Geno McKenna: Man Behind the Successful Tritonfest


Payton Van Pelt, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Tritonfest is one of Notre Dame Academy’s most vital fundraisers, and in charge of it all is the Director of Events and Alumni, Mr. Geno McKenna.

“My main goal is to bring the Green Bay community, alumni and our current families together to raise money,” explained McKenna. “Tritonfest is Notre Dame Academy’s largest community-building and fundraising event.”

McKenna has been with the NDA community for two years. His role consists of managing and planning fundraising events such as the Golf Classic and President’s Dinner along with alumni events Senior Sendoff, Alumni Weekend, Grandparents Day and more.

“I wanted to continue in an educational setting,” said McKenna about coming to NDA.  “Having one child at NDA and three more to follow, I thought it made sense to me to be a part of the NDA family.”

McKenna’s daughter, Molly, is currently a senior at Notre Dame Academy.

“She often stops by my office, and it has been very rewarding being here while she is in school. The one thing I do not do is go by her locker. I did that once- well, maybe twice- and the reaction from Molly told me not to do that again.”

Coming from UWGB, McKenna is comfortable with the school atmosphere. His title was similar to his current one: Events and Community Relations Director.

“I would help the Chancellor with his fundraising events and build relationships with the Green Bay community,” said McKenna.

This aided him in taking on Tritonfest.

“Tritonfest is a special evening that directly supports NDA’s faith-filled education,” explained McKenna. “Funds raised at this event help to keep tuition down, to pay salaries and to build upon the tradition of college preparatory education Notre Dame Academy provides within the Greater Green Bay Area.”

Tritonfest occurs in February of each year and utilizes a small of army of volunteers to ensure the event runs smoothly.

The Tritonfest committee consists of 25 individuals who meet monthly. The committee is also broken up into smaller committees, one of which is the auction committee that reaches out into the community for donations and scholarships.

The committee is also the source of all Tritonfest ideas.

“We brainstorm on everything from sponsors, decorations, theme and auction items,” said McKenna.

Tritonfest experienced quite a change last year when the choice was made to move it to Notre Dame. McKenna also enabled mobile bidding that same year.

“With these two changes, we had to figure out how to make the Triton Center work for this event. It went so well last year that we kept most things the same,” explained McKenna. “The last two years have been two of the most profitable Tritonfests, so what we’ve got seems to be working.”

Tritonfest 2018 was a resounding success with 460 people attending. Although the numbers have yet to be totaled, it is estimated to have exceeded the goal of $300,000.

Tritonfest opens with Mass in the chapel. Then there are student performances, a beer tent and a silent auction prior to dinner. The emecees were Charlie Lemkuil (senior), and Abby Meyer (junior). They were praised for their great job at helping to engage the crowd.

Another interesting part of the evening was junior Mary Cortez speaking for the Fund Our Future part of the event.

“Mary spoke about students like herself that are able to attend NDA due to the generosity of the community. Many people cannot afford NDA, and the Fund the Future segment raises money specifically for these students. Mary and her sister Vanessa, NDA sophomore, took the stage. Mary spoke for about five minutes and did an awesome job. Following her talk, $53,000 was raised in 10 minutes to support students in need! I believe this may be a record.”

The live auction produced $87,000, which blew away the previous year by over $30,000 dollars.

McKenna’s favorite part of working at Notre Dame is knowing that he is working to make the school experience better.

“Fundraising and continually asking the community for money is always easy. I think if you did a survey most people would say they do not like to do it,” said McKenna. “What has made my job at NDA so great is the fact that I get to sell the exceptional experience our students receive from our teaching staff.  The response I receive back from donors and the community is amazing. They totally understand the value of  the NDA education, and I feel I’m basically the messenger.”