meet the core team

Meet Joanne


Joanne Chu

Joanne Chu

I spent much of my childhood observing the animals that inhabited the ponds and fields near my home in Upstate New York. My curiosity about animal behavior followed me to college, where I studied biology and psychology. In my senior year I discovered and entered the new and exciting world of neuroscience.

Over the following two decades I studied the interplay among brain anatomy, brain chemistry, and social behavior in animals. As an Assistant Professor in biology, I shared my passions with my students both as teacher and research mentor, but became increasingly disturbed as more students arrived to the college with no firsthand experience with nature or its significance. I wondered how these students would someday grapple with the increasingly complex problems of our day if they had no understanding of how the biosphere was critical to sustaining human life on this planet.

I began a journey to address this issue directly. I immersed myself in the issues of environmental sustainability and pondered, “how can we develop sustainability mindsets within our education systems?” I recognized that to help students begin to confidently tackle the wicked problems of their future, we needed to transform a great deal of what and how we teach.

A few years into this journey, a colleague suggested that I check out the Collaborative Operating System. I quickly realized that the COS was a critical missing piece to my quest. The COS gave me the mindset and toolset to help me to facilitate change at an institutional level.

I have now worked with 2-year and 4-year colleges, and K-12 institutions to help build those conversations within their schools. The COS is critical for anyone whose work involves engaging diverse stakeholders to define and implement something new and unknown for their organization. The COS is especially powerful when the key stakeholders in your efforts don’t have your initiative as part of their job description – as is the case with “sustainability” at most institutions!

Recently, in addition to using collaborative engagement and collaborative problem solving tools as a practitioner, my client organizations have begun to ask me to serve as coach, mentor and teacher of these skills to their administrative leadership. Clearly these school leaders are seeking a new and sustainable way of working that works. It is with this need in mind, combined with my love of teaching, that I am honored to serve as a trainer of the Collaborative Operating System.

Joanne lives in Decatur, GA, with 2 dogs, 3 bikes and many pairs of hiking shoes. Her organization is EcoEthos Solutions. She can be reached at: