The third of seven children growing up in Southwick Housing Project, Jo Ann Orr completed high school at Ursuline Academy in 1968. She later received a Bachelors of Business Administration from Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX (1999); and her Master of Business Administration Degree (MBA) from Sullivan University, Louisville, KY, graduating CUM LAUDE (2001).
In 1975, Jo Ann enlisted in the Army in order to provide care for her son, who suffered from sickle cell disease. There was limited treatment available, which required her to seek medical care elsewhere. She served 25 years as a Quartermaster Non-Commissioned Officer, and retired as a Master Sergeant in January 2000. She is a veteran of Desert Storm/Desert Shield.
In 2007, she started volunteering for Metro Senior Nutrition Program (Meals-On-Wheels). In 2009, she was appointed to the Louisville Metro Community Action Partnership’s (CAP) Administering Board by then Mayor, Jerry Abramson. In 2010, she assumed the duties as the Marketing/Fundraising Director for the Sickle Cell Association of Kentuckiana, Inc (SCAK). In 2012, she became an active member of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement (MHHM) for Chronic Disease Prevention & Management, was appointed to the Legal Aid Society Board of Directors as a representative for senior community. She still finds time to volunteer for veterans becoming an active member of the National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS), serving as Resource Officer, and a member of the Athena Sisters, an all woman’s veteran organization.
After the loss of her son to sickle cell disease, she took on the task of bringing awareness to the medical community about the need for a “Medical Home for Sickle Cell Adults,” here in the Louisville area. On April 17, 2017, the Norton Cancer Institute established an adult clinic to provide care for the Kentucky and the southern Indiana sickle cell community. Presently, she is working with several veteran agencies to establish a place for veteran women’s services, while serving as the advisor for the Youth In Action Network. The Youth In Action Network is an organization that empowers young people to make a difference in their community through volunteering and working together.