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Palo Alto University Leadership

Maureen O'Connor President of Palo Alto University

Maureen O'Connor, PhD, J.D., President

Maureen O’Connor, PhD, J.D. is the president of Palo Alto University (PAU) which specializes in Psychology and Counseling. Prior to joining PAU, Dr. O’Connor held multiple roles at the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City over a period of 18 years.

Dr. O’Connor completed a PhD and J.D. in a dual degree program in psychology, law, and policy at the University of Arizona and clerked for the late Honorable Patricia Wald, then Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prior to launching her academic career. 

An American Psychological Association (APA) Fellow, she has held numerous governance roles in APA, including as Chair of its Task Force on Human Rights. She has been active in the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI/APA Division 9) for many years, including serving as its President. Recent work focused on evidence-based pedagogy development for doctoral students, and on innovative mentoring strategies. Her 2019 book, Teaching Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach (2019), with co-authors Drs. Jill Grose-Fifer and Patricia Brooks, was published by Wiley Press. 

She is a member of the 39th class of the American Leadership Fellows program in Silicon Valley and serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

Dr. O’Connor believes in a distributed leadership model- where leadership is not just a position, but a shared responsibility that empowers all to thrive and contribute.The foundation of distributed leadership and inclusive excellence is at the heart of PAU's strategic plan, reflecting her commitment to fostering a collaborative and diverse environment.

Highlighting her dedication to the principles of effective leadership, Dr. O’Connor recently shared her insights on the "To Lead is Human" podcast in an episode titled "Sharing Leadership."

"Building a strong leadership team is about finding talented and entrepreneurial thinkers and creating a harmonious symphony of diverse talents and perspectives. I am incredibly proud of the inclusive excellence that underpins our strategic plan and the collaborative spirit of our leadership approach." - Maureen O’Connor, PhD, J.D.

Provost Cameron

Erika R. N. Cameron, PhD, NCC, ACS, Provost & Vice President, Academic & Student Affairs

Dr. Cameron comes to PAU from the University of San Diego where she has served in progressive administrative and leadership capacities since 2009. She earned her PhD in Counselor Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.   She holds a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Hawaii and her bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Bradley University where she was a Division I volleyball player. She has written and co-authored a book, book chapters, and articles on Multiculturalism and Social Justice in Counseling, Counselor Professional Development, and Individual Psychology. She was the 2020 recipient of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s Counseling Vision and Innovation Award.   Dr. Cameron’s research interests have focused on multicultural counseling competence development of counselors through short-term study abroad. Dr. Cameron describes her scholarship as inherently and purposefully multidisciplinary in the fields of mental health counseling and therapy, consisting of three primary interrelated themes: multicultural competence, crisis and trauma, and professional development. Dr. Cameron regularly presents at state, regional, national, and international professional conferences and enjoys presenting with graduate students.   In her clinical work, Dr. Cameron has worked as a school, career, and mental health counselor with a variety of clients but specializes in work with children who have experienced trauma and utilizing expressive therapeutic interventions in school counseling. She is an active member of the American Counseling Association, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and the American School Counseling Association and is the past president of the Western Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors.
Patricia A. Zapf, PhD, Vice President of Business Innovation & Strategic Advancement

Patricia A. Zapf, PhD, Vice President, Business Innovation & Strategic Advancement

Patricia A. Zapf, PhD is Vice President for Business Innovation & Strategic Advancement at Palo Alto University (PAU). By connecting academia with the broader business and innovation ecosystem, the Division of Business Innovation & Strategic Advancement plays a crucial role in driving growth and innovation while fostering collaborations between the academic institution and external partners. Prior to her current role, Dr. Zapf served as the Vice President of Continuing and Professional Studies, after bringing her professional training company, CONCEPT, to Palo Alto University in 2018. Dr. Zapf founded CONCEPT Professional Training in 2009 with the mission of elevating the level of practice in psychology and related professions.   Prior to coming to PAU Dr. Zapf was a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) for 16 years, during which time she was instrumental in the development of a new doctoral program in clinical psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology and served as the program’s first Director of Clinical Training. Prior to her time at CUNY, she was on the psychology and law faculty at the University of Alabama.   Dr. Zapf is a past President of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS; Division 41 of the American Psychological Association). In 2006, she was named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a Distinguished Member of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the science and profession of forensic psychology. She currently serves on the board of directors for the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services (IAFMHS), and as the book series editor for the International Perspectives on Forensic Mental Health series. She served as an associate editor for Law and Human Behavior for more than a decade and as the editor of the American Psychology-Law Society book series for 10 years. Dr. Zapf has published 10 books and manuals and more than 100 peer reviewed publications on topics related to forensic evaluation, criminal competencies, ethics, bias, and forensic psychology.


Jeanine Hawk

Jeanine R. Hawk, Chief Financial Officer & Vice President, Finance & Operations

Jeanine R. Hawk has over 25 years of senior level administrative experience in non-profit and higher education organizations. She has held roles in senior leadership including as CFO, acting chancellor, vice-chancellor, and vice-president. She has considerable leadership experience in strategic planning, budget, accounting, IT, human resources, advancement, facilities operations, planning and development (including urban campus development), advocacy, dining and event services. Her experience and commitment to supporting underserved populations within a social justice framework informs her perspective to resource allocation. In addition to her community college and university experience, Dr. Hawk has served as adjunct faculty at Napa Valley College, Holy Names University and currently at UC Berkeley Extension.   She has previously served as a K-12 board member, Puente mentor, and founding board member of the Josephine County Human Rights Alliance, which addressed anti-LGBTQ legislation and hate speech in Southern Oregon.   Dr. Hawk received her bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of California, Irvine, her master’s in business administration from Southern Oregon University and her doctorate in Higher Educational Leadership from San Francisco State University.
Melanie Morrison at Palo Alto University

Melanie Morrison, Director of Board & Presidential Operations

Melanie Morrison brings over 10 years of experience in Higher Education to her role as Director of Board and Presidential Operations at Palo Alto University (PAU). She provides operational support and manages special projects for the President's Office. Additionally, Melanie serves as the Secretary to the Board of Trustees. Melanie began working at PAU in 2011 in the Office of Academic Affairs as an Administrative Assistant. She later became the Executive Assistant to the Dean and then the Executive Assistant to the President.   Melanie is an alum of the inaugural class of the BS in Business Psychology Program at PAU and received her Masters in Business Administration from Notre Dame de Namur. She is a Bay Area native that enjoys hiking in the woods, baking delicious treats, and rooting for the San Francisco Giants