Headshot Joe Gunn

Let’s start with the easy stuff – give us a sample of your professional background and experience.

I have over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. I’ve worked in youth development, fundraising, disability services, and advocacy. I’ve also served on many advisory committees and a few boards of directors. My first nonprofit job was at CYO Camp Rancho Framasa in Brown County. I did a little bit of every program for the organization over the years, but my favorite job was supporting youth with disabilities. The programs there are designed to ensure all children are fully included in all aspects of the program. I also recently finished a Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management from IUPUI. It was great to take my past nonprofit experience and connect it to theory and best practice. I also made sure to keep a critical eye on norms in the sector that do not support diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion.

What brought you to PLC?

I first heard about the Peace Learning Center through my good friend Kelly Hannon. She attended Peace Learning Center programs while in high school and reconnected with PLC as a high school educator pursuing a master’s degree at IUPUI. I connected with their organization and did a presentation for PLC staff on disability diversity, equity, and inclusion with my previous nonprofit employer, accessABILITY. After finishing my master’s degree, I was looking to work for an organization that centered diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion. I wanted to make sure to take a role where I could use my privilege to help organizations doing this work while also not taking up space in leadership roles that really should be filled by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

What are you most excited about in your new role?

The Peace Learning Center has a great existing network of donors, supporters, and volunteers. I am excited to pair my knowledge and skills with the knowledge and experience of my coworkers to deepen existing relationships with stakeholders and forging new ones. I want to ensure all stakeholders feel supported and included in ways that are meaningful to them.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

I wake up to the sounds of birds chirping outside a cabin. I climb out of bed and brew a fresh cup of coffee in the kitchen for friends and family traveling with me. I step outside and sip my coffee in the cool morning air as I slowly wake up. Once finished with a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, we change into our hiking gear and set off down a trail covered in soft pine needles. We spend the day climbing mountains, crossing streams, and taking rest breaks at beautiful overlooks in our hammocks. We get back to the cabin in time to enjoy a warm hearty dinner. Then, we then sit in front of a bonfire until the stars appear overhead.

If we pushed play on what you were last listening to (music, podcast or otherwise) what would we hear?

Cold Heart – PNAU Remix with Elton John and Dua Lipa. It is on a playlist my partner John and I made for our anniversary celebration.

Pre-COVID, you’re invited to a pitch-in, what are you bringing?

I always love a deviled egg. If someone else hasn’t already promised to make them, I will be sure they are there!

Who is someone you look up to? Why?

Reyma McCoy McDeid, she is a Black, autistic woman working to identify systemic oppression with a focus on the intersection of disability and race. I am privileged to have learned from and been mentored by her. I have watched her unwavering advocacy despite pushback she has received from folks caught up in ableist and racist societal norms both in government and in the nonprofit sector.

Lastly, how did you celebrate when you accepted your new job?

My partner John and I were in the middle of celebrating our anniversary so getting the job offer was the icing on the cake! He treated me out to dinner to celebrate. I also made sure to take time to express gratitude to everyone who helped me along in the job search process as part of my celebration.