DNC Announces CEO Jess O’Connell

The Democratic National Committee today announced Jess O’Connell has been named CEO of the national party. Jess joins the DNC from EMILY’s List, the largest political organization dedicated to electing women in the United States, where she served as Executive Director. 

This announcement is the latest transition update under the leadership of DNC Chair Tom Perez. The DNC is focused on strengthening the organization, growing collaboration with progressive partners, and better serving the 57 state and territory parties and Democrats abroad. O’Connell will oversee the day-to-day operations and the organization-wide restructuring. 


“Jess has an impressive progressive track record and I am honored that she will lend her talents to rebuilding our party and electing Democrats,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “She knows that we as a party need to get back to basics. We need to organize in every zip code and better communicate our message of inclusion and opportunity. We know what happens when Democrats don’t win, because we are bearing witnesses to the chaos and harm to working families that results with Republicans at the helm. Jess’ experience as a grassroots organizer and as a leader who has helped hundreds of Democratic candidates win up and down the ballot will be particularly valuable as we gear up for critical elections in 2017, 2018, and beyond.” 

“Every single day we are witnessing unprecedented activism and excitement across our nation,” said Jess O’Connell. “I am thrilled to join the fight at the national party to make sure we translate this moment into a movement, and a movement into votes. The DNC has incredible potential and, under the leadership of Chair Perez, I’m ready to jump in and help make this organization more inclusive, effective, and influential. We are poised to build a foundation for a new Democratic Party in every state to jump-start a wave of Democratic wins from school board to Senate nationwide.”


As Executive Director for EMILY’s List, O’Connell helped lead the organization to historic increases in membership and fundraising from 3 million members to over 5 million, with $90 million raised last cycle. O’Connell oversaw the largest independent expenditure program in the organization’s history.

Under her tenure, EMILY’s List provided some of the electoral bright spots for Democrats over the past four years. O’Connell helped elect the most diverse Congress in history – quadrupling the number of women of color elected to the United States Senate and over half of the new Democratic women elected to the House were women of color. At the state & local level, O’Connell built programs to elect 269 women. She traveled to nearly 20 states speaking on behalf of candidates. During this time, with the support of EMILY’s List, Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman nominated for President from either party. In response to the 2016 election, O’Connell helped launch Run to Win, a national campaign that has already recruited over 12,000 women to run for office since election day. 

O’Connell joined EMILY's List from Center for American Progress, where she served as a Senior Vice President & Chief of Staff and managed the day-to-day operations and worked on projects ranging from income inequality to the White House Summit on Working Families. Prior to that, O’Connell served as National Field Director for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition organizing more than 400 NGOs, academic institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and military Generals in support of international budget priorities and smart power.

For nearly twenty years, O’Connell has worked to advance progressive policies and to elect and raise money for Democrats all over the country. She began her advocacy work in Colorado where she served as the 1st woman Director of the AIDS Walk, the largest in the Rocky Mountain region. She went on to work on Congressional campaigns in CO, IL, and returned to her home state of Arizona to manage a race that turned AZ-01 from red to blue. In 2007, O’Connell joined the senior team for Hillary Clinton for President as the National Director of Operations, where she directed the day-to-day operations of the national campaign. She’s also held senior positions at the Children’s Defense Fund and ONE.