Simone Joyaux, a beloved shit-disturber and hell-raiser, who battled tirelessly to improve our sector by applying deep devotion, abundant energy, and development skills highly honed by outrage against injustice and inequality, is dead.


The 44-year veteran of board development, strategic planning and organizational management, died Sunday, May 2nd in Providence, Rhode Island of a massive stroke.  She is survived by her life partner Tom Ahern

As you’ll see from this sampling of the tributes  that poured into the Caring Bridge site over the weekend Simone touched hundreds of lives in myriad ways.  To some she was a mentor…to others a great teacher…and yet others that consultant who helped turn around their organization.  The descriptors used by colleagues in these tributes tell you so much about Simone.

Simone was an activist’s activist.  She not only devoted years and years to the cause of women’s rights, civil rights, and human dignity.  Over the years I witnessed not only her skill but her immense generosity and that of her partner Tom Ahern. They targeted their philanthropy into many of the same causes to which they devoted their professional skills.

Simone’s drive to effect change was lubricated by a highly energized yet constructive sense of outrage.   She never complained for the sake of complaining.  She did get good and properly pissed-off at the complacent, the slothful and those who failed to champion the underdog.  She didn’t mince words and any target of her concern or wrath had no doubt where she stood.  For example, there was nothing subtle or ambiguous about her attempt for poorly performing boards as plainly seen by the title of her book Firing Lousy Boards.

I can’t begin to count the number of times Simone would reply to an Agitator post.  Whether she was cheerleading or criticizing it meant a lot just to know she was logged-on and eagle-eyed.  I loved her style of often ending a commentwith a booster shot to make sure we wouldn’t ease up.  Here’s a excerpt from a typical Simone comment to a post tilted Milking Le Après Trump Déluge:

“How’s that unearned privilege working for each of us and our society? Me = unearned privilege. As I say: I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educate, affluent woman. I win except for my gender – because it’s a disadvantage to be a woman in the USA. (The US is ranked #53 in countries … for gender parity. And by the way, a few years ago the US was #45. Already lousy enough and now more lousy?!)

Agitate, Roger. Keep agitating.


Beyond the Agitator Simone and I shared a conspiratorial joy in encouraging the profession to raise more hell and dig itself out of the too-frequent mire of complacency.  One of our last plots involved designing a program for the AFP titled, Rebels, Renegades and Pioneers that went after some of our industry’s sacred cows.

For Simone, no fundraiser worth the title should have anything but a full-bore commitment to continuing education.  Not only did Simone have a raft of professional accreditations –ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, Certificate in Philanthropic Psychology—she was tireless in advancing the cause of fundraising and philanthropic education for other in the form of keynote presentations, webinars, conferences, books and her 21 years tenure  as an adjunct faculty member for the Master of Arts in Philanthropy and Development at Saint Mary’s University Minnesota.

Books by Simone

Firing Lousy Board Members. You’ll learn how to find the right board members and enable them to be successful. Review the table of contents and reviewer comments.

Keep Your Donors.  See how you can make disappointing donor rates a thing of the past. Review the table of contents and reviewer comments.

Strategic Fund Development . This definitive book – now in its 3rd edition—is a must for your library. Review the table of contents and reviewer comments.

A Website Full of Resources You’ll Treasure

To get a bird’s eye view of Simone’s contributions to our field take tour of her website.  It’s a real treasure trove and a fitting legacy of this remarkable woman.

In addition, you won’t want to miss here candid, helpful tips and how-tos captured for all of us on Bloomerang.

My soul aches and my brain is twisted by the sudden, unexpected loss of Simone.  So,  I’m sure I’ve overlooked much of significance in her generous career.  Simone was never selfish.  She gave countless hours of involvement and support for the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII)… as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy …and in her work over the years as Board Member and Board Chair for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

Life is short.  Time is precious.  Thank you, Simone, for raising hell and making the most of yours.


P.S.  Please share your thoughts and remembrances of Simone with other Agitator readers.  Thank you.