Meet SEWN member…
After 30 years in the same North Vancouver house, and having raised five kids there, Joanna decided it was time to cash out of the city and find a more laid-back pretirement. Gibsons was the obvious choice because it was “far enough away from the sirens and screeching brakes but close enough for family, friends and work”.
Since washing up on the coast two years ago she has immersed herself in community organizations, causes and boards, SEWN’s board being one of them. She says she made a conscious decision to earn her money off coast and give back her volunteer time here. The balance is a precarious one as both sides of life sometimes threaten to consume her but she says she loves it.
Joanna started out as a radio, then television reporter, then news anchor and documentary producer. After leaving broadcast news, pregnant with the second of five children, she decided to pursue self- employment and has never looked back.
“The concept of going into someone else’s office, on someone else’s schedule, to take my vacations and days off at someone else’s behest…it makes me gag a little,” she says.
Her business takes a lifelong interest in stories and marries it to several decades of broadcast journalism to produce a coach and trainer who helps her clients become more successful by being more strategic and impassioned in their communications. She’s worked with 17 year olds going to the NHL, with executives, political leaders, engineers, lawyers, doctors, sex trade workers, farmers, loggers, fishers and many more. The only profession she has yet to touch is astronauts.
“I’ve always been fascinated by stories: the stories I had to tell on my Polish parents’ behalf before their English caught up to mine; the stories carried by the scent of something familiar; the stories wrapped up in a fragment of an old song. As a reporter I told news stories, as a trainer and coach I help people free up their own stories and tell them in ways that engage and persuade. Sometimes it’s for a business objective, sometimes a promotion or new job interview and sometimes it’s just to be a more inspiring leader.”
Her biggest ah hah moment came after a frustrating session at UBC’s Executive Education program where she felt the “students” didn’t quite get the point. A colleague, who would become a partner, told her: don’t try to impress – try to relate. She’s tried to take that advice ever since.
From the moment she arrived on the Sunshine Coast, Joanna could sense the potential of the people and businesses here, and wanted to do whatever she could to help them thrive. Besides serving as a board member for SEWN and with the Sechelt Hospital Foundation, she is involved with the Chamber of Commerce and is always trying to introduce people to each other, to facilitate the networks that make great things happen.
“The energy of women getting together is phenomenal; we slide so easily between business talk and child rearing, between politics and food. Women truly are the levers that move the world.”