Danna O’Connell is the Miami Valley Chapter’s new Vice President of Development! Read below to learn more about Danna, her professional background, and why she wanted to work for the Alzheimer’s Association.
How long have you been working for the Alzheimer’s Association?
I have been with the Miami Valley Chapter for a week. Previously, I worked at the Northeastern New York Chapter as the Director of Development from 2005-2010 and again in 2012 and 2013 as a consultant.
What is your professional background?
I have spent my entire career raising money for a number of worthy organizations. When I was in college I interned for the American Lung Association of Northeastern New York and found a wonderful mentor. A few years after graduation, I went to work with her at the Association. I was with American Lung for six years before joining the Alzheimer’s Association. Since leaving the Northeastern New York Chapter, I have had a five year career in higher education with Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY and Earlham College in Richmond, IN. My experience in higher education has allowed me to develop new skills that I plan to utilize here for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Why are you drawn to the Alzheimer’s cause?
My grandmother had dementia and she lived with us while I was in high school. This was a trying time for our family, especially my mom who was the primary caregiver. The journey was emotionally and physically taxing on each of us and it was hard to care for someone that didn’t recognize you or acted in a way that was so out of character. We were not educated in the disease and that was confirmed when I began working at the Northeastern New York chapter. By this time, my grandmother had lost her battle with the disease. I was amazed by the programs that the Alzheimer’s Association provided. My mom and our entire family could of really used that support.
What has been your favorite thing so far about working for the Alzheimer’s Association?
Well in one short week, I have already had the opportunity to meet my new colleagues and to hear how passionate they are. Each one is dedicated and has set lofty goals for themselves in order to move the association forward in the new fiscal year. I have also had the pleasure to meet a dozen volunteers that are extremely enthusiastic and willing to assist us in a variety of generous ways. Needless to say, I am already in awe of everyone that I have met and I am excited to be part of the team.
What are you most looking forward to while working for the Miami Valley Chapter?
I hope to inspire others to give back however they can. There is so much that needs to be done and each person can make a difference.
If you could give one piece of advice to families affected by Alzheimer’s, what would it be?
To contact the Alzheimer’s Association as soon as you can. Our program staff will be able to assist you and support you through your journey. You are not alone and we are here to support you.
Finally – what is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
My husband, Terry, and I love to travel and enjoy life. We attend festivals, visit new places and try to see family in New York as often as we can. If we aren’t out and about, you will probably find us at home with a glass of wine and a jigsaw puzzle.