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Marquette University Alumni Association

Law School Recipients

Alumna of the Year Award

Nalalie A. BlackNATALIE A. BLACK, LAW '78

Oostburg, Wis.

As a little girl, Natalie Black dreamed of being a judge. “My grandfather was the local constable, and I remember him taking me into the courtroom when not in session,” she says. “In third grade, it seemed like a cool thing to be in a big chair on a platform above all of the other people in the room giving orders!”

Her career path didn’t lead to a judge’s robe, but Natalie has made a big impact in other ways. After earning her bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics from Stanford University, she studied law at Marquette and later completed the program for management development at Harvard Business School. She now is senior vice president and chief legal counsel for Kohler Co., president of the Kohler Foundation, and a Marquette Trustee, among other leadership roles. She also serves on the board of directors for Johnson Controls.

Natalie admits she relishes constant intellectual challenge, whether it’s helping Kohler Co. manage recent business acquisitions in Brazil and South Korea or launching a new family foundation to teach her 10 grandchildren about the responsibilities of charitable giving.

“There is tremendous satisfaction in arriving at a creative or innovative solution to a problem that is complex and nuanced,” she says of her work. “I’m probably just an adrenaline junkie!”

Natalie’s constant striving for excellence was nurtured by her family — especially her father — early on.

“Despite growing up well before any feminist movement, my dad always treated his three daughters as people first, not girls,” she says. “So there were never any limitations on his expectations of us. As a result, it never occurred to me or my sisters that we couldn’t do anything we worked hard to accomplish. Sadly, my dad passed away in 2010 at the age of 88, but the foundation of his support, his unconditional love, and his pride in me has been the foundation of any success I may have had both professionally and personally.”

Fun facts about Natalie:
Hometown: Delano, Calif.
Favorite quote: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
Someone alive or dead she’d like to have dinner with: Katherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill
The Marquette faculty member who had an impact on Natalie: Professor Jim Ghiardi
Favorite Marquette memory: Being a professor’s research assistant
In grade school, Natalie wanted to be a judge.
Most influential person in her life: Her father