Tom Simone Sean Christiana in Australia

A Sad Good-Bye to One of Our Favorite People

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The sad news came out over the last few days: Simone Joyaux had suffered a stroke and was not expected to live.

Then, even though we were fully expecting it, the final news hit like a hammer stroke: She died on May 2, 2021.

It’s hard to describe what Simone Joyaux was. Anything you say about her seems small and inadequate compared to reality. She was a leader in the fundraising world. An inspiration for so many. A warrior for justice. A professional feather-ruffler. A take-no-prisoners advocate for proper nonprofit governance. She wore the coolest glasses you’ve ever seen. And she really didn’t like playing Settlers of Catan.

Simone was, and her legacy remains, an important part of the Moceanic community. She authored some of the most-read and most commented-on posts on this blog:

To really grasp her impact on our worldwide community, you have to see the comments our members are making on our Facebook group. Here are just a few of them:

  • Her legacy will loom large in the best way…I imagine how much good she was able to do in the world through all the people and organizations she helped. May God bless her.
  • Such a powerful speaker and all-around wonderful person. I hold dear the things I’ve learnt from her.
  • The first time I heard her, I was blown away by her expertise of course, but her directness, energy and enthusiasm. I wanted to hear her at any opportunity or read anything she wrote. And yes, her no holds barred approach to letting ineffectual board members go was refreshing and essential. Her voice of reason will be sorely missed.
  • Such an amazing woman. She was kind enough to help me a couple of times and she was incredible to speak with. She gave me the courage to challenge the status quo. I was so grateful for her support and advice.
  • One of the most influential people in fundraising, and her knowledge of working with Boards was second to none. Deepest sympathy to Tom Ahern. May Simone Rest In Peace.
  • I loved her colourful rings, clothes and matching glasses. Her courage in calling out poor board behaviour may have lost her some friends but strengthened the sector. She was wise, funny, interesting and very generous with her time and talents. I was grateful to be able to call her across the world when there seemed no one else who’d know or care. Simone always did. I will continue to ask the cage-rattling questions as a testament to what I learned from her.
  • She was my fundraising hero and such brave and generous woman with a passion for justice and indeed for life and love.
  • I didn’t know Simone personally. But I feel like I do through this community. Simone’s Moceanic workshop on working with boards, her book Firing Lousy Board Members, all the amazing resources in her website, and her “Simone Uncensored” emails — have for the past seven months (some of the most difficult of my life) fuelled a flame in me to do more to hold executives and board members accountable to their mission. To stand up, show up, and help educate and steer nonprofits to make their best, most positive contribution, to our community.

There’s been an outpouring of heartfelt blog tributes to Simone from across the world, including:

And if you are still looking for more Simone, here are a couple of places you can go:

Simone’s website   It’s packed with great resources.

Caring Bridge a tribute site set up by her husband, Tom Ahern. Keep Tom in your thoughts.

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • Eliza Olson
    May 6, 2021 7:30 am

    I am stunned and saddened to hear of the Fundraising World’s loss. She was blunt and to the point. Please convey my sympathies to her family

  • I was saddened to hear the news of Simone’s passing. She will be missed. It is rare to get the quality of thinking with the ability to communicate at the level she was able to.

  • Ruaraidh Butler
    May 6, 2021 5:20 pm

    I am very sorry to hear of the tragic and untimely passing of Simone. Our hearts go out to her family and friends and to all at Moceanic at this tough time. Trusting for precious comfort and peace for you all, knowing that Simone has helped to make this world a brighter and more compassionate place. Her task continues with the baton she hands on…

  • Nina Privitera
    May 7, 2021 2:12 am

    I was very sad to hear of Ms Joyaux’s passing. Her fundraising approach helped me understand what kind of fundraiser (and advocate, and nonprofit professional, and donor) I wanted to be and has shaped me every day since. I am grateful to have been able to be influenced by her and my sincere condolences go to her family and loved ones.

  • Omotola the Great!
    May 7, 2021 5:29 am

    Dearest Champion Simone!
    Thank you for the life you lived
    Thank you for the legacy you left behind
    Thank you for passing the baton on to me in your own way
    Thank you for being unafraid, fearless, and going above and beyond for this industry.
    I am so sorry I procrastinated and did not call you when you told me too
    I got back home from my trip to the wonderful gift you and your partner, Tom sent me.
    I will cherish our email conversations.
    I bet you are hanging out with the likes of Mandela, MLK Jr, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and more.
    I will uphold your legacy, I will raise heaven on behalf of this sector
    Thank you for being a professional troublemaker
    I had so many plans and ideas for us to talk about and work on but alas, you are resting in power and glory now.
    Thank you for leading the way, I look forward to honoring your life and work through my dedication and commitment to this field.

    Rest well Champion, Changemaker, Social Savior Simone! Thank you for your work for the greater and common good.

    Omotola the Great!
    Omotola the Mighty!
    Omotola the Possibility-Maker


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