Joanne Heyman, Founder of Heyman Partners
“When I come into contact someone with complementary skills to mine, I can contemplate putting together a team for larger projects I can’t otherwise do on my own.”
Meet Joanne Heyman. Joanne refers to herself as an omnivorous mission junkie. For three decades she has worked in international development, education, arts and culture, and wellness, in executive management, or in support of other leaders. After her last Executive Director gig running the Urban Zen Foundation, she launched Heyman Partners to support other founders and leaders, offering strategic advisory, coaching, and facilitation to Executive Directors, Board Chairs and CEO’s of non-profits, foundations and social enterprises. Her client list is formidable, everyone from The Moth to Robin Hood, Black Mountain Institute, to the Freedom Institute. She is an adjunct at Columbia | SIPA, a part-time yoga teacher, an avid cook, and a fiction hound. You can connect with her on Twitter.
What Does She Do?
Joanne sits at the right hand of leaders of pro-social organizations. As an advisor, coach and facilitator, she helps people or organizations that are in one of a couple of modes – start-up, stuck, or stale – grow and thrive. She refers to her work as integrative, weaving together the best in personal and professional development techniques to support the vision, achievement and deep satisfaction of her clients.
A recent discussion about blockchain got Joanne to thinking:
“Virtual currency — which is trust-based — is interesting, but if we don’t how to speak to one another we can’t build trust. It doesn’t really matter to me what industry you work in; everything must be scaffolded with trust. If we’re not mindful, [an over-reliance of] technology will make us less happy, connected, healthy, and less safe and secure as a society. We can talk about tech in all sorts of fun and sexy ways, but at the end of the day if we’re not building trust, and we’re not working towards some greater end, we’re fucked!”
How Did She Get Into This Work?
Joanne grew up in a service-oriented household. Her mother volunteered for Head Start, the National Gallery of Art, and was a teacher; while her father was a public interest lawyer. Joanne thought she’d join the family business and pursue law, but her exposure to Virgil’s The Aeneid forever changed her life. Not only did she become a comparative literature major, but the epic poem sparked a lifelong passion for language and culture that continues to this day.
it was while she was acting as a director of an international NGO in the financial services sector that she discovered that her gift was in working closely with leaders, and enabling them not only to fundraise and build boards but to offer donors what money can’t buy – surfacing extraordinary experiences which bond them to an institution. After serving as an Executive Director for several organizations, Joanne launched Heyman Partners as a consulting firm just over seven years ago.
“It was a way of bundling my experience running organizations with my personal desire to be of service but to do so in a different way, offering my practitioner’s perspective to others with a big vision, burning passion and the need to get things done. When I made the transition from doer to an advisor I had a coach who helped me think bigger and act better. The power of this experience led me to train as a coach, which lead to a practice which fuses both individual and institutional advisory services.”
What Project Is She Working On?
Joanne has more than a few plates spinning at any one time. Here are a few of her projects:
- The GroundTruth Project recently launched Report for America — think Teach For America, but for journalism. Its goal couldn’t be timelier: rebuilding trust in society, and trust in media by training young people and going back to the core principles and standards of journalism. Its first cohort of three reporters started their assignments across Appalachia barely ten days ago.
- Joanne also advises the downtown-based Blue School, which was founded as a playgroup in 2006 by the Blue Man Group. The school is focuses on pre-pre-K through 8th grades. As we ponder life under our AI overlords, Joanne asserts:
“If we don’t have art, something is missing in the human experience. That’s why Blue School is thriving – and why high schools are clambering for their students. Students come out not only with great academic capacity, but they have a muscle that’s nicely developed – seeking innovation, and the ability to problemsolve. While individual creativity is important, collaboration is a focus. I think of their education as “integrative” — in medicine that’s taking the best of western and eastern medicine. This is what I do across my work – combine the best of proven ideas, and bring new ideas forward.”
- Finally, Joanne is partnering with a search executive to bring her own signature blend of inquiry and support to the process of identifying and on-boarding new CEOs. Stay tuned.
How Did She Come to Civic Hall?
Andrew Rasiej finally got her to say yes! Joanne has been a fan of, and participated in, the Personal Democracy Forum and knows a number of Civic Hall members who describe their experience here as enriching, productive and fun. As a commuter from Hastings on Hudson she needs a place to hang her hat in Manhattan, and happily found one with great Wi-Fi, coffee and people.
What Is Her Ask of Civic Hall?
As a long-time sole practitioner, Joanne is interested in talking with those who are walking a similar path and finding community. She’s hoping that Civic Hall will function as a collective in that regard. “When I come into contact someone with complementary skills to mine, I can contemplate putting together a team for larger projects I can’t otherwise do on my own.”
Joanne blogs a few times a month on LinkedIn, focusing on how to help people live and work better. Her most recent post, F@$K Resolutions, has us reconsider developing habits for the New Year, despite the cliche. She’d love any feedback — and do share if you find the posts helpful.
Since Joanne loves convening, she has a simple rule of thumb for anyone in the Civic Hall community putting on an event: “Set the expectations at the outset.” She is keen to bring her full self to the community as an active participant. To that end, she poses that since Civic Hall is not just about Wi-Fi and coffee, that members consider taking an annual self-assessment: “What have I brought to the community?”
With her partner Pam Allyn, the founder of LitWorld, Joanne is about to launch “Founder’s Session” which will help support young founders, while helping them grow a peer network. Joanne will be previewing this at an upcoming What’s Your Work? this coming February 12th. She’d love to hear from our founder members what they would find most useful.