Meet Jen Gray-O’Connor, Coraggio’s New Associate Principal

By Jen Gray-O'Connor

We are pleased to introduce our newest Coraggian, Jen Gray-O’Connor. Jen joins our team with many years of experience as a community engagement, project management and research consultant. As a community engagement specialist and trained facilitator, Jen has developed equity-centered engagement strategies that respond to the needs of diverse stakeholder groups and has worked extensively with clients to develop strategic communications. We are excited about the depth of experience and unique perspective that Jen brings to the team. Meet Jen and learn why we are pleased that she decided to join our team.


What were you doing prior to Coraggio?
Before joining Coraggio I spent several years as a community engagement project manager and research consultant. I worked with clients to create communication plans, facilitate focus groups and public events, perform interviews, administer surveys, and analyze data. I also worked for several years in local government, managing communications and public input in the City Manager’s office.

What excites you about working at Coraggio?
I am delighted to join the team at Coraggio to work alongside bright and committed people who are improving our understanding of how organizations can add value to their processes, rethink systems, improve internal culture, and grow in their diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.

What are some of the biggest influences on your thinking?
I think like a sociologist, and most of the theories that I use to think about my work is informed by the practice of looking at social and cultural mechanisms that enable or constrain our individual experience of the world.

Share with our readers something that you are personally passionate about.
Social Justice. I’ve spent 20 years researching structural inequalities and working to elevate community input in public decision-making.  I am committed to the idea that social change is possible, and that removing the barriers to participation in public deliberation and debates is one of the ways to ensure a more just and inclusive world.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I grew up around farming and now tend my own little urban farm in Portland. I love growing my own food and the practice of tending a garden.

What’s your personal motto?
I am deeply moved by the work of Octavia Butler. In Parable of the Sower she presents the motto: “All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change.” I find this quote so uplifting in reframing negative perceptions of change. My work in change management is founded on embracing change as a fundamental truth and motivating force in life.