Joan focuses on philanthropy and education and is an advisor to foundations and nonprofits on school improvement and youth development. Formerly, she served as program director for elementary and secondary education at Lilly Endowment from 1986 to 1995, where she specialized in youth development, research, and middle-school reform initiatives. Prior to that, she established and directed the Center for Early Adolescence at UNC-Chapel Hill, was a faculty member of the Bush Institute for Child and Family Policy, and was a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health.
Previously, she was a program associate at the Learning Institute of North Carolina, a member of the College Board's Commission on Precollegiate Guidance and Counseling, a research associate at the National Institute of Education, a member of the governing board of the Annenberg Rural Challenge, a founding director of the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute (NCCAI), and a founding member of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Joan served on the boards of the Hershey Trust Company, the Milton Hershey School, NCCAI, the Executive Service Corps of the Greater Triangle, and DonorsChoose NC. She is now on the boards of the Chatham County Literacy Council and Student U in Durham, NC. She began her career as a secondary school English teacher.
Educational background: English and education (Wellesley College, University of Connecticut, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).