Meet Those Nerdy Girls – Joanna Dreifus


It’s time to meet the women behind the magic here at Dear Pandemic! Today we’d love to introduce you to Joanna Dreifus, MPH–our Director of Community Engagement.

Joanna volunteered to help us out more than a year ago. Her main area of focus is all things YOU! Our readers. She reads all your comments (yes even the nasty ones) and writes the occasional posts where we get to hear your experiences and thoughts. We chatted with Joanna and here’s what she shared:

🟣 What do you miss most from the Before Times?

Traveling (without concern). Leaving my NYC apartment without a mask on, even just to take the garbage down the hall.

🟣 What is one thing you really do not miss?

Loud, crowded indoor bars and restaurants.

🟣 What have been your proudest achievements so far in life?

Raising two fantastic kids (my 18yo daughter and 15yo son), mostly on my own.

🟣 What’s the most frustrating thing about the pandemic, from your point of view?

Misinformation. Lack of awareness about the possible long-term risks of Covid infection. Also, ableism and privilege. Ok, I’ll stop now.

🟣 What is your superpower?

Sleeping through any noise/events outside my NYC apartment. After 27 years, you learn to ignore sirens, unidentified “booms”, and street fights.

[Confession time… I asked Joanna these questions back in June 2021 and someone (ahem, me) kinda forgot to publish her interview. What can I say? #PandemicProfessionalBurnout. So we asked again this week as we reboot this occasional series. Joanna gave two different answers to this question and they are equally super, so here’s what she said the other time.]

I can identify nearly any Top 40s hit from the 1980s by hearing just the first few notes. Or, maybe this isn’t something to brag about….

🟣 How do you manage stress? What is your go-to way to unwind?

I write and perform stand-up comedy. I also exercise (almost) every (other) day, take a lot of photographs around the tri-state area, and paint (badly).

🟣 Why do you spend your time volunteering with us instead of… you know… whatever else you could be doing?

I am SO happy that Those Nerdy Girls offered me this role when I contacted them a year ago. Being able to 1) use my MPH again 2) help people navigate the COVID information overload 3) personally help some of our readers 4) learn so much from a brilliant group of women health scientists I am now lucky to call my colleagues and friends. I can’t think of a better gig right now! For me, Dear Pandemic has been the silver lining of these strange times.

Joanna has a Master’s of Public Health from Columbia University. She works as a special needs education consultant and performs stand-up comedy in New York. She identifies strongly as a GenX’er. Although we don’t take on most of the people who offer to help out with Dear Pandemic, when Joanna emailed to say she wanted to volunteer and had an MPH and a lot of social media experience, it definitely turned our heads! She’s been a tremendous asset to the team for over a year now, and we are so grateful for the time she gives us! Here’s a big THANK YOU to Joanna from me and the rest of the Nerdy Girl team.


Link to Joanna’s Profile