Meet the Speaker
Daniel O’Connell, PhD, Executive Director, Central Valley Partnership, Quaker-Buddhist Perspective
About the Scholar
Years ago I was a Peace Corps volunteer in post-apartheid Namibia where I worked with the Hambukushu and San peoples along the Okavango River near the Angolan board.
My experience in sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in a post colonial context, animated me to understand, engage and work to overturn racism and white supremacy in California and the United States.
Since I had been an activist my entire life, I also sought new ways to meaningfully make progress and effectively catalyze or propel social change. So I began a decades long academic inquiry into these subjects. First at UC Davis, where I obtained my Masters of Science degree while researching social segregation and institutionalized racism in a rural farmworker community. Subsequently, I attended Cornell University for my doctoral degree in Education where I analyzed and theorized the work of “politically engaged scholars” who had confronted agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley and California.
Currently I apply my life experience and academic training as the executive director of the Central Valley Partnership (CVP). The Partnership is multiracial, intergenerational and gender inclusive. We are dedicated to achieving social, racial, environmental and economic justice in the San Joaquin Valley.
My scholarship has always been dedicated to racial justice. My MS thesis was titled: “Language, Education and Social Segregation: Neocolonial Strategies in the Reproduction of Inequality” and my PhD dissertation was titled: “In The Struggle: Pedagogies of Politically Engaged Scholarship in the San Joaquin Valley of California.”
I am the Executive Director of the Central Valley Partnership. In addition, I am on the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club’s Tehipite Chapter, a member of the Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley and a member of the Visalia Friends Meeting.
Currently the work of the CVP is focused on building a civic infrastructure to transform the political geography of the region. We will be conducting numerous trainings to prepare residents to run for political office, effectively lead campaigns or serve in other capacities. In addition, I am actively a supporter of Quaker Oaks Farm near Visalia which works with the local Wukchumna tribe and other indigenous peoples to share stewardship of a 27-acre farm. There is a huge array of other initiatives that I am involved with as well across the region.
Speaker’s Interfaith Work
I am a Quaker who is a member of the Visalia Friends Meeting. For years, I have worked in interfaith contexts to host events, actions and campaigns usually oriented toward social justice and anti-war causes.