RENEE CONNOLLY is the Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer and Head of Innovation HR Engagement & Inclusion at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, where she drives the strategic advancement and cultural implementation of the company’s global DE&I efforts at an enterprise level. With a passion for this critical area, she aims to deliver a state-of-the-art business model for DE&I, empowering the global organization to move the needle — for the € 17.5 billion business, for 58,000 employees across 66 countries, and for customers, the community and patients. Connolly’s focus is on the intersection where DE&I efforts support the company’s purpose alongside employees’ professional goals.
In her nearly 18 years with the company, Connolly has been a driver of change, builder of teams and nurturer of culture to support the global business and its employee base. In her previous roles at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Connolly served for eight years as global head of Communications and Business Markets / Services for the Life Science business, leading the business’s internal communications for 23,000 employees, as well as its external communication, corporate brand strategy, community affairs, sustainability and corporate responsibility programs. While in this role, in 2015, Connolly spearheaded the communication strategy for the € 14.5 billion acquisition of chemical giant Sigma-Aldrich — marking the largest acquisition in the company’s history and one of the largest in the life science industry.
During this time, she also launched the Life Science business’s SPARK™ global volunteer program and signature Curiosity Labs™ program, which inspires students to explore STEM careers through hands-on education. Prior to that, she served as vice president of U.S. Communications for the Healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Before moving to Massachusetts, as a native New Yorker, she spent the first nine years of her professional career in New York City, working in public and investor relations in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and life science industries.
Connolly enjoys contributing to organizations focused on building better communities, supporting young women professionals and encouraging future scientists and engineers. She likes to donate her time and passion to causes such as oncology research and creating hopeful tomorrows for at-risk children and families. She is a board member for the International Women’s Forum – Massachusetts, the American Cancer Society’s New England Region chapter, Massachusetts Conference for Women and the Home for Little Wanderers.
Connolly has also been involved in the American Diabetes Association and she has been a member of the MassBioEd Foundation for over 10 years, five of which she served as chairwoman to the board. She is a past recipient of the Working Mother of the Year award from Working Mother Magazine and of the American Cancer Society’s Cindy Lombardo Service Above Self Award for her support in the fight against cancer.
Connolly earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ithaca College. She and her husband, Scott, are parents to four children (three sons and a daughter) and live in the Boston suburbs.