As Chief Advancement Officer, Melissa Conner is the architect of the Foundation’s Advancement Team - which includes the resource development, communications, technology development, and fiscal sponsorship departments. Conner’s passion for communications and stakeholder engagement and her expertise in aligning philanthropy and other resources with the mission of the organization has helped bring in more than $50 million annually to support key programs and services directly benefiting California Community College students, faculty, staff, and the system as a whole.
Since joining the Foundation in 2006 to lead the organization’s communications efforts, Conner’s entrepreneurial mindset, strategic leadership, and communication and technology acumen have helped shape the successful growth of the organization. Conner has also led the cultivation of major partnerships with funders and partners throughout higher education. Conner has partnered closely with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to raise support for large-scale, systemwide student success reforms, beginning with securing philanthropic support for the California Community Colleges Student Success Initiative in 2009, then for the development of the Success Center for California Community Colleges in 2014, and, most recently, for the system’s current adopted reform framework, the Vision for Success: Strengthening the California Community Colleges to Meet California’s Needs.
- Working hand-in-hand with the Chancellor’s Office, raised more than $10 million in philanthropic support for implementing plans to achieve the Vision for Success
- Lead the implementation of award-winning communications, outreach, and design campaigns, including the organization’s branding, recognized by a national gold award from CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education)
- Oversee the launch of user-centered technology initiatives, including helping to launch the nation’s first fully online community college, raising $5 million in philanthropic seed funding to conduct early research and design
Prior to joining the Foundation, Conner served on the Los Angeles Film School’s executive team, in addition to teaching English at both the university and high school levels. She is a board member of Sacramento’s Capital Stage theatre company.
Conner holds a master of arts in English from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Georgia, where she graduated summa cum laude, Honors Program, and Phi Beta Kappa.