The Green Spa Network (GSN) announces the appointment of Joanna Roche as its new Executive Director. “We are thrilled to welcome Joanna as the new Executive Director of Green Spa Network,” says Karen Short, President, Green Spa Network. “The timing couldn’t be better, as we launch into execution of our refreshed strategic direction to become an ‘Action Network’ for the spa industry, generating and curating actions that support spas’ ability to contribute to a healthy, regenerative environment and thriving individual wellbeing.
“We expect Joanna’s leadership and communication skills will prove invaluable to GSN for reconnecting and cultivating important relationships with members, sponsors, and within the spa and sustainability communities.”
Roche brings a range of experience in spa, wellness, and marketing communication to her new role. Insider’s caught up with her to learn more.
How do you feel about your new position as Executive Director?
I’m looking forward to this new chapter of my career. GSN has important work to do, and I am honored and humbled to join this very talented group of people, both past and present board members, and those who have created the energy and educational resources to support sustainability and renewal.
What do you hope to begin working on straight away?
Right away, I need to listen and learn, connecting with board members, sponsors, and supporters of GSN. We’re just closing our fiscal year, so there will be budgeting and planning for the next. I have lots of ideas for our membership—regional events, media events, and ways to inspire and activate our community and beyond to take action in supporting our people and planet.
“I know that the time is now: We have to act and to galvanize as an industry around protecting our resources.”
What will be your main focus in the coming year?
Over the next year, we are focusing on our Tree Planting Initiative—our first of an Annual Action Initiative that aims to unite our industry behind a common goal, and offer a measurable result. We have partnered with WeForest to facilitate the planting of one million trees, based on the knowledge that trees are the most efficient and have the natural ability to reverse climate change. We just rolled out this project.
Personally, I want to focus on bringing awareness to the work that we do and motivate others to join us.
What are you most excited about?
It’s all exciting—the idea of inspiring change at the organizational level, fostering institutional awareness on the health of the planet, supporting self-care education for our workforce, and creating memories and experiences for our members that expand their thinking and contribute to their creativity.
How have your past experiences shaped and led up to this new position?
I joined the spa world at 24, when I went to work at Canyon Ranch, and had the good fortune to work directly with Mel and Enid Zuckerman for many years. Mel always said that what we really were was an educational institution giving people the tools to change their lives. Enid always said to treat every guest as if they were a guest in your own home. These principles—education and kindness—have guided me throughout my career. Canyon Ranch also connected me to a core group of people who have gone on to become successful leaders who continue to shape the industry, giving me a valuable network based on shared experiences.
Having worked in operations, management, and marketing while feeding my creative side with volunteering for and leading not-for-profit boards and organizations I believe in really led me to this opportunity. I’m passionate about wellness and self-care and learning, and I am deeply connected to our natural environment. I know that the time is now: We have to act and to galvanize as an industry around protecting our resources.
I also live on a tiny island 30 miles out to sea, where sustainability is part of the community, and we all do our part in keeping Nantucket healthy.
What was your main takeaway from GSN’s recent 10th Anniversary Congress?
Congress was inspiring—to be with so many smart and talented people working together to make a difference and motivate others to action. On a deeper level, we explored the relationship between sustainability and regeneration, identified that spas are a catalyst for relationship, and those relationships are our resources for creating change. I learned that we as an industry have to leverage the resource based value of community to inspire social change.
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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