Joy received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999. After working with the NGO, CARE International, in West Africa, she returned to WashU in 2001 as a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and in the Praxis Program, a complement to the student's major designed to offer opportunities to combine the foundation of a liberal arts education with marketable skills. She became the coordinator in the newly formed office of undergraduate research in 2005 and then was appointed assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences in 2006. Joy became the director of undergraduate research in 2011 and an associate dean the following year.
Her scholarly pursuits span a wide variety of topics, and she is particularly interested in understanding what factors contribute to effective and ethical leadership. Joy teaches courses on this topic as well as the master class for seniors in the Praxis Program. She believes that everyone can learn and grow regardless of their starting point with the right strategies, effective practice over time, and good coaching and mentoring from committed teachers and advisors. When not a work, Joy enjoys cooking for a crowd, gardening, and watching plants grow, as well as teaching spinning twice a week at her local community center.