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Mark Verone ’95 and Rachelle Hardy DDS ’95

Mark Verone, Rachelle Hardy, and FamilyFor Mark Verone ’95 and Dr. Rachelle Hardy ’95 the connection of Syracuse University in Chicago holds special significance. After all, it’s how they met. And it laid the foundation for their marriage and family.

Verone and Hardy were students at the same time, but they didn’t know each other. Pursuing a telecommunications management degree at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Verone spent a lot of time working in radio on campus at Z89 (WJPZ-FM) and off-campus at WSYR-AM and Y94FM along with his fraternity Kappa Sigma. And whenever Hardy took a break from her biomedical engineering studies at the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, she enjoyed serving as a student ambassador in University 100, and activities with her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta.

After they graduated, Hardy moved back to Chicago—her hometown—to attend dental school. Verone, a Syracuse native, relocated to Chicago four years after graduating through a job transfer but realized he didn’t know that many people in the Chicagoland area. When he discovered the SU Alumni Club of Chicago (then Windy City Orange) Verone connected with Hardy—and a community of other alumni, parents, and friends—sharing their common love for everything Orange.

Today Verone is Director of Ad Operations and Content Management for Gogo, a global leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions.  Before he joined the company in 2011, Verone spent six years as Director of Partner Marketing Operations for Orbitz Worldwide, where he was responsible for managing a global team of advertising operations specialists in addition to various roles in radio marketing and promotion and interactive digital media.

“Everything I’ve done in my career can be tied back to Syracuse University, and my hope is that future generations have a similar opportunity,” Verone says. “That’s why it’s so important for alumni to give back.”

For Hardy, owner and founder of River Pointe Dental where she runs two dental practices in the Northwest Suburbs, it was one professor who made all the difference. “I enjoy giving to the Karen Hiiemae Fund, because it was Dr. Hiiemae who convinced, inspired and helped me get into dental school,” she says. “Dr. Hiiemae changed the course of my professional career, and I’m grateful for that.”

The couple supports the University in a variety of other ways too. Verone serves on the Chicago Regional Council and as the incoming Vice President of the National SU Alumni Association Board. And thanks to Hardy’s positive experience at her own New Student Send-Off, she and Verone have hosted the annual event in their home for more than a decade.

“This event is critical, because it places a giant SU in Chicago hug around incoming freshmen and first-year students and their families as we welcome them into the SU community.  It was at my freshmen send-off where I met a good friend that lasted through my time at Syracuse and our subsequent return back home to Chicago,” Hardy says. “At the same time we make sure the students know they always have a home in Chicago upon completion of their studies.”

Living in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago with their two sons, Verone and Hardy hope SU’s local presence continues to grow, and they’re happy to see the University commit a staff of Windy City natives to SU in Chicago. “We, as alumni, can always do a better job of getting involved, and the more robust our community grows, the better it’ll be for the University and the whole city,” Verone says. “We hope that SU continues to invest in Chicago with additional programming, and that alumni do their part to ensure future generations are afforded the same amazing opportunities.”