a family affair
O'Connors -- Kellogg grads all -- prove that good people make
good business leaders
Clockwise from top left: Jim O'Connor Jr., Fred O'Connor,
Elizabeth O'Connor, James J. O'Connor Sr.
can be defined as a group of people related by blood and history,
but it can also refer to a community of individuals who serve
a shared goal. In the case of the O'Connors, a family may
fit both definitions.
Jim and Elizabeth -- two brothers and a sister -- prove that
the spirit of volunteerism remains alive and well. It's a
philosophy they learned from their parents, cultivated as
students at Kellogg, and brought into their work and after
graduation. As Fred O'Connor '86 recalls of his Kellogg days,
"when you needed a volunteer, 10 people would raise their
sat well with Fred, who learned about giving to the community
at his father's knee. James J. O'Connor was president, CEO
and chairman of Commonwealth Edison for 20 years, and despite
the demands of his position he found time for community service.
grown up on Chicago's South Side, James Sr. never forgot neighborhood
life, and passed on his love for the city to his children.
Today, Fred, Jim and Elizabeth all work for Chicago-based
firms. And all three are active volunteers. "Each of
us agrees on how to lead a good life, which impacts how to
be a good manager," says Fred. "It's leadership
by example. A big part of growing up watching my father was
learning civic responsibility. Kellogg's community really
is part of the reason Kellogg is establishing a faculty chair
in the name of James O'Connor Sr. Dean Donald Jacobs explains
that he and Exelon CEO John Rowe decided that O'Connor merited
the honor. "We concluded this would be a wonderful thing
to get done for Jim," Jacobs says. "He's helped
Kellogg, the Chicago community and people everywhere."
involved in the gift include Ariel Capital Management, Bank
One, Chicago Tribune Co., Corning and Unicom. The chair is
scheduled for naming and inauguration before summer.
in his father's footsteps, 38-year-old Fred remains involved
with Kellogg and the city. A partner with the consulting firm
DiamondCluster International, Fred serves on the Kellogg Alumni
Advisory Board as well as on the boards of Chicago Cares Inc.
and City Cares of America.
Elizabeth '98 has drawn inspiration from her father and her
mother, Ellen. "I don't know how they do it," she
says. "My father leveraged his corporate position to
make Chicago a better place and helped causes he felt passionate
about. My mom is just as tireless."
30, as senior manager of corporate development for Tribune
Co., develops the company's mergers and acquisitions strategy
and worked on its $8.5 billion acquisition of the Times-Mirror
Co. Still, she finds time for volunteer work with the Field
Associates, the Field Museum's "younger" board,
which 34-year-old Jim Jr. '96 started before he and his wife
had twins. "I guess I just like starting things,"
says Jim, a managing director for the internal venture capital
fund Motorola Ventures. "I saw an opportunity there that
would benefit the museum, and I got a lot of my Kellogg friends
has chaired the group's gala ball for the last two years.
She's also vice chairman of the Steppenwolf Theatre auxiliary
board, and she sits on the Lyric Opera's auxiliary board --
another group that Jim was instrumental in founding.
has become an extension of the O'Connor family's life. Fred
discovered his DiamondCluster opportunity through Kellogg
connections; Jim married his Kellogg '96 sweetheart and Elizabeth
met her fiancé through a Kellogg friend.
Elizabeth says, "Kellogg gave me the confidence to feel
I had enough knowledge about every aspect of business not
to feel outsmarted by anyone. Personally, I know the friendships
I made will last for life."