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Joy Covey Leaves Behind a Legacy of Passionate Advocacy and Fierce Intelligence

Frances Beinecke

Posted September 23, 2013

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The entire NRDC family is devastated by the tragic loss of our beloved trustee, Joy Covey. Joy was an extraordinary businesswoman, adventurer, friend, and mother whose passion and intelligence will be sorely missed.

Joy didn’t do things in half measure. When she learned about the proposal to carve the enormous Pebble Mine into pristine watershed in Alaska, she didn’t just register her disapproval. She made the long trip to the region with her young son so she could see the site herself. She learned the names of the fish that would be threatened by the mine’s toxic chemicals, and she spoke to villagers who made their living off the land. And then she flew home and asked NRDC’s lead expert on the mine to tell her even more and offered her time and talent to help us block the mine.

Whether she was working as Amazon’s first chief financial officer or fighting to protect the oceans or skiing down a mountainside with her son, Joy devoted all her energy and brainpower to the people and places she cared deeply about. 

Joy Covey stone wall3.jpg

During her nine years as an NRDC trustee, Joy worked tirelessly to protect the open seas she loved sailing upon and the wild landscapes she loved exploring. Joy had a brilliant financial mind, and as treasurer, she helped shape NRDC’s fiscal vision with her bold and gutsy leadership.

Joy believed in the power of law to preserve our natural systems and hold polluters accountable.  She wanted to support Harvard Law School, where she got her degree, but she wanted her gift to generate legal activists, not scholars. She established the Harvard Law School/NRDC Beagle Fellowship to allow recent graduates to work as NRDC attorneys for two years, getting real-world experience in environmental law. The whole venture is a product of Joy’s ingenuity and generosity and has been a great opportunity for the fellows, the law school, NRDC, and the larger environmental movement.

Never shy of a challenge, Joy was always eager to roll up her sleeves and get to work—especially out in the field. A few years ago, she put her pilot experience and connections to work by helping fly a Mexican Gray Wolf to the forests of Arizona so it could be reintroduced into the wild and help regenerate a struggling pack. As always, she brought her son along so they could experience the wonder and excitement together.

Joy’s courage and enthusiasm were boundless and contagious. She embodied the values and spirit that drive NRDC, and she will continue to inspire us to reach ever greater heights. She leaves behind a legacy to be admired and emulated, and NRDC will work hard to embody the ideals that drove Joy’s passion for our mission.


Give to the Joy Covey Memorial Fund


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Matt HanlonSep 23 2013 08:48 PM

I just wanted to share this story.
I am a Lieutenant with the La Honda Volunteer Fire Dept. I was first on scene when Joy crashed Skyline Blvd.
The other part of this story is what really touched me. On Oct. 27, 2011 I happened to witness a bike crash on Hwy. 84 in Woodside. I stopped to help and radioed in for a fire dept. response. The patient had a shoulder injury and was transported to Stanford Hospital. The bike rider was Joy. I'm not sure why I was the one to be first on scene with her on both of these incidents but was glad I could help. I did not know Joy personally but from everything I have heard she was a wonderful person. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends, especially her son.
Rest in peace Joy.
Matt Hanlon

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