Kelly O'Donnell, Alumnae Award Recipient

Alumnae Award, 2014

Kelly O’Donnell SESP ‘87

The Alumnae Award recognizes a woman who has brought honor to Northwestern University through outstanding professional contributions in her field and who has attained national recognition. Established in 1976, the Alumnae Award has been presented every year to an alumna who has had a significant impact in her field of endeavor. Educators, journalists, doctors, scientists, and artists are included among The Alumnae’s roster of awardees.

Journalist, NBC News correspondent, news anchor, White House Correspondent, and Capitol Hill Correspondent are just some of the adjectives describing Kelly O’Donnell. Ms. O’Donnell received her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1987, where she focused on a combined study of journalism and public policy. She first joined NBC News as a correspondent in 1994. Her reporting has taken her to all 50 states and to 48 countries. She has reported on a wide variety of national and world events, from disparate locations including the Rose Garden, Baghdad, and Capitol Hill. The range of her reporting includes five presidential campaigns, the September 11th attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and O.J. Simpson trial. She traveled with Pope John Paul II and covered Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee. During the Iraq war, O’Donnell was embedded with the Third Infantry Division, reporting from Baghdad and Qatar and aboard three aircraft carriers. She has also covered both summer and winter Olympic Games.

While covering politics, O’Donnell traveled extensively with President Bush and the campaigns of John McCain, John Kerry, and Bob Dole, and covered both inaugurations of Barack Obama. Among her notable interviews: President Clinton, President George H. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and First Ladies Laura Bush and Rosalyn Carter. From Capitol Hill, O’Donnell has provided extensive coverage on every major issue.

Beyond Washington, O’Donnell has reported on many high profile races from New York City mayor to California governor. Before her assignment in Washington, O’Donnell was based in New York and Los Angeles with extended postings in London and Denver. She has also served as news anchor for the weekend edition of “Today” and other NBC news broadcasts.

An award-winning reporter, O’Donnell’s work on the 2008 presidential elections earned an Emmy and National Headliner Award. She received the 2009 New Hampshire Primary Award for Political Reporting. She has twice been part of the “NBC Nightly News” team honored with an Edward R Morrow Award. Her feature reporting has been honored twice by the Los Angeles Press Club and she has been inducted into both the Cleveland Press Club Hall of Fame and the Ohio Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame.