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January 6, 2017

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Jovanna Anzaldua

Kate Hart
In 2015, I profiled museum curator Jaclyn Roessel, whose "shine love" approach to life continues to inspire me every day. Today, I'm so pleased to feature her dear friend Jovanna Anzaldua, who not only co-hosts the schmooze-lady connected project supporting remarkable women in Arizona, but also works as an advocate for women's reproductive health and justice as she earns a PhD -- on top of her Masters in Public Administration and a position at the Arizona State University Art Museum. Her work and drive are an inspiration as we kick off 2017.


Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Jovanna: I am a PhD student, women’s reproductive health/justice advocate, and a consultant. I am also a proud board member for the Arizona Family Health Partnership and am a co-host of schmooze- lady connected. As a student in Biology and Society I focus on reproductive health mostly as it relates to policy, ethics and law. One of the projects that I am most excited to work on as a student is Reproductive Health Arizona (RHAZ). I have had an interest in reproductive health since I was in my late teens when I ran into some reproductive health issues of my own. I have a natural curiousness which led me to explore the topic probably more in depth than I needed to and since I am also naturally drawn to sharing what I know, I began sharing what I learned with my close friends and family. The shock on their face when I would share what I was learning about our bodies and the policies that policed them was validation for me that this is what I had to do- and that is still one of my primary drivers.

black and white photo of Jovanna eating
Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?

Jovanna: Cooking! It functions both as a way for me to zone out/relax and to connect with those that I love. The two women who have influenced me most, my mom and my nana, taught me how to cook. I carry many special memories and traditions that involve cooking. I’ve always known it was an act of love to make sure that someone is nourished and that their taste buds are poppin.

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Jovanna: My biggest challenge right now is imposter syndrome, that anxiety-inducing voice in the back of my head that tells me that I’m not a badass and that I’m a fraud who hasn’t accomplished all the things that I know I have. Clearly this is bullshit, I’ve done a lot of things that I’m proud of. I find that it helps to be open about these feelings and to talk to others who also feel the same. I’m both amazed and reassured when accomplished, seemingly fearless women in my life admit to feeling this way.

Jovanna at the White House's United State of Women summit
Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.

Jovanna: Most recently, I received some tough feedback from my professors that hit me like a ton of bricks. Of course, it was somewhat expected as academia is known for being tough as one of its purposes is to produce high level thinkers and experts but the feedback really had me feeling like I was a failure one semester in. Through consulting with my professors, talking with former/current PhD students, reading related blogs, and leaning on my amazing support system I crawled out of the imposter syndrome haze. This is a new experience for me- I’m in the program because I have plenty of room to grow and must accept that part of that growth is going to be harsh. With newly gained perspective, I’m ready to go into semester two eager to grown, with slightly thicker skin. I invite anyone who finds themselves in similar situations to reach out to me - the strength I gained from those around me was invaluable and I’m so glad that I remained open about it instead of retreating.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Jovanna: One of the best compliments I have received was being told that I do a good job of balancing my straight forward message with a soft delivery. I value facts and feelings which can sometimes be viewed as juxtaposition. I strive to be balanced so I appreciated that someone saw that.

tools from Reproductive Health Arizona
Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work?

Jovanna:  I attribute my initial formalized understanding of my values as “feminist” to the riot grrl movement, a natural continuation of my love of punk rock as a teenager. I was in a riot grrl band and had a zine when I was 15; activism and the strive for equality (whether gender, racial, economic) have always been a natural part of who I am since about then. However, throughout my entire life I have been lucky to be influenced by a family full of strong women as well as a father who taught me that I could do anything I wanted and really reinforced feminist values without calling it that. My priorities as a feminist have morphed throughout the years along with my understanding of intersectionality and the many systems within which we exist.

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Jovanna: Give them the credit and recognition that they deserve, whether it’s bolstering their unnoticed input in a meeting or submitting their name for an award. Listen to their dreams and ambitions then connect them with opportunities that can help them reach their goals when they arise.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Jovanna: Be fluid and change paths as necessary. If something excites you, explore it and don’t be afraid to change your mind if what you thought was for you ends up not being for you. Share your interests with others. You never know how opportunity will present itself – sometimes it won’t be exactly what you want but be creative in how you move forward. There is beauty in how things unfold when you’re open to a variety of possibilities.


badass ladies you should know logo
A true city girl, Jovanna Anzaldua enjoys living in downtown Phoenix with her partner and step daughter. They rescued Luna, a pit bull mix, from a shelter in 2013 which naturally turned her into an avid “dog person.” Luna can do no wrong, it doesn’t matter how many remote controls she chews. As the older sister to four brother’s Jovanna takes the role of big sister very seriously and loves spending time with her huge family. She makes time to travel often- exploring local bookstores, coffee shops and cuisine. Food & drink brings her an absurd amount of pleasure; invitations to schmooze over vodka or coffee will rarely be turned down. Cooking is her ultimate stress reliever and expression of love.

Jovanna’s passion lies in women’s issues, particularly women’s health. This includes everything from reproductive health to women’s cancers within the context of policy, education and the clinical setting. Jovanna currently works, volunteers and sits on the board of various women focused organizations both locally and nationally.

schmooze: lady connected  //  ASU profile

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