Jesse O’Connell

Articles by Jesse

Jesse O’Connell is a former strategy director for federal policy at Lumina Foundation. He led the development and advancement of the foundation’s federal policy priorities to increase the share of adults nationally with college degrees, certificates, or other credentials of value.

Before joining Lumina, O’Connell served as the assistant director for federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. He began his career as a financial aid administrator at Georgetown University.

O’Connell has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgetown, where he was an All-American track and field athlete.

More from Jesse

States have to step up to help colleges face the coming budget storm

American higher education is in the eye of a hurricane. When the pandemic hit last spring, campuses were buffeted by the frantic transition to remote instruction, lost revenue, and emergency spending on health and safety measures. The country made it through the tough early months with unprecedented cooperation between higher education leaders, faculty members, and students—all determined to chart a course through the storm. As limited relief arrived from the federal government, colleges and universities settled unsteadily into a new reality.

How to Build a Post-Pandemic America

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency created in 1935 to address the nation’s then-worst economic catastrophe, is getting a fresh look as we think about how to help millions of Americans left jobless in the pandemic. There’s a good reason for why. During its eight-year tenure, the WPA put more than eight million Americans to work on more than a million projects of public interest. These federal workers built roads and dams and electrified rural communities long-denied that necessity of modern life. Others were put to work creating public spaces, public art, and swelling the ranks of crucial service-sector jobs.

Distance education matters more than ever: Let’s be sure we focus on the learning

Like most crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a whipsaw effect. On one hand, it’s wildly disruptive and distracting, reordering our routines and upending every aspect of normal life. But sudden upheaval also brings the opportunity to challenge long-held assumptions about the status quo. It resets our priorities, strips away the non-essentials and forces us to focus—often on what’s right in front of us.