Former President, NYWICI
Patricia O’Connell died peacefully on January 23, 2019, in Manhattan. Pat was president from 1992-93 and received the Distinguished Service Award – This award recognizes and celebrates an individual who has demonstrated loyalty, outstanding service and unselfish devotion to New York Women in Communications.

Pat joined New York Women in Communications, Inc. in the 1980s and held a number of board positions before becoming its president. Her involvement with the organization continued for many years. She mentored new members, served on committees, pitched in when there were unexpected board vacancies, and was always a champion of women.

(Pictured: Pat, right, at a NYWICI event featuring veteran journalist Helen Thomas, left. Also pictured are Catherine Carlozzi, center left, and Dorothy Crenshaw, center right.)

Pat at the 2018 Women’s March.

Born in San Francisco, she graduated from San Francisco College for Women (Lone Mountain) in 1956. She then attended the Foreign Service School at Georgetown and worked at the Embassy in London before moving to New York, a city she called her own, in 1959.

A reporter on the city desk for The New York Herald Tribune until its closing day, she never lost her passion for journalism, and followed national news with unflagging interest. A graduate of Hunter College in journalism she enrolled in Baruch College after the Trib ceased publication in 1966, graduating with a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College in 1988. She worked for several nonprofit institutions before beginning a long career at HeartShare Human Services, from which she retired as director of communications.

Pat with Hillary Clinton (left) and Fortuna Calvo-Roth (right)

Survivors include a brother, Colonel William J. Smith, US Marine Corps, (RET.), of Kalaheo, Kauai, Hawaii; a niece, Jennifer Smith, of Chicago; a cousin, Catherine Mercedes Judge, of New York; and legions of friends who cherish her memory.

A funeral service will be held on February 2 at 11 am at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, 921 Madison Avenue/73rd St.  There will be a reception in the Parish Hall immediately following the service.

Pat used to quietly buy a ticket to Matrix for a student. So to honor her in 2019, NYWICI awarded a scholarship in Pat’s name.


Remembrances of Pat

Pat and I met in the early ‘8os when I was President Elect of NYWICI and she was “the Westchester representative.” We discovered we lived across the street from each other on the Upper East Side and forged a deep friendship that lasted until her death. Pat was known by all for her kindness, thoughtfulness and commitment to the people and causes she cared about. She cared about NYWICI because it provided a supportive sisterhood for women coming up the ranks in communications professions and proudly served as President. Pat was a complete professional in her multifaceted career that spanned from newspaper reporter to non-profit PR specialist. She loved New York City with its vibrant diversity and cultural richness and had a curious mind committed to continual learning. She was a great friend and a class act and will be greatly missed.
Carolyn Carter
Past President, NYWICI

I met Patricia O’Connell at my first program committee meeting after joining NYWICI, in 1989, when she was President-elect. Such was her meticulous preparation and commitment, that she went to every single committee meeting of every committee the whole year in preparation for her role as President. I was making a transition from classical singing to running a speech and media business. I knew I was in deep waters. But, when someone on the board  had to drop her board position due to serious illness, Pat asked me to serve out the term as Secretary.

First lesson about Pat: When she asked you to do something, you felt honored and thrilled to be asked and could never for all the world refuse. I loved the way she ran meetings, tapped into the right people for the right job, always supported women and their advancement. We became friendly and that was my blessing.  Knowing Pat so intimately after all these years, I believe I was blessed by an angel, an angel named Pat. I became a better person by her example. As an editor, she was superb. She knew me so well that everything I ever wrote made me proud for her edit suggestions.  And, Pat was nothing if not giving. She looked for opportunities for others to shine and made sure they were in the spotlight to sparkle.

Yet with all these immense talents, she shied away from the spotlight herself. When she retired from her public career, as VP of Communications and Public Affairs at HeartShare Human Services, there were no less than four retirement parties. People actually cut short European vacations to celebrate her and send her off with love.  But the speech she came to me with was a sales pitch for her organization.  I said to her, “Pat, these people work for HeartShare. They don’t need a sales pitch! They want to know what you’ll do next, why you’re retiring now, and what the work has meant to you.”  So perhaps in a small way, I was able to edit her as well, because her retirement speech was a standing ovation affair.

My beloved Pat. You may be gone, but I’ll never forget how you helped me — and so many others and what you made me feel.  All of our intellectual conversations pushed my thinking forward every single time whether it was business, politics or friendship we were discussing. She was always and forever the smartest person in the room. I shall miss her. Deeply.
Ginny Pulos
Former NYWICI Board Secretary and Matrix Program Chair

Loyal friend, superb collaborator, thorough professional, and a role model: that was Pat O’Connell. We met when I rejoined NYWICI, and became friends through our mutual interests in journalism and the kaleidoscopic Manhattan landscape. It was a joy to work with her during our respective NYWICI presidencies. In our professional lives, Pat was the best editor I ever had. She read all my copy and invariably improved it. I admired her talent, energy, and commitment to whatever project she undertook, and will always feel grateful for her friendship and constant support.
Fortuna Calvo-Roth
Past President, NYWICI

I may have known Pat for the shortest time of all her many NYWICI friends but like so many I found her magnetic, charming, fun, elegant and lovely. She made me feel I’d known her for years. First time I met her she sat across from me at a NYWICI board meeting long after she was president—she was visiting–we ended up having lunch several times and she subsequently invited me to join her on a committee to select the board. She was a master negotiator. We shared a love of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline. On my bulletin board at work I kept the 2013 Christmas card she sent me [photo right]. Looking at it now is bittersweet, but it still makes me smile.
Jeanne-Marie Byington

I joined NYWICI in 2000 and got to know many of the members fairly quickly. NYWICI was a sisterhood. One of my NYWICI sisters recommended that I reach out to Pat O’Connell. I did. As soon as I met Pat we became friends and she became somewhat of a mentor to me. We met every month for lunch and it was through those lunches that I learned so much from her. Pat was kind, caring and brilliant. She was an elegant, soft-spoken woman, with knowledge in many areas and not afraid to speak up about important issues. I always felt that Pat was like royalty. I am saddened by her passing but will always remember and be grateful for knowing this amazing woman.
Ross Ellis

I met Pat O’Connell at my first NYWICI event in 1992. She was president of the organization at the time and so warm and welcoming, it helped convince me I’d joined the right professional association.

Over the years, Pat and I became friends as we worked on a number of committees and projects together. She urged me to pursue a leadership role in NYWICI and never failed to say “yes” when I asked her to serve on a committee, get involved with a project or provide input and advice. She was never less than thoughtful in her contributions and supportive. Pat was especially supportive of my mentoring and looked forward to updates on how my Magnificent Media Mavens were doing.

Our relationship evolved beyond NYWICI over the years, and it was a joy to have Pat as a friend. We took part in the first two Women’s Marches in New York City together – a memory I will cherish. (I took the photo above.) Pat was the consummate professional, a respected colleague, and a good friend. I am among the many who will miss Pat. She touched so very many lives. At a personal level, I will miss our lunches, museum outings and conversations.

I will miss her voice and her wit. She was special.
Cathy Carlozzi


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