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NHA Employee Takes Life in Stride

Haley Brink  |  May 21, 2021
Meet Rebecca Joyner, manager of accounting at National Heritage Academies (NHA), who believes that people should just say “yes” to opportunities that come their way.



“As teachers, parents, and mentors, we have the power to set an example for lifelong learning and adventure every day,” she said. “I never wanted to be on a non-profit board, but I said ‘yes’ when asked and was able to divert funding to a domestic abuse shelter. I never wanted to be a cub scout leader, but I said ‘yes’ and I’ve gained so much from these kids and teaching them about conservancy and outdoor ethics. As an accountant, I never thought I’d be managing student data, but I said ‘yes’ and that has helped me fully appreciate the complexities of school data and the politics that go along with it. I never thought I’d be a runner, but I said ‘yes’ and it’s changed my life.”

In her role at NHA, Joyner supports schools with student data reporting, attendance issues, and financial questions. She also helps school leaders navigate their financial options to help invest funds efficiently and assist registrars in navigating reporting issues and questions.

After 16 years, Joyner’s favorite part of her job is when she gets to visit schools, reflecting that she’s never visited a school without learning something new.

“Working here, you see the impact that we have on the communities we serve, whether it’s parents that are volunteering at drive line or students that are getting a fresh start at a new school,” she said. “We impact incredibly diverse, vibrant communities every day and that is what keeps me at NHA.”

If anyone knows how to balance work, life, and other passions, it’s Joyner. Besides being a mother of three boys at Cross Creek Charter Academy and a cub scout leader, she’s also the Guinness World Record holder of the fastest marathon run by a female dressed as a skeleton.

“Rebecca, like many other working moms, is doing her best to balance life and work,” said Corey Balkon, director of accounting and financial reporting. “She is constantly trying to balance her time especially since she is an avid runner and finding the time needed to get her runs can be challenging. Rebecca is constantly training and looking forward to her next long-distance race!”



While balancing it all is difficult for many families, Joyner believes her family is no different. Her husband is also an endurance runner who works for NHA. “As a two working parent household, with cub scout leader duties for both of us and kids’ sports going on, we need to fit things in when we can and most importantly, be flexible,” said Joyner. “Sometimes running can be the thing I need to prioritize in order to move forward in other aspects of our lives.”

Joyner started running as exercise and to win a step challenge at work. At that point, she hadn’t ever run more than three miles. After pushing her way through the first few miles, she started believing she could do just about anything. She kept training until she found herself running the Boston Marathon and then ultra-marathons (races longer than a marathon).

Now, over the past six years, she has completed 24 marathons and 23 ultras. Her preferred distance is the 100k, which is just over 62 miles. “I’ve found that to be my sweet spot since it’s long enough that I don’t have to be that fast and it’s short enough that I can still sleep in my own bed at night,” she said. “I was lucky enough to find a few 100ks last year and nabbed the top 12th finish time in the nation.”

Most days, Joyner goes for runs before her sons even wake up. On days she plans longer runs, she wakes up early and sometimes runs again at lunch or while her kids are at practices. Flexibility is key, especially because she doesn’t own a treadmill. While she can’t always fit her runs in or run for as long as she’d like, she focuses on giving herself grace.

She reflects that she’s a happier person and a better mother on days she runs. “We know that being outside and active reduces depression, stimulates your brain and improves your whole being and I’ve definitely found that to be true,” said Joyner. “On days where work and parenting seem overwhelming, just getting out for a short run helps to mitigate that stress and helps me reframe the day. I have never had a day so bad that running didn’t help. My husband will push me out the door kicking and screaming sometimes when I insist I’m too busy and can’t possibly spare the time. When I come back, I’m always relaxed and smiling.”

Being active is part of her family’s lifestyle. They prioritize activity and being outside. She strives to be a good role model for her kids by showing them that people can do hard things. “I want my children to be resilient and confident and I hope that by seeing me do these longer races (in the heat and the rain and the snow) they will pick up on some of that,” said Joyner. “I think being a resilient person is one of the most underrated qualities people can have.”

Keep up the great work, Rebecca!