Green Bay, Wis. — As UW-Green Bay’s Institute for Women’s Leadership moves into its second year of work to build an enhanced women’s leadership pipeline in Northeast Wisconsin, the University is expanding its commitment by naming entrepreneur and business owner Bridget Krage O’Connor as its inaugural Executive in Residence. O’Connor, owner and President of O’Connor Connective, a Wisconsin strategic communication and organizational marketing agency serving for- and non-profit organizations, was officially announced as Executive in Residence at the Institute’s first-year anniversary event on April 14.
In her new role, O’Connor will share her professional expertise with Institute staff, board and committees; provide counsel and advising related to the strategic direction of the Institute; assist with faculty research; lecture and conduct outreach to the business community. O’Connor’s unique professional experience in serving as a senior college administrator for over a decade paired with her business ownership and strategic communication consulting services make her an ideal collaborator between academic and business communities.
“I’m honored to serve as the inaugural Executive in Residence for the Institute,” O’Connor noted. “We all deserve an equal playing field. I look forward to having that conversation with businesses and the University. Together, we will find ways of further advancing women as we collectively advance the economic vitality of our state.”
In 2019, O’Connor and then UW-Green Bay Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven, were both independently envisioning the development of more women’s leadership resources in Northeast Wisconsin. O’Connor Connective launched its social enterprise, The Connective: A Place for Women in Business, to advance women leaders as a part of the company’s strategic communication and consulting services. At the same time, Van Gruensven and her UW-Green Bay colleagues began work on an Institute that would provide leadership development for women in line with the mission of the University. The two efforts came together in 2021 in what is now the Institute for Women’s Leadership.
According to Institute for Women’s Leadership Executive Director Janet Bonkowski, the addition of O’Connor as Executive in Residence underscores the University’s commitment to building important infrastructure to continue the Institute’s momentum. “Northeast Wisconsin has so many highly accomplished women leaders
who are getting involved with the Institute and are on fire to support and develop other emerging women leaders,” Bonkowski said. “They know that when women rise, our communities, businesses, families and organizations all rise.”
Chancellor Michael Alexander praised the advancement of the Institute for Women’s leadership and sees it as a natural extension of the University’s mission. “We are here to create access. Access to education. Access to opportunity. In this case, we believe the Institute for Women’s Leadership will bring men and women alike in conversation, education, and action to create a talented workforce our region depends upon to be competitive,” he said.
About the Institute for Women’s Leadership
UW-Green Bay’s Institute for Women’s Leadership is dedicated to engaging, inspiring and empowering the women leaders to ensure a strong and equitable leadership pipeline. The University established the Institute in 2021, recognizing the region’s growing need for a leaders and the distinct challenges faced by professional women in the workplace. The Institute is a comprehensive leadership resource committed to providing ongoing, forward-thinking networking, education, research and inspiration to support women and their organizations as they rise.
The Institute presents wide-ranging programs, events, and research, benefiting women with access to experts and supportive networks. Leadership certificate programs, a monthly speaker’s series featuring notable women throughout the area sharing their stories to leadership, monthly networking events, a women’s mentorship program, an annual leadership retreat, workshops and discussion groups will be offered to support women’s professional development needs. Equally important, the Institute works to increase communities’ knowledge and awareness of issues related to women in leadership and advance new knowledge about women and leadership in the State of Wisconsin through benchmarking data on women in business and research about women and leadership. More on the institute can be found at https://www.uwgb.edu/womens-leadership
About Bridget Krage O’Connor
Bridget Krage O’Connor is the owner and president of O’Connor Connective helping community-minded leaders align strategy, research, and marketing communications to achieve results. Her early career was at a public relations firm in Madison and architecture firm in Minneapolis. She studied change management and communication while working at the University of Minnesota, earning a Master of Liberal Studies degree. In 2002, she returned to her alma mater, St. Norbert College, and served as a college administrator, including vice president for enrollment and communications. In 2013, she launched O’Connor Connective.
O’Connor received the 2020 Small Business Association’s Wisconsin Women Business Champion award, and the Greater Green Bay Chamber’s Business Person of the Year in 2018 and Entrepreneurial Award in 2015. She’s served on the board of directors for Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, Green Bay YMCA, Green Bay Botanical Garden, and CollegeReady. She is an emeritus advisor for the Green Bay Women’s Fund, served on the marketing committee of the NEW North, is a member of P.E.O. Chapter N, and has lectured for the Center for Exceptional Leadership at St. Norbert College and the UW-Green Bay Nonprofit Leadership Certificate.
About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Established in 1965, UW-Green Bay is a public institution serving 9,276 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students and 95,000 continuing education learners each year. We educate students from pre-college through retirement and offer 200+ degrees, programs and certificates. UW-Green Bay graduates are resilient, inclusive, sustaining and engaged members of their communities, ready to rise to fearlessly face challenges, solve problems and embrace diverse ideas and people. With four campus locations, the University welcomes students from every corner of the world. UW-Green Bay is the fastest-growing UW school in Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.