During Pride Month, we are sharing the stories of LGBTQ+ employee-owners at Parametrix. Meet Joanna (Jo) Johnson, a transportation engineer based in Bremerton, WA. Jo has worked at Parametrix for over 3 years.
Tell us about your career. What do you do?
Born and raised in Washington, I have my bachelor’s in civil engineering from Saint Martin’s University in Lacey. I started my engineering career as a geotech field engineer and only lasted one construction season. Realizing the physical and travel demand of field work wasn’t for me, I applied for an entry level engineer position in the Parametrix Bremerton office.
Tell us about a project you’re working on currently or a project you have worked on that you’re proud of.
My most interesting project at Parametrix has been the Silverdale Transit Center project for Kitsap Transit in Silverdale, Washington. I’ve gotten to be part of a multi-year, multi-phase site development project that has challenged my CAD, design, and engineering skills.
Tell us about your family.
My family came to Washington through the US Army, so I’m up here in Bremerton on my own while my parents live about an hour away in the greater Olympia area. My leopard gecko, Felix, keeps me company on days that I work from home. But every few years or so, my mother and I fly to Germany (her country of origin) to visit extended family.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I dabble in many different hobbies! Lately, I am on the production team with a friend who wrote an original self-written and composed musical based off Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. We have shows scheduled in Port Orchard in August 2022 and Bainbridge Island in October 2022. Other than that, I am an avid crafter, cosplayer, and video game enthusiast
How has being LGBTQ+ influenced your career? What challenges have you faced?
Being LGBTQ+ has made me realize how much lifestyle and safety are important to me when searching for a community to live and work in. For example, there are many social situations, whether it be in the office, at a job site, or even at the grocery store, where being myself in public can put a target on my back. It can be isolating to live in constant hypervigilance when harassment could be around every corner.
What does Pride Month mean to you? How do you celebrate? What would you like others to know about Pride Month?
Pride month means freedom, where I feel more inclined to “take up social space” as a citizen of the United States, despite past and present laws that oppress my rights and erases my existence. Lately, I’ve decided to be bolder with my self-expression, but not all people of the LGBTQA+ community are safe to do so and that is the reasoning why I decided to participate in this article. Being able to be my authentic self is a privilege, and there are many people in our local communities, our country, and across the world who are closeted out of fear of their safely, whether it be illegal, for fear of abuse, or for fear of being cut from their family. I am lucky with my circumstances, but it was not all easy— there is a lot of friction in my family regarding my identity. But the world is changing every day, and progress is made little by little as we step into tomorrow. So, I will continue to be myself, and even be twice— or three times— as loud as I need to be, in honor of those who have no choice but to stay silent.