Liverpool born and bred, Joanne was brought up in Netherley and has three half siblings and a foster sister. She has a large extended family, with her mum being one of ten and her dad one of seven. Joanne has also called Sydney, Australia, the Isle of Man and London, home at different points in her life.
Joanne has had a varied career. After leaving school with no qualifications, she went away to work in hotels when she was young in roles such as waitress and barmaid, and then came home and worked as an administrator.
She has nearly three decades of experience as an equality, diversity and inclusion practitioner. Whilst her early career started in and is embedded in the voluntary sector, she has always been interested in business, and completed a BA in Business Studies as a mature student at LJMU in her late twenties.
Joanne is extremely passionate about social enterprises and businesses with purpose, believing strongly in the triple bottom line. She set up the first Black social enterprise, Innervision Community Consultancy in Liverpool in 2000, and has also worked as a civil servant as the community engagement policy lead within the Crown Prosecution Service. She returned to consultancy in 2017 and is a business consultant trainer, facilitator and coach. She recently started an MBA in business scale up here at LJMU.
Joanne was elected as Liverpool’s first female Mayor in May 2021, after serving as a councillor for Princes Park ward for two years. She is proud to be the first Black woman to be directly elected as a Mayor in the UK. She strongly believes Liverpool’s City Plan will help build a better, fairer city for all. She is committed in particular to empowering communities and promoting equalities. She is passionate about delivering the ‘All Voices’ pledge and ensuring that everyone is given a voice in their future.
Joanne is one of 26 fellow leaders taking part in our Reciprocal Mentoring Programme, that see’s see our Executive Leadership team paired with Black Liverpool city leaders to share their lived experiences, to inform policy and decision making at the university and beyond.
At the launch event in the summer of 2022 Joanne said: “I am extremely pleased to see Liverpool John Moores University launch this reciprocal mentoring scheme, linking leaders across the city to have open and honest conversations about race equality with a view to creating actionable change within the university and within our communities. This scheme recognises the richness of cultures in our communities, which we are keen to further uplift, celebrate and support.
“I have been paired with Mark Power, Vice-Chancellor at LJMU, and I am looking forward to our mentoring conversations as I foresee space for much further collaboration between the City Region and Liverpool John Moores University in the months and years to come.”
Joanne also features in our ‘Humans of LJMU’ series in collaboration with the ‘Humans of Liverpool’ social media account, sharing the stories of the people who make our city, communities and university the vibrant, inclusive place it is in celebration of our bicentenary year.
In her interview she reflects on her negative experiences of school and leaving with no qualifications to then later achieving her degree, and the inspirational role her mother has played in her life.
“I remember when I finally graduated, this feeling of an intrinsic reward. It wasn’t like buying a new pair of shoes, it was something that I'd worked for, and no one could take away. I think I was always aware growing up that I probably wouldn’t get many opportunities, so I’ve always fully embraced anything that I've been offered, and I think that’s why I am where I am now.”
– Joanne Anderson
Joanne’s ‘Humans of LJMU’ interview
“I had quite a negative experience at school. I was really bright in junior school, and then when I went to seniors, it was run by nuns, so I still got good grades because we were all frightened of them. After that, my school went comprehensive, and we all went a bit wild. I’ve been six foot since the age of 12, so I think teachers were terrified of me. I was one of the few Black kids in the school, and I used to get singled out a lot for trouble. So, I went from being in the top set for maths to barely going to school for the remaining four years, and I left without qualifications.
“There weren't many jobs in Liverpool at that time, so I moved to the Isle of Man and worked waiting tables. I loved that experience, but after a while, I just remember thinking, I need to get my three GCSEs otherwise, I’m going to be continually working in service jobs my whole life. Those were some of my favourite jobs, by the way, but I just wanted to see what else I was capable of.
“So, I got my three GCSEs, and I started working in community architecture at 19. I had a workplace learning experience, and I got such as buzz from that, which I hadn’t had before because school had been such a negative experience. They paid for us to do a BTEC in Business Studies at John Moores. I absolutely loved it, and I wanted to carry on and do a degree. But I was 28 at the time, working full time, and I’d just set up my own non-profit. So, I did my degree much slower. I remember when I finally graduated, this feeling of an intrinsic reward. It wasn’t like buying a new pair of shoes, it was something that I'd worked for, and no one could take away. I think I was always aware growing up that I probably wouldn’t get many opportunities, so I’ve always fully embraced anything that I've been offered, and I think that’s why I am where I am now.
“My biggest role model has to be my mother. She was 17 when she had me. She was a white unmarried mother having a Black kid, so there would have been a lot of pressure on her to have me adopted in the '70s. She started her law degree when she was 40 and recently retired as a judge. She has always put everyone first and devoted her life to helping others. Because I was quite rebellious when I was younger, I never thought I’d follow a similar path to her. But I think it’s just built into you, whether you recognise it in yourself or not. I’m glad that she instilled that in me.”