Insights from the ANY Co-Chair: An Exclusive Interview with Joanna Carmona

March 28, 2024

To begin, could you provide some insights into your life journey? This includes pivotal experiences and decisions that have significantly influenced the trajectory of your career.

My journey has been shaped by a diverse array of experiences that have molded me into the professional I am today. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I’ve always been a high achiever and always had this dream of moving out of the country and experiencing other culture. Being the eldest child, I remember growing up having a sense of the need to be a better person so I can be a better example for my siblings. In the Philippines, I worked in the government offices after college and always tried to plan for my “next move” to achieve my dreams. When I had the chance, I moved to Dubai and worked as an Office Administrator at a prestigious law firm for couple of years, and eventually settling in the United States to support my fiancé at that time (who is now my husband), with his career goals. Each step has contributed to my growth. Early on, I realized the importance of adaptability and resilience as I navigated through different cultures and work environments.

Relocating to the United States was an absolute culture shock for me. Growing up in a collectivist culture, transitioning here brought both pros and cons. I found a greater emphasis on individualism, which encouraged me to pursue my personal goals and ambitions more freely. The States also offers a diverse and dynamic environment, exposing me to new ideas, cultures, and opportunities for personal growth. However, the transition also presented challenges. Adapting to the fast-paced lifestyle and the emphasis on independence required some adjustment. Moreover, navigating the cultural nuances and social norms initially felt overwhelming. Despite these challenges, the experience ultimately enriched my perspective and allowed me to embrace the best of both worlds. I took this as an opportunity and immersed myself in various roles while I worked on finding what is meaningful to me. While working as a purchasing agent in a corporate firm as my first US job, I decided to go back to school and get another degree. It was during these years that I discovered my passion for understanding humanity and what makes us who we are. This realization prompted me to pursue higher education, earning a degree in BA in Psychology at Southern Connecticut University, which also opened the door for me to try academia. And here, my Yale experience has started. I worked in the library as a Senior Admin Assistant for five years while working on getting my MBA from University of New Haven and pregnant (during the pandemic). Armed with these qualifications and experiences, I ventured into new territories, eventually landing my current role as the Program Manager at Yale Digital Ethics Center.

With your diverse background in administration, program management, marketing, and communications, how do you integrate these skills in your current role?

In my current role as the Program Manager at Digital Ethics Center (DEC) at Yale, my diverse background allows me to effectively lead and execute initiatives. I leverage my organizational expertise to streamline processes and ensure efficient project management. From operation and management to training and advising, I have to be flexible in all aspect in order to meet objectives that align with the center’s mission and goals. Part of my job at the DEC is to also open new lines of communications and maintain strong relationship with different stakeholders. My marketing and communication skills enable me to amplify the mission of the center and engage stakeholders effectively. These help me drive forward the center’s objectives while fostering collaboration and communication across various teams and stakeholders. This role is not just a job for me; it represents an aspiration to contribute to something more meaningful – a pursuit that aligns with my career goals and the impact I aim to achieve.

Since 2020, you’ve been actively involved with the Asian Network at Yale (ANY). Could you elaborate on your role as the Co-Chair and how your skills in marketing, strategic communication, and event planning have been instrumental in leading the Community Engagement sub-committee?

As Co-Chair of the Asian Network at Yale (ANY), my role involves spearheading initiatives to foster community engagement and promote the interests of Asian members within the Yale community. I started my involvement with ANY as a Co-Chair of the Community Engagement sub-committee in 2020. My skills in marketing, strategic communication, and event planning have been instrumental for this role. Through targeted marketing campaigns and strategic communication efforts, we were able to raise awareness of ANY’s mission and events, effectively engaging members, and allies across campus. Our initiatives are well-executed, impactful, and inclusive, creating spaces for dialogue, cultural exchange, and mutual support.

What motivated you to take on the role of Co-Chair at Asian Network at Yale, and how do you envision contributing to the organization’s mission during your two-year term?

The decision to take on the role of Co-Chair at the Asian Network at Yale (ANY) was motivated by my deep commitment to fostering community, advocacy, and empowerment within the Asian community at Yale. Recognizing the importance of representation and solidarity, I was inspired to contribute my skills and experiences to further ANY’s mission of promoting cultural awareness, advocacy, and support for Asian members within the Yale community.

I envision leveraging my leadership, communication, and organizational skills to advance ANY’s mission in several key areas. One is to strengthen community engagement by supporting inclusive spaces for dialogue, collaboration, and cultural exchange. This involves organizing events, workshops, and initiatives (through our sub-committee members) to celebrate Asian identities and address relevant issues impacting our community. I also intend to enhance advocacy efforts by amplifying the voices of Asian members and advocating for their needs and interests within the broader Yale community. This includes advocating for institutional support, resources, and policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

You have been recognized with the Community Catalyst Award by the Working Women’s Network in 2022. Can you tell us about the initiatives or contributions that led to this recognition and how they align with your professional values?

This was an unexpected treat for me – I was two weeks postpartum with my first child when I received the news that I was chosen for this award. The Community Catalyst award was given to a woman who leads in a volunteer capacity at Yale or through a Yale initiative. It was a reflection of the initiatives and contributions made through my involvement in the Asian Network at Yale (ANY) Community Engagement sub-committee. These initiatives and contributions reflected my professional values of inclusivity, empowerment, and advocacy. They underscored my commitment to using my skills and experiences to drive positive change and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for Asian individuals at Yale.

What is your motto in life?

I am a firm believer that “if there is a will, there is a way”, and that there is a higher power that guides us and helps us manifest what we want to achieve. These has always been my mantra ever since. It’s a reminder that determination, coupled with faith and perseverance, can overcome even the toughest obstacles. This motto fuels my drive to pursue my goals relentlessly, knowing that I can turn aspirations into reality.

Written by Sandeep Kumar