About Marlene

Marlene Hetzel Palmerson was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago.  Her family home was always filled with friends coming together to celebrate.  It was here that Marlene learned the importance of solid relationships. She carried this knowledge throughout her career in the meetings industry.  

From the days of greeting passengers off charter flights to managing all aspects of travel for clients, Marlene developed her many relationships with care and love.  While working with International Travel Service (ITS), Experient and onPeak, Marlene became known for her kind hearted, compassionate nature and for always putting client relationships first. These same qualities carried over to her personal life as well, who as a dedicated wife, mother, sister and friend was loved by many.  Throughout her life, Marlene was always involved in numerous programs and activities, mentoring many over the years, and offering her services wherever needed.  Marlene possessed immense integrity, a great sense of humor, and a passion for the meetings and hospitality industry.

As the mother of two young daughters, Marlene was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She kept her disease private, only sharing it with an inner circle.  While Marlene remained positive, maintaining balance as both a businesswoman and mother as she went from treatment to treatment, proved to be a constant struggle.  Marlene sadly lost her battle with cancer in May 2010, but her generous spirit continues to be remembered and appreciated by all who knew her.  This is why the Friends of Marlene have partnered with the Maggie Daley Center – to provide a one-stop, “concierge” approach to help women battling cancer.

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Gilda's Club Chicago Partnership

Gilda's Logo

Friends of Marlene is pleased to announce that as of July 1, 2017 we will exclusively partner with Gilda's Club Chicago.  We have had seven great years of fundraising on behalf of Northwestern Memorial Foundation, The Maggie Daley Center and The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.  We will close our formal relationship with Northwestern having raised $500,000. Having funded many different supportive services at Northwestern, one that we will continue to financially support and are most proud of is the "Patient Notebook".  This has become an essential tool for patients, providing critical information and a place to chronicle the patient journey. We are deeply grateful to Northwestern for their support and great work. We are delighted to broaden our scope of support to include not only cancer patients, as well as their families friends and caregivers, through our relationship with Gilda's Club Chicago. To learn more about Gilda's Club Chicago:  Click Here    

Friends of Marlene Cheer at 24th Annual Cancer Survivors' Celebration Walk & 5K

Each year Friends of Marlene make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer and their families by supporting our cheer-team's fundraising efforts for the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University!

Again on June 4, 2017, our Team joined in the Lurie Cancer Center’s 24th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration Walk & 5K. Our goals are to honor and celebrate cancer survivors, inspire those recently diagnosed, accelerate vital research to prevent, detect and treat cancer, and improve the lives of patients after treatment ends.

Great job Team Marlene!

To financially support our cheer-team: Click Here

2017 Lurie Walk

Welcome Associate Committee

The Friends of Marlene welcomes our new Associate Committee.  The group will bring innovative new perspectives to our fundraising and awareness building.  Thank you to this enthusiastic new group.

Jennifer Kimball, Chair

Mandy Marneris, CMP

MJ Meisenheimer

Maddie Metcalf

Cassie Niespodziewanski

Annie Palmerson

Kristina Simkins

Kelly Snyder, CMP

Maddie Wehking

Joe Wilush

Inaugural Golf Outing Raised Over $85,000

On October 3, the Friends of Marlene hosted the Inaugural Golf Outing at Stonebridge Country Club.  88 golfers, sponsors and Friends of Marlene enjoyed an outstanding event which included a post-golf dinner.  Our sincerest gratitude to all who participated and especially our sponsors.  For a full list of event sponsors click here.

golf check

Golf Logo

Save the date for next years outing - Monday October 2, 2017

Stonebridge Country Club, Aurora Illinois

For more Information about sponsorship opportunities and foursomes contact:


Financial Achievement                                                       

As of March 1, 2017, The Friends of Marlene have raised over $450,000 in support of comprehensive cancer care at The Lurie Cancer Center of Northwestern Medicine.  

Annual Giving

We recognize and thank those who have supported the Friends of Marlene. Thank you

For a complete list of donors click here


Thank You to onPeak, our Founding Sponsor 

Since the Friends of Marlene began its work, onPeak has generously provided both financial support and in-kind service each year. Thank you!