PMC Welcomes Two Program Managers: Sandy Joseph and Kristin Thomas
Sandy Joseph’s experience bridging cultures started early. When she was 9, her family moved from Haiti to the US, where they lived in Boston and nearby Malden, which has a large Haitian community.
Now, as a new Program Manager for Population Media Center, she’s immersed in cross-cultural work as she oversees programs, budgets, and other aspects of PMC’s operations in Burundi, Nigeria, Zambia — and Haiti. Joseph is one of two Program Managers, with Kristin Thomas, who joined PMC in January.
“I have great intercultural competence and communication skills,” Joseph says. She has strengthened those skills in development work in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa with donors such as USAID and UNICEF.
“I’m passionate about improving the lives of girls and women in poor countries because I was a girl from a poor country…My family came to the US for a better life,” she says. “It’s important to help people who wouldn’t otherwise have access readily available to certain resources.”
Before PMC, Joseph was involved with climate and environmental advocacy, population, education and other issues as project manager for the Mott Macdonald Group. She worked with French-speaking African nations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal.
Joseph is drawn to PMC’s approach to transforming lives.
With a love of storytelling, writing, and acting, PMC’s entertainment-education model resonates with her. “I really like theater. In another life, I’d want to be an actress,” says Joseph, who has written poetry and professional blogs about environmental issues. “The way PMC creates shows is a great way to have fun and get a message across.”
She plans to make an impact at PMC.
“I look forward to having my ideas come to life — maybe a new project, a new partner organization, a new radio story. I’m looking forward to contributing my ideas and seeing them come to fruition,” she says.
Joseph’s personal life at home in the Washington, D.C. metro area is immersed in diversity, too. “I’m very much rooted in my Haitian culture here,” she says. She enjoys live Haitian music and visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
She’s also a fan of PMC’s TV program East Los High, an Emmy-nominated American show on Hulu with an all-Latinx cast. “I’m obsessed with it,” Joseph says.
PMC Program Manager Kristin Thomas connected with East Los High, too.
In a graduate course in health communication at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health about five years ago, an article cited the PMC show, and she watched it. “I thought it was such a cool way to reach people, while they’re watching TV…but they’re also learning along the way,” she says.
That was her introduction to PMC. “It’s insane to think that I read an article about PMC in my graduate program, and now here I am,” says Thomas, Program Manager for Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, and Uganda.
With a master’s degree in public health, Thomas’s background in international health includes time in Uganda, first during graduate school, researching HIV counseling. Later, as a fellow with Global Health Corps, she worked in Uganda for Planned Parenthood Global. Before she joined PMC, she had a US-based role working with Burkina Faso and several other French-speaking African nations for PAI, which advocates for women’s reproductive health.
“I’ve gained the cultural competency of working with people from different backgrounds, which will help me a lot in my new role,” Thomas says.
She’ll support PMC Country Directors with everything from research to marketing to implementing radio serial dramas. “Creating a team between me and a Country Director is what’s most rewarding, so that we’re both thinking about strategy,” she says. “We can work together to figure out the best programming for the populations that we want to serve.”
Thomas, who lives in Washington, D.C., looks forward to being in the PMC countries she’s involved with when the Covid situation changes.
“A lot of successful international development work happens when you work directly with people in-country,” she says. “I’d love to hear the PMC shows or be there for part of the recordings.”
One of Thomas’s favorite pastimes is — no surprise — traveling. She hopes to visit Aruba this year when it is safe to do so. “I get really energized being in a new place with new foods to try and places to go,” she says.
When she began studying French in 7th grade, it wasn’t a whim. Thomas wanted her language skills to have a purpose, and she’s found it in her work for PMC and other organizations.
“It’s more likely that people can have an impact at a small organization like PMC,” she says. “I want to look at what can be improved or optimized…to elevate the experiences and needs of Country Directors and make sure we’re doing our best to support them.”
“Entertainment-education is such a unique way to reach people about public health issues,” Thomas adds. “I’m passionate about health communication and how it can be a tool to educate people about living a healthy life.”