Diary of a Wimpy Kid Author and Former Chief Security Officer for the NBA to Deliver Commencement Addresses

Anthony Proia, Director of Media Relations

March 21, 2023 — Best-selling author of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and cartoonist Jeff Kinney will address traditional undergraduates of the Class of 2023 at Marist College’s Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20 on the Campus Green. Adult undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students will be honored the night before, with esteemed Class of 1998 Marist alumnus, Jerome Pickett, serving as Commencement speaker.

Image of Jeff Kinney, Photo by Filip Wolak
Photo of author Jeff Kinney by Filip Wolak


Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is a realistic fiction comedy geared for children and teenagers and his first book was released in 2007, just as today’s undergraduates were entering elementary school. The book series has remained on the New York Times children’s series best-seller list for 750 weeks and sold over 275 million copies globally. The series has won awards from around the globe, including two Children’s Choice Book Awards and six Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for Favorite Book. The hit series also was developed into feature films. The most recent film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules, was released last year.

During Commencement ceremonies, Kinney will also receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marist. 

Kinney was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world in 2009. He is also the creator of Poptropica, a website where millions of children have explored and played games to learn history and develop problem-solving techniques. He and his wife Julie, a Marist alumna, co-own an independent bookstore near their home in Massachusetts. 

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to address the Marist College Class of 2023,” said Kinney. “My wife, Julie, was a member of the Class of 1990, and her experiences at Marist helped shape her into the wonderful person she’s become. It will be an honor to share my own perspective and experience with a motivated group of students who will become future leaders and innovators in this country.”


Graduate speaker to receive Distinguished Alumni Medal

Image of Jerome Pickett
Jerome Pickett ’98/’22MBA


Pickett ’98/’22MBA will serve as commencement speaker at the ceremony for adult undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students, and receive the Distinguished Alumni Medal, the highest award given to a Marist graduate.

Pickett served for 17 years as a special agent within the United States Secret Service, which included participating in search and rescue operations at Ground Zero and serving on the protective details for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Pickett later served as executive vice president & chief security officer for the National Basketball Association where he led all aspects of the league’s global security operations.

Pickett is the founder of Synth Advisory Services and serves as board director for Magnet Forensics and is also a member of the Marist College Board of Trustees.

“Marist College has been an important part of my life for nearly three decades, first arriving on campus as an undergraduate, then having the honor of serving on the Board of Trustees and now receiving my master’s degree,” said Pickett. “I am very honored to address the Class of 2023 and to receive this prestigious award.”


“We are thrilled and honored to have Jeff and Jerome as part of our commencement services to celebrate the Class of 2023,” said Marist College President Kevin Weinman. “Each has a lengthy record of impressive accomplishments. Their life stories will resonate with our students, who I know will take away many important learnings from their addresses. We look forward to hosting them on our Poughkeepsie campus in May.”

About Marist College’s 2023 Commencement Ceremonies

Commencement events will stream live on the Marist website, If severe weather is forecast, Marist may make alternate arrangements based on weather conditions.

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