A Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility: Truist Distinguished Leader of Merit Liliana Denneen

A raucous applause echoed through Rice Pavilion on March 28 when Liliana Denneen’s name was announced as the Truist Distinguished Leader of Merit. She took the stage with a bright smile and shared her remarks on her leadership journey. Now we’ll dive even deeper into Lily’s Crummer experience and learn more about her passion and goals for her future. 

Lily is a 3/2 student, finishing up her undergrad at Rollins and diving right into her MBA with Crummer, finishing up in five years. She always knew that she wanted to pursue a business degree and work in the realm of business. “I liked being able to save a year so I can start my journey sooner and get into the business world as soon as possible,” she said.   

Taking advantage of the many opportunities here at Crummer, Lily participated in a variety of offerings. She is a graduate assistant to Dr. Greg Marshall, the Charles Harwood Professor of Marketing and Strategy, helping him with the textbooks he is currently authoring. She is also the community chair for Early Advantage MBA Cohort 41 which is part of the MBA Association and requires her to assist with organizing events for the cohort. Lily participated in the nonprofit leadership board track and worked with the Arbor School of Central Florida, which is a school for children with autism and other learning disabilities. In addition, she completed a global consulting project this past semester where she went to Italy to work on the project with students from an Italian MBA program. Lastly, Lily is a student liaison on the Crummer alumni board, interacting with alums and representing the current student body.  

Besides her classes and extracurricular activities, Lily also has an internship with Visit Orlando. She pitches ideas for different blogs then ultimately writes the articles and posts them on their website. She focuses her writing on promoting different attractions in the greater Orlando area. Lily also completed a research project for Visit Orlando, analyzing upcoming travel trends for 2025. She created a presentation on her findings to help the org get ahead of what industry leaders are predicting. Interestingly, she found one surprising trend: people are now booking travel based on astrological events. So when there is an eclipse or folks want to go star gazing, they are booking hotels with the best views. Lily was able to share this with Visit Orlando to help them plan for the future. 

In order to be considered for the Truist Distinguished Leader of Merit recognition, students must complete a leadership project. Lily’s project was with the Arbor School of Central Florida, and the idea came up when they recently acquired a new building. The school must move out of their current building and into a larger, newer facility this October. Naturally, there are expenses associated with moving, especially moving an entire school, as well as upsizing. Arbor School decided to launch a capital campaign to fund the project, making a special fundraiser just for this particular need. With Lily’s background in marketing, she was able to jump right in and assist in marketing the campaign, crafting social media posts, and helping to find donors. She completed a copious amount of background research as well on capital campaigns in general, successful campaigns nationally, and on successful campaigns locally, sharing her insights to the executive director of the board.   

With everything that Lily is involved in, she has experience and insights into what the essential qualities of an effective leader are. “Empathy is the biggest one. A leader needs to understand both the professional and personal goals and the challenges people are facing and figure out how to inspire each person.” Lily also emphasizes the importance of being willing to continuously learn—finding opportunities to gain new skills, whether it’s an extracurricular activity for a student or training sessions as an employee, are imperative to professional growth. She also believes that seeking feedback from those around you and not being afraid to get honest answers is another characteristic of a skilled leader.  With her extensive involvement, Lily embodies the qualities of an effective leader, living out these principles with each experience.  

When it comes to business, Lily is passionate about corporate social responsibility (CSR)—figuring out how large organizations and businesses can better adapt their business strategy to have a positive impact on society, the world around them, and the physical environment. “I enjoy learning about how to implement CSR goals into the framework of a business and using business as a force for good.” Lily first became interested in CSR in undergrad when she majored in social entrepreneurship and started looking at a business through the triple bottom line—people, profit, and planet. She also credits the strategic corporate social responsibility class she took with Dr. Keith Whittingham.  

Another thing Lily is passionate about is women in business. She recently wrote an article on Women’s History Month for Visit Orlando, sharing all the events that celebrate women in the Central Florida area. When asked how we can get more women into leadership roles in businesses, Lily emphasized the importance of early education, getting middle and high schoolers involved in extracurricular activities that are geared specifically toward women, especially ones focused on business. “We need to give that focus to young women and help them see that these opportunities are available and help open doors to industries primarily dominated by men.” She also stressed the importance of interacting with leaders who are women, whether they are guest speakers or mentors. Lily herself currently has a Crummer mentor who is a woman on the alumni board who has helped guide her journey.  

After graduating, Lily will be headed out to sunny California to work in Walt Disney’s corporate office in the corporate social responsibility department, focusing on volunteering and events. She’s always wanted to work for Disney and her Crummer mentor was able to help her since she also works for Disney. Lily is sure to do well with all the skills she’s gained at Crummer and through the leadership roles she’s taken on. 

As Liliana Denneen basks in the glow of her recent accolades, her journey through Crummer has been nothing short of extraordinary. From her tireless dedication to various leadership roles to her passion for corporate social responsibility and advocacy for women in business, Lily exemplifies the qualities of an exceptional leader. As she prepares to embark on her next adventure at Walt Disney’s corporate office, Lily’s Crummer experience has equipped her with the skills, insights, and determination to make a meaningful impact in the world of business and beyond. With her boundless enthusiasm and unwavering commitment to positive change, the future is bright for this remarkable leader. 

To learn more about the Center for Leadership Development and their programs, visit their web page