JoAnn Mark, ASC, Ed.D., returned to Newman University in April.
She returns after serving as the executive director for the Partnership for Global Justice (PGJ), an international nongovernment organization with special consultative status to the United Nations. PGJ is headquartered in New York.
Mark, who is now the institutional research assistant at Newman, has a long history with the university. She once taught math, pioneered computer science classes at Newman and served as vice president of academics.
She left Newman in 1985 to work in a variety of academic settings and leadership roles but remained connected to Newman through the Adorers of the Blood of Christ’s (ASC) ministry as well as the school’s board of trustees.
In 2008, Mark returned as director of transfer student orientation and retention and institutional research until leaving again to work with the PGJ.
Mark had served on the organization’s board of directors for eight years before taking on the executive director role. She described her experience with PGJ as being “rich with great exposure to world issues and the processes of the U.N.
“I was familiar with some of that, but this was more in-depth,” she said. “There’s an organization called R.U.N., which stands for Religious at the U.N., and through it, we learned about the other religious communities, met their representatives and learned all that they were doing.”
Mark and other members also worked closely with the head of the honors program at Molloy College, which included hosting a panel focused on environmental issues.
Cardinal Turkson of the Catholic Church — and a key person in the writing of Laudato Si, the Pope’s Pastoral Letter about the environment — spoke about it to a packed crowd at Molloy College.
“It was a wonderful experience to have him join in on the panel,” she said. “And when the document came in, the person who was chair of the general assembly held it up and said, ‘Everybody should read this.’”
Mark said one of the most exciting things that happened while she was executive director of PGJ was when the U.N. was able to agree about sustainable development goals. The 17 sustainable development goals, which were coined by the U.N., are an attempt at working toward positive change on a global level by 2030.
“Being engaged with Molloy College and the various discussions was a wonderful experience — not only for me and several other adult participants but for the many students who were also in attendance,” Mark added.
Last year, Newman students Linnea Ristow and Annie Dang were selected to intern with PGJ. They traveled to New York for a weeklong string of opportunities and left with more than one idea for how they hoped to spread awareness of the efforts of the U.N.
Ristow and Dang attended sessions held by the U.N., dove deeper into a passion relating to one of the 17 sustainable development goals and returned to campus — each with their own research project in mind.
“That is the kind of thing I enjoy very much,” Mark said. “Getting people to know more about world issues and what they can do through all the new contacts and new learning opportunities.”
Three years of living and working with the U.N. did not come without their fair share of learning, Mark said.
“One of the things that surprises me somewhat is the expectations in the United States of the U.N. I don’t think people realize that the U.N. is made up of 193 countries and each one has its vote, and the U.S.’ vote doesn’t count any more than anyone else’s vote. It’s important to recognize how difficult it can be with all the different traditions and languages.
“I just hope that people are positive about all the effort that the U.N. puts into keeping war from developing around the world,” she added. “I know people will say it is not as successful as they would like to see it, but people don’t know how many times it has averted major calamities.”
As the institutional research assistant, Mark works alongside Director of Institutional Research Lori Steiner.
“I am looking forward to collaborating with Sister JoAnn on future research projects,” Steiner said. “Her prior expertise in institutional research will add another perspective, which will be greatly appreciated.”
Mark said the best part of her work — with PGJ, Newman University and beyond — is the people.
“It’s always been the people,” she said. “Relationships, relationships, relationships. At the U.N., as in so many other things, if you don’t have the relationships, you’re not able to move things forward. One of the reasons I wanted to come back here was because I really love being engaged on the college campus, with young people — the students, activities, everything.”
Mark added, “It’s so key to be supportive of all of the efforts of the U.N. — to support peace, human rights, human dignity and the rights of each government, even though we don’t always agree, and to be concerned about those small island nations that are just being completely wiped out because of climate change. It’s so important to be aware of the suffering and issues of other people around the world.”