I first met Joanne in 2003 when I took a Sr. Art Director position at Moses. She was the SVP, Creative Director at the time — poised, confident and sure. Her name graced a large majority of the awards on the agency’s main wall. She had the big office with the cool tokens from almost two decades of kicking ass at Moses and she was as friendly as she was fierce.
I remember thinking that if Louie is the heart of the agency, Joanne was certainly the soul. All of this made her quite intimidating for a green creative just a few years out of grad school. Eventually I managed to earn her respect, and we found our groove, a groove that culminated in us singing and dancing during a pitch to a song she wrote the night before. We sold the work with our little number, too, but only because Joanne insisted that I do it with her (I am comfortable doing anything during presentations now, but back then this was more than a little frightening).
I learned a lot from her while we worked together, and if I was open to it I would have learned a heck of a lot more. After 22 years at the agency, I think she was a little burned out and eventually left. A year later, I moved to San Francisco. And our paths would not cross until March 2012 during a party on my first day back at the agency.
I was taking the Creative Director job and we were retiring the Anshell in Moses Anshell by hanging a jersey in the rafters like any good championship team. We were starting a new era of the agency as simply Moses, so it was nice to have Joanne there for the occasion. I knew Joanne had cancer at the time, but she was still full of spirit. She scolded me for not going out more with my peers back in the day and told me to enjoy things more now. She said she was glad that I was back (which I took as a high compliment) and we hugged, which is something that I don’t do casually or just for anyone. I was really happy to see her.
A little over a year later, Joanne passed away. We grieved. And we still miss her, but we decided to honor her contribution to the agency by retiring her number — 22 — for her years of service. The jersey is high up in the agency for all to see. Even though Joanne wasn’t much of a sports fanatic, she’d like knowing that we will think about her everyday as we walk under it. My hope is that when our employees see her name up there they will be reminded to be strong in their convictions, to be compassionate, to enjoy their work, and most importantly to cultivate that little rebellious streak that is a Moses trademark — and a defining characteristic of Joanne’s.