Clare O’Connell, 51 of Newton, died June 1, 2015. She is survived by her husband Michael A. Collora of Newton, and two stepchildren, Rebecca Collora Buckman, New York City and Nicholas A. Collora of Brighton. Clare was one of seven children of Laurence and Frances O’Connell of Worcester who predeceased her. She is also survived by all six of her siblings, and numerous nephews and nieces. Clare was an OHA Special Member.
Until late 2013, Clare was Vice President of Resources at the Appalachian Mountain Club, and its leading fundraiser and organizational strategist for over 20 years. During her tenure, Clare oversaw unprecedented growth in AMC’s fundraising capacity, membership, and volunteer engagement. Her leadership and professional expertise combined with her enthusiasm for AMC’s mission of recreation, conservation, and outdoor education was a winning combination. Hired by and working side by side with Andy Falender (AMC President from 1988-2011), Clare built and inspired a team of staff and volunteers who together successfully raised over $100 million in capital and endowment funding while simultaneously building AMC’s Annual Fund by nearly 1000% and the membership from 30,000 to nearly 100,000 members. Her work made possible the 70,000 acre recreation corridor in Maine, the Highland Center in Crawford Notch, the rebuilding of Galehead and Madison Huts in the White Mountains, and the greatly expanded education and conservation programs.
When Clare wasn’t working at the Boston office or meeting with leaders throughout the region, she was leading hikes and ski trips in the White Mountains and in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness. She hiked over 40 of the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire before falling ill to cancer. At her retirement lunch one year ago, Clare spoke about her love of being outdoors, encouraging others to be active in the outdoors, and her pride in AMC’s accomplishments throughout the region, and specifically being proud of her work and leadership in AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative. Clare demonstrated passion, drive, and fun, and took an active interest in the lives of people she knew and cultivated deep and meaningful relationships with AMC colleagues, donors, and members, and was an advocate for AMC in all aspects of her life.
Clare was also active in the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church where she had been a deacon, played in its Bells group, and was active on many committees. In addition, she was an enthusiastic hiker, biker, cross country skier and boater and traveled widely with her husband. Her principal loves were her family, large network of friends and golden labs Trot and MacIntosh.
Born in Worcester, Clare graduated from Mt. Holyoke College, Class of 1986, and worked for the Danforth Art and Worcester Art Museums in the development area before moving to Boston to work at the Appalachian Mountain Club. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her honor to the Avon Foundation’s MGH Cancer fund, or the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108