Outstanding Alumni Awards - Brad Grainger and Mary Maxon Grainger

Brad Grainger and Mary Maxon Grainger
Brad Grainger ’79 and Mary Maxon Grainger ’79

Mary Maxon Grainger’s advice to incoming students has not changed since she gave her first tour as an undergraduate CALS ambassador: Take advantage of the full Cornell experience. Meet people, take courses across the university and experience the diverse academic, cultural and social opportunities available throughout Cornell and Ithaca.

Mary and Brad Grainger have been experiencing those opportunities — and improving them for others — for the past 40 years.

The Graingers’ service to Cornell includes Cornell University Council, leadership in the Class of 1979, CALS Advisory Council, and Cornell Alumni Association, among many others. They are members of Cayuga Society, President’s Circle and Tower Club.

One memorable moment in their service to Cornell occurred when they were undergraduates, as members of AgPAC —Agriculture Positive Action Council. During a meeting to brainstorm how to improve school spirit across the college and within the university, Mary and Brad heard Professor Ed Raffensperger remark, “We grow the ivy!” The group ran with that comment, creating buttons and other publicity materials out of the now-well-known slogan.

Long-time Ithacans, the Graingers also give their time and energy to a host of Ithaca-based organizations. Brad has served on the Ithaca City School District Board of Education, the Seed Capital Fund of Central NY and the Boy Scouts of America. Mary serves with the Ithaca Public Education Initiative and Planned Parenthood and was a founding member of the Friends of Ithaca Youth Bureau. Both serve the Tompkins County Public Library and Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca, to name just a few organizations.   

Both have been honored with numerous awards for their university and public service, including the 2016 Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, the university’s highest award for service.

Brad spent his career in the mortgage banking industry, helping secure FHA-insured loans for healthcare companies. He worked as president at Continental Securities and retired as a managing director at Cain Brothers, an investment bank focused on healthcare. Mary worked in CALS admissions, before becoming a full-time parent and an independent publicist and fundraiser. She has been active with Tompkins Girls Hockey Association and Ithaca High Girls Varsity Hockey and American Association of University Women events, including sister2sister and Tech Savvy, to name a few.

Brad and Mary Grainger live in Ithaca. They have three daughters, Aileen, Maura and Erin ’13.