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Marquette University Alumni Association

Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award

Raymond ManistaRAYMOND J. MANISTA, JR., ARTS '87, LAW '90
Fox Point, Wis.

Though Ray’s early aspiration was to shoot for the stars as an astronaut, some wise counsel helped him discover his strengths and realize that the greatest reach he could have was setting a course for others.

“I enjoy acting as an adviser,” says Ray, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Northwestern Mutual. “It gives me satisfaction to help others find solutions where they may not be obvious and particularly to do so in an organization whose values align with mine.”

At work, he’s engaged in helping define the next iteration of strategy for Northwestern Mutual. It’s an effort that will continue to draw on the company’s traditional strengths and values and project them forward in a way that will positively impact the lives of current and future clients. The task suits him well, after all, as he continues to draw on Marquette’s strengths and values.

“My exposure to the Jesuits and Marquette’s arts-focused curriculum challenged me to seek to understand the world through a lens other than my own,” he says. “To this day, I challenge myself and teams to pause and seek to understand different perspectives on an issue or fact set, which, I’ve learned, leads to better decision-making in the long run.” 

For Ray, success is partnering with his wife Dawne to raise children who are healthy, happy and caring individuals. At work, success is making a positive impact on others and the company. But he also seeks opportunities to support the community. He serves on two nonprofit boards, has been a youth sports coach and has participated in service projects through his parish.

“Because our development journey is never complete, I remain curious and place an emphasis on continuous learning and giving back,” he says.

Fun Facts

Hometown: Hebron, Ind.

Favorite book:Gods and Generals, a historical fiction novel about the Civil War.”

Dream dinner guest: “Neil Armstrong.”

Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you: “Rev. William Leahy, S.J., helped me explore where the church fit in my life through robust discussion of its history, strengths and shortcomings. He, like many teachers at Marquette, made time outside the classroom to chat about the issues of the day or course work. In my case, he served as an informal mentor and, among other things, helped me improve my writing skills, something that served me well as I pursued my undergraduate and law degrees.

“Dr. Larry LeBlanc was one of the most engaging personalities I have experienced in any classroom. He was able to mix one part substance with one part humor in a way that made learning engaging and fun, and that made the lessons stick with you. He also took the time outside the classroom to get to know me, as well as my parents, which began to create a bond with the Marquette family that I retain today.”

Favorite Marquette memories: “Spending Friday afternoons, with lottery mugs in hand, reflecting with friends on how we’d conquered the week’s challenges and then listening to live music at the Mug Rack.”  

Career aspirations in grade school:  “Initially an astronaut and later a lawyer. As a youngster, I was enthralled with NASA and the Apollo space program. I later came to appreciate that I enjoyed a spirited debate and advocacy, more so than math and science, and with some encouragement from teachers who knew my strengths, I then locked in on law as my aspiration.” 

Marquette legacy: “I was the first and only in my family to attend Marquette. My wife, Dawne, also attended, and we’ve remained actively involved with the school ever since.” 

Most influential person in your life: “My parents taught me the relative importance of things, beginning with family, values, education and then career. I only hope to pay these lessons forward in a way that impacts my children as much as they did me.”