Communications V.P. Eileen O’Connor brings experience in public affairs, law, and journalism to Yale

Eileen O’Connor, who during her career has worked in public affairs, law, and journalism, has been appointed vice president for communications, President Peter Salovey announced on Jan. 4.

“In this role, which she begins today, Eileen will lead Yale’s Office of Public Affairs & Communications and serve as the university’s chief communications officer, directing our campus-wide internal and external strategies in this area,” noted Salovey.

O’Connor most recently served as deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia and senior adviser to the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. She lived and worked in Afghanistan, advising Ambassador Ryan Crocker and overseeing communications and public diplomacy strategy throughout the region.

She received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School, and helped lead the legal crisis management practices for several law firms in Washington, D.C., prior to being recruited to the State Department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, also from Georgetown, and a postgraduate diploma in world politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Earlier in her career, O’Connor was an award-winning journalist at ABC News and at CNN, where she served as a national and White House correspondent, as Moscow bureau chief, and in London and Tokyo. In this work, she covered politics, economics, the fall of communism, and conflict throughout the world. She is past president of the International Center for Journalists, educating members of the press and media in emerging democracies, and was chair of the Center for Justice and Accountability, suing human rights abusers in U.S. courts. She speaks frequently on journalistic ethics, Russian politics, violent extremism, and crisis management.

O’Connor is the mother of five daughters ranging in age from 19 to 26. She is married to John Bilotta, also an acclaimed journalist, who currently works as a public affairs and security consultant.

“In joining the Yale community, Eileen also assumes the responsibilities held by Elizabeth Stauderman until last June, when she was appointed vice president for communications at the University of Rochester,” said Salovey. “I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt appreciation to the members of the Office of Public Affairs & Communications for their excellent efforts and commitment to the university in an extended period of transition.”