Tanya Maria Barrientos joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in February 2013, bringing her extensive expertise as a creative and strategic communications specialist to her work as director of Executive Communications. She praises the Foundation’s focus on “making a difference in people’s lives” and views her role as one of “telling the ‘RWJF story’ by highlighting its work and sharing its vast knowledge with the world.”
Barrientos’ skills, as a long-time journalist, speechwriter, published novelist, and winner of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, provide the Foundation with key executive writing, media relations, and messaging skills. “My career has been one of gathering and disseminating stories,” she says, “and my role at RWJF gives me an opportunity to help shape the Foundation’s communication strategies in this new digital age.”
Previously, Barrientos managed internal communications at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served as an executive writer in the Office of the President. From 2007 to 2009, she was the senior writer for the CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
For two decades, Barrientos was a journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer, starting as a suburban and urban writer, then national correspondent, contributing editor for the Sunday magazine, feature/lifestyle writer, and columnist. Her journalistic experiences included being named the Inquirer’s youngest national correspondent, and covering such memorable events as the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans, Hurricane Hugo, the execution of serial killer Ted Bundy, and the wrath of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.
Barrientos’ novels, Frontera Street and Family Resemblance, were published by Putnam/Penguin in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
In addition to receiving the Pew Fellowship in the Arts for her fiction writing, Barrientos was a Conrad Fink Visiting Professional at the University of Georgia Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She was also a guest speaker/lecturer at the National Writers Workshop in Stockholm, Sweden.
Barrientos holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she was a member of the Honors College. Raised in El Paso, Texas, she presently resides in Abington, Pa., with her husband Jack Booth, a landscape photographer. A movie buff, she also enjoys doing needle point and joining her husband on photography trips throughout the United States and Canada.