Inspirational Woman Interview: Joy Marini


Joy Marini is the Executive Director of Maternal and Child Health and Women and Girls at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) where she leads J&J’s Company’s global philanthropy focused on improving health for women and girls. She is responsible for J&J’s international programs on maternal and infant health, child health, and women and girls empowerment as part of the company’s Commitment to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). She has previously held positions as a Physician Assistant at Piscataway-Dunellen Family Practice, an Account Executive at Phase V Advertising, and an Associate Manager in Medical Education at Bristol-Myers Squibb. She holds a M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies, an MBA in Marketing from Rider University, and a B.S. in Animal Science & Agriculture from Western Kentucky University. Her work and writing have been featured on international platforms including The Huffington Post.

How did you first become interested in maternal and child health issues?

Joy Marini: I have always been interested in health – human health, animal health and the health of the world that we live in.  My undergraduate degree was in Animal Science and Agriculture.  Life took a few turns and I ended up working at a pharmaceutical company and a couple of healthcare focused communications firms before going back to school to earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. I was working in geriatrics and family practice when my husband saw an advertisement for a position in global health at Johnson & Johnson. I did not really expect to be working specifically in women’s and children’s health and development, but I was fortunate to work in an area that is so important to J&J. From these experiences, I learned that every job offers experiences and growth.  If you take chances on unusual opportunities and stay open to change, there are many roads to take on your career journey.

Can you tell us about some of J&J‘s international programs for maternal and infant health?

Joy Marini: Women and children are at the heart of J&J.  We prioritize supporting people on the front lines at the heart of care, which includes health workers like nurses, midwives and doctors, and even mothers who are caring for their children. We have over 500 partnerships, including many programs that strengthen the skills of health workers who care for mothers and babies. One of my favorites is the Neonatal Resuscitation Program in China called Freedom of Breath, Fountain of Life. For more than a decade, J&J has worked with the Chinese Ministry of Health, Chinese Health Professional Organizations, the China CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure the there is one person at every birth that can revive a baby who isn’t breathing.  The program has reached over 90% of maternity facilities and benefited over 600,000 newborns. I had an opportunity to meet Pipi before he was 2 years old. He was revived by a team that had learned resuscitation skills in the Freedom of Breath program. Pipi’s story is here.

What are some of J&J’s public sector and private sector partnerships?

Joy Marini: The J&J Global Community Impact team works with governments, multinationals and non-government organizations to improve health for humanity. One of the more exciting and newer partnerships is a 5-year effort that aims to prevent preterm birth in Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Mali.  The partners – Global Affairs Canada, Save the Children, World Vision and Plan Canada – are committed to a holistic model that engages community members in program design. We are working with adolescents, mothers, community health workers and midwives to ensure that every mother has a safe birth. It is exciting to see a partnership grow and program plans develop to include solutions ranging from hands-on activities to technology.

Going forward, how is J&J poised to take on some of the biggest challenges to maternal and infant health, particularly internationally? 

Joy Marini: The international community has come together to support an unprecedented set of health and development goals that the UN Member States will use to frame their agendas over the next 15 years. J&J has a bold commitment to help advance these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 5 areas in which J&J is uniquely able to make a difference, including Environmental Health, Global Disease Challenges, Essential Surgery, Health Workforce, and Women’s and Children’s Health. (For more information, read about our 2030 Promise here.) We dedicate the hearts, skills and ingenuity of our 127,000 employees to create sustainable impact in these areas.

What do you enjoy doing outside your work?

Joy Marini: My husband and I have 2 dogs and 8 chickens that keep us busy. Our family, including a boy and girl in college, loves the beach and traveling together. With a son who loves the outdoors and a daughter who loves the city, we find ourselves visiting everywhere from New York to South Africa to our family farm in Kentucky.

Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

Joy Marini: My mother, Nga Collard, immigrated from Vietnam in the late 1950’s to go to college. She became a citizen and, after many years as a college professor teaching French, she went to medical school. She is still an emergency room physician today. She is one of my strongest influences who instilled in me the importance of education, a commitment to equity for girls and women, and a strong work ethic. “I can do it” is an unofficial family motto.

What are your favorite books, websites, films and resources related to maternal health and/or sustainable development?

Joy Marini: I follow news and reports from the United Nations agencies, particularly from the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Some of the best learning comes from local organizations that have partnered with community members to try game-changing, local solutions to health challenges. My J&J colleagues are also incredible researchers, program designers and writers, so I follow their work as well.

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