MILWAUKEE — Laurie Panella, chief information officer at Marquette University, has been named the ORBIE CIO of the Year from the Wisconsin Chapter of the Inspire CIO Leadership Network in the Large Corporate category. She was presented with her award at the Wisconsin CIO ORBIE Awards at The Edgewater in Madison on July 14.
The ORBIE awards honor chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership. Finalists and winners are selected by an independent peer review process, led by prior ORBIE recipients, based upon leadership and management effectiveness; business value created by technology innovation; and engagement in industry and community endeavors.
“Laurie has been instrumental in evolving both the culture and perception of her department from a back-end office function to a strategic partner to the university,” said Marquette President Michael R. Lovell in his nomination. “Laurie began working at Marquette just before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we quickly employed her expertise in revolutionizing the modalities with which we offer our students a transformational education to include online delivery. She fundamentally changed our teaching options in an unexpectedly rapid turnaround. Her leadership in implementing this cost-effective transition to virtual learning impacted our students, as well as thousands of employees across campus as the pandemic began.”
Panella leads Marquette’s Information Technology Services, which is responsible for developing and implementing the university’s technology strategy and leading the IT services that support academic and administrative computing and enable the Catholic, Jesuit mission of Marquette. This includes classroom and instructional technology, administrative systems, application development, network infrastructure, cyber security, data analytics, support services and telecommunications.
“(At the start of the pandemic, we) transitioned 11,500 students from 98% in-person to 100% virtual learning in nine days,” Panella said of her team’s greatest accomplishment. “The accomplishment, however, was how we did it, with a Jesuit commitment to cura personalis—care for the whole person. The pandemic brought to light digital inequality, as many students did not have online learning technology at their homes. Our team jumped into action locating and shipping laptops, researching short-term internet access and negotiating contracts for hotspots. This technology not only helped our students academically, but also contributed to improved mental health by helping students feel more connected to their peers.”
Prior to joining Marquette, Panella held progressive leadership roles within Milwaukee County, most recently serving as the Chief Information Officer since 2009 until beginning her role at Marquette in 2019. In this role, Panella was named CIO of the Year in 2017 by the Milwaukee Business Journal. She was also named among the ‘Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers’ in 2012 for national public sector IT by Government Technology magazine.
Panella holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Marquette University, specializing in Marketing and Human Resource Management. Panella is active in several professional and community organizations, including Evanta Milwaukee CIO/CISO Governing Body, Milwaukee CIO United Advisory Board, Society for Information Management, TEMPO Milwaukee and the Versiti Audit and Compliance Board. She is a commissioner of the Parks and Forestry Board for the city of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where she resides. Panella has presented at several professional events specifically in technology leadership, cloud computing, cyber security and smart cities.
The CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards is the premier technology executive recognition program in the United States. Since inception in 1998, over 500 CIO of the Year winners have received the prestigious ORBIE Award.
WisconsinCIO is the preeminent peer leadership network of Wisconsin chief information officers. WisconsinCIO is one of 25 chapters of the WisconsinCIO Leadership Network, a national membership organization comprised exclusively of CIOs from public and private businesses, government, education, healthcare and nonprofit institutions.
Marquette is always looking for talented leaders to join our team. See all our career opportunities at employment.marquette.edu.