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Trail Blazer Comes Home

Nancy O’Malley has always marched to the beat of her own drum—how the lessons Carondelet instilled in her lead the way back to her alma mater.

Nancy O’Malley isn’t the type of person you forget, and she’s certainly not someone who is going to back down from what is right. “I remember her,” Sister Kathleen once said about Nancy, who graduated in 1971. ”She was quite the pistol.”

It’s a more than apt description for the trailblazing alumna who now sits as the Carondelet Board of Trustees president.

Nancy has been on the board for four years. “I’m a doer,” she explained about why she came back to sit on the board. “I want to be involved, and this work focused on the advancement of young women aligns with how I live my life.”

She’s spent nearly the entirety of her professional life fighting for women and girls, not only in the Bay Area but across the nation.

As a DA, she is a nationally recognized expert in issues involving violence against women, violence against persons with disabilities, and interpersonal violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse, stalking, and human exploitation and trafficking. She has a formidable record, having prosecuted hundreds of felony matters ranging from child sexual assault to domestic violence and murder.

Nancy O’Malley’s professional accomplishments include monumental contributions in the legislative arena with numerous bills written and signed into law. She has participated in drafting legislation that makes courtrooms around the state accessible for victims with physical and intellectual disabilities, ensuring that sexual assault victims have rights in the criminal justice system and expanding the support available to victims of crime in California. In addition to successfully advocating for stronger legislative protections and increased rights for victims of crime, Nancy O’Malley is a steadfast advocate for advancing women in the workplace, protecting vulnerable individuals who fall prey to criminals, and supporting child and youth empowerment, enhancement, and engagement.

Within the office, she founded the HEAT (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Unit in 2006 and has led the statewide charge in response to human trafficking. She spoke back at her alma mater last year during the annual RISE Week.

As one of the first graduating classes of alumnae, only 50 people made up Nancy’s 1971 graduating class, and she explained how much that allowed her to grow and feel like she belonged. “You really knew everybody: that camaraderie, that sisterhood. Seeing people treated equally regardless of gender. I really got the opportunity to discover myself simply because it was a safer place to be myself,” she said. “Carondelet, it’s bigger now, but people can still find that.

It was also the place that taught her one of the hardest lessons of her life. It happened when she was a senior looking at applying for college. Her advisor at the time shook her confidence, telling her she was not smart enough to continue her education. After taking a few months at DVC to learn shorthand, she was tapped by a teacher who encouraged her to go on and do more. She went on to go to law school and then eventually became the first ever female Alameda County District Attorney.

“Never let anyone else define you,” said Nancy. “We always have to remind ourselves that.” The experience, she said, taught her a lot about power and how to encourage others rather than tear them down. It also helped her find her voice.

As she moves into a new role within the Carondelet Community, this alumna from a past generation, she is looking forward to being involved on campus and leading the board as she and Jessica Mix, two alumnae from different generations usher in the next wave of Carondelet students.

“Carondelet has always set the pace,” Nancy said, and she has always believed in the work they do. “Just come with me, I tell people. Come with me and meet the girls, faculty, and staff doing such great work.”


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