Maureen O'Connor, President, Palo Alto University

President Maureen O'Conner Headshot

Maureen O’Connor, Ph.D., 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 Ph.D. 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.


Erika R. N. Cameron, Provost and Vice President of Academic 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 Ph.D. 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.

“I am deeply honored to be appointed to the position of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs of Palo Alto University,” said Dr. Cameron. “I was drawn to PAU by the extraordinary faculty and dedicated students, excellent academic programs, and the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion. I look forward to working with all members of the university community to continue to provide students with the best education and training, and ensuring that PAU remains at the forefront in the fields of psychology and counseling.” 

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.  


James Breckenridge, Chief of Staff & Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Analysis, & Planning

Chief of Staff James N. Breckenridge, PhD, is Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Analysis, & Planning, Palo Alto University. Dr. Breckenridge chairs the Educational Effectiveness Committee, which advises the Provost on the effectiveness of PAU academic programs and their alignment with the University’s strategic priorities. Dr. Breckenridge is also responsible for administrative oversight of the Gronowski Center, where he has been a strong proponent of multicultural services, such as La Clinica Latina.

Dr. Breckenridge is Palo Alto University’s Academic Liaison Officer to the regional accrediting agency, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and a member of the WSCUC Substantive Change Committee.
After twenty-five years of service, Dr. Breckenridge retired from his position as Chief of the Psychology Service at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and joined Palo Alto University in September 2005. For the next seven years, Dr. Breckenridge served as Co-Director of Clinical Training of the PGSP-Stanford Consortium. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has been a Consulting Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Since 2001, Dr. Breckenridge's academic interests have centered on social-psychological processes that have potential to augment or diminish political conflict. Dr. Breckenridge is currently Vice President of the non-profit educational Foundation for Peace and Justice and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. He has served as principal investigator on a variety of funded research projects investigating social and psychological processes related to responses to the threat of terrorism, risk communication, and Americans’ appraisals of national security policies and institutions. He directed a grant from the National Science Foundation to evaluate psychological measures for detecting deception and for improving national security evaluations, which was part of a broader effort intended to guide Congressional priorities for future research. Dr. Breckenridge was the Principal Investigator on a Medical Response Corps grant funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an evidenced-based psychological of early response to acts of terror. Along with nineteen other academics and twenty Government personnel, Dr. Breckenridge participated in the Summer Hard Problem Program (SHARP) sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In a classified setting, SHARP explored implications of factors that cause individuals or communities to coalesce into terrorist movements.

Patricia Zapf, Vice President for Continuing and Professional Studies

Patricia A. Zapf, PhD is Vice President for Continuing & Professional Studies at Palo Alto University (PAU). Prior to coming to PAU she 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. In 2009, Dr. Zapf founded CONCEPT Professional Training with the mission of elevating the level of practice in psychology and related professions. In 2018, Dr. Zapf brought CONCEPT Professional Training to Palo Alto University to further its mission of continuing and professional studies in partnership with Palo Alto University.

Dr. Zapf is a past President of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS; Division 41 of the American Psychological Association).  In 2006, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the science and profession of forensic psychology, she was named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a Distinguished Member of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS). She has served on the board of directors for the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services, as an associate editor for Law and Human Behavior and as editor of the American Psychology-Law Society book series, as well as the International Perspectives on Forensic Mental Health book series.

Camille Watson, Vice-President, External Affairs

Camille Watson, Vice-President represents External Affairs on the President’s Cabinet, and oversees the strategic direction and overall management of External Affairs department.

Camille comes to us with over 25 years of experience in marketing and general business management in the areas of consumer packaged goods, e-commerce and healthcare industries. She has worked at Procter & Gamble and The Clorox Company, served as director of marketing at Netflix, Inc, and later held the position of vice president of marketing at Stubhub, Gamefly, and LivingSocial. Her interest in health and wellness led to positions as chief marketing officer for Rally Health and JumpstartMD. Camille currently serves on the Board of Directors of TechSoup Global. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology and MBA from Stanford University.She also has a degree in professional cooking from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. 

Anne Farrah, Director of Development

Anne has extensive knowledge of the philanthropic landscape of the Bay Area. Her career has been dedicated to supporting schools and nonprofit organizations for over 25 years, and she brings a long-standing record of leadership, achievement and success in the nonprofit sector.

Prior to joining PAU, Anne served as the Chief Advancement Officer for Mercy High School, where Anne led an advancement team that included development, alumnae engagement, parent relations, and marketing and communications. Before that, Anne served at the University of San Francisco as the Director of Development for the School of Nursing and Health Professions as well as the graduate School of Education, overseeing all major gift fundraising. At USF, Anne managed a portfolio of high-net-worth individuals and strengthened the long-term philanthropic relationships between the schools and prospective donors. She also focused on building a strong donor pipeline in preparation for USF's $300M comprehensive campaign.

Anne also worked as a Major Gift Officer for the College of Health and Social Sciences at San Francisco State University, and as the Director of Development for 826 Valencia, a high-profile nonprofit organization focusing on developing writing and literacy skills in children ages 6-18, and as the Director of Community Relations for Seneca Center (now Seneca Family of Agencies), a statewide nonprofit organization which is a leading innovator in the field of education, community-based and family-focused mental health treatment services for children and families.

She holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and was a member of Leadership San Francisco, a community trusteeship program sponsored by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Anne is a fifth-generation San Franciscan, and is an active volunteer in the community. She lives in San Francisco with her family.

Melanie Morrison, Director of Board and 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.