Eileen O’Connor joined The Rockefeller Foundation in 2019 as the Senior Vice President, Communications, Policy, and Advocacy.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Eileen O’Connor was the principal at Garnet Group Public Affairs, specializing in crisis prevention, crisis management, litigation support, strategic communications, and executive positioning. She most recently served as the Vice President for Communications at Yale since January 2016, overseeing marketing, strategic communications, and crisis management for the entire university. Ms. O’Connor has a long and distinguished career in public affairs, law, and journalism, serving as deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia and senior adviser to the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. She received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School, and founded and led legal crisis management practices for several law firms in Washington, D.C., prior to being recruited to the Obama Administration.
As an attorney, O’Connor developed legal and communications strategies for Fortune 500 companies facing litigation or investigations in multiple forums, both in the U.S., Russia, Eastern Europe, and former Soviet states. She worked on white-collar criminal cases, defense of assets in Russia and Ukraine, mass tort cases, including vaccine defense and the settlement of 10,000 plus claims regarding injury from the rescue and recovery efforts after 9/11. O’Connor won awards for her pro bono work on asylum cases, criminal appeals, and human rights, including the Supreme Court case Samatar v. Yousef, where she oversaw the FSIA challenge of the plaintiffs claim against the former defense minister of Somalia for ordering the rape, torture, and murder of political opponents.
Earlier in her career, O’Connor was a journalist at ABC News and at CNN, where she served as a national and White House correspondent and was based in London, Tokyo, and Moscow, covering economics, politics, the fall of communism, Russian organized crime, and conflict throughout the world. O’Connor was awarded the Peabody, DuPont, Overseas Press Club, NY Film Festival Golden Eagle for Documentaries, Emmy, Cable Ace and National Headliner awards for her investigative and war zone work. In addition to her law degrees, O’Connor has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, also from Georgetown, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in World Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.