Joanne Feldman isn’t afraid to brave the storm. The 48-year-old meteorologist and mom-of-two has found her way through hurricanes and hard times alike. From being told science wasn’t a place for women to helping loved ones with mental health and substance abuse issues, she has weathered difficult situations and come out on the other side. When the three-time Emmy winner and Fox 5 “Good Day Atlanta” co-host isn’t busy helping fellow Atlantans get ready for their day, you can find her on a run, on the figure skating rink (a hobby she took up in her 30s) or tackling DIY projects at home.
What person, thing or event has influenced your life the most?
I had two teachers in particular who convinced me that I had an aptitude for atmospheric/earth science. Early in life, I definitely fell victim to the idea that science wasn’t for girls. It was my fourth-grade science teacher, Mr. Erickson, who was the first to make me aware that I was good at science. Then Dr. Tom Mote, the professor who taught an introductory weather and climate class I was taking as an elective at UGA, pulled me aside after our first exam and asked me if meteorology was something I wanted to pursue. He became such a terrific mentor. I credit my career trajectory to his guidance.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have faced in life?
Knowing and caring deeply for someone who was suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues. There is a certain helplessness to it, since so much hinges on that person being willing to get help. I’m beyond grateful that this person did and has been healthy and thriving for years now. For me, it required a lot of patience, faith and figuring out the tricky balance between being supportive and helpful without enabling. I had to understand that there would likely be setbacks along the way and that no matter what I did, there was no guarantee of a happy ending. It was a tremendous lesson in learning to accept what I could and could not control.
What is the best part of growing older?
It’s tempting to say the best part is that I no longer care so much about what other people think, but I do care and respect others’ opinions. It would be more appropriate to say that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered freedom from taking other people’s opinions personally. You start to realize that everyone’s own life experiences shape their opinions. And what they think may have very little to do with you.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community?
I visit local classrooms to share the science of meteorology and information about careers in broadcasting. It’s important to me to share my love of STEM fields and also offer encouragement to students considering careers in STEM. I also love ballet and dance, and for eight years and counting, I’ve volunteered with the Atlanta Dance Theatre, helping with performances, fundraising and team-building activities.