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The Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy (MNCWTA) would like to introduce Bill O'Connor, our communication specialist.

Bill has been with the University of Minnesota since 2005, initially working in the Orientation & Transition Experiences office. Prior to that he provided project management for the Family Services department at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Bill splits his time between the Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy (80%) and the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (20%). For the Training Academy he leads the communication strategy for this partnership with the Child Safety and Permanency Division at the Department of Human Services (DHS). Originally from Tennessee, Bill earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from the University of Tennessee, and later a Master of Public Affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

  1. How long have you been working in your field? I started my undergraduate studies in broadcast communication and advertising, but in my junior year discovered interpersonal and organizational communications, and wanted to understand all the dynamics of human communication.
  2. What do you enjoy most about your work? I like solving problems, and so many problems go back to communications. It is very satisfying to figure out what obstacles are preventing the success of a project, then helping to find solutions and help people move forward.
  3. What are you surprisingly good at? In the mid-90's I had a friend who wanted to take a pottery class, but didn't want to do it alone, so I signed up to join her. She never showed up for class, and I stayed with it for eight weeks and struggled to learn to center a pot of clay on the wheel. Eventually I learned and became a fairly decent potter. I have studied at studios in California, New York, Tennessee, and Minnesota.
  4. What do you like to do outside of work? I like watching my 9-year-old vacillate between the temper tantrums of an adolescent and longing for the complexities and drama involved with being a teenager. I enjoy walking my 14-year-old border collie as she takes her time smelling the neighborhood. And I love reading trashy mysteries before bed.
  5. What else should we know about you? I started with the Training Academy in January 2020, and would love to help create open and accessible communications for all of our stakeholders, staff, and child welfare professionals throughout Minnesota. I believe this work is important, and want to be part of its success.