Joy Stocksdale, SDA’s Anchor, Moves On

After serving SDA for more than 25 years, Joy Stocksdale is leaving to pursue other projects.

“She was the anchor of all of us.”

Those are Past SDA President Bee Colman’s words – but they capture the sentiments of many who have worked with Joy over the years.

“I knew these were my people from the first SDA meeting I attended around the mid-80s,” Joy recalls. She remembers the thrill of finding a community of artists who, like herself, dyed and printed on fabric. SDA was  young, not even 10 years old, with lots of opportunities for volunteers. Soon Joy became the California Rep, then the Southwest Regional Rep and then assumed a series of administrative roles that, early on, included assisting Charles Talley, former Journal Editor.

That’s where she was in 1993, when I succeeded Charles. I recognized her name from her memorable kimono in a Young Americans exhibition at the Museum of Arts & Design (then the American Craft Museum) some years before.

Working with Joy for more than 18 years was among the pleasures of editing the Journal. Without her, the magazine would never have reached the membership. Since our printer was in Hong Kong, Joy kept track of shipping schedules, dealt with customs officials and confronted crises like wooden crates suspected of harboring germs. She negotiated with USPS over ever-changing postal regulations; prepared mailing labels, made sure subscriptions and renewals were up to date, kept in contact with the magazine distributor, and paid the bills.

Tasks related to the Journal were a small part of her responsibilities, especially while she served as Executive Director. She meticulously took care of details, but also watched the big picture—e.g., when websites were a new phenomenon, it was Joy who insisted that SDA have one. Joy was resourceful; when asked to research a site near Kansas City for an SDA Board retreat, she found a buffalo ranch.

Joy was always motivated by her deep love for SDA and its members. I treasure her friendship and thank her for her never-failing support and encouragement. I look forward to seeing her creativity soar in new directions.

Bernice (Bee) Colman, Past SDA President:
I can hardly imagine SDA without Joy.
When I became President in 1985, Joy was always there to facilitate, mediate, inspire, listen, work. She was the one who could answer questions, make suggestions, help with any task. She attended all the board meetings and never raised her voice or got angry. This petite, soft-spoken woman was able to get anything done—she just did what had to be done or found the right person for the job. Joy is organized, inventive, strong, and of course an incredible artist and teacher.
We not only were (and still are) colleagues, but also friends.

Jason Pollen, SDA President Emeritus:
Regarding Joy Stocksdale: I love her, like her, admire her, respect her, venerate her, and enJoy her. As President of SDA for 16 years [1993-2010], I stayed on because Joy was there with us, a true and inspiring partner. She kept us on track, got us off Cloud 9 when we dawdled there a little too long, commended us when we accomplished our goals, generously took the reins as we searched for new board members and regional and state reps, and said our heartfelt good-byes to those who moved on. If I were creating a new planet I would make her the FLFICS (Founding Leader of the Intergalactic Federation of Creative Souls). When I reflect back on my years devoted to SDA, it is with gratitude and a sense of having fulfilled a meaningful mission. The mission and vision were kept front and center with Joy Stocksdale at the helm. Thank you, Joy!

Candace Edgerley, Past SDA President:
In addition to being an SDA employee, Joy has been one of the most dedicated volunteers I’ve ever known. SDA has been her labor of love; she put in many more hours each month than were noted on her time sheets. Joy was ever-positive, thoughtful, efficient, and caring; her thoroughness will be missed. Thank you, Joy, for helping to strengthen SDA in so many ways.

Jane Dunnewold, Current SDA President:
My first experience of Joy was watching her demonstrate her distinctive polychromatic printing process at a conference a few years ago. Her enthusiasm for the process was infectious and I went home eager to work! That same enthusiasm has steadied SDA’s course over its lifetime and Joy deserves a great deal of credit for the many hours she invested in SDA’s success.

Ann Brockette, Former SDA Executive Director:
Joy Stocksdale has served in every capacity and knows the history and operations of the organization better than anyone I know.
Even after she decided to step down from administrative involvement, she agreed to continue working for SDA during a critical time of crisis. She champions the work of our members and has been meticulous in affirming the benefits afforded them through their membership. I have been doubly fortunate to know Joy as a colleague and friend. I thank her for her support, good cheer and positive outlook. I thank her, too, for some wonderful visits and incredible, home-cooked, healthful meals. My thoughts and ongoing support are with you, Joy, as you move on to new adventures.

Melinda Lowy, SDA Treasurer:
As Executive Director, Joy was a wonderful mentor to me as the new Website Manager. She patiently answered questions, encouraged me to consider new possibilities with the website and helped test new applications thoroughly. She made me feel welcome and an integral part of SDA. When she found out I was considering applying for the Treasurer position, she was very encouraging and supportive.

After “retiring” as Executive Director but staying on as Finance Director, Joy has been invaluable in facilitating the transitions between succeeding Executive Directors, training them and bringing them up-to-speed on daily duties and long-range plans. With her firm guidance throughout the years, SDA is now a vibrant and steady organization firmly focused on serving its members. I will miss working with her but I’m sure she will continue to support SDA in new ways.

