Creativity and cooperation with Board Chair Dan O’Connor

COVID-19 is changing the way our communities gather, work, and lift each other up. But it is not stopping us. With 6 years of direct involvement in Neighborhood House’s programs, our Board Chair Dan O’Connor is ready to address the challenges of the pandemic head-on. We called Dan to chat about his goals for the Board of Directors, the challenges and changes of COVID-19 on the organization, and how Neighborhood House is uniquely positioned to adapt.


Dan O’Connor first partnered with Neighborhood House in delivering crucial services and programs when he helped organize an annual March Food Drive fundraiser at 3M where he works as senior legal counsel. Over the years, he evolved his role to serve other programs including literacy and adult education where he taught civics and English classes to our adult participants. He shares, “I’ve had the opportunity to grow and change my relationship with the organization, and that’s given me the chance to see, appreciate, and contribute to the great work that Neighborhood House is doing.”


Today, he serves as Board Chair and provides guidance and support for President Nancy Brady to ensure the organization is well-positioned. Right now, he and the board are focused on working through new challenges presented by the pandemic.

Dan explains that the Board of Directors and Neighborhood House staff leadership work together to ensure goals and resources are aligned to meet the needs of our communities. With the current pandemic, it’s more important than ever that the board and the staff of the organization use creativity and cooperation to meet this new demand.

“Our goals are adjusted to focus on the immediate issues of ensuring we navigate the pandemic while also still delivering high-quality services that we know are critically needed by our participants,” Dan says.

This means making a number of changes to how our programs operate. He emphasizes how well the organization has adapted to new working conditions like social (physical) distancing, virtual communication, and increased demand for services.

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One can pinpoint various moments throughout Neighborhood House’s history and no two will look alike. That’s because for more than 120 years, we’ve adapted to the changing needs of our community. At its core, Neighborhood House is a flexible, nimble organization capable of pivoting in even the most chaotic of times to continue being a resource for St. Paul neighborhoods.

And in the coming months and years—and even the next 120 years—we will continue to flex and bend to take whatever shape is needed to meet families’ needs.


But one thing that won’t change is our commitment to the community. “COVID-19 has reinforced the reality that we are a shared community,” says Dan. He explains that our work focusing on ensuring the success of all members of the community will create a stronger, more resilient community for all. And although we may operate our programs differently right now, our work helping families build economic and social well-being continues on.

If you’d like to join Dan and Neighborhood House in this work, you can donate your time or make a gift online.