It Started with Uncle Max

Many of us have an Uncle Max - the “odd one” in the family, the one invited to holiday meals and then everyone avoids. Uncle Max told unintelligible war stories, many of them in Spanish, and looked like he had no home. Joanne was fascinated by her uncle– how had he become who he was and how could she connect with her uncle so that he felt appreciated and loved? Determined to understand Uncle Max, she was able to create a deep bond with him throughout the rest of his life.  

Finding Her Superpower

From Uncle Max, Joanne realized that being able to truly connect with unique people was a superpower. In high school she volunteered with special needs kids, then earned her undergraduate degree in special education and graduate degree in vocational rehabilitation while working full time with adults with disabilities. She came to understand that people can succeed or fail based on the people, organization, and processes that surrounded them – the system they were part of. Helping to uncover people’s strengths and help create a system of success for every employee became her guiding principal.

Helping Individuals Succeed Inside a System


When Joanne launched her career in human resources a core part of her mission was to support and develop leaders, helping to ensure that employees were recognized for their strengths and that support systems were put in place to help them succeed. She started coaching managers to become better leaders. That passion for helping individuals succeed inside a system they choose to work in is the lens Joanne brings to her clients.


  • Joanne Derr Consulting | Principal

  • Care.com | Vice President of Human Resources

  • Neighborhood Health Plan | Vice President of Human Resources

  • University of Massachusetts Medical School Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

  • Cisco Systems, EMC², and Ascential Software (now IBM) | Business Consultant

  • ​Nortel Networks | Director of Leadership Strategy

  • Bay Networks | Director of Human Resources, HR Merger and Acquisition Integration Team Leader

  • Digital Equipment Corporation | Human Resources Manager

  • Mass. Rehabilitation Commission | Assistant Director of Marketing, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Certifications & Education

  • Bates Executive Presence Index (ExPI)

  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (CPP)

  • TypeCoach

  • Benchmarks 360 Leadership Assessments

  • Certified Professional Coach | Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC)

  • ​Credentialed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF)

  • Neuroscience for the Advanced Coach - BeAbove Leadership

  • National Training Laboratories | Organizational Development 

  • MS, Boston University | Vocational Counseling

  • BS, Boston University | Special Education


  • The Boston Club | Co-Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

  • Genesis | First 90 Days Certified Acceleration Coach (Michael Watkins)

  • Richard Levin Associates/CFAR | Executive Coach 

  • Bridging Distance, Virtual team experts

  • International Coach Federation | New England

  • Human Resources Leadership Forum

  • Northeast Human Resources Association

  • The New Talent Management Network

  • ​Boston Facilitators Roundtable


  • Torchlight Care | Board Member

  • Senior HR Networking Group | Moderator, Weekly Group

  • Babson Coaching for Leadership Teamwork Program | Coach

  • Baystate Financial Charitable Foundation | Board Member

  • Westford Committee on Non-Violence | Founding Member

  • Live for Liv Foundation | Volunteer


With 25 years of executive and business experience coupled with a foundation in counseling and education, Joanne has a deep understanding of corporate culture, strategy, and operations allowing her to work with leaders and their teams, and to naturally link clients’ coaching goals with business success. 

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Joanne works with C-Suite executives in Fortune 100 corporations, and directors and other professionals in smaller businesses and not-for-profits. She’s versatile in a wide range of industries including:

  • Computer Software and Services

  • Biotech and  Pharma

  • Universities and  Research

  • Healthcare

  • Telecommunications and Energy

  • Not-for-Profit Organizations


  • Iron Mountain

  • National Grid

  • Ginko Bioworks

  • Tiburio Theraputics

  • Toast 

  • Oxfam America 

  • Jewish Vocational Services

  • ALEXX Foundation

  • City of Chelsea

  • Babson College

  • Atrium Health

© 2020 by Joanne Derr Consulting