Trinity Washington University received one-quarter of the total money it needs to fund a new $40 million academic center from alumna Joan Payden. Construction will begin in summer 2014. Payden, who earned her BA from Trinity in physics and math, now runs an $80 billion investment firm in Los Angeles, Payden & Rygel.
Payden's gift is the majority of the $18 million Trinity has raised through its Campaign for Trinity's Second Century. Through this campaign, Trinity seeks to collect at least $30 million. Beyond renovating the school's decrepit academic center, Trinity also wishes to expand its endowment and continue scholarship support.
A 2002 special edition of Trinity Magazine said of Payden:
This is a woman on whose counsel fortunes literally hang, yet surrounding her is a complete lack of pretense, an absence of any of the trappings of entitlement, however well earned, that have been the familiar hallmarks of high finance and money management.... Despite this unassuming and gracious demeanor, Payden is a woman of great valor and resolution. In 1970, she boldly shattered glass ceilings, becoming the first woman vice president of Scudder, Stevens and Clark, one of the oldest and most well respected investment management firms in the world. Yet she is careful not to capitalize or allow too great a distinction between gender and achievement.... There is something inherently impressive about a smart, confident woman. Joan Payden is such a woman. A Trinity woman, at the top of her game.
Sandra Rygel, Payden's original partner at the firm, left in the early 1990s to do charity work full time. This past July, Payden herself earned an Award for Professional Excellence from the CFA Institute, an organization of investors that promotes ethics and professionalism. The institute awarded Payden for her "philanthropic work on education of the disadvantaged in society [which] inspires us all and has unambiguously brought honor upon our profession to the highest degree."
Mount Saint Mary's College also awarded Payden the Carondelet Medal, the school's highest honor, in 2009. Most of Payden's philanthropy focuses on education, particularly that of the Catholic persuasion, though smatterings of it occasionally fall elsewhere.
She's given $100,000 in unrestricted support to the UCLA Division of Digestive Disease and sits on the Occidental College board of trustees. The existence of Genevieve High School's Joan Payden Library in Panorama City, California, suggests that Payden either granted some money there or spends a commendable amount of time reading in the company of high school students. She also gave $1.1 million to St. Joseph's Center, a community center devoted to supporting low-income and homeless families and individuals.