As the president of the American Council of Learned Societies, a non-profit federation that is the preeminent representative of research in the humanities and related social sciences in the United States, Joy oversees the awarding of roughly $20 million annually in grants to scholars and promotes humanistic scholarship around the world. She began her studies of Latin and Greek at Middlesex, continuing at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her doctorate in classics. Before moving to ACLS in 2019, she taught at the University of Washington, Stanford, and New York University, and she served as provost and interim president of The Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Joy has written two books published by Princeton University Press, many articles about classical literature and political thought, and reviews and essays for Bookforum, The Nation, the London Times Literary Supplement, the Village Voice, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She is currently writing a book about the influence of Roman thought on the twentieth century philosopher Hannah Arendt.

Along with other academic advisory groups and editorial boards, Joy has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies, which works to promote the high quality and visibility of classical studies in North America.