- In your role, Director of Grants and Nonprofit Programs, what goals do you aim to achieve at the Community Foundation?
My main goal in my new role is to jump in as I have time and again in other roles in my career, ready and eager to continue my service to the community and the clients we serve and be seen as a valued, reliable and meaningful contributor to our amazing team at the Community Foundation.
- Community involvement is a big part of your background. Could you tell us about a memorable experience, whether through volunteering or work-related projects, that left a lasting impact on you?
There are so many that it is hard to narrow down to just one. In every role I have held, be it volunteer or in my career, the work has always been incredibly meaningful. So, I will share an experience that left a lasting impression and to this day brings a smile to my face.
With one of the non-profits, we went into hospitals and partnered with the family life staff to throw parties for the kids that were in the hospital. For one of the events, we brought in a guitar ensemble from a local high school to perform for the families. I will never forget the moment that one of the parents came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “My son loves music so much. I never thought we would have the chance to take him to see a performance like this. He has been transported by the music to a magical place, and we have been able to see our child go to a concert.” Their child was only 3 and was terminal but had already been expressing a love of music. A few days after the event I received a note from the high school ensemble leader with personal messages about the impact it had had on the musicians to perform to this crowd and meet the kids. It really made me stop and think about the power of VOLUNTEERING – and the idea that we can all do something to help others in one way or another – something seemingly small can have such a ripple effect.
- With your past nonprofit experience in mind, if you could choose any superpower to help make the world a better place, what would it be?
This is a hard one – having worked in the space of Chronic Illness, Childhood Cancer, Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, having volunteered in the Fire and Rescue spaces and also in the space of homelessness and food insecurity, I would go to the low hanging fruit of HEALING. What a superpower it would be if you could heal those fighting such intense battles.
Alas, without superpowers, I will focus on the ones I have already: the power to give a REALLY GOOD HUG, the power to listen so that people feel heard, appreciated, and valued for who they are, and having been accused of SMILING too much by someone years ago, I think that is a superpower. Taking the time to MEANINGFULLY share a smile can communicate so much between two people.
- Joanne, what are you most excited about in joining the Community Foundation?
I am excited to share my experience and expertise through this role with the even larger non-profit community in Loudoun supporting their education and success through our programs, grants, and funding opportunities. Additionally, I am looking forward to getting to know the incredibly generous funders that create funds, giving circles and more to support the incredible work being done in our community by the non-profits.
- Lastly, what is something that people would not guess about you?
Je parle français! I was raised bi-lingual, as my mother was French. She will tell you with her strong French accent that she is American. I have family, aunts, uncles and many cousins in France. I am also the daughter of a now-retired Foreign Service Officer, so I lived most of my life overseas. Living in Loudoun is the longest I have ever lived in one place, let alone the USA, in my life. Going on 20 years in Loudoun this fall.
I am married to someone who loves the outdoors and has successfully completed the alpine climbs of Mount Whitney and Mount Rainier… so many of our family vacations include visits to our Nation’s beautiful national parks. I learned while hiking “Bee Hive” at Acadia National Park with my family that I have an intense fear of heights. At the time I didn’t know, or I would have turned around when I saw the LARGE signs that said, “Not for those with a fear of heights.”
Like many other people I have explored some fun “alter-egos” I like to call them. I graduated from the Fairfax Fire Academy and became an EMT at the end of high school and into my early years of college. I apprenticed under a well-known pastry chef for a year and am now a bit of a self-professed cake snob. I also trained and worked as a professional makeup artist. I can’t help but wonder what is next – for now I am getting my feet wet in my new role of Director of Grants and Non-Profit Programs for the Community Foundation, reaching for great heights with an inquisitive mind and spirit.