A Tribute to JoAnne A. Epps

Joanne Epps

WNLI mourns the loss of Temple University President JoAnne Epps, who died suddenly on September 19, 2023. 

JoAnne was a key member of WNLI from its founding in 2013. As a woman who had spent her career in education, she helped us to focus our mission on encouraging board diversity at educational and medical institutions. She hosted a roundtable that WNLI held with women members of such boards. She also represented WNLI on a panel of the American Association of Law Schools section on Nonprofit and Philanthropy Law in 2022. Early in 2023 she served as the program moderator for WNLI’s virtual event – Close the Gap: Gender & Race in Nonprofit Boardrooms. 

She actively worked to recruit signatories for a letter to the IRS requesting that it require nonprofits to reveal board diversity to the public via their 990 forms.

The WNLI community reacted to news of JoAnne’s death:

“I don’t know what to do with my sadness. I can’t comprehend I won’t talk with her again…” – Jane Scaccetti, CPA, Trustee Temple University

“This is heart wrenching news. She was such an amazing woman – talented, a doer, compassionate – the list of wonderful attributes can go on and on. Such a big loss particularly for her family, friends, and the Temple community.” –Judith Gay, Founder JKG Consulting and Vice President Emerita of Community College of Philadelphia

“She has done so much for Temple, WNLI and the greater Philadelphia community, she will be greatly missed.” – Dr. Adriana Torres-O’Connor, President and CEO of Mental Health Partnerships

“I met JoAnne for the first time at our meeting on September 11 and she was so welcoming and such a positive force. I’m so sorry for all of you who knew her so well and so sorry for our community where she will be so missed.” – Gelvina Rodriguez Stevenson, Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, The Wistar Institute

“Heartbreaking.” –Jolley Bruce Christman, Founder Research for Action

“As I reflect on the extraordinary women who once walked among us in our Village…who we have walked besides, behind, and even in front-of… because they enabled us…I realize that we need only use their first names in referring to many of them. Ernesta… Happy… Marciene… Lynn… and now, JoAnne…” – Rosemarie Greco, Professional Board Director of public corporations and Retired CEO of two major banks 

“It is unthinkable and feels impossible that this has happened. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who was so selfless, without ego, committed to giving her all every minute. A beautiful person in every way. It was a gift to know her and have her as a WNLI member and wonderfully positive voice.”  –Vicki Kramer, Consultant to nonprofit boards and co-author, “Increasing Gender Diversity on the Boards of Nonprofit Eds and Meds”

“The shock and sorrow and hurt, our “Village” shares with multiple communities as we mourn, is palpable; and so, my prayer is that this tie that binds us…one to the other… strengthens our resolve to live together, as JoAnne did…with compassionate understanding and love. JoAnne was one of the most significant women that this City has seen … smart, strategic, accomplished and quietly powerful. May we celebrate her earthly journey. May we all think of how we can leave this world a better place, especially during these confusing times.” – Rosalyn J. McPherson, President and CEO of the ROZ Group

“I have never known anyone who was so competent at caring for everyone else, but so selfless. She was a consummate professional who worked so hard and laughed so easily. Success never changed her warmth and modesty. She was simply genuine to the core. What an indescribable loss. I will deeply miss her.” –Leslie Stiles, Board President Pennsylvania Conference for Women

“ Tragic and gone way too soon, but memorable in so many ways that matter to so many.” – Marianne Schimelfenig, Esq., advisor and consultant to higher education institutions

“I cannot believe this terrible news. What a big loss.” – Carmen Febo-San Miguel, former Executive Director Taller Puertorriqueno

“I cannot imagine Temple without JoAnne. For years, I have known and respected her as the voice of calm and reason when other voices on Temple’s campus became irrational or shrill. One afternoon, when I insisted on telling JoAnne how many virtues she embodied, she stopped me, paused, and then said in her low-key way, “Do you think you might be engaging in a bit of hyperbole here?…  

One of Peter Liacouras’s greatest contributions to our university was to recognize JoAnne’s intelligence and class and to bring her forward in university affairs. Temple is going to miss her in a hundred different ways. It’s just unthinkable that we’re now without her.”  – Carolyn Adams, former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Temple University and board member William Penn Foundation.

“JoAnne inspired us all to make a difference and pay it forward. She was brilliant, passionate, and unwavering in her tireless commitment to racial and gender equality. She touched countless lives and will be sorely missed but not forgotten.” – Roberta Liebenberg, Senior Partner, Fine, Kaplan and Black, R.P.C.

“This is impossible! I am stunned and in tears. I don’t think we will ever get over this shock and profound loss not only for Temple but for all of Philly.” –Afaf Meleis, Dean Emeritus University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

“A caring, smart and generous soul. The news is like a gut punch…it hurts and brings tears.” –Karen Minyard, former Managing Director PNC Wealth Management

“ Such a sad and and hard tragedy for so many — her family, our community, Temple and our group.  She was a gifted and special leader.” – Kate Allison,  Strategic Communications Consultant

To learn more about JoAnne’s life and her impact on the Temple University community, see Temple News.

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