O’Connor is a former fundraiser and nonprofit executive with 20 years of experience serving health, education, and social service organizations. She has led development teams to secure resources for new programs, capital campaigns, and endowments at national and community-based organizations. She earned her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation in 2008 and her Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) designation in 2020.
As a fundraiser turned academic researcher, O’Connor prioritizes applied philanthropic research that generates knowledge with direct and immediate implications for practice. Her qualitative and mixed-methods work focuses on women’s charitable giving, philanthropic decision-making processes, message framing in charitable appeals, and the intersection of social identity and philanthropic behavior. Her research has been published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector Marketing, Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In addition, she has authored chapters in two books, Teaching Philanthropy and Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (5th edition). Features on her co-authored research have appeared in Forbes and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
O’Connor has developed and taught academic and professional development courses in philanthropy and fundraising since 2013. She has designed curricula for The Fund Raising School at Indiana University, where she focused on translating philanthropic research into practical, applied knowledge for nonprofit practitioners and charitable advisors. O’Connor currently serves as an instructor for the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) designation at the American College of Financial Services. She received a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching from Indiana University in 2018 and was presented with a teaching award from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2019.
She is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), and the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR). O’Connor was recognized with the Emerging Scholar Award from ARNOVA in 2019.