Jo was brought up in East Anglia and lives on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds, with her husband Peter and their dogs Welly and Norman. They have four grown-up daughters and have recently become grandparents. Much of her early life was spent supporting local causes and schools acting as a governor and chair of various committees.
Jo’s early career was in retail for both regional and global brands, before moving onto site development and the building industry. This included mentoring others to achieve their best when life had not perhaps worked out as they thought.
As a mature student, Jo studied part time alongside work commitments and family. She achieved first class degrees at both BSc and MSc levels. Jo then began to study for a PhD in Small and Medium Sized Enterprise and Social Responsibility, with a focus on worker health at the University of Nottingham. Unfortunately, a second bout of cancer forced this to be put on hold.
A lifelong interest in Politics was rekindled as a cancer campaigner for the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer. She was elected as a Lincolnshire County Councillor, taking on an executive function with a focus on Economic Development, Environment, Education and Tourism and sitting on the health and well-being board which is where she felt she might make a difference. Realising it was more national policy that needed changing she decided to run for Parliament.
Jo was the first female elected as a Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds in 2015, re-elected again in 2017 and for a third time in 2019 with the biggest majority in constituency history.
In Parliament Jo has sat on both the Women and Equalities and Environmental Audit select committees. She also sat on several APPGs including Rural Services and Pig and poultry and founded the personalised medicine APPG. In 2016 Jo became a PPS and in 2018 was appointed an Assistant Government Whip in HM Government.
In July 2019, Jo was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, helping to lead the government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic when she was re-appointed in the December. Health has been a life-long passion especially using data and science to help the system function more effectively, deliver results to some of our more difficult issues and to free up time to care.
In September 2021 at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Jo was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Waste and Air Quality as well as Agri-Innovation an area she is fascinated by.
In September 2022, Jo was appointed as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household and a Government Whip. In November 2023, Jo was appointed as Minister for Employment.