Dr. Joanne Kluessendorf was an amazing woman and an extraordinary paleontological activist, of the best possible sort. In her too-short life, she effected more positive changes in the field of paleontology than many in our field today are fully aware of. Joanne believed deeply in the promise of women in paleontology; establishing the Goldring Award was only one of her many accomplishments dedicated to this belief. In addition to numerous projects on ichnology and sedimentation in Silurian dolomites, Joanne was the first to discover the fossils later described as the Waukesha Lagerstätte — an astonishing and unusual collection of Silurian marine invertebrates in Wisconsin that is being actively studied today. Beyond her work collecting fossils and teaching about their geological and ecological context, Joanne engaged fully with the world outside of the paleontological community. Listing her many notable accomplishments would extend well beyond the space constraints here, but include the following: mentoring and encouraging young women in the earth sciences; offering educational opportunities in paleontology to the public through numerous types of outreach activities; consulting as both an artist and paleontologist on the production of an excellent Silurian reef diorama in Milwaukee and Denver; successfully establishing ten geologically significant National Historic Landmarks in five states; working actively in the Niagara Escarpment Resource Network; establishing the Weis Earth Science Museum in Menasha, Wisconsin.
Although I did not know her well, Joanne influenced me in a significant, positive way. Hearing her announce the Winifred Goldring Award at the Paleontological Society banquet each year was inspiring; one of my Ph.D. students was the second awardee in 1999. At meetings, I remember Joanne always smiling and actively engaged in conversation about fossils – she provided a most welcome reminder to me that, above all, paleontology is fun and valuable, both to fellow paleontologists and the general public. It is fitting that this session is devoted to honoring Joanne’s remarkably extensive and diverse service to the discipline of paleontology, and most particularly to the women, young and old, professional and amateur, who are vital participants in paleontological research, teaching, and service.