ten years and we have three kids—Justin (3rd grade), Juliette (kindergarten) and Josie (2 years old).  My husband and I both went to Notre Dame, but we met in Madison, Wisconsin when we were both working there.  We love to travel, especially to visit out of town friends and family, but we stay pretty busy between our kids’ activities, our own hobbies and our careers.

How did you choose the career you’re in today?
I work in human resources now, but most of my career experience has been in finance and treasury.  I’ve tried to remain open to new opportunities as they present themselves, and have been very fortunate to grow my career, role by role, to my current position.

What do you love most about your job?
I love that the work is detailed enough for me to dig into—I LOVE problem solving—but that no two days are the same.  I also appreciate that different viewpoints are encouraged and that my employer places a high value on diversity of thought.

What is something people might not know about you?
I’m very competitive when I think I’m good at something, and I really struggle to turn down a challenge or dare (within reason), which is why I’ve been skydiving even though I’m terrified of heights. 

What is your favorite book or TV show and why?
Ted Lasso.  It’s such a feel-good show, at a time when I think we all need it.  I love the way they’ve developed the characters, and it’s just so enjoyable to watch!

Why do you think it’s so important to give back to your community?
I look at my upbringing and my current life situation, and while I know that I’ve worked hard, I also know how incredibly lucky I’ve been to have the opportunities and support network that I do.  I also realize that so many people in our community don’t have those same opportunities. Being involved with United Way is just a small way that I can give back, and hopefully provide those resources—and that network—for others.  I’m also a firm believer that strong communities benefit everyone, and I want to do what I can to help in that effort. 

Why do you volunteer with United Way?
Someone once told me that you should never do volunteer work that you don’t enjoy…because there are enough ways to help and serve your community that there should be a way to contribute in a way that you do enjoy.  What I love about United Way is that there are SO MANY opportunities, and ways, to give back.  I can look for the events and projects that line up with my passions or my skills, so that I’m able to provide the most value, and so that I enjoy the experience enough to stay engaged.

What is your favorite United Way memory?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel that considered grant proposals submitted to United Way. The purpose of the panel was to consider a number of proposals and recommend how to allocate funding. Not every proposal would receive funding, so our role was to determine which proposals would have the most meaningful impact, would best support the mission of United Way, and would be the most responsible use of United Way’s funding.  It was an amazing experience, and really highlighted the value United Way brings to our community. The care taken to ensure that donation dollars are used in the most meaningful, and responsible, way left a lasting impact on me. I know that when I donate to United Way, that donation makes its way to the areas of most need—and biggest impact—in our community.