Featured Speaker

Jess O’Connell

Jess O’Connell

Former CEO, DNC and Executive Director, EMILY’s List

Jess is the founder and CEO of JOC Strategy Group where she works with organizations to develop and align strategic planning, professional, and organizational development to produce winning results. For nearly twenty years, she has worked to advance progressive policies and to elect Democrats all over the country. She’s held senior positions with Hillary Clinton, EMILY’s List, the Center the American Progress, the US Global Leadership Coalition, ONE, and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Most recently, Jess served as the CEO at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) where she oversaw an historic reorganization and created a new mission and purpose for an institution that traditionally focused on one election every four years. During her tenure, the team doubled, the DNC raised $67 million and Democrats won elections across the country, including 36 state legislative flips from red-to-blue and record-breaking statewide victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama. Jess also served as spokeswoman for the DNC with CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and more.

O’Connell joined the DNC from EMILY’s List (EL), the largest political organization and resource for women in the United States, where she was the Executive Director. She helped lead EMILY’s List to historic increases in membership and fundraising from 3M members to over 5M and $90M raised in 2016. O’Connell oversaw the largest independent expenditure program in the organization’s history.

O’Connell joined EMILY's List from the influential think tank Center for American Progress, where she served as a Senior Vice President & Chief of Staff and managed the day-to-day operations and worked on projects ranging from income inequality to the White House Summit on Working Families. Prior to that, O’Connell served as National Field Director for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition organizing more than 400 NGOs, academic institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and military Generals in support of international budget priorities and smart power.

For five years, O’Connell served as volunteer founder and CEO of Youth Trek, a non-profit organization, that worked to promote the character development and self-discovery of underserved girls in Washington, DC. Through travel experiences focused on careers, culture, and community, Jess planned and led trips from DC to Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia to meet with women leaders from Nike, Coke, Getty Images, CARE, Alvin Ailey, NBC Today Show, Ralph Lauren, the Centers for Disease Control, and many others.