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So What Do You Do, Joy Marini?
So What Do You Do, Joy Marini?
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Johnson & Johnson’s executive director of worldwide corporate contributions discusses her unique role at the company—and her current passion project, Women Deliver 2016.
Joy Marini with Malawi hospital staff who’ve received training in the Helping Babies Breathe program.

There are more than 126,000 employees doing remarkable work for the Johnson & Johnson family of companies—each in their own way.

Employees like Joy Marini, who’s the executive director of corporate contributions, with a focus on maternal, newborn and child health, and women and girls.

Although Marini is based in New Jersey, her work has taken her across oceans to Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

We happened to catch up with her as she was preparing to head to Copenhagen, where she’s coordinating the company’s presence at Women Deliver 2016, the largest global gathering on the health, rights and well-being of girls and women, taking place May 16-19.

Meet Joy Marini, champion of babies, girls and women around the world.

What my typical workday is like . . .

I usually have three kinds of days. I have office days, which are just what they sound like, including everything from strategic planning to budgeting.

There are also days in the field when my team and I check out our programs in action in the countries where they are implemented. We might be in a small community, or visiting those who benefit from our programs in their homes. We might be in clinics, looking at the state of healthcare infrastructure and the realities of being a health worker there. Or we could be reviewing a training session for a range of programs, from women’s empowerment to a midwife leadership program.

Then there are what you might call advocacy and leadership days. That’s when I’m out consulting or representing our philanthropy efforts, either in private meetings or international gatherings, like Women Deliver.

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Marini with trainers in the Helping Babies Breathe program in Malawi.

It’s my responsibility to . . .

I represent the Johnson & Johnson heritage of improving the health of mothers, newborns and children—a commitment to global public health has been part of the company’s DNA for more than 100 years.

This means that my team and I need to understand global public health and development, keep up with the latest trends, and understand how health and wellbeing plays out in local communities. We manage partnerships with agencies like UNICEF, with NGOs like Save the Children, and with governments and other private sector entities. We are responsible for everything from identifying solutions to program design and evaluating our programs.

How I got here . . .

I didn’t come through the usual channels. Most of the people on our team have a background in global public health or have perhaps worked in the field at an NGO or with the UN. I came from another pharmaceutical company, and before that, I worked at a couple of communications and PR firms.

I also became a physician’s assistant and worked in family practice and geriatrics for a few years! So this particular type of work seemed to be a great fit for the skills I’d learned in all those other jobs.

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Marini visits a hospital in Ethiopia that provides surgical treatment for fistula, a complication of childbirth.

What I’ve learned working in the field . . .

People don’t live in silos, and there are many things that can impact their health, such as education, poverty or gender equity. So we’ll work with the government and various partners to help a person not only survive but thrive.

For instance, we did a program in Uganda in partnership with Save the Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics and USAID to teach health workers how to address birth asphyxia, which is the inability of a baby to breathe at birth. It happens in one out of every 10 births worldwide.

You can revive a baby with very little equipment: about 95% of babies can be revived with very basic steps of resuscitation.

So we were in the field, evaluating the midwives who were being trained, as well as the clinic’s resources, and how many laboring moms each midwife was caring for at a given time. It was a very rural clinic, and it turned out they hadn’t had running water or electricity for two weeks. And the road [leading there] was terrible: It had been washed away several times and was almost unpassable. So we were spending time giving clinical skills to these wonderfully talented and skilled midwives, but they were struggling against so many other barriers.

When we’re in the field, we’re looking at all of these things so we can then ask ourselves: Do we need to bring other partners in [to help]? What do we need to do to ensure our programs are as effective and sustainable as possible? In this case, we released extra funding and brought in a solar panel partner to help bring electricity to the clinic.

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Marini’s colleague Alice Lin Fabiano, Director, Worldwide Corporate Contributions, shares a new mobile health program called mMitra with women in India.

My passion project . . .

Right now I’m organizing our activities at the Women Deliver conference. Women Deliver is an amazing organization that’s grown exponentially over the past decade—this year’s conference will be the largest gathering in the past 10 years focused on the empowerment and health of women and girls.

We’ll be highlighting not only the work our businesses are doing but also our philanthropic efforts. For instance, we’re going to be working with midwives, and we’ll be talking about some of the surgical training we help provide for treating obstetric fistula, an injury in childbirth caused by prolonged, unrelieved, obstructed labor that renders a woman incontinent and can only be treated through surgery.

It has been said that the health of a country’s women, girls and children is a predictor of the health of a nation. When they thrive, economies thrive. When you educate a girl, she has a higher income potential. She delays marriage, has fewer children and has them later in life, and her children are more likely to be educated. This is why girls and women are so important when we look at what we want to do in global health and development.

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Fabiano, Johnson & Johnson colleagues and local residents at the launch of mMitra in India.

On raising “philanthroteens” …

Every child walks their own path, but I have tried to expose my two children to a world beyond New Jersey. I’m trying to raise “philanthroteens”! They were Boy and Girl Scouts.

My daughter worked with Women Deliver on a crowdsourcing program called Catapult; she chose three organizations she wanted to support and really worked to drive the funding. And she’s in nursing school now, so she’s kind of continuing on that path.

My son, a high school senior, volunteers with Fields of Growth, an NGO that uses sports as a platform for good works. He’ll be going to Uganda with them this year, coaching sports and doing community work while there.

How I unwind . . .

My husband and I love to watch sports, especially when the kids are playing—softball, volleyball, football, lacrosse. I also love science-fiction, whether I’m reading or watching it.
And we have a ton of pets. We have two little dogs, fish and seven backyard chickens. They’re not like regular chickens, they are absolutely pets—you can pick them up and carry them around!

The best thing about giving back . . .

As a mom, wife and citizen of the community, one of the things that I have found most rewarding is being able to share some of the work that I do—from what I can do in my own backyard to what’s happening in the rest of the world—with my children to try and inspire a tradition of giving back in our own family.

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