First John Haydon, and now Simone Joyaux.

#caringbridge #fundraisingleaders #johnhaydon #simonejoyaux #tomahern
Tom & Simone

By Tammy Zonker, Fundraising Strategist & Keynote Speaker

Two inspiring nonprofit fundraising leaders, and big-hearted humans. Two divergent paths to the same destination. John fought a long and courageous battle with a rare form of cancer. A battle he lost in early 2020 after months of grueling treatment. Simone’s battle was short by contrast. Although a deeply intense siege from a massive stroke ending her life on May 2nd.

Two very different personas. Simone, larger-than-life with rings to match. A force-of-nature thought provocatif filled with vim and vigor. John, the quietly brilliant, equally passionate fundraising Buddhist with a dog named Otis. Both curious, caring, creative visionaries and people I admire greatly.

Both deaths devastating to anyone who had the pleasure of knowing and caring for them. Both irreplaceable thought leaders in the nonprofit sector. I’m paying tribute to them together because their deaths feel like a one-two punch to me, and likely many others. I like to think they’re in heaven right now. Having an intense debate, complete with belly laughs and a stiff cocktail. They probably don’t serve cocktails in heaven, right?

I have fond memories of shared conference panels, speaker dinners, and late-night cocktails in hotel conference centers. I was the person sitting on the edge of my conference seat, near the front madly tweeting their pearls of wisdom. It’s difficult to remember the cities. But I remember the words they spoke and the conviction in their eyes. One came from a place of beginner’s mind and the other from the school of no bullshit.

Losing these two just a little more than a year apart, is a lot to emotionally process. John taught that Buddhists believe death is a natural part of life. Death leads to rebirth and one’s spirit lives on in the lives of the people we’ve touched. I like to believe this is true. If so, surely these two lion-hearted legends will live for eternity. I, for one, will keep them in my heart and summon their passion in both reflective and ferocious ways.  To learn more or share your thoughts about Simone’s untimely death (or better yet, her incredible life) see the CaringBridge page her life partner and nonprofit legend in his own right Tom Ahern created:


P.S. My heart is heavy for Sim One’s equally brilliant life partner, Tom. They were the original power couple of fundraising. Although they were never in it for the power or matters of the ego. You need only to have heard them speak or read their books, to know they’re in it for love, justice and equity for all. For each other, Tom and Simone’s devotion and love is palpable. Sending you love, light and peace, my friend.




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