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Finding unexpected connections: Getting to know Joanna Pottle



Humanity in Action is excited to introduce you to our first ever Community Engagement Manager, Senior Fellow Joanna Pottle!

When we say “first ever,” we mean it. Joanna is taking over this brand new, cross-office transatlantic role, in which she will work on connecting individuals from across all Humanity in Action offices and fellowships, and creating new outreach, network, or social opportunities. Simply put, through both a local and international lens, Joanna will be facilitating  and providing further opportunities for the connection of like-minded individuals in the HIA community.

Joanna is mostly interested in themes of heritage, memory, and ways in which public spaces are a part of that.

Currently based in Kraków, Poland, Joanna was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia – just a couple of hours away from Washington, DC. Needless to say, this background strongly influenced how she views the world today. “I am most interested in themes of heritage, memory, and ways in which public spaces are a part of that,” she shared, commenting how her hometown visually showcases the “politics of memory clashes.”

For example, the complex and oftentimes dissonant heritage-ridden context of the city and its continued prevalence in public can be seen in many institutions, monuments, organizations, and plaques commemorating different historical periods. This is then met with many contemporary renegotiations of these legacies with various artistic and activist interventions to challenge the ways in which heritage reflecting difficult periods of the past (and present) is memorialized in public space, which can be seen throughout Richmond’s public space such as on Monument Avenue.

Humanity in Action’s 2022 Mapping Inequities Fellowship, which Joanna took part in as a fellow, was therefore a perfect match. Aside from the programming, Joanna mostly appreciated the frequent check-ins and community building opportunities with her cohort. “Despite all being virtual, the staff and Fellows really made us feel like a true community,” she notes about her experience. “The Fellowships was not just about the professional development, but also about the interpersonal relationships,” she adds.

Joanna will be providing additional support for development of all Fellows.

Understanding what it means to be a Humanity in Action Fellow, Joanna would like to use this experience in her new role in providing additional support for growth and development of all Fellows as well as in collaboration with the Humanity in Action offices and staff. Through a design-thinking strategy, Joanna will explore how the organization can individualize support, while looking for parallels in what forms of community engagement the Senior Fellows network are most excited about.

“I will be working across HIA offices and with Senior Fellows to speak with stakeholders across our community to hear what areas of support and growth are of the most interest and need and work with them to prototype new activities both online and in person to see what forms of engagement are most meaningful and important for Senior Fellows and benefit to our community,” she explains.

“I love facilitating exchange and growth.”

Outside of Humanity in Action, Joanna works as a visual artist and researcher through various project-based grants and programs to engage diverse multicultural communities primarily residing in Poland. “I love facilitating exchange and growth,” she shares as she describes her previous cross-cultural and interdisciplinary work.

When not working, Joanna enjoys a great work-life balance in Poland. You can often find her on various trips to museums or movie screenings, tasting cuisines from across Europe and internationally, or learning a new language. “I truly appreciate connections between how things translate similarly or different across linguistic and cultural spaces and how language impacts the way we see and navigate the word,” she shares.

“I am available for a virtual coffee any time!”

Finally, Joanna also enjoys her cup of coffee. “I am available for a virtual coffee any time,” she shared. If you have any ideas, information about some efforts you have already done within the HIA network, or tips for community building to share, please do not hesitate to reach out to Joanna via email.