Joanne was born and raised in East Belfast, receiving her education at Braniel Primary School and Grosvenor High School. As an elected representative, she served as a Councillor in Castlereagh for 11 years between 2000-2011 and as Mayor in 2004/05. Joanne quickly developed a reputation for fairness and attention to detail. These qualities saw her selected by Councillors from across NI to negotiate with Direct Rule and Executive Ministers and leading the panel with responsibility for reform of local councils.
For 18 years she worked at the Northern Ireland Assembly, developing a comprehensive understanding of its work. In 2016 Joanne was elected on the first count to the Northern Ireland Assembly to represent the people of East Belfast.
Joanne is a Member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board; serves on the Committee on Standards and Privileges; the Assembly All Party Group on Epilepsy; and the Assembly All Party Group on Tourism.”