The Raymond L. Gardner Alumnus of the Year Award is awarded annually to an alumnus who best exemplifies the teachings of The Bond of Phi Delta Theta through his activities in higher education and community service.
Our 2020 recipient of the Raymond L. Gardner Alumnus of the Year Award is Brother John Costello III, Akron ‘68.
John Costello has over 30 years of experience in consumer products and services, retail, and technology. John currently serves as CEO of Costello Ventures since retiring as president – global marketing and innovation of Dunkin’ Brands, and previously served as the executive vice president of The Home Depot, chief global marketing officer of Yahoo, senior VP of Pepsi-Cola USA, CEO of MVP.com, and president of Nielsen Marketing Research US. He began his career at Procter & Gamble and rose to lead all advertising and marketing for the company’s Beauty Care Division. John Costello has been recognized as one of the most influential and innovative executives by numerous organizations and is one of the Top 10 Merchants by DSN Retailing Today. He also has significant governance experience, serving as a current or past director of Ace Hardware, Quaker Oats, The Bombay Company, Ring, Inc. (which was acquired by Amazon), GroundTruth, Inc. He is a current board advisor to Untuckit, WinView Games, and Linkwell Health.
John also has significant leadership experience in industry and nonprofit organizations. He is past chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association, the Association of National Advertisers, and the Advertising Council. John currently serves on the board and executive committee and chairs the Governance Committee of Yellowstone Forever. John also serves as co-chair, executive committee member, and Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival. He is a past director/trustee of The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Film Institute, and Georgia Aquarium. John has received several industry awards and honors, including being inducted into the Chief Marketing Officer and Retail Advertising Hall of Fames.
Brother Costello is a generous supporter of the University of Akron and the Ohio Epsilon Chapter. He established The John and Lia Costello Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Business at the University of Akron in honor of his parents. In recognition of a generous commitment to the building campaign, the director’s office in the Alexander Professional Development Center was named after John. He is a former member of the University of Akron Foundation Board of Directors and received the Dr. Frank L. Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award and an Alumni Honor Award.
John has been a presenter for the Fraternity’s virtual Phi Class, which provides valuable life lessons for undergraduate members. He is a generous supporter of the Phi Delta Theta Foundation. Together, he and chapter brother Roger Read funded the Costello-Read Leadership Center located at Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters in Oxford, Ohio, in honor of Ohio Epsilon. John and his wife, Janet, are also lead donors for our Foundation’s current campaign. They have three sons, Michael, Jeffrey, and Matthew, and two granddaughters.