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Resident Spotlight: Pierre and Joan D.

Pierre and Joan D. make a very interesting couple. They’re fun to talk with because they’ve had such interesting adventures, both as a couple and individually. Together they have traveled throughout Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America and Central America. Individually, Joan has worked in Chile, England, and Austria and together they performed volunteer work in Lithuania following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Pierre and Joan D. moved into The Highlands in October 2017 and will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary in October. They love living at The Highlands where, every Tuesday, Joan teaches English as a second language to a few members of the Kensington Park staff. It’s one of her favorite things about living at Kensington Park. Pierre, of course, loves eating delicious meals on the terrace!

Joan was born in Boston but, during the Depression, moved up and down the east coast as her father pursued jobs as a structural design engineer. Consequently, she spent the first grade in Syracuse, New York, continued her education in Boston, and finished her schooling in Knoxville, Tennessee. Joan graduated from Beaver College, a women’s school near Philadelphia, where she majored in biological sciences with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. On the advice of a professor, who said she was too small to ever get a job as a vet, she changed her focus to sociology and psychology. Although not her first choice, that degree did provide entree to an interesting career as a social worker in Salem, Massachusetts, where she actually lived in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables Settlement House (“right by the secret staircase”). She also worked at an early women’s rights organization, called the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, finding jobs for women in the Boston area. She eventually placed herself at the management consulting firm, Arthur D. Little, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Joan was working for the U.S. Information Agency when she got the opportunity to travel and was transferred to Santiago, Chile. Following that experience, she was assigned to a job at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, D.C., where she met Pierre.

Pierre was born in Chicago and lived in the South Shore section of the city for the first 23 years of his life. He took the street car each day to attend St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Loyola University in Chicago.  After graduation he taught science to eighth graders in Lansing, Illinois. He admits that he was learning one lesson ahead of his students all year! Pierre moved to San Diego, where he entered the seminary at the University of San Diego. A year later the bishop sent him to Catholic University here in Washington to pursue his theology studies. After three years, however, Pierre decided to change course and began working in human resources at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where he met Joan.

After dating for a little over two years, Joan and Pierre got married. They lived in Adams Morgan and, in 1968, when the District suffered through terrible riots, witnessed some of the violence firsthand, in front of their own home. Following that unsettling experience, they moved across the Duke Ellington Bridge to the Woodley Park neighborhood. Joan worked part-time for the Society for Missions to Africa (the SMA Fathers) and later as a Montessori teacher when their sons were enrolled at Montessori schools. When their boys were in the upper grades, Joan went to work at the National Academy of Sciences where, for fifteen years, she was involved with fellowship programs including those funded by the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Pierre worked for forty years at a recruiting firm, Ability Resources, where, as a headhunter, he sought out economists and financial analysts. During his career the firm was located on K Street and later moved to Old Town Alexandria. Pierre retired as a Senior Vice President.

Pierre and Joan D. have two sons and seven grandchildren. Their son JP and Kara, his wife, live in Washington, D.C. Their children are Anna (16), John (13), and identical twins, Nora and Elsa (8). Their son Christopher and his wife, Clare, live in Connecticut. Their children are Emma (19), Tom (16), and Maeve (13).

The whole clan is eagerly looking forward to Thanksgiving, when they’ll all be heading to the family’s vacation home in Connecticut for their traditional holiday gathering!