Eileen Donoghue was born and raised in Holyoke, Massachusetts and is one of eight children. She worked her way through college and law school and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in individualized concentration from the University of Massachusetts in 1976, where she studied both law and Spanish. She studied for a period of time at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, and is fluent in Spanish. She went on to receive her Juris Doctor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston in 1979. A practicing attorney since 1979, Eileen opened her own law practice in the City of Lowell in 1991 before joining the firm Gallagher & Cavanaugh in 2008. Eileen and her husband, John J. O’Connor, live in Lowell today.
In 1996, Eileen was elected to the Lowell City Council, and in 1998 was elected mayor to the first of two terms at that post. During her tenure as mayor she led some of the most historic and important economic development projects for the city, including the Tsongas Arena, the LeLacheur Ball Park, the construction and renovation of 17 schools, and the artist overlay district resulting in over 800 new artists’ lofts now populating formerly abandoned mills. During her tenure as mayor, Eileen, as a Democrat, served as chairperson of the transition team for Governor Paul Cellucci, advising the governor on quality of life issues.
As just the second woman to serve as mayor of Lowell, Eileen believes in tackling challenges, not studying them, and has been a thoughtful and bold voice for action and change on issues that are important to the City of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley throughout her time living there. During her tenure as mayor and on the city council, Lowell underwent a dramatic revitalization that is viewed as a national model for older cities in areas of economic development, public education, public safety and health care.
Eileen has also been extremely active in community and the Merrimack Valley area. In 1999, she helped found the Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council, a private, non-profit organization that promotes the economic interests of the area. Eileen also spearheaded the Back to School Book Drive at Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, with President Bill Clinton; was co-founder of Future Stars Camp in Lowell; and participated with Senator Edward Kennedy in the first ever youth violence summit in the nation, which was held in Lowell. She has also been a trustee at Saints Medical Center in Lowell for nearly a decade, during which time she helped open a new cancer treatment center.
Eileen has also served on the board of directors for numerous area organizations, including the Whistler House Museum of Art, Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell, Lowell Association for the Blind, and the Merrimack River Valley House. She also helped found the Women Working Wonders Fund, a foundation that helps raise money for women seeking to improve their education, help improve the environment, or assist in the community. Eileen is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Greater Lowell Bar Association, and the Criminal Justice Act Board of the United States District Court, the District of Massachusetts.