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Heather O’Connor (She/Her)

VP, Research & Learning

Heather O’Connor, Ph.D., CAP®, is Vice President of Research and Learning at Daylight. She conducts and translates research on philanthropy and philanthropic advising to design learning opportunities that offer today’s advisors the knowledge and skills necessary to increase equitable philanthropic impact and democratize philanthropy for all. 


She has designed and taught courses on philanthropy for undergraduate, graduate, and professional development learners since 2013. Most recently, she has been on faculty at the Fund Raising School at Indiana University and in the graduate programs at Indiana University and Louisiana State University. 


Heather is passionate about translating research to inform practice. She integrates current, evidence-based research into curricula to give advisors practical insights that foster success. In addition, she conducts original, applied research on several aspects of philanthropic behavior and the philanthropic advising profession, resulting in new and unique insights for the Daylight Advisors community. 


Heather's research has appeared in several outlets for practitioners, including Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, Forbes, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. She has authored chapters in three textbooks, Teaching Nonprofit Management (2020), Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (2022), and Nonprofit Public Relations: A Critical Approach (forthcoming). Her academic studies have been published in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing, the International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, and the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (JNEL). 


She is a former nonprofit executive and a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) with more than 20 years of experience fundraising for health, education, and social service organizations at the national and local levels.


Heather is trained in the social sciences. She holds a Ph.D. in philanthropic studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University; a graduate certificate in adult learning and education, also from Indiana University; an M.S. in social service administration from the University of Chicago; and a B.S. in public relations from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation in 2008 and her Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® designation in 2020. 

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Heather O'Connor Philanthropic Advising
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