Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

She describes her life as ‘a bumpy ride’, but no matter what is thrown at her, Joanna Dolan keeps on giving back.

Jo has been recognised for her contribution to the local community as a professional editor, a businesswoman, a volunteer, a sportswoman, and as a community member. She’s had some health issues over the last 18 months but says she is “back on track”. Stepping up as the new chapter president of the local BNI (Business Network International) All Seasons, keeping up her volunteering, and expanding her editing business with a new program.   

Born in Scotland, she moved to Armidale at 18 months old when her father, James Dolan, got a job at ‘the very new’ independent UNE. She has spent most of her life in the New England, now living in Rocky River. One of five children, she now has two ‘absolutely fabulous grandkids’, Bella and Alex, and two daughters, Jen and Kate, although sadly Kate passed away when she was just 22.

“I lost my daughter to melanoma fourteen years ago next week,” said Jo.

“Everyone should have a skin check once a year.”

Turning pain into healing

Jo has had more than her fair share of trauma and loss in her life. She lost her birth mother at three years old, her father at seventeen years old, and later lost her stepmother and her brother-in-law, as well as the loss of her daughter before her time.

But in her signature style, Jo is using that pain to find ways to help others. She has begun studying a Master of Counselling online through the University of Canberra and is working on developing a program to help people write the stories of their lives.

“It’s going into those deep dark places and dragging the person out into the light; if there’s some traumatic story in there that’s affecting their life, I’d like to draw it out of them.”

“And I think by drawing it out of them they can move forward to a happier future.”

“I can either transcribe the story, or I can edit it for them, and it doesn’t have to be published.”

“It’s really just a very personal way of diarising your life,” Jo said.

Writing a new chapter for BNI

Jo, who is known for her sense of humour, started her editing business, Righting Writing, on April 1, 2014. But the joke wasn’t about the academic theses that makes up most of her editing work.

“I’ve been a dishwasher, a pizza maker, a check-out-chick, a clarinet teacher, owned and operated a taxi in Armidale, worked in the banking industry, (and) worked in public relations,” Jo said.

“I sold my taxi plates for a very good price – and made the change over date the first of April.”

The diversity of her professional background has made her an excellent leader for the local chapter of BNI. Jo has recently stepped in as the new president and is working hard to help rebuild the previously successful group. BNI is an international business networking organisation which helps people build up their businesses on the basis of referrals between business owners, but only allows one business of each type in the chapter.

“So, I’m in the editing seat … there can’t be another editor in our chapter, but we’re looking for, for example, a plumber, a real estate agent, and other businesses to join us.”

“Any business really, if you’re interested in growing your business come and talk to us and see if there is a place for you.”

Giving back in sport as well as business

She’s also keen to recruit more hockey players to the local Hockey New England competition. A keen sportswoman, Jo has been playing field hockey since she was a young child. She is currently the goalkeeper for the Flamingoes Hockey Club in the Hockey New England competition.

“And if anyone would like to come and join the competition, they are most welcome!”

 She is also currently the Hockey New England Women’s competition convenor, just the latest volunteer role in a long list of efforts and contributions.

“I’m a serial volunteer,” Joanna said.

She said it was her stepmother Mary Dolan, and Jeanette Slade, her first ‘fair dinkum’ hockey coach at Duval High School, who taught her how to give.

“Hockey has given me so much, so it’s important to give back so that other people can benefit from it too.”

“It’s old style volunteering, it’s not an expectation that you’re going to get paid, or even get an award for it or anything like that,” Joanna said.

“I was brought up to give back, so I do,” she said.

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