Kate Connor

Professor and Aspen Rising President Fellow

Truman College, City Colleges of Chicago

Kate Connor has dedicated the last 18 years of her professional life to working in and advocating for community colleges, students, and communities. Her roots in teaching and learning run deep, with a wide breadth of leadership experience, including Department Chair, Dean, and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Truman College within the City Colleges of Chicago District.

In her role as a dean of academic affairs, Kate oversaw Truman College’s Center of Excellence in Education and Human and Natural Science, which included managing CTE and transfer programs, early childhood and education initiatives, career support, and education partnerships. As Vice President, Kate led various academic efforts, such as the Higher Learning Commission Reaffirmation report and visit, integrating online programming into the College, the Caring Campus initiative, and the College’s Equity Champions work. She has successfully secured millions of dollars in funding from grants and foundations in areas of career technical education, early childhood education, STEM projects, and college-wide efforts.  

Kate has led numerous large-scale efforts. In 2018, she led City Colleges of Chicago’s launch of the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship. The scholarship is supported through a partnership with City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago City Hall, Chicago Department of Family Support Services, and Chicago Public Schools and has, to date, received millions of dollars of investment and supported hundreds of early childhood professionals in going to school for their associate or baccalaureate degree.  Additionally, Kate’s work within communities is well known for its agility and collaboration. 

In 2019, Kate published her community-based cohort work in the American Journal of Community Psychology. Over the years, she has launched numerous community-based cohort efforts to support adults returning to school in partnership with their employers, non-profits, and public schools.

Currently, she leads almost 6 million dollars of grant funding at the college in areas related to data science and education. In the Fall of 2023, serving as lead PI, Kate was awarded a million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation for her work with the University of Chicago’s Data Science Institute, which brings data science to Truman College and supports faculty development through a joint-appointment preceptorship between the University and Truman College. 

Over her tenure in higher education, Kate has worked on local and state committees, including currently serving as an appointed representative on behalf of the Illinois Community College Board for the State’s ECACE Advisory Committee, the Illinois State Board of Education’s Strategic Pathways Initiative, and the Regional Birth to Five Council.

Kate received a Bachelor of Science in Human Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Science in Child Development from the Erikson Institute. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in Child Development through a joint Ph.D. program at Loyola University and the Erikson Institute and is on track to defend her dissertation in early 2024.