Maureen O'Connor, PhD, J.D.

Maureen O'Connor PhD President of Palo Alto University



Contact Information:
(650) 433-3895


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.