Joanna moved to Riverside in 1981 when she was four years old and participated in sports offered through the Recreation Department. At John W North High School, Joanna participated in several sports including basketball, soccer and track. In 1995, she set a meet record in winning the 100 meter hurdles, in addition to winning in the 300 meter hurdles, at the California Interscholastic Federation State Meet, helping North to their first CIF Track and Field Championship.
She won the 100 Meter Hurdles at USA Juniors and a Gold Medal in 100 Meter Hurdles at Pan Am Juniors, leading her to be named the National Girl’s “High School Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News. At UCLA, won the 1996 100 Meter Hurdles at the Pac 10 Championships, the ’97 100 and 400 Meter Hurdles at the NCAA Outdoors Meet and the 1999400 Meter Hurdles. Joanna also won a Silver Medal in the 1999 Summer Universiade and later went on to a Gold Medal finish at the 2003 Pan American Games.
Joanna represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics held in Greece where she was awarded the Gold Medal in the 100 Meter Hurdles, was named as the prestigious Jesse Owens Award winner and was recognized as the U.S. Track and Field 2004 Women’s Athlete of the Year.
In 2005, she won the 100 Meter Hurdles at the Adidas Track Classic and also the same event in Paris. In 2006, Joanna won the 100 Meter Hurdles in Tallin and Millrose and in 2008 she was first in the Nike Prefontaine Classic and at the Adidas Track Classic.
She works for the Joanna Hayes Foundation and continues to assist young women in challenging situations. She is now at UCLA as an assistant coach.