North Central College - Naperville, IL

Gwendolyn Graff

Class Year: 
1994

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2009

Gwendolyn Graff ’94 has distinguished herself as a leader and innovator in the confectionary industry—a real-life Willy Wonka—primarily specializing in chewing gum. In her 10-year career with Amurol and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in Chicago, Gwen has become one of the top experts in her field, with a number of patents for her innovations.

A chemistry and biology major at North Central College, Gwen first landed a position as a research chemist analyzing samples in a laboratory. In 1999, she went to work as a chemist at Amurol Confections, a subsidiary of Wrigley, doing “blue sky” or futuristic research to create new products. After Amurol and Wrigley merged in 2003, Gwen managed a creative team of researchers who explored and developed new products. She had a hand in developing products that have subsequently become household names, such as Bubble Tape, Big League Chew, Squeeze Pop and Hubba Bubba. She continues to travel internationally to scout new products and in 2007 was promoted to technical principal, with responsibilities for training and advising.

Inspired by campus ministry and service programs at North Central, Gwen is an active volunteer and parishioner. She has chaperoned groups on mission trips with Habitat for Humanity and Mendenhall Ministries. For the last two years, she and her cousins have recorded a Christmas CD to benefit Misericordia.