In 2020, Joanne became an Edmund Hillary Fellow.
She is one of 532 Fellows from 58 countries who are using their unique entrepreneurial experiences, access to resources, and far-reaching global networks to contribute to New Zealand’s economic rebuild phase.
Executive Committee Member for Karanga: The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills
Karanga is an international not-for-profit that supports policy makers and practitioners from across the world to promote quality and equitable social-emotional learning and life skills. Karanga has representatives from over 40 countries and is solely focused on creating a Global Alliance for SEL.
Board Member for People for Education
People for Education is a unique organization in Canada: independent, non-partisan, and fueled by a belief in the power and promise of public education. They create evidence, instigate dialogue, and build links so that people can see—and act on—the connection between public education and a fair and prosperous society.
Fellow at Salzburg Global Seminar
Salzburg Global Seminar is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1947 to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. The multi-year program series aims to bridge divides, expand collaboration, and transform systems.
Co-Founder and Former Global Director of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL)
NPDL is an international innovation partnership active in eight countries. It engages students, teachers, school leaders, families, and education communities working together to address key education challenges. Joanne led the development of the NPDL Suite of Tools.
Board Member: Partners for Youth Empowerment
Partners for Youth Empowerment is a US non-profit and registered UK Charity with a mission to unleash the creative potential of young people.
Named One of the Ten most Influential Women in Technology 2021
Founder & CEO
Joanne (Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe, and Ngāi Tahu) is a celebrated author, speaker, change leader, and executive coach. Her 30+ years of experience span time as a teacher, principal, Ministry of Education leader in New Zealand, and now a globally recognized pioneer in the fields of educational assessment and well-being.
She founded The Learner First in 2012 to take a systemic approach to developing academic + social and emotional learning. Beginning with the cultural and practical capabilities that school systems need to develop well-being. Based on decades of this work and research across multiple countries, including the United States, Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, Joanne developed Contributive Learning in 2019. Through a step-by-step program, Contributive Learning supports teachers and communities to seamlessly integrate SEL and academic goals in lessons designed for the students in front of them, resulting in increased student agency, efficacy, and outcomes.
Joanne creates opportunities for each person to learn who they are, how they fit into the world, and how they can contribute to humanity and offers insights and strategies that reconnect students, teachers, families, and communities to what matters most. She provides ways to redefine what success looks like, recognizing that we learn best through meaningful, contributive learning that helps all learners shine and succeed in their way.
By emphasizing teachers’ well-being alongside their students’ and providing relevant tools and processes for teachers to be well so they can support their learners in the ways they want to. Joanne embeds a social, emotional, and cultural commitment to all learners, reflecting learners’ cultures, identities, and humanity in what, how, and where they learn. Her insights are illuminated by continued, hands-on experience partnering with diverse countries, community groups, schools, and learners around the world.
“The success we have had with indigenous students in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, has shown that this process re-engages students, families, and communities by bringing learners back towards the education system and allowing them to shape it through their own identity, language and culture.”
Beyond her work in the education system and The Learner First, Joanne has also founded Kia Kotahi Ako Charitable Trust, is on the Executive Committee for Karanga: The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills, on the Education New Zealand: North America Advisory Board, an Edmund Hillary Fellow, a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, and co-founder of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL).