Saint Leo University appoints Mark Gesner Vice President of Community Engagement


ST. LEO, FL – Jeffrey D. Senese, president of Saint Leo University, recently announced the appointment of Mark Gesner as vice president of community engagement and innovation. He will be a member of the university’s management team.

With a particular focus on the areas of community impact, social entrepreneurship and professional development, Gesner will be responsible for advancing community engagement at Saint Leo University, building community partnerships, creating new initiatives and to sit on various internal and external boards and committees.

Gesner comes to Saint Leo after serving as Executive Director of the Hub for Innovation and Community Engaged Learning at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, where he led the creation and implementation of programs focused on community development, entrepreneurship, leadership and experiential education. He was the co-founder and director of a social enterprise accelerator for nonprofit leaders, the campus responsible for a statewide television show, Project Pitch It, featuring entrepreneurs from Wisconsin; and host of the Mission Driven Leaders Lecture Series.

Prior to this role, Gesner was Associate Vice President Academic Affairs and Faculty Chair of Community Engaged Learning and Leadership at Cardinal Stritch’s College of Business and Management. He has also held leadership positions at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside and Hostelling International – USA, an organization dedicated to educational travel and intercultural exchange.

“Mark is a proven leader whose commitment to building community relationships and business partnerships will not only improve Saint Leo University, but also benefit the Tampa area and wherever Saint Leo teaches,” said Senese. “His leadership skills in experiential education and business innovation will be of great value as we boldly and confidently move towards an even more successful future at Saint Leo University.”

Gesner has received several awards for his work, including the Milwaukee BizTimes Media Nonprofit Excellence Award for Social Enterprise and the Campus Compact Civic Engagement Practitioners Award. He recently co-authored his first book, Your Life is Your Message: Discovering the Core of Transformational Leadership (SAGE Publishing). Gesner has taught and designed courses and seminars on intercultural competence, leadership, entrepreneurship and organizational development.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism from the State University of New York at Albany, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in leadership for the advancement of learning. and service in higher education at Cardinal Stritch University.

“I look forward to building relationships and collaborating with the many businesses and organizations in the Tampa area and beyond,” said Gesner. “I hope to explore emerging opportunities and discover powerful ways for Saint Leo University to be a catalyst and partner to generate positive social and economic impact.”

Companies looking to partner with Saint Leo University can contact Gesner at

This press release was produced by Saint Leo University. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

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