Carolyn Bogott: Dennison a hero of the Institute

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

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Gail Dennison is an under-celebrated hero in the success story of The Hormel Institute.

She has been an integral part of its expansion in size and in reputation since 2006, yet she modestly sees it as an honor to win support for the Institute’s cancer and biomedical research mission.

Gail Dennison

Gail is a woman of passion, sincerity and intelligence.  Her graciousness is evident in the way she describes her work as Director of Development and External Relations. When she shares the Institute’s great achievements, she stresses they are only possible because of great scientists, people working together, and community support and generosity.

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Gail had a rich background before her career at the Institute began. Originally from Austin, her higher education includes an undergraduate degree in marketing and a masters’ degree in Philanthropy and Development. She worked on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., in advertising in Los Angeles and in marketing on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was her choice to return to Austin to raise her sons near family and in the Midwest. She previously worked as a reporter and columnist for the Austin Daily Herald, Rochester Post Bulletin and Rochester Magazine, and was an executive producer at KAAL-TV.

Gail joined The Hormel Institute to expand the development and public relations department. The first challenge was to raise recognition and funding to support the 2008 expansion. She led the Institute’s first capital campaign, “Grow Science, Grow Austin,” enlisting help from major community volunteers to help launch and gain support for this endeavor. At that time, The Hormel Institute was little known even to people in Austin. It was Gail’s challenge to develop branding and recognition of the Institute and share this gem of scientific research with the immediate community, surrounding communities and beyond. Marketing and communications were familiar to Gail but winning financial support for cancer research is what made joining the Institute exciting.  She loved the challenge and still does, inspired by a mission that impacts human life and health.

Initiatives she helped cultivate such as Paint the Town Pink, have brought much wider awareness of the Institute to the surrounding community and have raised significant funds for research. Lobbying efforts for the 2016 expansion and leading a second capital campaign for the Ray Live Learning Center helped double the size of the Institute and added a major event room and a 250-seat auditorium.

Gail gives all credit to the amazing scientists and the leadership of the Institute, The Hormel Foundation, her team of colleagues, along with the incredible community of partners and friends who support the Institute’s mission. She says what she has experienced is that when people, good purposes and ideas come together, big things happen fast.

Gail takes her inspiration from people who share the mission of the Institute and is honored to represent the scientists who work with dedication and passion toward discoveries to prevent and control cancer and other diseases. For her, it is deeply rewarding to be part of the progress.

Austin thanks you, Gail Dennison, for your tireless efforts to support the well-being and growth of The Hormel Institute.