It was with great sadness, and disbelief, that we learned that Sandra Smithey had unexpectedly passed away at the beginning of August 2022, just a few weeks after her 62nd birthday.
Sandra was a great support to Fern in its early days, as a funder (through the C.S. Mott Foundation), and more importantly (and long after Mott stopped funding Fern), as a friend and colleague. Her analytical skills and insights, her incredibly wide-ranging knowledge and interests were only matched by her great warmth and fantastic sense of humour.
Determined to do what she could to make the world a better place, she was a campaigner at heart who revelled in bringing people together and challenging them to think that bit harder to advance the shared struggle for a better world.
Sandra strongly believed in linking people, and through them, organisations and movements to make them stronger and better equipped. She stood out in the world of funders, as she was never afraid to support the odd or outspoken - as long as she was convinced their campaigns were based on solid analysis – something she would probe with gentle insistence. In the process, she made friends all over the world.
Sandra was both a great storyteller and a good listener. You'd sit down with her for a coffee or a drink – even online - and before you knew it, hours had passed. It was the combination of her sense of humour, her interest in a wide range of issues and her insights that made her so much fun to be with. Never afraid to speak her mind, and with an enormous knowledge and ability to spot the turn of discourses early on, she was the perfect person to brainstorm or strategise with. Such discussions would be often be accompanied by the delicious foods such as cherries that she had brought with her!
We will dearly miss these chats and the laughter. We never thought that the last chat we had with Sandra would be the very last. We cherish all that she taught us and will carry her spirit in all our work.
She will be missed by many.
Saskia Ozinga, Jutta Kill and Fern’s staff