Joan Cavanaugh

President, IAW Fairfield County chapter

About Me

Throughout my life, I have amassed many careers. I am a Master Teacher, as well as an international keynote speaker. I have also been an administrator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although I resigned that position to give full attention to my growing international publishing company. Just eight years later, I put this seven-figure company up for sale. In the same year I completed the sale to a group of investors.

During my years in the publishing industry I developed hundreds of unique books, games and toys for an international market as well as creating and producing custom design products for UNICEF, the National Wildlife Federation, Readers Digest and even for the White House. In this industry I was able to combine my knowledge and love of the arts with a commitment to education. In my role at the museum I purchased thousands of art books, but I also designed the retail shops, published educational materials for teachers and produced the first audio walking tours for a museum public.

I even created my own division called Educational Marketing, combining a background in education, art history an innate sense of marketing, which allowed me to pioneer and create a retail space exclusively devoted to children's art books, games, toys and graphics. The Children's Shop at the Metropolitan Museum became a model for the development of educational chain stores such as Noodle Kidoodle, Zany Brainy and the Learning Express, which subsequently developed over the next 15 years. My innovative work at the Museum was heralded by many, including Jean Mercier of Publishers Weekly, who wrote: "Her awareness of how to appeal to children is evident. Clearly ideas are Cavanaugh's great assets, but seeing them through from vision to reality requires strong belief and stamina.
she is one of the few who knows what to do, and does it, [once] she recognizes she's in that fortuitous situation at the golden moment."

Having accomplished many dreams at the museum, I converted that position into a consultancy, in order to focus on establishing my own publishing company. In 1984 WJ Fantasy was born - an organization devoted to creating fine paper art products for children.

My products have received numerous awards from prominent members of the industry and I myself was lauded as the Canon Businesswoman of the Year in 2003. In 2004 I was named the Office Depot Businesswoman of the Year, and in 2006 I was invited to conducted a week long seminar/workshop in Thailand for 150 museum and university professionals on the topic of making object-bound museums more interpretive and interesting.

I am quite the enthusiastic golfer, and I am involved in the game in many ways. I have penned and published a book called "Teeing Up for Success" and I have been a business golf coach. I addition, I am an active member of various golf-related organizations, including the Executive Women's Golf Association, United States Golf Association, LWGA and Women In the Golf Industry. In fact, I have held many leadership positions connected with the sport. I was elected to the EWGA National Board of Directors during the period from 2004-2007, even serving as the president of its foundation, and I participated in a focus group for the USGA Women's Committee before founding three LPGA/USGA junior golf programs in Connecticut, New York City and Lakeland, Florida.

I very much enjoy inspiring women to use golf as a tool in advancing their careers, as well as achieving physical and emotional fitness. Currently, I conduct golf workshops for business women who want to learn the game while they build strategic relationships on the golf course. I especially enjoy speaking on topics related to women and golf.

Somehow I manage to share my talents and time through volunteer endeavors for the betterment of others. Mentoring, in particular, is an important aspect of both my business life and my general lifestyle. As a teacher, I happily gave of my time to student teachers, encouraging them and guiding their growth in the profession. At the museum, I took on at least two or three interns each year from colleges around the country who came to study publishing and marketing as part of a career in the arts. In my publishing company I employed students from Bridgeport University and Sacred Heart College who wanted to learn how to run a successful business. I am always eager to share what I've learned, so that others may benefit from my experience.

I have been known to speak rather passionately about how women will only reach parity in the workplace when they diversify the boardrooms of this country. There is no time time like the present to get to work and make that happen. I am proud to be at the forefront of the effort.

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