Peggy/Paoli/Queenie Ford Fund

The Peggy/Paoli/Queenie Fund honors the memory of three beloved pioneering women clowns.
Read more about them here.

The Fund and Grant is an independent project run by the Peggy/Paoli/Queenie Fund Committee. AYCO/ACE is the project’s fiscal sponsor. All donations are tax deductible.

2021 Grant Winners

$1,500 Grant: Lillie LopezFerrer
$1,000 Grant: Luz Gaxiola
$500 Grant: Sharon Miller

2021 Grant Application

The 2021 Peggy/Paoli/Queenie Grant application is now closed. Applications were due 9/27/2021 at 11.59pm Pacific Time.

The application was open to candidates who are producing new work or have a work in progress at the time of application. Project leaders must focus on producing a show intended for (or aimed to assist) under-resourced communities and/or marginalized audiences (i.e. youth in foster care, LGBTQ+ teenagers, low-income individuals/families) in the United States. If received, up to 60% of the grant can go to training or workshops toward continuing education for the project leader in a way that would directly advance the work. A minimum of 40% of the funds must be used toward the production of new work.

In 2021, three grants will be awarded: one $1,500 grant, one $1,000 grant, and one $500 grant.

Prioritized Candidates:

· Comedians, physical comedy, clown, comedy acts
· Artists from marginalized Identities of population.
· Individuals and/or groups up to 15 members
· 27+ yrs. old
· Women, women-identifying, or non-binary

Fund Committee

Leah Abel, Denise Arribas, and Sara Moore are the current committee members, as of September 2021.
Interested in joining the committee? Email!

In Memory Of:

Peggy Ford was a trailblazer in the world of women clowns who dedicated her career and her life to circus and helped the world see the power, creativity, and beauty that women clowns bring to their audiences. Peggy was one of the first women clowns on Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey. She served for many years as the Artistic Director of Make*A*Circus where she championed the careers of many young women clowns and helped other young women see the career potential in joining the growing ranks of women clowns. And as Program Director & Dean of Students at Circus Center she helped to establish the Clown Conservatory and mentored many young women (and men) as they set out on the road to becoming professional clowns. She passed away in 2012.

Paoli Lacy was a core figure in the promotion and practice of the circus arts in the Bay Area and beyond. Given to a life in circus and clown, her own performing was cut short after a bad fall during aerial work. Forced to retrain, she took a masters in directing from U. Washington. She assistant-directed some Dell’Arte Company shows in the 80’s as well as did a couple of guest teaching stints in the School. Paoli also created a network of support for clowns in the Bay Area and beyond, through clown cabarets, newsletters for the SFCC, and a steady stream of clown buzz. Paoli was part of Dell’Arte’s history as well as the global clown community. Without Paoli’s tenacity and passion, there would be no San Francisco Clown Conservatory today. Her life will continue to have meaning and ripples on and on in all the clown children she nurtured. She passed away in 2013.

Joan Mankin (Queenie Moon) was a versatile performer best known for her comic skills, an almost constant presence on Bay Area stages from 1970 through 2013. She appeared in major roles with virtually every important theater company in the region — from the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the feminist Lilith company to American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory and Cal Shakes, and from Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre to TheatreWorks in Mountain View, Walnut Creek’s Center Rep and Marin Theatre Company to the Magic Theatre and San Francisco Playhouse. In her alternate persona as Queenie Moon, she was a pioneer female clown with the Pickle Family Circus and the smaller Make-a-Circus, with which she also taught circus arts to children. Joan was a tireless advocate for arts education, women’s rights and representation in the theater, peace, social justice and many other causes. She passed away in 2015.


Originally, the fund was established in memory of Peggy Ford, and Paoli Lacy was a member of the committee. When Paoli died in 2013, the award was renamed to honor her as well, and two awards were disbursed to two young female clowns after an application process: a $1000 award to Molly Kate Taylor, and a $1000 award to Amica Hunter. When a third fund committee member, Joan Mankin (Queenie Moon) passed away, and then also yet another committee member, Rick Davis, in 2015, the fund and grant project was put on hold. It was revived in 2021 and new committee members were recruited to continue supporting the next generation in honor of these beloved trailblazers.