Jo was born in Whangarei, went to school at Kamo High School, and later when married, returned to live in Northland to take up a position with the Northland Harbour Board. She had various roles in the north, including Commercial Manager of the port, Chair of the Regional Development Council and CEO of the Northland Regional Council.
She and her family then left the north for a year in the US, where she was a mid career Harkness Fellow, studying leadership. On returning to NZ, she was appointed CEO of the Auckland Regional Council. She has since been involved in the founding of Leadership NZ, where she was chair for the first 11 years and with a large number of governance roles, including Chair of Landcare Research, Chair of Hunter Downs Development Company, a member of the Housing NZ board and a member of the Auckland Museum board.
She also teaches governance and leadership. She is Chair of Northpower Fibre, which ensured that Whangarei was the first city in NZ fully connected to UFB. Jo still considers herself a Northlander, and she has a deep belief that providing a great education for our children will ensure their future and that of the region.