Our new Director of Advancement at Sojourner House has been working regularly in East Liberty for the past decade, most recently for Quantum Theatre, just across the hall.
Yvonne Potts Hudson discovered Sojourner House was as dynamic as its fellow nonprofits in the neighborhood. Before joining Sojourner House, she worked in development for Quantum as the company resumed live shows in the summer of 2021. Previously, she was part of the teams of Pittsburgh Festival Opera and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Her consulting office was in the nearby Beauty Shoppe for several years.
“I’m thrilled to be near the organizations and businesses I’ve supported for so many years,” says the Indiana, Pennsylvania native.
“In some ways, I’ve come full circle,” says Yvonne, who started out as a journalism major and ultimately graduated with a dual major through her exploration of psychology at Point Park University. “I wanted to be a writer, but psychology classes focusing on women, children, and counseling drew me in.”
Back Home Again
After graduate school, Yvonne initially worked in arts administration at the University of Pittsburgh, before joining the communications staff at Carnegie Mellon. As her career continued, Yvonne and her partner Lynette Asson moved to New York City. There, awaiting a job offer closely aligned with her marketing and higher education experience, she worked with a drug and alcohol counseling agency that provided counseling and court advocates for people struggling with addiction.
“I worked with social workers. I helped on the hotline. I learned the day to day of the agency, and that turned out to be a really good fit. I felt like I was making a difference.” Yvonne also applied her theatre knowledge to create and teach a Shakespeare class in the organization’s alternative high school.
Over the course of her career, Yvonne has also worked for institutions and nonprofits that have appealed to her own curiosity as “a perennial student and generalist.” Her passion for counseling and social services was again sparked when she began interviewing to direct fundraising and communications for Sojourner House.
“I moved to and from Pittsburgh to work in communications at colleges and in the arts in New York and Washington, DC. But I have always realized what all of that is very embedded in me through the experiences of those close to me: addiction and recovery have impacted my life, the lives of so many I know, and every community.”
Setting the Stage
Planning and dreaming for the future is second nature to Yvonne given her background in the performing arts. “I get ideas and people say ‘How are you going to do that?’ When you’re working in the arts, there’s always a mindset that we can create something out of nothing. And we do that when we sing, build a set, or write a script. I find great inspiration in taking an imagined vision and making it a reality.”Storytelling will be central to Yvonne’s work at Sojourner House while she applies her journalistic approach in researching and gathering information. “Storytelling is a lot of what we do in communication,” she says, emphasizing the importance of listening and taking cues. “We’re trying to make our mission come to life through what we are constantly learning and sharing.”
Performing is a large part of what Yvonne does in her spare time, focusing on creative writing and solo performances as Shakespesare’s wife and poet Emily Dickinson. With Lynette, she was one of the co-founders of the popular Messiah Sing-Along Concerts with their choir at Calvary United Methodist Church in Allegheny West. As they looked forward to the 10th concert year in 2023, they joined fellow choir members to perform Handel’s oratorio at Carnegie Hall in 2018.
A couple for many years since moving to New York in the 1990s, Lynette and Yvonne were married in a small ceremony with family and friends present at Calvary in August 2021. Their travels have included the UK and other adventures, including Yvonne’s performance of her show “Mrs Shakespeare” at the Tower of London. The American West and other parts of Europe are on their travel wish list.
A Place of Growth
Yvonne is excited to put down roots at Sojourner House. Many of her work experiences were long-term with certain clients, but short term by the nature of her event or project focus.
“One of the things that Lynette and I have enjoyed about consulting and project work was that we could hit the ground running and jump in to bring different aspects of our experience to a project,” she observes. “On the other hand, when we completed the project we would usually have to take a break from the organization we got to know well.”
As Sojourner House now begins a new round of strategic planning, Yvonne feels: “I’m here at a very exciting time when we are looking to have an even stronger foundation for the years to come. This includes current and future funding, our physical plants, and the buildings where our families live. I’m thrilled to help build an even stronger foundation for our work.”
Yvonne says, “I’m really excited to be at Sojourner House full time where I can really make a difference, create new relationships, and build on what this organization does for the families and community we serve.”