This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (June 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Early life and career
Simons grew up in New York City, the daughter of artists. She was involved in theater in high school and college at Cornell University and Ithaca College. When Simons was 30 she met husband Kenny Ausubel in Santa Fe, New Mexico and helped him complete and distribute a documentary film on the politics of cancer treatment called Hoxsey: When Healing Becomes a Crime. Although ahead of its time, the film achieved significant outreach, including being featured on HBO/Cinemax and screened for Congress, leading to the establishment of the Office of Technology Assessment, federally, which was formed to investigate and research alternative therapies.
After visiting Gabriel Howearth's biodiversity gardens near Gila, New Mexico, Simons quit her job and joined Howearth and husband Ausubel at their fledgling seed company, Seeds of Change. Within a year, she became President of the social entrepreneurship, and helped to grow the company toward profitability until the mid-90's. She left Seeds of Change to become the strategic marketing director for Odwalla, building their brand and connecting the company with nonprofit organizations that could help Odwalla increase its market share and sustainable business practices.
In 1990, Simons and Ausubel co-founded the Bioneers organization and national conference to highlight existing solutions to many of the world's environmental and social challenges. The idea for the National Bioneers Conference arose from a 1989 meeting with Josh Mailman, a leader in social investment and philanthropy who was involved with Seeds of Change and the Hoxsey film. When Ausubel described various biomimetic innovators and other breakthrough environmental and social solutions, Mailman proposed a conference and offered to help fund it.
UnReasonable Women for the Earth
In the late 1990s, Simons began to focus on developing women's leadership and restoring balance to the feminine and masculine in the world. In 2002 she facilitated her first retreat for women leaders, called UnReasonable Women for the Earth, uniting 34 women to brainstorm how to initiate a broad progressive women's movement with environment at its heart. The name, sparked by Diane Wilson at the 2001 Bioneers Conference, stemmed from the belief that women were often raised to be too 'well behaved,' or 'reasonable,' conditioning which inhibits women from taking a bold stand for what they believe in. UnReasonable Women for the Earth encouraged "women everywhere to stand together and at each other's backs, in defense of life. Its goal is to strengthen women's voices and encourage women's engagement." The retreat resulted in the formation of CodePink: Women for Peace, a grassroots organization advocating for peace.
Cultivating Women's Leadership
In 2006, Simons - in collaboration with Toby Herzlich and Akaya Windwood - co-created a 6-day immersion intensive called Cultivating Women's Leadership. Transformative in nature, each gathering (now co-facilitated with Rachel Bagby, Elsa Menendez and Toby Herzlich) chooses women by application who are committed to change-making, have influence in their communities, and are selected to optimize diversity in every way in each cohort (at least 30% and often 40-50% of each cohort are indigenous or women of color). Typically two intensives are offered per year, and more can be found through cultuvatingwomensleadership.org
Other Teaching, Speaking and Consulting
Simons teaches and speaks on topics including Regenerative Leadership, Valuing Diversity as Essential to Healthy Systems, and Reclaiming a Healthy Feminine and Masculine within us All...and consults on gender balance and women's leadership for corporations and organizations.
Simons lives in the mountains just outside Santa Fe with husband Ausubel and their dogs.