Change It All: Moving Industries & Across The Country to Shift Gears Mid-Career

Dr. Jo Ellen Burkholder built an enviable career in traditional academia as professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, and also worked in instructional design, training and facilitation. After 20 years, she wanted a fresh

perspective. Jo moved to the West Coast, using her geographic move to push forward her desire to transition from her academic roots to work in the social impact sector.

After working hard to build new contacts and community, Jo recently started as Associate Director for Mission Renewal and Vincentian Support with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Seattle and King County. “It’s a perfect role for me, helping people learn and grow in their heartfelt mission to know their neighbors and bring about a better society,” she reported to The Swing Shift recently. She walks us through how she built towards this role, with a steady income and benefits doing good work with and for good people.


Q: Jo, congratulations on your new role! You made multiple changes at the same time - you left a lifelong career in academia AND you relocated from the Midwest to Seattle. What prompted that big change? Would you do anything differently next time?

A couple of things converged for me. On one side, I felt