Brendan O’Callaghan ‘02 is the 2023 Alumni Changemaker Award for his outstanding work in public affairs and politics.
Currently, Brendan is the Vice President for Marketing, Communications, and External Affairs at Calbright College, California's first and only fully online community college.
With a focus on competency-based workforce training programs for adult learners, Calbright aims to build a more equitable economy for underserved communities across the state. “Higher education struggles to support working-age adults, especially those from already underserved communities. The challenge of building a new kind of public community college from the ground up, to support Californians is exciting,” shares Brendan of this role and Calbright’s mission.
Brendan's passion for public affairs and politics has always been driven by his dedication to social justice and community development. He is a tireless advocate for historically marginalized communities and has used his platform to raise awareness about issues such as income inequality, access to healthcare, and systemic racism. His work has inspired others to take action and build a more just and equitable society.
“In light of the COVID pandemic, we continue to see an economy that works for some while many others lack access to good jobs, consistent hours and schedules, and benefits like health care or retirement accounts. It’s critical that we listen, and approach this moment with the care and intention necessary to address systemic issues that simmered under the surface and then shined brightly over the past few years l,” states Brendan “At Calbright, we’re working to create pathways for non-traditional students to enter the knowledge economy and create a better life for themselves and their families”
Prior to his current role, Brendan served five-and-a-half years on the communications team for the University of California President Janet Napolitano, where he worked on significant projects such as UC's lawsuit over the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The case made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States and received a favorable ruling, affirming, at the time, that DHS's decision to end DACA lacked sound reasoning.
“Live Oak, among many things, nurtures students’ ability to learn and empowers their curiosity – it provides the foundation upon which a lifelong journey can commence. I feel so fortunate to have had teachers like John and Mary Ann who brought grace and empathy to the classroom each day,” said Brendan on his experience as a student. “My life is fuller today—I am more compassionate and considerate, and a better parent—because of the indelible impact their presence had on the way I view the world.”
We are proud to call Brendan an alumnus and to present him with the Alumni Changemaker Award. His commitment to creating positive change in his community is a testament to the values we strive to instill in all our graduates.
Beyond work, Brendan enjoys spending time with his family and two young children, exploring local natural areas, and training for ironman-distance races.