“Many people who originally were able to live in the community, especially in the inner city—it’s just unaffordable without the skills or the kinds of jobs that you need to buy a home or rent.”
Joan has always been passionate about public health, specifically the ways that communities support people affected by HIV/AIDS. Early in her career, she was hired to oversee a new program called the Nashville Prevention Marketing Initiative, a CDC-funded social marketing project designed to prevent the spread of HIV among young people. Together with her team, she wrote a 29-episode radio soap opera and then evaluated if young people got the message, spread the message and if it impacted the choices they made around sexual responsibility. Their research was so groundbreaking that she presented their findings at the International AIDS Conference in Switzerland in the late 90s. Now in her early 70s, Joan is as busy as ever with her public health work. She’s on the grant and allocations committee for the Ryan White Part B initiative; she’s active with the Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State Cancer Partnership. And she’s a Master Gardener, a certified volunteer role in which she maintains community gardens; speaks about horticulture, botany and growing vegetables; and helps lead Nashville Public Library’s seed exchange program.