“I’ve lived many places and done many things,” is Jay Ward’s answer when asked where he’s from. It’s an accurate response. At the age of seven, Jay was adopted by loving parents who raised him in Florida. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he took part in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. Jay left the military as a lieutenant and parlayed his engineering degree into a business career that has spanned nearly 30 years, taking him around the world as he climbed the ranks from plant manager to his current position as CEO at Quadion LLC., better known as Minnesota Rubber and Plastics.
Jay is also a family man. Two years after he and his wife Lisa married, they adopted five brothers from Siberia, ages 4 to 14, then went on to have five more children. Now Jay and Lisa live in Prior Lake with their three youngest. On top of his work and family commitments, Jay makes time to serve on the board of directors for St. Paul’s Outreach, which ministers to college students, and he’s the board chair at Chesterton Academy where his children attend high school.
Faith and trust lead to giving
While Jay is constantly on the move, he is firmly grounded by his faith, for which he credits his parents. “Both passed away when I was in college, but they were truly incredible people,” Jay recalls. “My father was one of the first permanent deacons in Florida and was very active in prison ministry. He was an amazing example for me.”
Jay and Lisa have endeavored to instill in their children a love of faith and a commitment to generosity. And as parents, they have been inspired by their children’s generous hearts. “Our goal was to convey to our children that God loves them and that everything we have is a blessing,” Jay explains. “Understanding that leads to gratitude.”
Jay is nothing if not grateful. “It’s almost comical, some of the blessings we’ve had,” he muses. As a business executive, Jay has experienced the rollercoaster-type rewards of the private equity world. “I’ve been lucky,” he admits. “Although, I know it’s not luck — it’s a God thing.”
Opening a donor advised fund at the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota (CCF) enabled Jay and Lisa to more closely align giving with their Catholic identity. “Anything that supports the Holy Church is great,” Jay says. Through the fund, Jay and Lisa support the organizations and causes most important to them, such as Catholic education at Chesterton Academy, the evangelical work done by St. Paul’s Outreach, several organizations that promote pro-life activities, Pro Ecclesia Sancta, and their parish, Holy Family in St. Louis Park.
In addition to being informed by the Gospel, Jay says that Lisa taught him a simple theme: be generous and trust God. “Do I want to save up and have everything in the silos for all the things that might happen, or am I willing to trust in God?” he asks. “I’m not always great at that so I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching,” he adds. “But, really, the ultimate goal is to give everything away.”