Spirit of Marquette Award
CHARLOTTE M. DELESTE, CJPA '94, and RONALD D. GIORDAN, JR., COMM '96
Charlotte and Ron in one word: inspiring. This power couple juggles demanding careers — she’s a morning news anchor for Madison’s WISC-TV, and he’s the social media strategy director for Mid-West Digital Marketing — with parenting their two young boys. Yet they also make time for a nonprofit they founded that offers respite care for children with special needs.
“The Marquette experience helped me build up my confidence to the point where nothing scares me — a job, an assignment, starting a nonprofit,” Charlotte says.
“Strength and determination: Marquette seeded these qualities in me during my four years on campus,” Ron says.
Charlotte and Ron’s oldest son, Giovanni, started having seizures almost as soon as he was born. Despite a difficult brain surgery, he continued to have as many as 80 seizures a day and was later diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified, an autism spectrum disorder.
As working parents, Charlotte and Ron discovered it was difficult to find respite care so they could get the occasional break from the 24/7 demands of caring for a child with special needs. That inspired them to found Gio’s Garden, which provides families with up to 16 hours of therapy/respite care a month free of charge, plus helps connect parents to other critical resources in the area. The nonprofit opened its doors in June 2012 after a social media-driven fundraising blitz raised the necessary $250,000.
“My dream is for Gio’s to serve families statewide and, eventually, across the country,” Charlotte says.
But Charlotte and Ron’s commitment to service is just one of the ways they live out the Marquette mission. Since their early training at Marquette University Television, they have led successful careers in the broadcast and marketing/communications fields.
At WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison, Charlotte starts her day at 1 a.m. so she can lead the station's daily 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. newscast. “From blizzards to politics, I get to tell stories everyday that affect lives,” says Charlotte, who received a 2012 Woman of Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Women of Color Network and has participated in many Muscular Dystrophy Association and Make-A-Wish telethons. “It also gives me a platform. I was able to use my position as an anchor to become an advocate for parents of special needs children who don’t have that chance.”
Ron, a former broadcast producer and assistant news director, now manages social media assets for small and large businesses at Mid‑West Digital Marketing in Madison. “My current job allows me to continue doing what I have always loved: being on top of all that is happening in the world on a daily basis,” he says. “Social media is how news is spread now … much faster than broadcasting. My interaction with people locally, nationally and even internationally via social media keeps my life interesting.”