The Marco Polo Award


Established in 1971 by the SATW board, the Marco Polo award is one of the two highest honors the Society can bestow upon an Active, Associate or Emeritus member who must have rendered extraordinary service to the Society and made major contributions to its development. The Past Presidency of SATW, an office that can be held only by Actives, is the Society’s highest honor for an Active, making Past Presidents ineligible for MP status.


Marco Polo Selection Criteria


There is a profound difference resonating from a body of work performed by Marco Polo candidates that separates them from other Society volunteers. Although many members may volunteer their services in various capacities at the Chapter, Council and Society levels, they may not create compelling legacies to mark their years of service, a necessary requirement for the Marco Polo award.


A member eligible for Marco Polo status should have produced an exceptional body of service that helps shape the Society and allows it to embark on new or better pathways that result in greater Society productivity and growth. Some examples of building a legacy could be in the form of operations manuals and guidelines, marketing or professional development strategies. Essentially, a Marco Polo candidate builds a body of work that provides a platform for new volunteers to build upon.


Marco Polo candidates must have had at least 10 years of exemplary, diverse and impactful service in SATW prior to being considered for a Marco Polo nomination.


Because this is such a high honor, unless the Board of Directors and Marco Polo Selection Committee believes extraordinary circumstances exist, it is recommended that only one Marco Polo be given each year. In some years, there may be none.

Marco Polo Nomination Process


  • Nominations may be made by Actives or Associates who have been members of SATW for at least five years. Emeritus members may also nominate candidates. Announcements that the Marco Polo nomination process is open will be  communicated through the SATW e-News and private SATW Facebook page.
  • Each Marco Polo sponsor should develop a two- to three-page letter or email including such fundamental information as: the Marco Polo candidate’s name and date of joining; a detailed record of the person’s exceptional service, keynoting highlights; documentation of this service; along with any supporting evidence.
  • A Marco Polo sponsor should not request third-party letters or emails of support on behalf of a candidate. The Marco Polo candidate’s record should stand on its own. The Marco Polo candidate should not be contacted or be aware that he/she is under consideration.
  • All letters of nomination (with supporting materials) should be sent to the Marco Polo/Past President Selection Committee chair, Kim Foley MacKinnon at [email protected].
  • Any Marco Polo candidate failing to be awarded a Marco Polo designation may be reconsidered in future years.


Marco Polo designees and Past Presidents are considered SATW members for their lifetimes, provided there are no Ethics and Conduct violations that would cause their removal. Their collective institutional memory and their continued service to the Society make them valued and respected. They are not required to provide additional qualifications in the biennial membership requalification review, and they may list clients and media outlets up to the timing limits imposed in the directory.