Alumni National Awards

Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients


GardnerMarilynn Kelly Gardner, Jour '88


As president and CEO of Navy Pier, Marilynn is on the ride of a lifetime and soaring as high as the new Centennial Wheel. A proud Chicagoan and one of the city’s more respected female leaders, she takes pride in curating unique experiences and long-lasting memories for the Pier’s 9 million-plus annual guests.

Currently, Marilynn is spearheading Navy’s Pier redevelopment, transforming the lakefront jewel into a dynamic cultural, entertainment and dining destination.

“Navy Pier’s rich 100-year history is forever cemented in the fabric of Chicago. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to directly impact the community by leading the ‘People’s Pier’ into its second century,” she says. “It is incredibly rewarding to know that hundreds of millions of guests from across the street and around the world will experience the reimagined pier.”

For Marilynn, her experiences at Marquette laid the foundation for her success. “Success to me is about continually learning and growing, taking on challenges and always rising to the occasion,” she shares. “I am energized by bringing people together, finding solutions and overcoming obstacles, and am truly gratified by giving back to the community.”

Fun fact:
Dream dinner date: I would give anything to have dinner with my dad who passed away seven years ago. During my four years at Marquette and following, he was the biggest advocate for and promoter of Marquette. He was so impressed by the education I received but more importantly by my incredible network of truly grounded, genuine and accomplished friends who share strong values.