#WeWantToKnow: Joan Kelley Walker
The holiday season is upon us, and this is the time of year when my generosity kicks into high gear and I look for meaningful ways of giving back just a little more than usual. I’m working towards being more mindful of giving back throughout the rest of the year, whether that is financially or with my time, because the spirit of generosity is a trait that I value in others and would like to see more of in myself. I’m inspired by others who make giving back a priority, especially Joan Kelley Walker, who has made philanthropy a fundamental part of her life. I have had the opportunity to get to know Joan and I’m thrilled to introduce her in today’s #WeWantToKnow feature!
I first became familiar with Joan from her appearance as a cast member on the reality television series Real Housewives of Toronto. I was immediately drawn to her because she carried herself with class and elegance, and I felt a connection with her through our mutual love of fashion and of cottaging in Muskoka. When I eventually met Joan in person, she was warm and friendly, very approachable, exuding the same class and elegance off-screen as she did on the show. In the time I’ve spent getting to know her since, I’ve come to know the many hats she wears - Joan is a philanthropist, a television presenter, a writer, a fashion designer, a mentor, a dedicated mother, and so much more. And what stands out the most to me about her is that at the core of everything she does, her desire to give back is paramount. Joan is passionate about supporting a variety of causes and has been a long-time ambassador for World Vision, as well as sat as Chair of the United Way of York Region’s Women’s Leadership Counsel. She actively supports numerous other causes and frequently partners with brands on events where a portion of proceeds are donated to charity. In an effort to do even more, she’s marrying her love of fashion and philanthropy and has a clothing line in development that will serve its primary focus on being a platform to give back. Joan shared more about this venture in her keynote speech at the Business of Fashion Conference for Startup Fashion Week, and I was inspired by the wisdom she shared - work hard, have a willingness to learn, and do everything with kindness and pure intention. I was especially inspired when she concluded with the following sentiments: “I believe with privilege…comes great responsibility. I take that very seriously and I am committed to giving back in my personal life and through my brand. That has been one of the biggest motivating factors for me in all that I do. It’s important to balance your heart with your work.” That last line has stuck with me and I’ve adopted is as a personal mantra.
It wasn’t until I sat down to chat with Joan one on one that I recognized she is passionate about giving back to more than just charitable causes - she also wants to give back through mentorship and offer support to budding entrepreneurs. Joan is an engaging conversationalist and we had a great time chatting about a wide variety of topics; when I reflected back on our conversation later that day, I realized that I got so much more out of simply getting to know Joan better - I also received valuable mentorship from her. Joan has experienced an illustrious career in media, from doing voiceover work to being a radio announcer, and, for the last ten years, has been the host and presenter of Red Carpet Diary. She not only shared her own life experiences with me, but she also had really great advice that I’ve already begun to implement as a writer and interviewer. I’m so inspired by Joan - she has The Hustle, she works hard, and she’s using her position of privilege to do good in her community and the world at large. I’m enamoured by Joan’s loveliness and honoured to know her. I’m inspired to look for creative and innovative ways that I, too, can make a difference in the lives of other, just like Joan.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow, from Joan herself:
I can't start my morning without… Coffee!! I love my morning coffee while preparing breakfast for my kids. That’s my favourite time of day because it is quiet, quality time with them, before we all dash off.
I have a weakness for… popcorn, licorice and sparkly things.
Most people don't know that I… was a figure skating instructor for little kids and I have plucked chickens on the farm (yuck).
Currently reading… ’Take Me With You - One Person’s Journey to Find the Charity Within” by Scott Jackson.
I want… world peace and acceptance, and maybe a new handbag.
Thank you so much for your time, Joan! It’s been my pleasure getting to know you!
#WeWantToKnow is a series published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.