Marlyn Graziano, Kwantlen Polytechnic University vice president of External Affairs and chief executive of the KPU Foundation, has won the Corporate Leadership Award at the Surrey Women in Business Awards.
The honour from the Surrey Board of Trade caps a distinguished career that began in journalism and progressed through being an editor and publisher of Lower Mainland regional newspapers to joining KPU, initially as director of External and Government Affairs, in 2013.
“It is a huge honour to have been nominated alongside so many incredible women, all of whom contribute so much to Surrey,” says Graziano. “Thank you so much to the colleagues and friends who supported my nomination. A special thank you to President Alan Davis for allowing me so many opportunities to grow as a leader.
“I am very proud of the outstanding work that my External Affairs team does to promote KPU, enhance our reputation and develop strong community connections. KPU is a vibrant and inspiring organization, and it is both a privilege and a pleasure to serve alongside so many exceptional colleagues.”
As a vice president, Graziano is a member of the executive team responsible for the operations of the university, which has five campuses, about 20,000 students and more than 1,500 employees. She oversees marketing, communications, alumni affairs, fundraising, community engagement, major events and government relations.
As chief executive of the KPU Foundation, Graziano works closely with a volunteer board of directors and its committees to fulfill the goals and objectives of the foundation. She has overall authority and responsibility for establishing, developing and monitoring the foundation’s policies, goals, initiatives and strategies.
“Marlyn Graziano is a one of the top leaders in higher education in Canada, and is likely the hardest working. She is probably the most recognizable person in higher education in our city and in our region,” says KPU President Alan Davis.
“She leads by example and works tirelessly, creating client-focused approaches to improve KPU’s reputation and operations. She always assumes responsibility for her actions, and is a mentor and a role model for women in leadership.”
Graziano, who will be retiring from KPU this summer, has served in a number of volunteer capacities with non-profit organizations south of the Fraser River, including the Surrey Board of Trade, Sources Community Resource Society and KidSport, as well as a member of the community council for Gateway of Hope in the Langley. She was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 to honour her significant contributions to her community.
“Marlyn’s steady hand, her acute and insightful leadership and her enormous commitment to business and education opportunity is evident in her workplace and in her volunteer efforts within Surrey,” writes former Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner in her nomination letter.
“I have not often come across a leader as committed to the advancement of Surrey and who does so in a way that brings people together and acknowledges the strength of partnerships.”