Sean Connolly '96: Leading through service

Sean Connolly

Major: Business Administration
Home Town: Hebron, CT
Path: Building a career on military involvement, corporate experience, and leading a state agency.

Sean Connolly '96 giving a campaign speechSean Connolly, who began his political career as a student senate representative in Bryant University's student government, is running for governor of Connecticut. A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and former commissioner of the State of Connecticut’s Department of Veterans Affairs, Connolly has built a career on military involvement, corporate experience, and leading a state agency.  

Connolly credits his leadership style to a principle he saw demonstrated by Bryant's former president, William E. Trueheart, Ed.D.

Since graduating from Bryant, Connolly received his Juris Doctor from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and in 2017 earned a Master's degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. After seven years of active duty, Connolly, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, worked as an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C. He returned to his home state of Connecticut in 2010 to take a position at Pratt & Whitney – the same company where his grandfather worked as a groundskeeper and his grandmother as a factory worker beginning in the 1940s – rising to become the organization's Global Ethics and Compliance Officer.

Although service has always been important to Connolly, he hadn’t considered running for public office until he became the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs in 2015, which he says "reignited the service bug." The veterans he worked with often encouraged him to take his style of leadership to the capital. Eventually, Connolly and his wife, Carol A. Connolly, Esq., discussed a gubernatorial bid, deciding "we can do this and offer something different to Connecticut than what we've had in the past."

Connolly, who is running as a Democrat, says, "what I'm trying to do as a candidate is to offer leadership that puts service first." For him, that means "getting back to a point where it really is about moving the state forward with results-driven leadership and solutions rather than pointing fingers and blame."

Connolly partially credits his leadership style to a principle he saw demonstrated by Bryant's former president, William E. Trueheart, Ed.D. "I don’t even think he saw me observe him, but I remember him stopping while walking through campus to pick up a piece of garbage," Connolly recalls. As an Army ROTC cadet, he remembers thinking, "that's someone who cares about their unit – that's leadership."

A decorated officer, Connolly's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, fout Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. His proudest achievements, however, involve serving and supporting his community. "I love meeting people and learning from them. That's what energizes me."

Connolly and his wife live in Hebron, CT, with their two sons and their rescue puppy, Lucky.