“Within the architecture of this neighborhood I have celebrated numerous weddings, performed traditional dance, competed in Chinese calligraphy and speech, stood by my mother as she officially became a U.S. citizen and discovered my pride in being Asian American. Supporting projects within this community is a meaningful way for me to give back to a place that has truly enriched my life.”
Joann continues to work at Interim CDA in Seattle, where she is working to revitalize the Chinatown/ International District. InterIm is a comprehensive community development corporation that promotes, advocates, and revitalizes Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the Puget Sound area for the benefit of low-and moderate-income residents and community business owners.
Joann focused on the 86-unit Hirabayashi Place, which was awarded $2.5 million by the Washington State Housing Trust Fund at the end of 2012. She also created a Sustainable Development Workbook, which she presented to Seattle area community development professionals as a tool for collaborating with community on projects. From her first fellowship project designing and building a chicken coop for the Danny Wu community garden to organizing a workshop with local youth to paint murals that enlivened the façade on the future Hirabayashi Place site, Joann used projects of all sized to deepen her connection with community members.
A Seattle native, Joann received a Bachelor of Arts in architectural studies from the University of Washington and a Master of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. With three classmates from RISD, she initiated a micro-finance nonprofit to benefit former sex trade workers in India. The partners raised funds to buy and ship sewing machines to Kolkata, India that now empower 17 female artisans to sew, market and sell quilts – the proceeds from which are saved in a college fund for the women's daughters.