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Staff Biography

Joanne Chen, MA, CPC
Organization Development Specialist

Joanne Chen is thrilled to be part of the Academy for Professional Excellence and works to ensure the organization grows and thrives as it continues to transform the heart, mind, and practice of human services professionals with innovative learning and development experiences.

Joanne brings her expertise in public speaking, training facilitation and design, coaching, team building, and marketing to her role as Organization Development Specialist.  She received her M.A. in Sociology from Rutgers University and her B.A. in History (with a concentration in the History of Science) from UC-Berkeley.  She is a graduate of the Coaching for Transformation certification program at Leadership That Works and is also a True Purpose® Trained Coach.

Joanne has appeared twice as a guest on the Transformation Talk Radio Network and has written about speech communication, the use of new technology for learning and civil engagement, and the role of play in organizational culture.  Her articles have appeared in various publications, including Contexts, the premiere sociology magazine for general readers.

For over 20 years, Joanne has been a student of personal and spiritual development, studying meditation, consciousness, mindfulness, and going on adventure after adventure, including shamanic vision quests.

Joanne is passionate about helping to create a world in which people can experience the freedom of being their true selves and thrive together while living on purpose.



Learn more about Joanne:

Can you briefly tell us about your role and impact within the Academy for Professional Excellence? 

I design, develop, and facilitate Academy staff trainings and other professional development processes, as well as participate in the planning and execution of All-Staff Meetings, change management, culture-enhancing initiatives, and research projects. In addition, I assist with research and meetings for our SACHS program, which supports human service directors from seven counties in Southern California. My role is being expanded to include training for our Leaders in Action (LIA) program, which focuses on succession planning and executive development in human services. In a nutshell, I am here to design and provide processes and tools that will help the Academy, our staff, and some of our stakeholders thrive.


What do you enjoy the most about working at the Academy?

The people and culture are simply the best! I feel so fortunate to work alongside such passionate, socially conscious, collaborative, and caring colleagues. We celebrate the achievements, strengths, and uniqueness of each staff member. People are also quick to lend a hand to support one another when needed.

In addition to working hard, we also play hard: We celebrate birthdays, throw baby showers, get together to share the enthusiasm for certain interests (e.g., book club, knitting club, volunteering at the local food bank), and enjoy one another’s company at connection events (e.g., Annual Picnic, Sunshine Committee activities) throughout the year.

Our Leadership Team is also very attentive and responsive to the needs of the staff and models our Academy Core Values. I feel seen and valued at the Academy and consider my coworkers my family away from home.


How has working at the Academy transformed your career and/or life?

I love our strengths-based, learning-oriented, and innovative culture! Besides being able to use my strengths in my role, I am grateful for all the opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills through formal training, informal means (e.g., exchanging ideas with growth-minded colleagues via our internal forum), and stretch projects. Furthermore, my role helps me fulfill my life goals of making a difference in the world and helping others become their best selves.

Lastly, I enjoy working with my manager and other teammates. We genuinely care about one another as human beings and have each other’s back. I feel as though I’m going to work with friends/compadres every day – how lucky is that!


What is a fun fact we should know about you?

I studied and performed improvisational comedy for 5 years. Doing improv taught me to embrace the unknown and “dare to suck big,” as my teacher Jacquie Lowell would say – what an important lesson for life!


What are your Top 5 CliftonStrengths?

Learner, Responsibility, Input, Belief, Positivity

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