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Story by Charli Depner, photo by Richard Bermack


“The Joans” (Joan Cole and Joan Straumanis) as this dynamic duo is known, are the engaging new leaders of Ashby Village’s Outreach Ambassadors, and they are on a mission to see Ashby Village grow.  Along with group members Jane Brunner, Kristina Holland, Alison Colgan, Emily Sexton, Veronika Fukson, and Gordon Seligson, they can be found at Ashby Village and community events, reaching out to people who are curious about Ashby Village. They also collaborate with Marcia Freedman, Chair of the Speakers Bureau, a subcommittee of the OA team.


Bringing a contagious enthusiasm about the Village Movement and what new members can add to the success of Ashby Village, the Outreach Ambassadors are active in Ashby Village’s development.  Joan Cole, a psychologist with a background in social work and community organizing, has been active in Ashby Village in different capacities, including sustainability planning, since its planning phase.  Joan Straumanis retired from academe where she was dean of three colleges and president of two.   Now a management consultant, Joan has worked with Ashby Village’s director and staff on strategic planning and professional development..  Together, the Joans are lending their skills to building a thriving Ashby Village membership, one personal connection at a time.


The work of the Outreach Ambassadors builds on a solid foundation of community outreach, Living Room Chats, the Speakers’ Bureau and an increasing presence in community gatherings.  Team members are a welcoming presence at most Ashby Village events that are open to the public as well as at local community events, such as summer street fairs.  Without a doubt, the team is genuinely interested in people. They want to get to know attendees and help them see how they could find their place in to the Village community. 

But more than that, the Joans see Ashby Village as a place where people can make a real difference in defining innovations that enhance the quality of the second half of adulthood.  Too often, experienced people find it difficult to find ways to contribute their skills and ideas.  Ashby Village is actively soliciting these precious resources. “If you have an interest in making things happen,” says Joan Straumanis, “Ashby Village provides the opportunity to apply your skills and move into leadership.”  Joan Cole adds, “It is all about giving back and giving forward.”   


   Ashby Village Outreach Team