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Marquette University Alumni Association

Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award

Nancy NoeskeDR. NANCY R. NOESKE, ARTS '59


“Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better best.”

Dr. Nancy Noeske has lived these words since her third-grade teacher wrote them in an autograph book — from earning her bachelor of science in chemistry at Marquette to earning her doctorate in the sciences and education to her 40-plus-year career.

The Milwaukee native began her professional journey as a teacher and administrator — a good start. Things got better when she directed the Greater Milwaukee YWCA and spent 15 years at Wisconsin Electric Power Co., becoming its first female vice president.

But the best was yet to come. After working with board members and maintaining board-superintendent relationships as director of governance for the Milwaukee School Board, Nancy established an executive search and management consulting firm. For 13 years, she did her best to find the best leaders for large urban school districts across the country, then sold that company and founded Noeske and Associates, a full-service management consulting and retained executive search firm.

Whether mentoring women to break the glass ceiling, helping older adults and low-income people pay utility bills or ensuring that children in urban schools have the right individuals working on their behalves, Nancy has worked toward one goal: to be an advocate for community change.

Beyond her career, she has participated in dozens of community and professional organizations and received several awards. She is a life member of the NAACP and served on and was president of the National Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business. Nancy credits Marquette for shaping her desire to serve, saying the university made her a better person and her life experiences make her the best she can be.

Good, better, best, indeed.

Fun fact: Nancy says her parents were most influential in her life. Growing up in the Depression years, they had to quit high school to help support their respective families, and they instilled in her the value of education and the love of learning. Very active in the civil rights movement in Milwaukee, they also taught her to respect people of all colors, creeds and backgrounds and to help those less fortunate. The “service above self” ethic was instilled in Nancy at an early age and was reinforced during her Marquette experience.