Lifelong Learner: Joanne Bridgford

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Joanne Bridgford loves a good challenge.

For the mother of three who refuses to sit at home, multitasking isn’t intimidating — it’s exhilarating.

Bridgford manages to remain family-oriented while driving herself to stay constantly active — physically and mentally. Her current goals are to run five races this year and eventually do something with the law degree she earned while attending the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University (MSU) part-time. The latter was done while working full-time and raising a family.

“It was fun! I don’t know if a lot of people would call law school fun, but to me it was. I love learning. I’ll take whatever class; if something’s in the area that sounds interesting, I’ll grab a friend and we’ll go,” Bridgford said.

As the Equal Employment Opportunity administrator for the Michigan Department of Corrections, Bridgford is in charge of diversity training, handling discriminatory harassment and disability issues, teaching employees how to balance their time efficiently and providing traumatic incident and stress management.

“I like the challenge of dealing with people and trying to help solve issues and problems,” Bridgford said. “I love taking new employees to do diversity training and seeing the potential in their eyes when they begin to learn about themselves and understand how they get along with others.”

When she’s not at work engaging employees in appreciation, she spends time at home instilling the same values. Bridgford bonds with her family by attending the Redeemer United Methodist Church together in DeWitt, where she sings in the choir. She also runs in a club with her youngest daughter, Laura, and enjoys golfing with her husband, Dale.

An alumni board member of MSU, Bridgford is a die-hard sports fan and loves watching State basketball and football.

“We’re definitely a sports family. My kids know when something’s on TV I’m going to be sitting there screaming and yelling,” Bridgford said.

In her opinion, being a part of a team or club is more than just a way to show school spirit; it’s an opportunity to learn the value of teamwork and to challenge yourself. For her oldest daughter, Julia, who swims at Notre Dame, it was a way to get financial aid in college.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of the money that’s available in colleges because of Title 9 for female athletes,” Bridgford said. “Women need to know that there are no limits to what they can do, as long as they get themselves out there and explore. Keep challenging what you think you can do. It’s amazing the opportunities that are out there.”


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