Marquette alumna is a ‘Doer, Dreamer and Driver’ on campus and off
In 2012, Laurie Panella was named among the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in IT by Government Technology magazine. It’s no wonder: her energy and passion for servant leadership are clear in both her role as Marquette’s new chief information officer and in her life off campus.
Laurie, who joined Marquette in July after serving as CIO for Milwaukee County, is a graduate of Marquette’s College of Business Administration and a 2017 Milwaukee Business Journal CIO of the Year honoree.
Marquette Today recently sat down with Laurie to talk about family and travels, Christmas movies, service to the Milwaukee-area community and why her dad is her hero. She also answers that one question everyone asks her.
Hometown: Kettering, Ohio
Family: I am married to my husband Nick. We have two daughters, Samantha (27) and Emily (24), and a soon-to-be son-in-law, Matt (Samantha and Matt are getting married in June 2020).
Hobbies and interests: Travel, recreational biking, the outdoors (summer only!), spending time with family and networking — I love meeting new people. This year our trips included Scottsdale (twice!), New York City, Naples, our cottage in Michigan, and a few weekend jaunts to local places like Chicago, Grand Rapids, northern Wisconsin and South Haven, Michigan. Nick and I love experiencing new places, new cultures and local cuisine. I am a foodie — we are fortunate with all the great restaurants here in Milwaukee.
Favorite movies: I am a sucker for the Christmas classics: It Happened on 5th Ave., It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation… I love all of them.
Heroes: My dad. He is no longer with us; I miss him terribly. He is my mentor, my friend and my rock. He instilled a strong sense of faith, family, hard work and commitment in me. Also, through his actions, he taught me what it means to be a good person and the value in serving others. I am currently a mentor, and I enjoy serving meals at St. Ben’s and volunteering for local organizations when I have time. At his funeral, I learned that when he took a leadership role at Delco Products, he was the first to promote people of color to management positions. This was unheard of in the 1960s. I am a proud daughter.
Favorite quotes/mottos: I have a couple of quotes you will often hear me recite: “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” “Players win games; teams win championships.” “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on — this too shall pass.” “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.”
Currently reading: It always seems I have a couple of books in the works. For the most part, I enjoy leadership and IT-related content. Right now, I am reading The Phoenix Project by Kevin Behr, finishing Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, and listening to Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education by Nathan D. Grawe. There is one book I wish I would have read earlier in my professional carrier and one I think every female student should read: How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. It is a must before starting a career and one to reference throughout.
Favorite vacation spots: The last place we traveled to always seems to be my favorite — there is so much to see and do in a new city. I have two stand-bys, however: Waters, Michigan, and Naples, Florida. These two are my homes away from home and are vacation spots deeply rooted in my family. My family has owned a log home and property in Waters since the late 1940s. I have been traveling there for as long as I can remember. This is where I learned to swim, ski, and catch and clean fish. Florida has been another family tradition. At Easter, you will find me on the beach in Naples, walking, reading, playing cornhole and enjoying time with the family.
Biggest career learning experience: Over the years my career has taught me pay is only a part of your compensation package, and I would argue, not the most important.Every day you should be learning something new and putting new tools in your professional tool belt. Those talents, skills and competencies that you gain from your personal and professional interactions will provide more satisfaction in the long run than your first paycheck ever will. Another lesson — one my father instilled in me: be committed and always be present. He would always say, “Whether you are a dishwasher or the CEO of the company, act like an owner and give 110 percent, 100 percent of the time.” I take his advice to heart.
Fun facts: I am a little taller than 6’ 1” — people always ask. And, yes, I played basketball. I was pretty good in high school and won a few awards. I did not play on the Marquette team in college, but I believe my team and I won the intramural girls basketball championship here my freshman year.
I am passionate about my community and active in creating sustainable infrastructure and services. Most notably, I participated in revitalizing many local destinations. I was part of the team that revitalized Bradford Beach and turned it into the destination you see it today; I was part of the team that brought the Air Show to Milwaukee; I am proud to say that I partnered with community-based organizations to relocate their offices to at-risk neighborhoods to help provide needed services to the local community; and I was part of the team that revitalized the Hoyt Park Pool in Wauwatosa and established a waterpark for the community.