* Solutions Storyteller * Worldly Wanderer * * Creativity Connoisseur *
I am JoAnna Haugen, a seasoned writer, editor, public speaker, and founder of Rooted, a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, storytelling, and social impact.
Though I am currently living as an American expatriate in Kyiv, Ukraine, my journey to this point started on a matatu stuck in the mud during monsoon season in rural Kenya.
At that particular moment, I looked helplessly at the sunken vehicle, certain I was in for a long walk back to my village in ankle-deep mud. After surveying the situation, several men made a dry, smooth surface in front of the vehicle out of banana tree leaves. A few nudges of the matatu from behind, and it popped out of the mud, onto the makeshift road, and we were on our way to our intended destination.
At the time, I only felt thankful that I didn't have to slog several miles through the rain. Looking back, I realize it was the start of a rich career as a storyteller.
From there, I wound my way through corporate jobs until I found my clichéd calling at Burning Man. I traveled the world as an independent writer based in Las Vegas, published hundreds of articles in dozens of magazines, fact checked guidebooks and ghost wrote business books, worked with international brands on a vast array of projects, and shared what I learned by speaking at conferences, on radio shows, and in workshops.
Throughout it all, I uncovered the values that now guide my work.
- Be curious and respond with purpose.
- Ask from a genuine place of interest. Listen from a place of humility.
- Act responsibly to tell stories with compassion and honesty.
- Elevate and celebrate the voices of those who aren't traditionally heard.
- Explore even the smallest solutions to the biggest problems.
- Tread lightly on the earth. Highlight and encourage sustainability so others can live fulfilling lives.
Today, I am passionate about reporting on and using my platform to share solutions-focused stories — a seed that was sown the day I got stuck in the mud. This passion led to the creation of Rooted.
I enjoy working on challenging and creative projects that tackle complex issues, especially as they relate to the travel and tourism industry. I love to light a fire in people through high-quality storytelling. And I especially appreciate working with clients, editors, and producers who want to amplify compelling narratives from underrepresented parts of the world.
In communities around the globe, individuals use the resources they have to respond to every day challenges. They care for children when they have no material possessions. They find ways to speak to each other when they don't share a language. And, as I learned many years ago, they make roads out of banana leaves when vehicles are hopelessly stuck in mud.
Storytelling is a powerful tool to highlight shared values and experiences. In a globally focused and divided world, it can unite people and jump start positive change. As a writer, editor, and public speaker, I care deeply about doing just that.
Creating a better, more informed world one person, one encounter, one story at a time.
Whether penning a feature article or assisting thought leaders with developmental editing, my goal is to elevate stories lost in the noise and make them memorable.
A memorable presentation doesn’t end when the lights come up. Instead, it is only the beginning of a conversation.
ALSO OF INTEREST
I received my communications degree from the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University with an emphasis in public relations and a double minor in German and international business. I am a member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, She's Wanderful Content Creator Community, Impact Travel Alliance, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and a media advisor for the Transformational Travel Council.
In 2021, I was named a winner in Newsweek's Future of Tourism storytelling category. Additionally, I received a "commended" acknowledgement in the Business Support category for the 2020 WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards.
I am also a two-time recipient of the Nevada Arts Council grant, and I serve as a mentor for Women in Travel and the Solutions Journalism Network.
Prior to working in the media and communications industry, I served as a public health volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya so I speak a touch of Swahili as well. I am also an international election observer.
YES, I'M A HUMAN TOO
Though being an independent business owner is a full-time job, my life does not revolve around my work. As such, you might be interested in these personal details:
- I am a big believer in trail tourism and love long-distance hiking. I've trekked across Liechtenstein and put hundreds of miles beneath my feet on the Alpe-Adria, John Muir, and Inca Trails.
- I'm a calculated risk adventure seeker. Some of my most memorable experiences include crawling through a burial cave in the Cook Islands, whitewater rafting the Nile River, throwing beads from a float at a Mardi Gras parade, and drinking Guinness on St. Patrick's Day in Dublin.
- My husband and I have been host parents for six high school foreign exchange students.
- We have adopted a small zoo of rescue pets over the years, including a street dog from Kenya and a kitten from Ukraine.
HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
Please feel free to contact me. I love learning about other people and look forward to connecting. Fill me in about your writing, editing, or public speaking needs, and we'll take it from there.