Eleven successful University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduates have been chosen to receive top honors for 2023 by the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In the months leading up to Homecoming—during which they’ll be honored at an on-campus ceremony—we have introduced you to these outstanding alumni. The full list of award winners is available here.
Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a business administration degree in 1993, John Krajnak’s career with Six Flags Great America has just kept going up and up.
The marketing major worked his way through the ranks from senior account executive, regional sales manager and general sales manager to marketing director and, finally, park president.
On Oct. 27, Krajnak will be among the seven honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards for their widely recognized accomplishments in their professional fields.
Brett Petit, former Six Flags chief marketing officer, said as Krajnak rose to higher levels of leadership in the company, he inspired others every step of the way.
“I worked with John over the past decade while at Six Flags corporate headquarters, and I can promise you that there is no finer leader, partner, businessman, family man or proud alumnus than John Krajnak,” Petit said.
“My conviction comes as I reflect on his many positive contributions that extend beyond what’s expected and are rooted in giving more of himself to inspire others. His greatest success may be his guiding hand that helps train and mold the continual flow of thousands of young people passing through the theme park business, and motivating them at an early age so they can learn, grow and be successful later in life.”
In nominating Krajnak for the award, Theresa Krajnak said her husband became known as the “go-to” director who top executives could rely on for insight. His broad experience in the company prepared him to step in when the president of the Chicago parks died unexpectedly in 2022.
David Major, former manager for entertainment with Six Flags, said during that time Krajnak was able to “lean on his education to step into places where most would be unable to adapt or overcome.”
“To see John discuss problems and guide potential leaders to solutions is a marvel to behold. His ability to question without judgement and direct without force is second to none,” Major said.
Today in his role as park president, Krajnak is responsible for five theme and water parks, which generate over $195 million with an annual attendance of over 4 million.
He said his education at UWO prepared him well for his career.
“The complement of marketing and finance has proven to be a dynamic combination for me,” he said. “The marketing and finance departments are often at odds. Marketing looks to spend the money that finance doesn’t want to give up. Having a strong solid foundation of the two areas helped grow my credibility related to my peers,” he explained.
Krajnak said he is most proud professionally of introducing new capital projects at Six Flags, including new shows, rides or large-scale events.
“Being able to pull our various teams together, which includes sales, marketing, operations, maintenance, public relations, entertainment and culinary departments, for the media launch is incredibly satisfying,” Krajnak said.
One of his fondest achievements was the successful launch of a new rollercoaster known as Goliath in 2014, which broke three world records and received “tremendous” local and national media coverage.
“It became an instant favorite of coaster enthusiasts and fans of our theme park,” he said.
Krajnak has always been professionally and personally invested in his community. He has served long stints on the Gurnee Chamber Board of Directors and the Visit Lake County Executive Board, co-chaired a capital campaign at St. Alphonsus Parish and coached youth football, among other volunteer activities.
He also takes great pride in seeing how his three children have become “wonderful young adults.”
“Raising children who are compassionate, fun and hard-working takes effort,” he said. “I am confident that they already have made the world a better place and will continue to do so.”
The 2023 Alumni Awards Celebration on Oct. 27 will be held at the Culver Family Welcome Center, with a reception at 5 p.m. followed by the dinner and program beginning at 6 p.m. The cost of the event is $40 per person. For more information, contact UWO’s Alumni Relations Office at (920) 424-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register for the Alumni Awards Celebration here.
- UWO journalism grad, now working ‘dream job’ at Meta, earns Outstanding Young Alumni Award
- Jeffery Gerritt earns Distinguished Alumni Award for outstanding career in journalism
- Professional success, nonprofit work earn journalism grad a Distinguished Alumni Award
- 11 alumni to be honored for their accomplishments at Alumni Awards Celebration