Katy O’Connell

Katy O’Connell
Katy O’Connell

Katy has won multiple communications awards from the National Federation of Press Women and the Delaware Press Association, and is a leader both at the University of Delaware and across a national network of Sea Grant programs. She has worked with colleagues on a wide range of advisory boards and committees, where her insightful observations are always welcome.

Age: 37

Director of Environmental Public Education

University of Delaware, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, and Delaware Sea Grant

Newark

Social media you can’t live without:  Twitter is my favorite; I’m a complete “twit.” I like the steady stream of news, inspiring content, and opportunities to network.  I find it the easiest way to stay up to speed on the latest in science communication topics and tactics, and engage with like-minded professionals. 

Your biggest break: While nothing really jumps to mind as a “break,” I think that my leg up was being encouraged by my parents and advisors to take advantage of internships and opportunities while I was in college. I met so many people, had so many diverse experiences, and was prepared to jump right into full-time employment when I graduated.

Best career advice you ever got: A colleague once shared with me some advice that had been passed along to her: “You might be able to have it all, but you might not be able to have it all at once.” It really made me consider how to plan my career as a long-term process, and to balance personal and professional commitments. 

How you give back: It is most rewarding for me to give back in a more private way because my professional life is all about making things public. I like to offer my skills to those who I see in need of help self promoting — small business owners in my community, my church, my children’s extracurricular activities, our local Odyssey of the Mind teams — by writing newsletters, designing publications, helping set up websites, and establishing social media presences.

Your biggest challenge: Even as scientific advances continue to give more information and insight into local and global challenges, somehow society has developed a lack of trust in science. My biggest challenge is finding ways to provide factual scientific content, while engaging scientists and non-scientists in fruitful dialogue and common understanding.

Networking group you use the most: At the University of Delaware, I co-chair our Coordinated Communications Council, comprised of 30-plus professionals who are tasked with internal and/or external messaging at the university. It is a talented team of people with myriad backgrounds, experiences and connections, and their combined expertise and connections are extremely valuable. 


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