Updated: May 17, 2021
Although the qualities of a leader are varied and multi-faceted, words such as empowering, compassionate, respectful, and focused would be on the list. A compassionate leader is one who understands others and strives to enhance the happiness and well-being of others through positive action. Joan Kelley Walker is that compassionate leader whose vision to empower others is making a difference around the world. Whether it be through her clothing line, humanitarian efforts, or fundraising events, Joan has been recognized as a changemaker and humanitarian. She is a Canadian style icon and an esteemed entrepreneur known for her impeccable fashion influence and natural ability to positively champion philanthropic causes she cares about and amplifies their impacts.
As an ally to organizations in the field, Joan has excelled as a spokesperson, key fundraiser, and ambassador for many organizations such as Neighbourhood Network, CNIB, World Vision Canada, Breakfast Club of Canada, and United Way. Her efforts have been noted by prestigious awards over the past five years, including the Heroes for Children - Power of Generosity award from World Vision. Joan has earned international acclaim for her extensive humanitarian efforts, and when we include her numerous appearances in television and film and her dynamic and distinguished fashion label, the Joan Kelley Walker Collection, you'll understand why she's our cover woman this month.
Joan has served as a World Vision ambassador for nearly twenty years, focusing on the support of women and children. She is so grateful for the work they are doing, sharing that, "They're working together, they define the problems, where the help is most needed, and they really make a tangible plan on how to put resources in there to make a difference for people.” She has been presented with the Women of Inspiration Global Impact Award, the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Mother Teresa Award for her outstanding contributions to global philanthropy. "I believe we share the globe communally, and with that comes great responsibility that I feel personally compelled by,” expresses Joan. Her work continues extensively with charities in Canada and around the world. She is committed to integrating her passion for social responsibility with her innate bold business savvy, dignity, and grace. She feels empowered and dedicated to using her talents, good fortune, and knowledge toward improving lives, spreading joy, and making a positive difference in the world.
Joan's unique journey began on the fashion runway as a model, and she has passionately and gracefully followed her heart since then. Her thrill for connecting with people ultimately led her to the newsroom working as a broadcaster, producer, and writer. She is celebrated for her elegant storytelling and on-camera style, as she has hosted a variety of radio and television programs, including FASH Avenue and Red Carpet Diary. Joan has interviewed many A-list celebrities, including Al Pacino, Drew Barrymore, Eva Mendez, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, and the list goes on. She approaches each interview with genuine interest, stating, “Movie stars are regular people doing what they love.”
When Joan starred on the hit series The Real Housewives of Toronto, she realized she wanted to use the spotlight to shine a light on her humanitarian efforts and lean into her love and talent for fashion. After wrapping up the show, she reconnected with her industry roots by creatively combining the two and launched her exclusive fashion line of premium quality yet accessible apparel -the Joan Kelley Walker Collection. "I have always loved fashion and philanthropy, so by combining the two, I feel fulfilled. I have learned that we are limitless when we are true to ourselves,” she shares.
Joan Kelley Walker is the quintessential Canadian modern woman. She nimbly couples small-town prairie sensibilities with red-carpet Hollywood glam and has cultivated her chic and accessible clothing line from a modest start-up into a globally established brand. Walker believes, "We live in a diverse world, and there is something for everyone. Fashion has the power to unite.” Her work in fashion and design was recognized in 2018 by the International Fashion Encounter with the Contribution to Canadian Fashion Award. During our interview Joan shared that she has some very exciting announcements this fall, one that we can reveal with our readers is that she will be on the reality docu-series The Social Movement airing on Amazon Prime, iTunes and H2HTV. This show assembles teams of CEO's and entrepreneurs and challenges them to engineer a business solution to the world's most pressing social issues. They challenge the world's top entrepreneurial talent to reach their full potential, documenting the process where true heroes are made! A challenge we know this focused leader is ready for!!
For her, giving back never goes out of style, and this is what makes her timeless. Joan hopes to inspire giving, and more specifically, to inspire entrepreneurs to give back in a creative, unique way. She understands the small differences that can be achieved when we get active with our philanthropy and encourages businesses to integrate a layer of giving back into business operations. She challenges people to think outside the box and innovate ways to make a difference and lead by example. Joan has always lent her voice to many causes and is truly a woman who walks the talk, "As I see a need, I'm going to do what I can to step in and do something.”
Joan loves to be with family and good friends. When she takes some time to relax and pause, she can be found with her friends at the cottage or in her townhouse in Toronto. She encourages everyone to relax and have fun and to enjoy every moment, "It's all about balance and letting things evolve naturally.” Rest is part of the creative cycle, and Joan is continuously creating and innovating.
John Quincy Adams once said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." Joan is fully engaged, and as a compassionate leader is making a difference and ensuring that so many are seen, heard, and understood. She reveals, "I think everything, no matter what you're doing ever in life, has to come from your heart.”
Written by Teresa Greco
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