Jan Myers-Newbury, Former Director of Membership:
As a board member of SDA (c. 2000), I quickly became aware of the fact that if you wanted to know something—no, ANYthing—about the organization, you should ask Joy. She was and is the collective memory of SDA. While it is completely understandable that Joy would decide to step down from her current position as Finance Director, it still strikes me as bittersweet to think of SDA without her active participation. I know that her contributions will continue to be felt for a few more decades. Be creative, Joy!

Dot Moye, Former SDA Conference Director:
It was my privilege to work with Joy Stocksdale from 2009 to 2012. Joy is a constant advocate for individual members of SDA. Her knowledge of and care for the membership has informed her many activities within the organization. As I worked closely with her, particularly during the conferences, the complexities of managing payments and budget details were navigated successfully through her persistent efforts and attention to detail. With Joy’s unflagging support we were able to continue fine-tuning conference procedures and expenses, assuring the success of these events.

Diane Sandlin, Current SDA Executive Director:
Nearly a year ago, I became ED and quickly discovered that my “go-to” for everything related to SDA was Joy. She knows the history of SDA (from the mid-70’s) and has a command not only for how things have been done – but how they should be done.  Needless to say, I’ve found her perspective invaluable.
To say she cares about the organization is quite an understatement. Joy has lived and breathed the evolution of SDA. Her imprint is firmly established. This organization owes her a tremendous debt of gratitude. I personally look forward to our continued association and I predict she’ll always be an active advocate of SDA’s growth and mission.

Carolyn Kallenborn, Former SDA Conference Director:
In those first years that I ran the conference, I felt that I should have a direct line to her house because we were on the phone constantly. Joy’s ability to keep the zillions of details straight was amazing. Her dedication to SDA was remarkable—she put so much of herself and her life into the organization. I often wondered if it could continue without her. She set up the board meetings, negotiated contracts, kept track of the membership, the website and finances. Any time we didn’t know what to do or had a problem we would call Joy. And if she couldn’t solve the issue, she knew who to contact. She trained, mentored, and nurtured countless conference directors, board members, and employees.

With SDA’s ever-changing flow of people, Joy was the constant, the institutional memory, the wise woman of the organization. It was a pleasure to have had the experience of working with her. Joy is absolutely the perfect name for her.

May all SDA members – past, present and future – join all of us (who have had the opportunity to work alongside Joy) in acknowledging the extraordinary contribution Joy Stocksdale has made to the textile arts community throughout her many years and roles at Surface Design Association.


Patricia Malarcher
is a studio artist and independent writer who was Editor of SDA’s quarterly Surface Design Journal for 18 years (1993-2011). She lives and works in Englewood, New Jersey.


  • Carolyn Kallenborn says

    March 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Beautiful article. Wonderful tribute to a wonderful, inspiring lady! XXOO to Joy and to Patricia. What a privildge it has been to know you both and to have worked with you.

  • Bette Levy says

    March 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    It's hard to imagine SDA without Joy - she weathered so many ups and downs of the organization, and helped board members and the organization as a whole, weather those ups and downs. When I was a board member, I could always go to Joy for needed information or input. (The Buffalo Farm retreat was great, too!!!)

  • Della Reams says

    March 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Joy, We love you. We will miss you!

  • Gerrie Congdon says

    March 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    When my husband and I retired and moved to Sonoma County, I decided to get involved with some textile organizations, including SDA. Little did I know that the headquarters were in Joy's home not far from me. I received an e-mail sent to all members in the area with a job opportunity, working with Joy as member's services admin. I applied and got the job. I spent a day, every other week, in Joy's home, doing the bookkeeping, writing checks, sending journals and such. My job kept expanding and I was soon doing area rep e-mails and updating the website. When, we moved to Portland to be near our Grandchildren, she made it possible for me to keep the internet part of my job. I so enjoyed those days with Joy and her dog, Scooter, and then the two new pups. I learned so much from her. When I hear or see these words - Thanks, bunches - I know who it was from. Joy was a stickler for keeping track of everything. She was and is the keeper of SDA knowledge. I will miss our fun e-mail exchanges and phone calls. When Joy announced her retirement, I wondered if I could continue without her. I will, for a while, but I will miss her so much. I love you bunches, Joy!!

  • Jo Ann C. Stabb says

    July 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I agree with ALL of the above comments! SDA was fortunate to have Joy Stocksdale play such a pivotal role for such a long time! Her cheerfulness - her tirelessness - her selflessness - made any contact with her truly a JOY! No matter how small the question - or detailed the request - or how large the issue, project or idea - Joy always responded with her positive, "can do" attitude. When I look at the photograph of her small, tidy office space, I'm convinced she is a miracle worker! I hope that SDA will be fortunate enough to continue to have such remarkable staff members who will carry on her incredible legacy. Thank you, Joy, thank YOU for all you contributions to making SDA such a success!

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