Jackie O’Neill, who has spent nearly a decade as staff director in Massachusetts Hall, has been appointed director of communications and external relations for the Allston Initiative. She began her duties this week.
O’Neill will be responsible for implementing and overseeing a comprehensive communications and external relations plan for Harvard’s future development in Allston, keeping a wide variety of audiences abreast of the long-term planning progress and the new opportunities it presents. The Allston campus, which will fulfill Harvard’s unmet space needs in the long-term and support the growth of knowledge and research expected in the decades to come, requires a shared vision of the future for the Allston community, the city of Boston and the University.
“With planning for Allston looming as one of the most complex and multifaceted challenges facing the University, we are very fortunate to have someone of Jackie’s skill, intelligence, diplomacy, and experience willing to take on this vital new role,” said President Lawrence H. Summers in his announcement. “As a longtime senior member of Harvard’s community affairs office, and through her engagement in numerous civic pursuits in Boston and beyond, she has developed strong relations with many individuals and groups in our neighboring communities, and strong insights into how the University and our neighbors can work constructively together.”
O’Neill has held a number of roles in more than two decades at Harvard. Most recently, as organizer of presidential operations, O’Neill orchestrated an array of major University events, from presidential installations to the special convocation for Nelson Mandela in September 1998. She has also served two presidents and the provost as staff director. Prior to her arrival at Mass Hall, O’Neill spent 13 years in the Office of Community Relations as director of community relations and later as associate vice president for state and community affairs.
“I’m very excited to be working on an initiative that represents the shared future of Harvard and the vibrant community of Allston,” said O’Neill, who will work closely with Kathy Spiegelman, University planner and director of the Allston Initiative, and Alan J. Stone, vice president for Government, Community and Public Affairs, and their staffs. “I’m especially pleased to be working with a fabulous team as we share our understanding of Harvard’s future space needs, the progress of the ongoing collaborative University-community planning process, and the opportunities that Harvard’s development will offer Allston.”
“Jackie is the perfect person for this position because of her deep understanding of Harvard, her broad work experience and her engagement as an active community leader,” said Spiegelman. “She will be an essential and vital part of the Allston Initiative team.”
O’Neill, a longtime Boston resident, is a trustee of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, co-chair of the Women’s’ Health Leadership Forum, chair of the board of McBride House (a residence for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS) and a member of the board of Project HEALTH, a nonprofit organization created by Harvard undergraduates to help needy children overcome obstacles to good health. She also served as an appointee of both Gov. Dukakis and Gov. Weld on the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education.