Appointed director of financial aid in 1998, Joan Warren served as associate dean for financial aid and academic support services before assuming her current position in March 2007. Prior to Juilliard, she worked at Hofstra University and Pratt Institute (as director of financial aid at both schools), and at Medgar Evers College-CUNY as a minority research grant program assistant. She holds a B.S. in accounting from Brooklyn College-CUNY, and an M.S. in education administration from Hofstra University.
What is one of your favorite memories from your years here?
I have many wonderful memories: escorting a jazz ensemble to Costa Rica for the first three years of the Talented Artists program, meeting Bill Cosby in Philadelphia to receive a scholarship for Juilliard, a “lucky chance” photo-op with President Clinton during a Lincoln Center African-American History Month event, just to name a few. But I will never forget the first time I went to see a movie where one of the actors with a leading role was a student I knew. That actor was Anthony Mackie, in the movie Eight Mile. I actually got teary-eyed when he appeared on screen the first time. Now, of course, Anthony is in everything! But I still get very excited to see our alumni doing so well.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I would love to be a dance faculty member for a day. I recently attended our Next Steps Program, a new program for New York City public high-school dancers who are considering pursuing dance at the college level. I so admired the way Risa Steinberg and Andra Corvino interacted with the students. Clearly it was hard work, but they made the experience so much fun!
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists. Did you ever consider pursuing an art, and if not, why didn’t you?
Recently my mother was cleaning out her closet and found a recording of a concert I participated in when I was a member of the Brooklyn Borough-Wide Chorus, back in junior high school. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to play the record on now. I also used to paint and write poetry. I didn’t pursue an art because I also loved math. I started college as a math major, but switched to accounting because I thought it would be easier to find a job. Being at Juilliard (and having worked previously at Pratt Institute) speaks to my artistic side, so in a sense, I landed in exactly the right place.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I am quite passionate about politics. I volunteered for President Obama’s campaign and will probably get involved in this year’s mayoral campaign as well. Not long ago I met a young woman who had never voted, and gave her about a 15-minute lecture! What is so amazing about our country is that the government can change hands and there’s no bloodshed. Americans should never take that for granted.
What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
Several years ago I attended a convention and won a silent auction. The prize was a long weekend at the beautiful vacation home of one of the editors of Diversity Magazine. The house was in Virginia, in a secluded wooded area, with a lakefront view. At night, you couldn’t see anything, and there was no cell-phone reception. Sometimes going somewhere scenic and quiet, and doing absolutely nothing, is the best vacation of all!
What might people be surprised to know about you?
A dear friend has me hooked on deep-sea fishing. I go every summer. Believe it or not, some years I actually catch something! Montauk, L.I., has some great fishing, although it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from my home, and you need to be at the dock by 4 a.m. to get a good spot on the boat. The trip back and forth is a killer, but being on the boat is a blast! Whenever I have work done in my house, contractors notice my fishing rods in the basement, and it always sparks a conversation. Last summer, my plumber, an avid fisherman, got so excited seeing our cooler filled with the fresh catch of the day (porgies and sea bass) that he basically asked for his gratuity in fish. What can I say … I love an adventure!