Joan Connell got her big break in journalism when she discovered a mysterious package in a dumpster in Iowa City, Iowa. That chance discovery helped foster her career, and ultimately Connell was able to travel the world, going beyond breaking news to explore deeper themes, particularly the influence of religion on culture and politics. Ever curious, she went on to become a pioneer in online reporting and audience engagement at MSNBC.com. Connell left mainstream journalism after 9/11, disillusioned by corporate media’s failure to examine the war on terrorism and the decision to invade Iraq. She found a comfortable niche as the editor of the online edition of The Nation, but her career took a new turn in 2009, when she joined the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The Center’s mission is to support journalists covering war and other traumatic events.