Like Fullerton, O’Connell has not been formally endorsed by her presbytery — the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for some presbyteries to meet, and the Office of the General Assembly has said that while it’s customary for presbyteries to endorse commissioners standing for moderator, it’s not technically required.
Since 2018, O’Connell has served as pastor of Park Hill Presbyterian Church in North Little Rock, a congregation of about 100 people. Previously, she served as the young adult volunteer coordinator at Ferncliff Camp, and as interim minister for congregational care and fellowship at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock.
O’Connell was born in Arkansas and grew up in Carrollton, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in holistic health, with a minor in religion, from Hendrix College, and later a master’s degree in college administration from the University of Central Arkansas. While attending graduate school there, O’Connell joined First Presbyterian Church of Conway, Arkansas – where she was baptized at age 23.
She later felt a call to ministry, and graduated with a Master’s in Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 2012, doing a senior project on human trafficking. O’Connell has long been involved in advocacy work on LGBTQ rights and other justice issues, and served for a time as the co-moderator and chaplain for the Occupy Little Rock encampment.
In the Presbytery of Arkansas, O’Connell has served on the Committee for the Future of the Church and currently moderates the Committee on Representation.
She and her husband, James, have three children.