Jo-Ann is the Founder & CEO of Rare Birds, LLC. She was born and raised in St. Croix, Virgin Islands to parents from St. Kitts and Nevis. She is a global citizen, rooted firmly in her Caribbean identity. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the American University in Washington, D.C. She obtained a Master of Science in Real Estate Investment from Cass Business School in London and a Master of Science in Management in Construction from Kingston University, also located in London.
Her professional and cultural experiences span countries and continents, having lived, worked and been educated in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Prior to founding Rare Birds, LLC she worked for a decade in various roles in the corporate property and construction industry. Her passions, however, lie in sustainability and entrepreneurship in developing economies and emerging markets, as well as South-South Cooperation.
Outside of the corporate world Jo-Ann has worked as a freelance writer and as an independent consultant to social enterprises-focused on HIV/AIDS, African international development policy, food insecurity, Caribbean culture and the Arts-in the US and UK.
She is currently designing and delivering entrepreneurship curriculum for secondary schools, universities and various startup communities around the globe. To date, she has done so in the Caribbean, U.K., India, the Gambia and now, China.
She has acted as a mentor, advisor and champion to various global communities, some of which include the United Nations Women (UN Women) Empower Women community based in NYC, the Women’s Economic Forum based in India and StartUp Grind.
She is a keen cyclist and runner, sustainability enthusiast, property and architecture admirer, committed traveler and burgeoning gardener. She loves to dance, appreciates a good read-particularly on the topics of history and international political affairs-and finds pleasure in collecting maps.
Jo-Ann has been a vegan for 25 years and counting, so when she’s not engaged in the aforementioned you can find her experimenting with plant-based recipes in the kitchen!
Meral Guzel, Regional Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, Empower Women, United Nations Women
It has been my pleasure to work with Jo-Ann as one of our mentors for UN Women’s Champions for Change programme on the Empower Women platform. As the lead of the “Business Development” group of the programme, I have personally seen Jo-Ann go above and beyond to support her mentees. She has made the process seamless for the mentees. She is a great team leader, effective communicator and champion for everything that her mentees do. Moreover she is passionate about matters related to women's economic empowerment which is evident in all that she does.
Sibel Unal, Project Manager, Istanbul, Turkey
Jo-Ann is a very friendly, energetic, result-oriented, smart and lovely mentor. I am very glad to have worked with her. I was very new to the Empower Women concepts and she helped me so much to get into the subject very quickly, she is really a great teacher. Her energy and motivation are always inspiring. She is also very good at communication and team work, I hope we can continue to work together.
Lydia Olanike Oladapo, Founder & Managing Director at Outstanding Resource Services, Lagos, Nigeria
Jo-Ann was my mentor for the period of being a UN Women Empower Women Champion for Change. Jo-Ann contacted me via mail shortly after my name was assigned to her for mentorship and subsequently scheduled our first meeting, which we had via Whatsapp call. She was very considerate and sacrificial with the timing of meetings (considering the time zone difference in our different locations). She is very professional yet in a very friendly and amiable manner. She answered all my questions and was genuinely interested in my work and aspirations for the championship period. Jo-Ann is also very passionate about the cause of Women Economic Empowerment and her enthusiasm is very inspiring. As a mentor, she is always very helpful, available to answer questions and give guidance. She very promptly followed up when I needed input from the Empower Women focal person and ensured she communicated the status of my request to me promptly. She ensured the members of her team also had some good rapport. She organised group meetings with us individually to discuss our championship projects and followed up to find out if we were on course or needed any help. She also spurred and cheered us on as our projects unfolded. It has been really nice being mentored by Jo-Ann and I look forward to keeping this relationship even beyond the championship period.
Bianca Constantin, CoFounder of Refugees Welcome Romania, Bucharest, Romania
Meeting Jo-Ann and exchanging so many thoughts was extraordinary and made me get things done and see my project grow. Jo-Ann displays very good verbal skills, communicates clearly and concisely. Also, she displays very good listening skills. During a crisis situation I’ve been pleased to find out that Jo-Ann gave really good advice, was objective and focused. I appreciate the fact that she put in a lot of effort in helping me choose the best suiting project for my background and personality. I also appreciate the fact that she was proactive, always asking questions on the status of the project. I thank her very much for her support. I found a true and dedicated mentor in Jo-Ann in just a few months. I really hope that there will be an opportunity for us to work together again on different projects.
Shwetal Shah, Founder of Morsel App, Founder of Explore Science and STEM Advocate, London, UK
Jo Ann is a great mentor, I was lucky to have her as my mentor on my UN Empower Women championship 2016-17. She not only recognized what my strengths were within an hour of speaking to her but was also able to identify ways of achieving the exact goals we set for ourselves. I have had various mentors over the last year but none were as good as her in terms of helping me stay productive and get to the end goal with a clear vision.
Besides being a mentor she also used her network to connect me with relevant contacts and help me articulate my pitch better. She is always positive and helps make tasks seem doable. She is highly dynamic and has a passion to help entrepreneurs and develop women. One of the best qualities a mentor should possess which shows their success is their ability to recognise their mentees immediately and she has the knack for that.
Elaine Slatter, Author, Advisor, Mentor and Serial Entrepreneur and Former CEO of a Canadian Company, Ontario, Canada
Jo-Ann is a very talented connector and writer. Her expertise in developing networks and platforms for women entrepreneurs is outstanding. She is a strong advocate for advancing women in the world of business and is selfless in these efforts. I am honored to know such a hard working supporter of global women's issues.