Simone Joyaux, Passionate Fundraiser and Energetic Agitator for Good, has Died

There is no easy way to say it. Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, CPP died Sunday, May 2, following a devastating stroke on April 29. Simone, 72, had been diagnosed 14 months prior with cerebral amyloid angiopathy. She is survived by Tom Ahern, her life partner (her preferred term for her husband since 1984).

Simone once observed:

Colleagues around the world describe me as one of the nonprofit sector’s most thoughtful, inspirational, and provocative leaders. I’m proud of that description. I see myself as a change agent, an agitator. Whether it’s asking essential cage-rattling questions … or proposing novel approaches … or advocating for change … that’s me.”

Known internationally, Simone was a fundraising and nonprofit management consultant, coach, teacher, and author. She was a volunteer for professional and civic organizations. She was a force for philanthropy, a social justice warrior, and an agitator for the changes she believed would make the world just that much better. She was a philanthropist. Even in death, she continues, quite literally, to give of herself with the donation of her organs.

In her book, Strategic Fund Development, Simone wrote:

Longing to belong. Isn’t that part of human nature? Afraid of being forgotten. Isn’t that part of being human, too? Through relationships with others, we belong. Through commitment to community, we won’t be forgotten.”

No, Simone won’t be forgotten anytime soon. She touched the lives of thousands of people around the world. You can visit Caring Bridge to read how others remember Simone. You can also share your own memories.

Simone P. Joyaux (1949-2021)

I’ve known Simone for decades, though I regret not as well as I would have liked. There always seems to be time, until there is not. I first met her following one of her classic kick-ass presentations. We chatted for a bit. I was particularly struck by how such a provocateur could also be charming, humble, and warm.

Over the years, we found many points on which we agreed. There were also points on which we did not agree. However, our exchanges were always respectful, even friendly. Even when we disagreed, she always made me think and reconsider, though not always change, my position.

Recently, Simone and I had become classmates. We both enrolled in the inaugural class of the Philanthropic Psychology course offered by the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy. During our studies, we had a chance to engage in deep, meaningful conversations. She generously shared her insights and wisdom. All of us who took the course benefitted greatly from her participation.

One of the things that always tickled me about Simone was her passionate, fiery delivery, whether orally or in print. Her constructive rants were always something to behold. I loved when they would end with “and … and … and.” I often wondered what her next thought was following the suspended “and.” Or, maybe she wanted us to fill in what came after that last “and.”

Simone Joyaux — Agitator for Good

Simone worked full-time helping nonprofit organizations. She also volunteered approximately 10 hours per week. She taught. She wrote. She responded to inquiries. She engaged in social media conversations. She was tireless. She continued to learn. She had limitless energy, and still does. Let me explain.

Scientists tell us that energy does not end. The Law of Thermodynamics shows us that energy transforms. Theologians tell us that the body dies, the soul does not. If you believe in science, Simone’s energy is still with us. If you believe in God, Simone’s soul remains part of our universe. Whether you call it energy or a soul, the magical force at the core of Simone Joyaux continues. Beyond that, she continues to live on through the donation of her organs. And … and … and she continues to live on, inspire, and educate through her work and our memories.

We can still learn from Simone and the treasure trove of resources that she has given us:

Simone’s Books:

Firing Lousy Board Members. This book explains why board members are (or aren’t) effective. And, this book gives you specific strategies and tools to fire the lousy board members and help the others succeed.

Keep Your Donors. This practical and provocative book, by Tom and Simone, will show you how to master the strategies and tactics that make fundraising communications “profitable” by showing you how to retain more donors.

Strategic Fund Development. This updated classic is a powerful, comprehensive resource for fundraisers at any level of expertise.

Simone’s Resources on the Web:

Whether as a consultant, volunteer, activist, teacher, author, or coach, Simone Joyaux did her part to make the world just a bit better for her having been it. The best way we can honor her is to do our part with her display of energy and fearlessness as our example.

May Simone Joyaux’s memory be for a blessing.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

14 Comments to “Simone Joyaux, Passionate Fundraiser and Energetic Agitator for Good, has Died”

  1. I say what you say. May her memory be for a blessing. And what a beautiful tribute you’ve written. I wish I had joined that class with the two of you…

    • Claire, thank you for your message. The Philanthropic Psychology course is brilliant. It’s the best educational program I’ve participated in during my long professional life. I encourage all fundraising professionals to take it, though it won’t be quite as good without Simone as a classmate.

  2. Life turns on a dime. Oh my! The idea that Simone could be stopped in her tracks seems at such great odds with how she lived her life. She was a force. A genuine tribute, Michael… nicely done. Simone, rest in peace … a life well lived…

    • Ted, thank you for your comment. The idea that Simone could be stopped in her tracks so abruptly is shocking. However, it can happen to any of us. That’s why it’s so important to live life with gusto, as Simone did, both professionally and personally.

  3. I join you and all my other fundraisers mourning the loss of Simone Joyaux. Simone was a role model to me. I am constantly reminded how alive and caring she was while embracing a colourful personality and a bucketful of opinions to make the world a more humane place. She was a true leader who knew her values. She fought for human rights on all fronts – in the community, on boards, in classes, in publications and blogs and wherever someone could listen and take action themselves. Simone was never one to mince words and gave everything she had to those of us who are fundraisers and beyond. I think she is still giving people her opinions where she is now. I am a better fund development consultant because of Simone’s leadership. I know she will be well-remembered by all those who have ever had the fantastic opportunity to be in her midst, whether in her workshops or immersed in her written works.

  4. Very nice, Michael. Thank you for your thoughtful words.

  5. What an amazing tribute! Simone’s spirit lives on! Thank you for sharing this with us. It only took meeting her once to change your life. We’re all better for knowing her.

    • Alisa, thank you for your message. Simone touched so many people around the world. In addition to teaching us about fundraising and nonprofit management, she taught us, through her example, how to lead a meaningful life, both professionally and personally.

  6. Beautiful Michael.
    She was my sister – the eldest of we 6 kids.
    I knew of her passions and her fierceness.
    Still, reading your words brings great joy.
    Nicole Joyaux Kramer

    • Nicole, you’re very thoughtful to take the time to write to me. Thank you. My heart goes out to you and your family. While no words can ease your pain at this difficult time, I know you will undoubtedly find a measure of comfort in the memories you have of time spent with your dynamic sister. My thoughts are with you all.

  7. I had met her. Did not know her. But this wonderful eulogy, so loving and insightful makes me wish I did.

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