Fotsch Family Foundation gives $7 million for Marquette leadership development center

Geraldine “Nana” Fotsch with Marquette University students at a scholarship celebration.
Geraldine “Nana” Fotsch with Marquette University students at a scholarship celebration.
Geraldine “Nana” Fotsch

The Fotsch Family Foundation is providing a $7 million gift to support a new leadership center within Marquette University’s Opus College of Engineering.

The Nashotah-based family foundation’s donation will establish a new endowed leadership center and director position in the engineering college, building on its existing Excellence in Leadership (E-Lead) program. Marquette president Michael Lovell announced the gift during his presidential address Thursday.

The gift will also support Innovation Alley, an effort between the Opus College and the College of Business Administration to foster innovation in Milwaukee’s business community.

“We are so grateful to Nana Fotsch and the entire Fotsch family for this gift that will amplify our innovation leadership development efforts,” said Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of Engineering. “For nearly a decade, through E-Lead, we’ve intentionally focused on developing leaders to grow in their self-awareness, commit to core values and inspire others.”

The Fotsch Family Foundation — which supports Catholic and educational causes, as well as social services throughout the community — has given a total of $14 million in gifts to Marquette’s multi-year Time to Rise campaign. The university has now surpassed $566 million in funds raised toward its $750 million goal.

The E-Lead program, which Ropella launched in 2014, provides leadership training to annual cohorts of 40 students over the course of three years. In 2019, the program expanded beyond the Opus College of Engineering to include students from across the university.

The new Fotsch Innovation and Engineering Leadership Development Center will serve as the home for the E-Lead program and other innovation leadership development initiatives. The E-Lead program will be based out of the top floor of Marquette’s new $60 million business school currently under construction at the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The directorship will be named the Nana Fotsch Director for the FIELD Center.

Kate Trevey, current director of engineering and innovation leadership development, has been named the first Nana Fotsch Director for the FIELD Center.

“We have such a deep appreciation for Nana Fotsch and the entire Fotsch family for their steadfast belief and immense support that has spanned many years,” Trevey said. “Leadership starts with people, and this significant gift will allow us to ethically form far more future leaders who will push the boundaries of innovative thinking.”

The Fotsch Family Foundation’s previous gifts have supported Marquette student scholarships, the Grotto to the Blessed Virgin Mary behind St. Joan of Arc Chapel, and the new business school.

In late 2021, the foundation also pledged to match donations up to $1 million for the United for Waukesha Community Fund to support the needs of the families impacted from the massacre at the Waukesha Christmas Parade.

“I truly believe that I must share all the blessings that the Good Lord has showered on me and my entire family,” said Geraldine “Nana” Fotsch.

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