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OneGoal’s Melissa Connelly Chosen for Pahara Fellowship in Recognition of Educational Leadership

Melissa Connely joins the Pahara Institute’s cohort of values-driven leaders committed to transforming education

CHICAGO, Jan. 25, 2024–OneGoal CEO Melissa Connelly has been named a fellow of the esteemed Pahara Institute, marking a significant milestone in her commitment to advancing educational excellence and equity.

The Pahara Fellowship, a prestigious one-year program, distinguishes outstanding leaders in the educational landscape. Connelly joins a select cohort of 24 leaders united in their mission to transform the public education system, ensuring that every student can achieve their highest aspirations.

This fellowship, renowned for its comprehensive leadership development initiatives, aims to foster dynamic growth among leaders and enhance their collective efforts to bring about substantial improvements in public education, particularly for students from low-income households and communities.

“Being selected for the Pahara Fellowship is an incredible honor and an opportunity to contribute to advancing equity in education,” expressed Melissa Connelly. “Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of students, opening doors to their brightest futures.”

Melissa Connelly, the CEO of OneGoal, a national organization dedicated to postsecondary access and success, brings a wealth of experience to the fellowship. Under her leadership, OneGoal has grown to serve over 23,000 students nationwide, and OneGoal Fellows are 40% more likely to complete their degrees than peers from similar backgrounds. The organization also launched a leadership network to help school and district leaders transform postsecondary advising for students across entire states. Formerly the inaugural Chief Program Officer at OneGoal, she was pivotal in designing and executing the programmatic vision, ensuring equitable opportunities for all students to earn postsecondary degrees or credentials.

As a first-generation college graduate, Melissa’s personal journey was marked by challenges. Starting high school in a truancy program, she overcame obstacles with the support of dedicated educators and earned three college degrees with a 4.0 GPA. Drawing on her experiences, empathy, and drive, Melissa has spent over 15 years in education, working to make her accomplishments the norm rather than an anomaly for underserved youth.

In addition to her role as CEO, Melissa serves on the board of directors of Reading Partners and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois-Chicago, a Master of Arts in Teaching, and a Master of Education Administration from Dominican University. Melissa is also an alumna of the prestigious Surge Institute Fellowship for emerging leaders of color in education.

To view the full Pahara Fellowship cohort list, visit

About OneGoal
OneGoal transforms postsecondary advising and support so that every student can define their own future. Together with our partners, we’re building a movement to close the opportunity gap. We work side-by-side with partner schools and districts to build their knowledge and capacity. The result is more equitable and effective support for all students. Our unique approach, honed over 15 years, prioritizes strong human relationships. And it’s proven to deliver real student impact. Nationally, 82% of OneGoal high school graduates enroll in a postsecondary institution, and 73% of those who enroll persist one year after high school. An independent study by the University of Chicago found that OneGoal students are about 40% more likely to earn their postsecondary degrees than students from similar backgrounds.

About the Pahara Institute
The Pahara Institute seeks to strengthen the movement for educational excellence and equity by developing and sustaining values-driven leaders. The guiding principle of the Pahara Institute is that bold improvements are needed in our public schools so that every child in America is prepared to lead a free and fulfilling life. Pahara’s programs are designed to identify leaders in education innovation, and through a time-tested dialogue approach, strengthen and sustain their efforts to bring about critical improvements to our public schools. For more information, please visit

Media Contact

For more information on OneGoal, contact Stephen Barker, OneGoal Director of Communications, at [email protected], (316) 734-1042.

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