Never Stop Exploring:
Attorney to Journalist

(DCI 2018)

After 35 years of practicing law in Philadelphia and San Francisco, Joe Dworetzky (DCI 2018) earned a Master’s Degree in Journalism at Stanford and is firmly ensconced in an encore career of reporting, cartooning, and creative writing.

Joe’s DCI Experience:

When Joe moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia in 2011, he stepped away from practicing law full-time to explore a longstanding interest in creative writing and cartooning. Although he  appreciated this new freedom to write, Joe found it “a lonely way to spend your days.” He hadn’t yet built a community in the Bay Area, and missed the camaraderie and shared purpose he enjoyed at his law firm. Several years into his new life in the Bay Area, Joe ran into Richard Chow (DCI 2017) on the sidelines of their daughters’ high school soccer game. Richard talked about his Stanford DCI experiences, and Joe “applied to DCI the same night.”  “DCI,” Joe says, “had everything that was interesting to me.” He got an apartment at The Marc in downtown Palo Alto, “made a cohort of new lifetime friends” at a time when he least expected to, and discovered a proclivity for journalism that landed him the following year at Stanford’s Journalism School, where he earned a Master’s Degree in 2020. Joe has the distinction of being the first DCI Fellow to earn a Stanford degree after completing the DCI program.

Life as a Working Journalist and Writer

Joe credits the DCI experience with his personal comfort level and success as a journalism student. He loved engaging with undergraduates and graduate students while attending classes as a DCI Fellow, and was delighted by how willing students were to interact and build relationships with members of his DCI cohort. As a student in the Master’s Program, Joe became particularly close with his study group who, he is convinced, initially agreed to include Joe because he was a ringer for the required “Journalism Law” course.

Post-graduation, Joe works six months out of the year as both a Legal Affairs and Arts & Culture reporter for Bay City News. He devotes the other six months to his creative writing and cartooning. Joe is a serious and daily writer of fiction, nonfiction and memoir. His Master’s Thesis, “Taking Shelter,” is a compendium of interviews he conducted with people around world about their personal pandemic narratives. Joe has since produced a second volume of interviews, “Masked,” and contemplates a third book in the series. He firmly believes that the “social history of the pandemic has merit,” and should be recorded and reported. “I can see years of projects laid out in front of me,” Joe notes. “I am very ambitious about my writing.”

Reflections on the Present and Future

Joe has been writing creatively for most of his life, but first pursued publication at the age of 60. Publishing, he says, has been both “liberating and validating.” The opportunity to engage with new readers has been a particular pleasure, and has provided him with “an impetus to keep writing.”

Joe emphasizes that his experiences at DCI allowed him to clarify and pursue the things that are most important to him going forward. “I’m doing what I want to do,” Joe says, “staying close to family and friends,” “writing things I’m interested in, “improving my reporting and creative” product, and “getting better at the things that matter to me.”

By Anne Kenner (DCI 2016)


Learn more about Joe Dworetzky’s writing, reporting and cartooning at

Click here for a compendium of Joe’s reporting:

Stay current with Joe’s professional activities – follow him on Twitter: @JoeDworetzky

 Joe Dworetzky and Mark Clapper (DCI 2018) at Joe’s graduation ceremony,  Stanford University, June 2022