Joanna Doven, 38, is a lifelong Allegheny County resident, mother of three children and longtime small business owner who worked in Pittsburgh local government as one of the nation’s youngest big city mayoral press secretaries from 2006-2013. During her time in the Mayor’s Office, she led communications for the 2009 G-20 Economic Summit and was an integral part of a governing team that led the city into its Third Renaissance, known for historic crime lows, a resurgence of Downtown’s residential and small business population, and reinvestment in neighborhood infrastructure.
In 2009, Joanna founded a communications-based small business, now known as Premo Consultants. As the founding CEO of a certified women-owned business, Joanna has helped numerous nonprofit organizations and businesses launch or grow initiatives that help people and grow the region’s jobs and tax base. Joanna was on the frontlines working with PurePenn to bring jobs and revitalization to McKeesport through the state’s medical marijuana program, helped Magee Women’s Research Institute put on their first global event to catapult advancements in women’s health research, and worked with neighborhood developer Walnut Capital on a community-based initiative that supported working-class and low-income families through for-sale affordable home ownership, workforce development and youth scholarships.
Joanna Doven is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, where she serves as a guest lecturer. A staunch advocate for children and families, she is a former advisory board member for Allegheny County’s Children, Youth and Families. In this role, Joanna fiercely advocated for the treatment of children as the most vulnerable and unprotected members of our society through public awareness around lenient sentencing guidelines with respect to crimes against children. She led a protest following the lenient sentencing of a parent who starved and beat two African-born adopted children, who nearly died.
Joanna has lived in nearly all areas of Allegheny County. She spent most of her childhood in the south hills, resided in city neighborhoods throughout her 20’s, and purchased her first home in the North Hills in her 30’s. She resides in Squirrel Hill with her three children Hannah, Mikey, Daisy and partner, Chris. She has served on boards who advocate for the disadvantaged, including Life’s Work, and currently serves on the Pittsburgh Musical Theater board, an arts education nonprofit that builds life skills in youths through freedom of expression in the arts.
Joanna Doven was raised in the Beltzhoover neighborhood of Pittsburgh, before moving to Jefferson Hills, where she along with her older brother, Charlie, was raised by a single mom. On many weekends, she would be with her ‘Bubba and Papap’ in Bon Air. Her grandfather worked in the steel mills and then as a bricklayer. With hands shaped like bricks, he proudly had the ‘best’ garden in the neighborhood. The two of them worked relentlessly to keep their home and steep street spotless, and that often meant shoveling neighbors’ steps.
"The residents of Allegheny County have a deep history of working with our hands. As we look to the future, we can stay true to our Steel City roots while building an inclusive economy rooted in technological innovation and manufacturing." - Joanna Doven
As a young kid, Joanna watched her mom, Holly, work two jobs while completing her college degree in social work. Difficult to find childcare as a single-parent, Holly would often take Joanna with her to work at Auberle, a children's group home. Joanna saw firsthand the challenges of homelessness among children and how it could lead to long-term trauma and adverse life outcomes.
Her mom then went on to manage a halfway house owned, called Mon Yough Community Health Services, where she helped young adults with mental health disorders on the brink of homelessness achieve residential stability. The residential facility was closed in 2010.
“Allegheny County’s department of health and human services is the lifeline for our most vulnerable residents. As mental health diagnoses surge post Covid, county council must collaborate with elected leaders to increase funding so that no one is left behind.”
Joanna’s brother became addicted to opioids at a young age, which shaped much of her family and her young adult life. While in college, she visited her brother at a neighboring university and found empty pill bottles of opioids prescribed to him by a nearby doctor. The pills didn’t last long and she helped lead the efforts to get her brother into rehab. Quickly she learned about the rehab “cottage industry” plagued by substandard facilities that stigmatize addiction and didn’t focus enough on mental health, to high-price rehabs that over promise treatment, but bankrupt families. After decades of rotating rehabs, her brother is well again, only through committing to a program that includes sobriety from all substances.
“Nearly 90% of people who battle substance use disorders also have at least one underlying mental health diagnosis. Allegheny County Council must work with the county executive to ensure that all funding dedicated to rehabs includes robust mental health treatment.”
Joanna Doven began her political career interning for former Mayor Bob O’Connor’s 2005 mayoral campaign. She often joined Bob’s wife, Judy, in door knocking and quickly learned that hard work and doing the right thing – wins races. Joanna then went on to work for Mayor O’Connor’s grant and development office but shortly after her first day he was rushed to the hospital with terminal brain cancer. To help fill the gaps in the communications at this difficult time, she was recruited to the press secretary’s office. When then Council President Luke Ravenstahl became mayor upon O’Connor’s untimely death, Joanna led communications.
At only 23, she was leading proactive and crisis communications for the city and its 3,000 employees, responding 24/7 to the needs of 11 city beat reporters, a far cry from the reality today. Through mistakes and hard work, she quickly earned the respect from both colleagues and the media and transferred those skills to found a successful business, Premo Consultants. She dabbled with growing her firm by opening a New York office, but challenges with direct flights from the Pittsburgh airport led her to focus on her headquarter region.
In 2013, Joanna was committed to growing her career, but not at the risk of losing flexibility to raise two young children. Before the era of flexible work schedules that include working from home, she chose to invent it herself by starting her own small business built for working moms. Last year, she codified a four-day workweek for her employees, all of whom are working moms. She believes that the modern workday must adapt to meet the obligations of the modern human and that includes being able to take kids’ to doctor’s appointments, extracurricular activities and have time for yourself for wellness.
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