Successful law firm owner, venture capitalist, community volunteer and advocate, and St. Clair County Community College (SC4) alumnus Gerry Mason has made his mark in Michigan.
Mason owns a boutique law firm and practices law throughout Michigan, often in joint ventures with significant law firms. He is also active in the areas of private equity investment, small business, venture capital, renewable energy and technology. He’s worked as a City of Detroit Recorder’s Court Law Clerk, as a Macomb County Law Clerk for the Hon. Pat M. Donofrio, and served as a Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford, Roscommon and Macomb Counties.
He’s a member of St. Clair Rotary Club (Past President); Salvation Army Advisory Board Vice Chairman; St. Clair Police Foundation Vice Chairman; State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly Vice Chairman; State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners Member; American Battery Technology Company Advisory Board Member; Voise Inc. Advisory Board Member—and much more.
His many accomplishments are the result of hard work, commitment and dedication to his goals and community. They also help highlight the critical role community colleges like SC4 can play in the educational journey of Michigan residents.
When Mason graduated from St. Clair High School in 1986, he initially enrolled at Michigan Technological University to be a geological engineer.
“I was not ready for a big university,” Mason said. “My dad thought that I should be an attorney and do political science as an undergraduate degree. My friends were at SC4 so I could get a ride. My mom took me to SC4 and enrolled me. Everyone at SC4 was warm and helpful. I loved it. It was college.”
While at SC4 from 1986-1988, Mason participated in student government. He also fully engaged in the classroom and benefitted from great professors and mentors.
“SC4 had excellent professors who cared about their students,” he said. “Harley Smith was great. He taught political science but never showed his views or any bias. He was always totally objective. Virginia Pillsbury taught German, but really she was teaching life. Haddock Snyder taught physics. Professor Snyder had tons of energy and made science fun. Calculus Professor Joe Delisa and I used to eat lunch together. I made friends with other professors like Bob Tansky. Great people.”
Mason transferred from SC4 to the University of Michigan on the advice of SC4 Professor Pillsbury. “All of my credits transferred, saving me $22,000 at that time,” Mason said.
He enrolled in the U-M College of Literature, Science and Art, majoring in political science and minoring in German, Russian and natural science. While there, Mason studied China under Professor Kenneth Lieberthal and spent a semester in the former Soviet Union. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1991 and then went on to enroll in law school at the Detroit College of Law, which became Michigan State University College of Law.
At MSU, Mason served as President of Student Government and Executive Lt. Governor of the American Bar Association, and graduated as Class President. According to Mason, law school challenged him in new ways.
“Law school was hard, fast and intense,” said Mason, who earned a juris doctorate in 1998. “You drank from a fire hose. A law degree teaches you how to think, and organize your oral and written arguments. I felt ready to take it on, though, thanks to the foundation I received at SC4, which made college fun, challenging and attainable.”
The college football, blues music and exercise fan has been putting his well-crafted thoughts to use and taking action ever since—and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“I’d like to do more by way of venture capital/private equity collaborations as well as continue charity and community work,” Mason said. “I really want to give back to the practice of law, and I will continue to be an advocate for community colleges like SC4. SC4 gave me a great start to life that I could build upon. Academia can be elitist and exclusive. SC4 offers every student the opportunity to be more than they are and all that they hoped to be by laying the foundation for future opportunities.”