Joanne Kron (BA ’03, MA ’03) recently was named executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, a 200,000-member progressive political advocacy organization. Prior, Kron worked for the Denver-based Gill Action Fund, which promotes equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
Q: What do you believe Coloradans are most concerned about this election year?
A: Jobs and the economy. I think people in Colorado felt the pinch during the economic downturn and now Colorado is doing very well—adding jobs, reducing the unemployment rate—much quicker than we are seeing in other states around the U.S. But it’s still a big concern that people have.
Q: What about education?
A: Education is one of those items that I feel really expands beyond political party. It continues to not receive the attention that it should, both at the Legislature and on the ballot. We just aren’t voting in support of education and improving education. Education is one of the things I am really focused on, partly as the result of the experiences I had at DU. Volunteers in Partnership at DU gave me the opportunity to go back to the Denver Center for International Studies [a Denver public school], from which I graduated, and make sure that students were thinking about what they were going to be doing after they graduated from high school, and that college was on that list.
Q: What are some of the goals for ProgressNow Colorado this year in terms of holding public leaders accountable?
A: We are taking a look at what is happening in the Legislature and what bills are being promoted that focus on job growth and the economy. We are also taking a look at the bills that really don’t align with that. We’re making sure that ProgressNow Colorado members are aware of what is happening at the Legislature and then also asking our membership to engage where appropriate.
Q: In the past, the press could be counted on to be political watchdogs. What is ProgressNow’s role in challenging misinformation, and how does it compare to the role of today’s mainstream press?
A: I have a strong appreciation for members of the mainstream press. Reporters are expected to produce stories, post online and be on social media. It’s hard to be able to get every aspect of every story. Our job is to make sure that our viewpoint and the general progressive viewpoint [gets] in those stories. A majority of our work is done online, communicating with our members and with people throughout the state through social-media outlets.
Q: How did your studies at the University of Denver lead you to a career in working for progressive organizations like Gill Action and ProgressNow Colorado?
A: I have always been progressive politically and very interested in how politics work. A lot of my international studies work [at DU] has carried over into economic justice, civic justice and caring for those nonprofits. The Josef Korbel School of International Studies offers opportunities to learn experientially, preparing students to develop arguments and understand policy: how it’s created, how it has changed and how individuals can play a role in that. Those skills have definitely carried through.
Article originally appeared in the University of Denver Magazine, Spring 2012 issue.