As we count down to our AADC 100th Anniversary in June 2022, we recognize the contributions of so many people to the growth and success of our organization and its ability to connect alumnae. Our “Legacy of Leaders” series highlights just some of the many people whose dedicated work has been indispensable in getting the AADC to this magnificent milestone.
Published on May 11, 2022
Margaret A. “Marty” Gillis, Class of 1975, is a trailblazer, dynamic businesswoman and community leader who contributes to the strength of our AADC alumnae community. Marty became the first in her family to graduate college when she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History Education from Douglass College. She went on to earn a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Rutgers Graduate School of Business in 1980.
Her career path began at General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), where she was the first African-American woman Company Field Representative. She later joined Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company as a management trainee, becoming the first African-American woman accepted into the program. Through determination and success, she worked her way up to become one of the first African-American female vice presidents.
Nearly 30 years ago, Marty made a pivotal decision to leave a promising career in banking to successfully complete the franchisee program at McDonald’s Hamburger University in 1993. She accepted her first McDonald’s store in Neptune, NJ, in 1995, where she put her business acumen to remarkable success, nearly doubling sales. Today she is the owner and operator of some 20 McDonald’s stores with sales of over $65 million.
While she continues to build on her success as a businesswoman and contributes to the communities where she lives and works, Marty has remained active with the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College. She is a member of the AADC Black Alumnae Network. Marty is on the AADC 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee. She is a consistent supporter of the AADC Annual Appeal and member of the Mabel Smith Douglass Leadership Circle. Marty has shared her desire to help future generations, including during moving remarks she delivered at an AADC Benefactors event. She established the Gillis Prize through the AADC that benefits Douglass Residential College students from certain central and southern New Jersey counties who are affiliated with the Paul Robeson Cultural Center and are majoring in math, science or business.
In 2019, Marty was inducted into the AADC Society of Excellence. In 2020, the AADC nominated Marty and she received a New Jersey Women of Achievement Award from the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC and Douglass Residential College. In the greater Rutgers community, Marty serves as a member of the Rutgers Board of Trustees. She was inducted into the Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame, Inc., in 2016.
Marty has made significant contributions to strengthen the African-American community and supports numerous programs and events in her community, including local Little Leagues, Pop Warner sports, Neptune’s Night Out and more. She established scholarships at her McDonald’s stores for employees and for students at her high school. She is the first woman to serve as Chair of the African-American Consumer-Market Committee. She has received numerous awards, including multiple NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Community Service Awards, a National Associate of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Award, Neptune Education Foundation Award, U.S. Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition, and a McDonald’s 365Black Award.
As an alumna, business owner, community leader and advocate, Marty is an outstanding example of our “Legacy of Leaders,” a series that highlights the achievements and dedication of alumnae as part of the AADC’s 100th anniversary celebration year.