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Denise L. Kolivoski

  • Adjunct Faculty
    Master of Public Admin

The Gannon University Alumni Association is proud to recognize the five Distinguished Alumni honorees for 2021. For thirty years, the Distinguished Alumni Award has been presented to Gannon and Villa Maria college alumni in recognition of meaningful contributions in their professions, community and the university. It is the highest honor an alumnus can receive.

Read on to get to know 2021 Distinguished Alum, Denise L. Kolivoski’ 01, ‘08M.
College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

Denise L. Kolivoski ’01, ’08M

Executive Director, National Alliance of Mental Illness of Erie
Bachelor of Arts, Communication Arts
Master of Business Administration

Denise Kolivoski ’01, ’08M, was the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County for over a decade.  She began her relationship with Gannon University as a child. Her father, George Kolivoski, graduated from Gannon in 1976 with a degree in mechanical engineering. A big Gannon basketball program fan, he took his daughter to several home games where she fondly remembers throwing toilet paper for the first shot and eating salty popcorn.

Denise Kolivoski graduated from Gannon in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts. She spent more than a decade working a successful career in local Erie broadcasting, earning several local advertising honors. In 2008, Kolivoski earned a Master of Business Administration from Gannon University.

Kolivoski’s career took a significant turn when she joined the board of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, of Erie County. Kolivoski came to strongly believe in the life-changing impact of NAMI’s mission of education and support after seeing the challenges families who are affected by mental illness face. Kolivoski joined the agency more than a decade ago. At this time, the agency was overwhelmed with financial and organizational issues. As board treasurer, Kolivoski was tasked with closing the agency. Instead, Kolivoski applied her hard work and dedication to revive NAMI into the successful agency it is today.

Kolivoski’s interactions over the years with local families battling mental health challenges helped her truly recognize the importance of NAMI’s presence in the Erie community. She created and implemented a strategic plan that was endorsed by funders, financial institutions and donors. She was named executive director of NAMI of Erie County in 2009 and continues in that role today. Early in her time as executive director, Kolivoski established NAMI’s first investment fund and expanded the organization’s educational programming, including the Peer-to-Peer and Family-to-Family programs. These programs – offered at no cost to the community – provide individuals and families the education, skills and tools they need to continue on the path to recovery.

Under Kolivoski’s leadership, NAMI has won several marketing awards from The Public Relations Society of Erie and The Pennsylvania “Telly” awards in advertising communications. In 2019, NAMI of Erie County was named “Nonprofit of the Year” by The Erie Times-News and
Kolivoski is a part of several local health and human services committees and currently serves as a board member at The Erie Club.

Prior to working at NAMI, Kolivoski worked at Community Shelter Services, a United Way member agency that assists homeless individuals and families with shelter as well as single-room occupancies.  She started her nonprofit career at United Way of Erie County, achieving several marketing awards.

Kolivoski also worked in media for a decade at WICU 12, an NBC affiliate managing news and creative services with award-winning marketing campaigns.

Gannon University 
Bachelor of Communication Arts '01
Gannon University WERG-FM
DJ and Music Director

Gannon University
Master of Business Administration '08


Latest Leadership and Marketing Awards

Distinguished Alumni Award 2021
Gannon University
Highest honor for an alumna

Three Telly Awards for the TV Promotion of The Fabulous Golf Outing
PA Society of Marketers – 2016, 2015, 2015

Nonprofit of the Year 2019
The Erie Times-News and

Three Silver Awards for Print and TV Promotion
Public Relations Society of NWPA – 2021, 2019, 2016

Women Making History Inductee 2017
Mercy Center for Women

Three Nonprofit Awards for Print Promotion
The Nonprofit Partnership - 2016, 2015, 2013

Four Gold Awards for Print and TV Promotion
Public Relations Society of NWPA – 2021, 2018, 2017, 2016

Three Advertising Awards for Print Promotion
American Advertising Federation of NWPA – 2016, 2016, 2004

Community Leadership
Board of Directors
Erie Club, Board Member | 2020-Present

Member Engagement Committee
Erie Club, Chairperson | 2022-Present Successfully created and launched the annual Reed Reception to benefit the 501c3 Reed mansion Foundation with a gala-style fundraiser promoting the historic Charles Manning Reed mansion and preservation efforts with top-tier donors.

Annual Golf Outing
Erie Club, Chairperson | 2021-2022 Initiated new fundraising ideas to supplement the mission of the 501c3 Reed Mansion Foundation which set a record for sell-out attendance.

Bi-Annual Ladies’ Night Dinners
Erie Club, Chairperson | 2020-2022 Reestablished spring and fall dinners and themes to appeal to female members. The dinners were well-received and included several sell-out events.

House Committee
Erie Club, Member | 2022-Present

Admissions Committee
Erie Club, Member | 2020-Present

Kiwanis Clubs of Erie and West County | 2006-Present


Denise          L. Kolivoski

Phone: 814-871-+1 8148715381

Contact Denise Kolivoski