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Rising Star Award

Each year, the McCombs School of Business is pleased to present two young alumni with the Rising Star Award. Honorees are acknowledged at the annual Hall of Fame ceremony. We present this award to alumni who have been successful professionally, and have helped strengthen the McCombs Alumni Network. These are graduates who have presented themselves as consummate professionals and dedicated business people. Congratulations to this year's honorees!

2017 Rising Stars

Marissa JarrettMarissa Jarratt

BBA '99, MBA '04
Vice President and Head of Marketing
Dean Foods

Marissa Jarratt is the vice president and head of marketing for Dean Foods Company, a position she was appointed to in July 2017. In her role, she leads the growth strategy and implementation for Dean's brand management, shopper marketing, innovation, and consumer insights functions.

Prior to joining Dean Foods, she worked at PepsiCo as vice president of Global Marketing, where she drove the fully integrated global snacks portfolio transformation vision for PepsiCo's Performance with Purpose 2025 Agenda to make products better for people and the planet, leading a cross-functional team to implement game-changing industry solutions, and communications plan.

Marissa held a variety of senior marketing leadership roles at PepsiCo, including establishing the first-ever growth strategy for PEP's $1.58 global premium snacks portfolio, leading PepsiCo's Global Marketing Capability Program Management Office, Frito-Lay 's Inn ovation Portfolio for National Brands and New Platforms, Frito-Lay's Multicultural Strategy and Portfolio of Products, and leading the turnaround of the Immediate Consumption Portfolio and Emerging Channels businesses, a $4.48+ group of businesses comprised of snacks across all Frito-Lay brands.

She has extensive brand management experience, having led a variety of brands and portfolios to sustainable growth. She has been recognized for her work externally in 2014 as a "40 Under 40" Brand Innovator and in 2009 as a member of the team recognized with the Advertising Research Foundation's Gold Ogilvy Award for excellence in strategic advertising for repositioning the Cheetos brand, and internally, as "Marketer of the Year" in 2011 for her work rebuilding the Immediate Consumption business.

Prior to business school, she worked in corporate finance for Nortel Networks and founded and operated a web design firm, multiple designs. She received her MBA from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and a BBA in Finance and BA in Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin.
Marissa is married to Jon and together they have a 6 year old son, Henry. They live in Plano, Texas.

Kurt LeedyKurt Leedy

BBA '02
Ridgemond Equity Partners

Kurt Leedy is a principal at Ridgemont Equity Partners, a middle-market private equity fund with more than $2 billion of capital under management, where he invests in growth companies in the technology and telecommunications sectors. He sits on the boards of directors of Unite Private Networks, Cross River Fiber, J5 Infrastructure Partners, and Simpleview.

Before joining Ridgemont in 2005, Kurt began his career in the Dallas office of Bain & Company, a leading strategy consulting firm, where he advised clients in the retail, manufacturing, and airline industries.

He graduated in 2002 with Highest Honors from The University of Texas at Austin, receiving degrees in Finance and Spanish. He received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with Highest Honors and was a Palmer Scholar.

Kurt has been an active alumnus of McCombs, serving as the founding chairman of the BBA Advisory Board and a founding member of the FAP Advisory Council. He has returned to judge many undergraduate case competitions and has served as a mentor to students over the past several years. He serves on the Finance Committee of the Wesley Rankin Community Center, a non-profit supporting an underserved community in Dallas.

Kurt lives in Dallas with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, riding motorcycles, playing mediocre golf, and mixing a proper old-fashioned.

Rising Star Honorees


Marissa Jarratt
BBA '99, MBA '04

Kurt Leedy
BBA '02

T. Mark Whatley
MBA '04

Ashish K. Gupta
BBA '00


David Busker
MBA '07

Jack Nelson
BBA '98


Scott Mattei
MBA '95

Vivek Shah
BBA '03


Jeremy Smitheal
BBA '94, MBA '03

Cindy Lo
BBA '98


Ryan Oliver
MBA '06

Dominic Sung
BBA '03


Matt Chasen
MBA '04

David Anthony Murrell
BBA '01


Daniel B. Nelson
B.A. '96, MBA '06

Matt Polze
BBA '99, MPA '99, J.D. '03


M. Christina Clayton
BBA ’02, MBA ’06 (University of Oxford)

Gregory H. Johnson
BS ’84 (Air Force Academy), MBA ’05


Holly Goodrich McMullan
MBA ’04


Tony Rogers
BBA ’90, MBA ’97


Ted Wang
MBA ’96


Jeff Hoogendam
MBA ’95

Page last updated: 5/27/2015