Daughter of a wealthy industrialist, she married, raised a family, and then chose to enter the field of social work and dedicate her life to serving her community.
Revered by many throughout Houston, Maconda B. O’Connor was born on May 4, 1930 and passed from this life on May 19, 2012.
The Houston Chronicle and others have listed her long list of achievements. She received over two dozen awards and honorary degrees, served on Houston’s and the nation’s most prestigious boards, and founded or helped start innovative programs dedicated to helping people improve their lives. As Angela Blanchard, president and CEO of Neighborhood Centers Inc., was quoted as saying, “There isn’t a place to go to in this city where you can get help that she didn’t help nurture.”
A colleague introduced us while Maconda was completing her doctoral studies at Smith College. She was looking for a research project for a required internship, and the colleague suggested my grant from the National Science Foundation might meet the requirements. Maconda was immediately interested in my project and, over time, in my work. She provided or helped arrange financial support for my research every year since.
Saying she supported my work, though, doesn’t quite get what she meant to me. We became friends. I loved her – still love her — dearly. We shared a similar fire for helping others improve their lives, and for setting up systems and organizations that would foster people’s growth and development. I see the world differently because of her, approach my own work differently because of her, have a deeper commitment to what I do because of her.
For me and many others, she has been an inspiration and a model of personal achievement and success. Following are some of what we can all learn from her:
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