Joyce Odidison, Founder of The Global Workplace Wellness Summit 

Hello and Welcome,

The Global Workplace Wellness Summit is the most globally-focused workplace wellness education forum that offers year-round support, strategies and tools to enhance the workplace wellness business aspect of organizations while promoting wellness competencies at work. 

The Summit is the brainchild of Joyce Odidison, created to fill a void that leaders struggled to address. Here is Joyce's story in her own words.

"First, I would like to give you the back story to how it all started. I immigrated to Canada at age 19. All I had was a desire in my heart to obtain a post-secondary education. You see, I grew up on the small Caribbean Island called Dominica in the West Indies. As the third of four children raised by a single mother, our family faced some very difficult times when we had very little to eat. Many times we ate cooked green bananas for breakfast before school. My mom often had no funds to purchase the protein we needed for a full meal. We could seldom afford beef, chicken or even the more economical smoked fish. 

As children, we also had to assume responsibilities in the home at a very early age. As a result of this, I learned to cook at a very young age, experimenting how to cook tasty vegan meals for my siblings and me with fresh coconut oil, coconut cream and the greens that grew on the river banks. 

Some times my mom would need to take us away from school for the day. On occasion, she woke us very early in the morning to go to the garden miles away from home on foot. We would then harvest sweet potatoes that we would bring home in sacks on our heads, to cook for our breakfast before school. We were fortunate that we always had land to plant, and coconut water to drink.  

As kids, we would fetch water from the river for drinking and cooking and my mom used large cans to store rainwater for laundry during the rainy season. We would take our clothes to the river to wash by hand during the dry season. As I grew up, I dreamed of travelling abroad to pursue my education and jumped at the chance to travel to Canada when my aunt invited me.

After migrating to Canada, I had to work several jobs to put myself through university. I suffered a major setback when tests showed that due to a birth defect, I had only one developed kidney and it had turned into a mass of fluid that needed to be removed. At 21, I had a left nephrectomy that resulted in me developing primary hyperalgesia, where the pain of the incision worsened. This became a terrible source of pain for over a decade. Even then, I knew that my life had a purpose and I had to finish my degree, no matter the odds. I was able to complete my undergraduate degree and a Masters Degree and several certifications. 

Now I have the privilege of teaching thousands. I am so grateful that I was raised to always value education and to have a strong faith in myself, a resilient attitude and a willingness to work hard. Today, as I look back, I know that no matter what life throws at me, I can keep pressing on with the hope that I can make a difference and help change lives as part of my greater purpose. 

At 29, I decided that I wanted to start my own business. I had no mentor, money, coach or friend to show me the rope. It took gut, grit and perseverance to start, run and survive as an entrepreneur. For most of my career, I was the only black woman or person of colour at the various business and networking functions I attended. I chose to keep going and I cannot believe that it has been 25 years.

In my career as a Conflict Analyst, I have worked with organizations and busy professionals to address interpersonal conflicts, boost communication and create respectful workplaces. I have worked in unionized and none union workplaces, private and public institutions, across industries and came away knowing more needs to be done.

I have come to learn that change is not automatic and by taking micro improvement steps we can boost resilience and develop a wellness competency mindset to thrive at work.

My commitment to this work came from witnessing the hurt, pain, disappointments and frustration of employees at every level in the organization.

It has been proven that we cannot attain change with the old mindset, nor can we sustain change without developing new competencies. We also cannot heal our workplaces until we ourselves are well.

Why I Created the Global Workplace Wellness Summit.

As a Conflict Analyst, Coach and Organizational Development Consultant, my job was to help organizations address the difficult and challenging issues and interpersonal conflicts that arose in their teams and departments. This included dealing with harassment, bullying and other systems conflicts.

I started noticing many mid-career professionals had developed chronic diseases and illnesses that were related to workplace stress and conflicts.

Later, when a client had a heart attack in my office and another client had a stroke, I felt compelled to change my approach.

This led to me creating Interpersonal Wellness and Wellness Improvement System® (WIS), and the assessment to help my clients view their wellness as a path to great health. 

As we continue to grow and reach others, I had the idea of creating something bigger than me. This gave birth to the Global Workplace Wellness Summit. We started with a live summit in San Mateo, California and has since successfully ran three virtual summits.

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