Fundraising Mentor Simone P. Joyaux Dies

Internationally known and respected fundraiser Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, died Sunday at a hospital in Rhode Island. She was 72. Joyaux suffered a stroke caused by cerebral amyloid angiopathy this past Thursday, a condition diagnosed 14 months ago.

Arrangements are not yet finalized, said her husband, Tom Ahern. She’ll be cremated, he said. “Simone was not in favor of rituals of funerals and such.”

Joyaux was known around the globe as a fundraising mentor and social justice advocate. She received the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in 1984 and then the Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE) in 1994.

She was awarded an International Advanced Diploma in Fundraising (IADF) in 2013 and was honored as an AFP Distinguished Fellow.

Joyaux began her career in the nonprofit sector in 1975, serving as the executive director of an arts center and arts council in Lansing, Mich. She was chief development officer for Trinity Repertory Company in Rhode Island from 1981 to 1988. That’s where she met Ahern, who worked for the state arts council.

“She came to the arts council, everyone did. She was a friend of an office mate. We started dating and got married in 1984,” said Ahern. As was typical for the relationship, the event was without pomp and circumstance, handled by a judge in traffic court on their lunch hours, he said.

Joyaux launched her consultancy in January 1988. She also founded two organizations as a volunteer, the first iteration of a statewide arts advocacy organization in Rhode Island. And in 2000, founded the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, a social justice organization.

From 1999 through 2001 Joyaux was chair of the board of CFRE International – the baseline credentialing program for fundraisers. She was also very active with AFP. Among the volunteer positions she held were:

  • Officer, 1991 – 1993, 1995 -1996; Board member, 1984-1990;
  • Member, 21st Century Planning Council, 1991-1994;
  • Dean, First Course in Fund Raising, 1988-1990;
  • Faculty, First Course in Fund Raising, Survey Course;
  • Member: Ad Hoc International Conference Committee, 1989;
  • Strategic Planning Education Task Force, 1987-1988; and,
  • Strategic Planning Internal/External Environment Analysis Subcommittee, 1993.

Positions in the AFP Rhode Island Chapter included:

  • Board member, 1983-1988;
    President, 1984 -1987;
  • Chair, National Philanthropy Day, 1996 and 1997;
    Conference Committee Chair, 1985; and,
  • Member, Professional Development and Conference Committees.

“I only had the pleasure of knowing her for a few years, but even in that short amount of time, she made such an indelible impact on me, just as I know she has on the entire fundraising community,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP in a post to the organization’s website. “She was an advocate and activist in every sense of the words. She was a great champion of the causes she believed in and would work tirelessly on their behalf. For her, that meant not only supporting fundraising, but also being straightforward and unwavering in where she thought fundraising could be and should be better,” Geiger said via the statement.”

According to Eva Aldrich, president and CEO of CFRE in Alexandria, Va., “Simone Joyaux was a titan and trailblazer. As the founding chair of CFRE International, she led the CFRE certification program to new levels of prominence and impact.” She continued: Words cannot express how deeply she will be missed and what a loss her passing is to the fundraising profession.”

Internationally, she chaired the advisory board of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, Plymouth University.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Simone Joyaux, one of the sector’s great fundraising leaders and teachers, according to Brian Higgins, CEO of the Resource Alliance.
The Resource Alliance posted a statement: “Hugely respected for her extensive experience and insight, Simone was aptly described as a ‘thoughtful, inspiring, and provocative leader’. Always ready and willing to share her knowledge to support the development of fundraisers and charity leaders globally, Simone was a regular speaker at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in the Netherlands and more recently through the Resource Alliance Global Community. She had great presence and was able to hold a room captive – including an online one – when teaching and presenting.”


Said Bill Toliver, Resource Alliance board chair: “Simone lived her life making a difference on a grand scale and through every personal interaction she had. Her influence in fundraising will continue to be felt around the world for years to come, and her always unique contribution to the Resource Alliance and IFC will be greatly missed. We send our love and deepest sympathy to her family and beloved husband Tom Ahern, and to all her friends around the world.”

She authored three books and contributed to several others. Her books were: Firing Lousy Board Members; Keep Your Donors; and, Strategic Fund Development.

Joyaux was born in Michigan, where her father of French descent was an academic at Michigan State University (MSU). She received a master of arts degree in 20th century French and American Comparative Literature from MSU. She and Ahern have a home in France, which they and friends visited regularly.

Reaction to her death was swift on social media. A digital memorial is available at www.caringbridge.org/visit/simonejoyaux