Joan Peterson

Joan Peterson is a social entrepreneur with a strong track record in strategic planning, consensus building and program development. She has conceptualized and then overseen the development of successful education programs, fundraising events, and a web based volunteer service, all of which have benefited her community and beyond. She has served on numerous boards and advisory groups as well.


Since 2008 Peterson has been the executive director of Literacy for Life, a volunteer based organization founded by William & Mary which became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1975. As the agency’s first full time employee Peterson developed the small struggling organization into a nationally recognized, award-winning, 1000+ person operation. Under her leadership three programs have been developed to meet critically important community needs: a health literacy program (HEAL Program), a work skills program (EmployEd), and a school based program for parents who struggle with English literacy (Empowering Parents Program).


Peterson has a Bachelors Degree in Biology and Education from Stonehill College. She has both personally and on behalf of her organization received numerous awards including the Nancy E. Jiranek Award for Outstanding Executive Director, Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year by the Greater Williamsburg Area Chamber and Tourism Alliance, and the Award for Innovation and Collaboration for the HEAL program from ProLiteracy, a thousand member international association.