The compassionate leader who inspired the Juliette Gimon Courage Award

By Global Fund for Children | March 25, 2019 | Africa & The Middle East, East & Southeast Asia, Europe & Eurasia, South Asia, The Americas | Education, Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment

In just one week, we’ll announce the winners of the inaugural Juliette Gimon Courage Awards at the 2019 Global Philanthropy Forum. Learn more about Juliette, the remarkable woman whose legacy inspired the award.

Juliette Gimon and Maya Ajmera first met in 2000, over Thai food in San Francisco.

“I had no idea I was about to make a lasting connection,” Juliette later reflected in a letter to Global Fund for Children supporters. “I knew that [Maya] had a bold vision and that we cared about the same issues.”

The two became connected through the Flora Family Foundation (FFF), which had recently awarded a grant to GFC. Maya reached out to Esther Hewlett, a family council member of FFF and supporter of GFC, about the potential of a family member joining GFC’s board. Esther recommended her niece, Juliette Gimon.

© Global Philanthropy Forum

“Esther immediately said, ‘It’s Juliette,’” Maya recalled. “She said Juliette loves children, she’s a globalist, and she’ll love this model.”

GFC’s model of making small grants to innovative, local organizations serving children and youth captured Juliette’s attention. In conversations with Maya, she sought to understand the organization’s challenges and potential.

“When she became convinced that this was something that could change the lives of children and young people most of the world chose not to see, she became a champion of the cause,” Maya wrote in a tribute to Juliette last year.

Throughout her life, Juliette worked to improve the lives of children and youth around the world, and to enhance the effectiveness of global philanthropy.

“In my travels to developing countries,” Juliette wrote, “I have repeatedly encountered children who do not have the luxury of enjoying the wonders of childhood … [Yet] children and youth are incredibly resilient, and I have seen them act as powerful advocates for change in their communities and beyond.”

Juliette held herself to high standards as a philanthropist, using site visits, donor networks, and other learning opportunities to educate herself about conditions on the ground, and to improve her own giving strategies.

In 2001, she co-founded the Global Philanthropy Forum, a peer-learning network of philanthropists committed to advancing international causes. Shortly thereafter, when she was just 30 years old, Juliette joined Global Fund for Children’s Board of Directors, and served as Board Chair from 2007 to 2011.

“She felt very strongly that there was an enormous responsibility given to individuals like herself, to do the best that they could with the privileges granted to them,” Maya said. “Her work also focused on inspiring the next generation of young people who were thinking about how they were going to make a difference in the world.”

Juliette’s wisdom, insights, and profound concern for children helped shape GFC, changing hundreds of thousands of young lives across the globe.

“She brought with her passion for the work coupled with an analytical approach that challenged us all to improve constantly what we were doing and how we were doing it,” Maya said. “She was my closest adviser and one of my dearest friends.”

 

In 2016, Juliette was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She died on February 24, 2018, at the age of 45. Her legacy lives on at Global Fund for Children through the Juliette Gimon Fund for Courageous Leadership, a more than $1 million endowment made possible through support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other donors.

The inaugural Juliette Gimon Courage Awards – recognizing outstanding organizations that are improving children’s lives despite especially challenging conditions – will be announced at the 2019 Global Philanthropy Forum on Tuesday, April 2.

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