Johanna Maska, SVP Communications and Marketing, Karmic Labs
KU Degree: B.S., Journalism, B.A., History (2004)
Why she’s a Hawk to Watch:
Johanna spent eight years working for President Obama, starting at the beginning of the Iowa caucuses. In all she traveled to more than 40 states and 40 countries, aboard Air Force One and with the press corps. Having studied history, she set the stage for history for 8 years. Now Johanna is again engaged in changing history working in the tech sector in California.
I started early on the Obama campaign in 2007 in Iowa. We were victorious. I worked for 8 years for President Obama – ending my tenure as director of press advance — where I worked to manage the image of our trips around the US and the world. In all, I traveled with the President to more than 40 states and 40 countries.
What’s your lowest career moment and how did you pick yourself up and move on?
I worked on a gubernatorial primary in Iowa and we lost. I transitioned out of the White House to the LA Times only to see the person who recruited me – whose vision I believed in – get fired. In both cases the very next day I woke up determined to move past the minor set-back. My husband kept asking me, “Aren’t you worried?” I said, not at all. A job doesn’t make a person. A person makes a person. And if you realize that you’re going to do great you can find that inner determination to find what’s next.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Happy. With my family and friends. Enjoying life.
What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?
You’re not always right. And the point isn’t always being right. The point is always listening, learning, researching and using that brain to figure out what’s right.
What’s your best career pro-tip?
If someone is willing to give you advice, even if you don’t want to hear it, listen. It only makes you stronger.
What do you do after you’ve clocked out?
I play with my son. I taught him to bike breaking out my 1990s roller blades and going up and down the Pacific Coast. That was awesome. I read a lot. I love Pinterest. I surf real estate sites thinking about how I would tear down walls and rebuild. I listen to NPR. I go to community events. I try to get involved, say yes to as much as I can.
What is a fun fact about you that no one knows?
I dressed as Hulk to go get ice-cream. Here’s the story: My son is in a super hero phase. He is obsessed with the Avengers. So my husband found the masks on Amazon and ordered them. My son loved this so much he wanted to wear them to get ice cream. We went to the store expecting a reaction…but I guess we live too close to Hollywood. Hugh walked in and said, this is my mommy Hulk, this is my dad Iron Man and I’m Captain America. And they just said, “What can we get you?”