Webster Appoints New AVP, CCO and CFO

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Melissa O’Connor has been named associate vice president of Development. Additionally, the “interim” from interim chief communications officer Stephanie Dane and interim chief financial officer William Donovan have been dropped, making the two the permanent heads of their divisions.

“Stephanie, Melissa and Bill all stepped into their leadership roles when the University was facing extraordinary challenges, and they all performed remarkably,” said Webster University President Julian Z. Schuster. “All three revitalized their departments, brought new ideas and energy to their roles and made immediate changes that have propelled Webster further down the path of growth and sustainability. I am confident that their addition to the top leadership team of the University assures a better future for Webster. Congratulations to Stephanie, Melissa and Bill.”

Melissa O'Connor

O’Connor joined Webster University in 2019 as a development officer after working as part of the Alumni and Development team at Washington University in St. Louis. Last year, she took on additional responsibilities, providing leadership for individual giving efforts, including major gifts, annual giving and donor relations at the University. O’Connor and her team coordinate with colleagues across Webster’s network to generate donor support for the University. She was named an associate vice president last month in recognition of her responsibilities and accomplishments at Webster.

O’Connor holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership from Webster University, as well as a Certificate of Fundraising Management from Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“I am honored to be named the new AVP of development and look forward to continuing the work with my colleagues to strengthen donor support of our outstanding students, faculty and staff,” O’Connor said. “I also look forward to reaching out across the Webster community and collaborating with all of the departments throughout the Gorlok network.”

Stephanie Dane

Dane was hired as senior director of communications at Webster in October of 2022, where she oversaw several teams in the Global Marketing and Communications Department (GMC), developed executive communications and high-profile programs such as Commencement, Convocation, Webster Society Donor Dinner and the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference. She also supported Advancement and Alumni Relations to improve communication strategies for engagement, stewardship and fundraising.

Dane was named interim chief communications officer (CCO) in January to oversee the entire GMC unit. Since then, she has led external communications, worked closely with enrollment management to support recruitment and retention efforts, strengthened communication strategies and collaborations with campus partners, led digital marketing campaigns to support Webster’s Teach Out partnership with Fontbonne University and developed a marketing plan to further promote and increase participation in the University’s summer camp programs. Dane will continue to oversee a staff of 16 employees responsible for public relations, emergency communications, internal communications, photography, videography, website management and design, graphic design, public outreach, marketing and advertising.

Dane served more than 20 years at the Gateway Region YMCA; 14 of those years focused on Marketing and Communications to support member acquisition, retention and growing program enrollment. In 2021, she joined Fontbonne University as director of Integrated Marketing Communications. In 2022, she was named senior director of communications at Webster. She was named the full-time CCO in early June.

Dane holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing communications and a master’s in media communications, both from Webster.

“I am honored to continue supporting Webster’s global campus network and leading the Global Marketing and Communications department,” Dane said. “GMC is comprised of cross-functional and talented individuals committed to Webster’s success and I am honored to continue leading, inspiring and supporting their professional growth. I look forward to supporting Webster’s bright future and continuing to support their mission. Many years ago, Webster helped me as a student to develop a passion for marketing communications, acquire invaluable knowledge and launch my career trajectory. What a wonderful opportunity to return “home” to the place where my journey first began.”

Bill Donovan

Donovan was hired by Webster in January. He has served as a CFO, vice president and financial director for several companies in the past two decades. He has worked in financial planning and analysis, investment banking, corporate development, private equity and accounting team leadership across multiple sectors including real estate, manufacturing, services, renewable energy and cleantech. He most recently served as CFO for Sansone Group LLC.

Donovan holds bachelor’s degrees in international studies and in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri at Columbia and a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He was named the full-time CFO at the end of May.

“In just the few months that I have been here, I have been impressed with the talent of the staff and the resilience of the community as we continue to strengthen Webster’s financial standing,” Donovan said. “I look forward to continuing our successes in the future and am thrilled to be a long-time member of the Gorlok community.”

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