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Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award: Mary Klemm

The Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni who accomplish significant success in their personal or professional endeavors.

Mary Klemm’s 37-year career at Lake Michigan College centered around building strong relationships with people, which as a self- described shy and quiet person, she still finds a bit ironic.

In January, Mary retired as Executive Director of the Lake Michigan College Foundation, which she helped grow from a $10,000 gift in 1986 into a $17 million endeavor.

The daughter of German immigrants, Mary became a first-generation college student earning an associate’s degree in secretarial science from LMC in 1980. She continued her studies earning a bachelor’s degree at Siena Heights University in 1989.

Mary was originally hired by LMC in 1983 as secretary of admissions, worked in public relations, and was executive assistant to the president. Her career trajectory changed with the inception of LMC’s Foundation. Topping her list of accomplishments is overseeing all 30 of the Winner’s Circle Auctions. The spring gala event, which started in 1988 to assist students with tuition, has since raised millions for scholarships and helped thousands attend LMC.

Mary was part of the team that raised $4.2 million to complete
LMC’s Mendel Center in 1992. Her efforts on the 10-year capital campaign helped pass the 2016 millage, and as part of the Campaign for Tomorrow project, she helped raise an additional $7.5 million
for the college. Those efforts helped fund LMC’s recent campus transformation and built the Hanson Technology Center and Welch Center for Wine & Viticulture.

In her tenure, Mary led 31 annual golf outings to support LMC Athletics, founded the Alumni Association, built alumni and donor databases, instituted the Breaking Barriers Mini-Grant program, and organized countless ribbon cuttings, groundbreaking ceremonies, campaigns, and receptions.

Mary Klemm

Mary Klemm

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Candice Elders
Lake Michigan College
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