Joanne S. Symons, 62, a consultant on educational outreach to women about health issues who had also been a political adviser to Democratic presidential candidates, died of ovarian cancer March 19 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. She lived in Gaithersburg.
Mrs. Symons began her own consulting firm in the late 1980s and specialized in building health initiative partnerships of public- and private-sector organizations. As part of that work, she was a senior consultant to Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide on health education for pharmaceutical companies and other corporations. Among her projects was the organization of a coalition of more than 100 national groups concerned about osteoporosis.
Other projects included the training of lay home visitors to women with at-risk pregnancies, a comprehensive child nutrition handbook for family day-care providers, programs to expand health care for uninsured and low-income women and an educational campaign about sexually transmitted diseases. She represented the National Association for Female Executives during the founding of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and helped design the coalition's public awareness and action campaigns.
Before moving to the Washington area in 1982 to become political director of the American Nurses Association, Mrs. Symons was active in Democratic politics in New England. She was state Democratic chair in New Hampshire in the late 1970s after having served as regional director for the presidential primary campaign of Rep. Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz.) in 1976.
She helped launch a write-in campaign for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) during the 1980 primary campaign that was ultimately won by President Jimmy Carter and was Kennedy's New Hampshire political director. In 1987-88, she was a senior campaign consultant to Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) prior to the Iowa primary caucuses.
She also was a consultant to the International Institute for Women's Political Leadership and Washington representative of the National Association for Female Executives.
Mrs. Symons was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of Brooklyn College. She received a master's degree in philosophy from Georgetown University. As a young woman, she taught high school history in Bennington, Vt., and was administrative director of the New Hampshire Institute of Mental Health. Her involvement in antiwar protests during the Vietnam War era led her into politics.
She was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in the 1970s and was assistant minority leader before becoming state Democratic chair.
Survivors include her husband of 39 years, Alan Symons of Gaithersburg; two sons, Noel Symons of Springfield and Jeremy Symons of Gaithersburg; a brother; and three grandchildren.