This year's Tappen Award winner: Kendall Markley

Sylke Krell and Laurel Hilliard

Aug 14, 2023

Two women stand against a brick wall smiling and holding an award plaque.

Each year, the Wexner Center for the Arts gives an award to an exemplary staff member, which was created and named in honor of past Wex staffer Mark Tappen, the center’s first membership coordinator. A welcoming, provocative, fun, generous, and adventurous spirit, he had an ability to find joy in every moment that still embodies what we aspire to in our work. This October marks the 30th anniversary of his passing.

Tappen was instrumental in launching the Wex. His love of working with the public and alongside his colleagues led to a gift to the Wexner Center Foundation that established the award in his name. Tappen was also part of a generation of people in the LGBTQ and arts communities that was severely impacted by the AIDS crisis. As his obituary notes, “Mark was an active participant in AIDS awareness and efforts before his illness and during the time he lived with HIV/AIDS. He was particularly dedicated to rallying the arts community to the cause of AIDS awareness in this time of crisis.”

The process for selecting each year’s Tappen Award recipient begins with nominations submitted by fellow staff members, which are then reviewed and discussed by a cross-departmental committee. There were many great candidates from across the Wex. Ultimately, Design Director Kendall Markley, who’s been with the Wex since 2018, was chosen as the honoree.

Below, you can read what Laurel Hilliard, the Wex’s digital content editor and a colleague of Kendall’s in the Communications and Marketing Department, wrote in their nomination of Markley for the award.

Laurel Hilliard on Kendall Markley

Since I started working at the Wex, Kendall has been a vital member of my team and the center as a whole. Her initiative and determination to create positive change across the institution, despite the many challenges, is undeniable. 

[In the time] we have been without a marketing director, Kendall has and continues to step up to the plate and lead the team with her decisiveness, innovative ideas, optimism, and resolve. Taking on much-needed project management and strategic planning on top of leading the design team, Kendall received a well-deserved promotion to director of design, emphasizing her unwavering dedication to improving our ability to work together to make the Wex a better place for the community and our fellow staff members. She makes a concerted effort to make connections and communicate effectively across departments to ensure we all have what we need to work and thrive together.

Not only is Kendall an incredible asset to the work we do, but she is also an incredible human being, with so much compassion, empathy, humor, and talent. Most importantly, she works adamantly to ensure the center works toward reaching its DEAI goals—on and off the clock. 

Kendall not only offers unmeasurable support to me and my team in our work, but also emotional and service-oriented support beyond work. Whether baking goods for the team, organizing team-building activities, giving thoughtful gifts, taking folks out to lunch, or teaching others how to navigate insurance and retirement and other confusing HR matters, she is a loving, caring, fun, adventurous, spirited person who serves as a mentor, friend, and colleague. Kendall embodies everything that a Tappen Award winner should, and I hope she will be recognized for her value to the center and everyone whose lives she touches.


Top of page: Design Director Kendall Markley with Executive Director Gaëtane Verna; photo: Sylke Krell

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