Simone Joyaux has left us. Her spirit never will.
I knew of Simone for many, many years before I had the pleasure to meet her in person. Her website is a treasure trove for anyone trying to better understand the role of boards and fundraising. Especially when you were feeling frustrated or unsure of your way. Simone, even in her writing, never hesitated. You got the truth. Simple, clear, USEFUL.
And beyond that, Simone was generous. No pay wall for all that brilliance.
I also loved that like me, she retained her own name. Surprisingly rare in people from my generation. And in a sector filled with women, but where the loudest voices were men, she was a model.
Meeting Simone was an experience
I will never forget the day I first spent time with Simone, in person. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving hosted a small seminar for nonprofit consultants with Simone as our speaker.
But she wasn’t just a speaker. From moment one, she was a straight-talking, problem-solving, energizing teacher. She challenged us at every turn. I was one of the few fundraising consultants in our small group. When Simone asked the group what the biggest issue our clients reported, everyone said, “keeping a development director”.
That’s when I spoke up.
Having been a development staffer, including director, for many years myself, I knew why. And I had a chance to model Simone and just tell the group. Worked up? Yup. Loud and clear? I hoped so. You can read my thoughts here.
That was Simone at work… push, question, make us think for ourselves and work together.
Generosity and kindness – served straight up
The second time I met Simone was at her home. And that tells you something about the personal generosity of Simone and of Tom Ahern. This person they had each met once or twice was invited to a gathering at their home – a summer party. I live two hours away, but you bet I got in the car when that email invite came through.
Feeling a little nervous, and sure that the only people I might know would be Simone and Tom, I arrived. And was immediately welcomed. Their friends were as interesting and welcoming as they were. Neither she nor Tom coddled me. They knew better than I did that I could hold my own.
Simone is gone. Our job is to keep her spirit alive in our sector
When the news arrived this past weekend that Simone had had a huge stroke, I was shocked. It didn’t seem possible that this strong, caring, fearless woman could be touched by something as human as a stroke.
And while you remember Simone, please also think about what you can DO. What will you take of Simone with you into the rest of your time to make this a better place for us all? A more just place, a place where those of us with voices will use them for those whose voices aren’t heard enough?