Biography Of Executive Director John O'Connor
John O'Connor is a seasoned executive with extensive management, fundraising, strategy and advocacy experience in dynamic foundation, corporate and nonprofit organizations. With over 15 years in cause-related work and a strong record of accomplishment, O'Connor is an excellent choice to lead Equality California into its next chapter.
As the Executive Director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, O'Connor planned and executed a complete turnaround and restructuring of the organization with strong results of solvency, sound financial management, enormous budget growth, a more engaged board of directors with considerable new blood, an expanded mission, a new identity, a dramatically improved reputation and robust new programming. A broadly expanded counseling operation with multiple, multi-year capacity-building grants, a youth suicide prevention program operating in the local school district and the SAGEWorks job training program operating as a national model are striking examples of that success and its positive impact on the community.
Previous to The Center, O'Connor was the founding director of The California Hall of Fame and the Deputy Director of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. O'Connor's role began by producing all aspects of The California Hall of Fame institution as he managed key strategic relationships with major stakeholders, celebrities, board, corporate partners, community leaders and the media. He went on to take a leadership role with Maria Shriver and senior staff transforming the emerging museum from having been an insolvent $800,000 operation to a well-managed multi-million dollar operation with professional staff, wildly heightened press visibility, new programming, diversified and sustainable funding, and skyrocketing attendance. Under his direction, the Museum also developed and implemented successful press campaigns and achieved extensive regional, statewide and national media coverage.
At the Gill Foundation, O'Connor directed over $7 million annually in grant making and operating programs as National Director. In addition to the role as a top national funder of LGBT issues, the programs under O'Connor's direction included the Democracy Project voter list enhancement program, pilot "get out the vote" efforts in Michigan and Florida, and a successful Fortune 500 advocacy program for domestic partner benefits.
As Program Director of David Geffen's foundation and the manager of charitable giving for DreamWorks SKG, O'Connor oversaw in excess of $10 million of strategic charitable giving to LGBT and progressive causes.
Born in Princeton, NJ, O'Connor attended Georgetown University, and while there learned the powerful role that public policy plays in daily life. The early '90s were a pivotal time for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizing and AIDS advocacy, and O'Connor participated in both local and national advocacy efforts. His experiences gave him both the drive and the tools to embrace a career in cause-related work.
An Eagle Scout, a marathon runner, a five time AIDS Ride participant and a triathlete, O'Connor is currently in the process of relocating from Palm Springs to Los Angeles with his Great Dane canine companion Olive.
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