Bidjan, an exchange student from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, met Joanna during McCourt School orientation in 2006. If you ask Bidjan about their first encounter, he would say Joanna ignored him, though she disagrees. To capture her attention, he shared German poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Herbsttag” (“Autumn Day”) and Joanna, who speaks German and loves poetry, was quickly won over. She responded with Robert Frost’s “Birches,” and they began exchanging poems back and forth.
Bidjan and Joanna had their first date at J. Paul’s in Georgetown and discovered they had much more in common than their academic interests. They connected over their shared love of soccer and the hit television series “The Wire.”
After earning their graduate degrees, they dated long distance for a year and half before Bidjan joined Joanna in DC, where she worked on labor policy issues for the Office of Management and Budget and he worked for the World Bank, specializing in international development. A few years later, they got married near Joanna’s hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
The happily married couple now has a daughter and recently returned to DC after living in Berlin and London for the last eight years. Bidjan is the CEO of Atlas Corps, and Joanna is the Chief Federal Policy and Data Officer for America Achieves.
Bidjan and Joanna expect to be in DC in 2027, having just celebrated their 20th anniversary of meeting at the McCourt School, “but who knows where the next five years could take us,” said Joanna.