WLO Chair Prof. Joanne Schroeder is a faculty member in the Department of Recreation and Tourism at Vancouver Island University, Canada – a World Leisure Center of Excellence (WLCE) – since 2000. Numerous roles have included administration, teaching, research and supervision, community engagement and development of experiential learning such as field schools and study tours. Passionate about community involvement and industry connections, her previous experiences include private consulting, training and professional development and predominantly working in municipal recreation departments for over 20 years across Western Canada. In this interview, we get to know Joanne better, her highlights of WLO’s work in 2022 and her wishes for the year to come.

WLO: 2022 was quite an intense year at WLO, what are your highlights and how did you experience it?

Joanne Schroeder: Celebrating 70 years as an organization is an incredible highlight this year. WLO’s history of leisure research, advocacy, strategic development, and global networking has spanned seven decades, and I feel privileged and honored to come behind many people who have strived to advance this important work.

We also celebrated our second World Leisure Day, April 16th. It was so great to see all the innovative activities and initiatives that took place around the world. Creative dances, lively debates, community festivals and sporting events, skating, hiking and more.

Bringing people together, collectively around the world is something to be celebrated.


WLO: How do you balance your position as WLO Chair, your work at the WLCE at VIU, and your personal and leisure life?

JS: When you love what you do it become an artistic balance of juggling. I worked in local government with municipal recreation for over 15 years and ran my own consulting company before coming into academia. I have now been a faculty member and Professor in the Department of Recreation and Tourism at Vancouver Island University (VIU), British Columbia, Canada, teaching, chairing, and administrating for over 20 years. And I would have to say, in all positions, I have found supportive and ambitious colleagues that fuel my passion for tackling a challenge. My colleagues at VIU have reinforced the work of the World Leisure Centre of Excellence as we have collectively grown its capacity over the last decade. The decision to put my name forward as WLO Chair was a supportive discussion with many people in my life, both work and personal.

I come from a large family of seven children and all my siblings, as well as my husband, are entrepreneurs, so a strong work ethics is in my make up, I guess. Working hard and playing hard has been a motto that drives my ambition, and my leisure is spent rejuvenating myself with my family and friends. As much nature as I can get is my “happy place,” whether it is walking our chocolate lab in the woods, skiing, biking, or gardening, the more fresh air I get, the better I can juggle it all.

WLO: Is there any WLO-related memory of this year that you will keep your life?

JS: The opportunity to be face to face with some of the board members in Brazil was for sure a wonderful memory of the year. Having worked so many hours virtually, it was genuinely nice to be together in person. While not all were able to be present and others that were still restricted from travel, we worked hard to include as many people as possible.

The WLCE in Brazil, along with SESC were wonderful hosts at Hotel SESC Guadalupe. Being a part of the opening of their new hotel, celebrating the local culture through dance and experiencing local entrepreneurship through the women’s shellfish association were memories not easily lost.


WLO: What are your wishes for the WLO for 2023?

JS: 2023 is going to be an exciting year as we head south to beautiful New Zealand. A face-to-face Congress, with a study tour, field school for emerging scholars and practitioners and sessions to challenge our knowledge and network, definitely something to look forward to.

But what I really wish for in 2023 is a strengthening to the Global Reach of Leisure, its benefits, and impacts expanded. Continental representation is critical in a world driven organization and we have many parts of the world to yet reach. Strengthening our collaboration with international leisure organization will only work to collectively bring health and wellbeing to our communities and continents.

I wish for individuals to be strengthened through forms of leisure activities, positive social connectedness and the pendulum of leisure equity and access swinging in the right direction.

And finally, I wish for the human condition to be positively improved through the commitment and service of so many volunteers, practitioners, scholars, and members of the WLO, together 2023 is going to be better because “we make it be”!