Our History


History highlights  of The Simon Foundation for Continence from Past to Present:

1982 – 1983

The Foundation is established in 1982 and incorporated on 5 July 1983 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.


managing incontinence bookcover

Managing Incontinence

Managing Incontinence: A Guide to Living with Loss of Bladder Control (now in its 6th edition) is the first book ever written for the layperson on the topic of incontinence. Managing Incontinence was re-edited and published in Canada, England and Australia, and translated into Spanish and Japanese. Over 100,000 copies have been sold worldwide.


A twenty-city/ twenty-week Book Promotion Tour by Cheryle B. Gartley, co-author and editor of Managing Incontinence began to break down barriers all across America. Ms. Gartley is the first person with incontinence to publicly speak out about the needs of people with incontinence.


Ann Landers, a daily advice columnist, cites the Simon Foundation as the source for information about incontinence and directs readers to us. Three days after the column runs, 30,000 pieces of mail arrive at Foundation headquarters (final number of inquires topped 50,000 letters).


TIME MAGAZINE is the first weekly news magazine to break the taboo and publish an article about incontinence and the work of the Simon Foundation for Continence under the title of “The Last of the Closet Issues.”


The National Institutes of Health holds the first Consensus Development Conference on Adult Urinary Incontinence.  The Simon Foundation for Continence’s President is selected for the Consensus Panel and to co-author the resulting Consensus Statement.


I Will Manage Program

I Will Manage Educational Program

I WILL MANAGE…Physicians and nurses affiliated with the foundation begin the first patient education/support group for people with  incontinence in over 200 hospitals throughout the United States. I Will Manage is adapted for use in England and Spain.


AARP commissions the Simon Foundation for Continence to develop its first educational program on incontinence, which is launched nationwide by AARP health educators.

The Solution Starts with You – the first made for television video begins airing on cable television and on hospital channels throughout America.


Continence Worldwide, the first international publication for not-for-profit organizations which serve people with incontinence is published, co-authored by Professor Christine Norton, R.N., Ph.D., (England) and Cheryle Gartley, President of the Simon Foundation for Continence (U.S.) on behalf of the Continence Promotion Committee of the International Continence Society.


The first International Conference on Prevention is hosted by the Simon Foundation for Continence in London, England. Medical professionals from around the world spend three days discussing what is known about the prevention of incontinence and determining suggestions for further research in this long neglected area of science.


Simon Foundation for Continence hosts the first International Conference on Stigma in Healthcare in Chicago, Illinois, USA, as part of the launch of the Foundation’s third decade of service. A Town Meeting about Stigma, hosted by Martha Teichner of CBS NEWS Sunday Morning, attracts over 100 individuals who have health conditions which are stigmatized.


Formal Black Tie Gala for Continence is held at the Chicago Historical Society. This event is the first North American Gala to build awareness of the needs of people with incontinence and to help defeat the stigma surrounding incontinence.


The Simon Foundation for Continence commissions the first song written to help defeat stigma, entitled “I Am More”, sung by three time Emmy Award winning performing artist, Gaia Tossing.  A premier performance of this song highlights the New Freedoms Awards black tie gala at Navy Pier in Chicago.


The Simon Foundation for Continence, represented by the Foundation’s Director of Education, Jasmine Schmidt, appeared on Peter Jenning’s World News Tonight.  She was interviewed from China after representing the USA by presenting a paper on “The Code and Practices of Toilets in the USA“, at the WTO Summit in Beijing, China.


An article entitled “Life with Incontinence” by the Foundation’s founder is published in The Lancet, highlighting to physicians worldwide the challenges individuals with incontinence face on a daily basis.

2007 – 2017

The Simon Foundation for Continence launches its first international “Innovating for Continence: The Engineering Challenge” conference; a Innovating for Continencemultidisciplinary meeting to educate innovators and heighten interest in innovation for continence among all stakeholders including: engineers; venture capitalists; health professionals; individuals with incontinence; and scientists in various disciplines.  The biennial conference is held over the ensuing 10 years, with the final conference in 2017.  To learn more about this conference, the speakers, conference presidents, to access the Abstracts from the posters, and to view photos from over the years, use this link: Innovating for Continence Conference series.


Managing Life with Incontinence

Managing Life with Incontinence


The Foundation launches its new book in Europe in April, Managing Life with Incontinence, and its companion website at: www.managinglifewithincontinence.org.


The Foundation launches a website devoted to its Innovating for Continence conferences series. Information from that website has been incorporated into this website at Innovating for Continence Conference series.


The Foundation launches a website devoted to providing consumers with information about the wide range or continence management products that are available in the US along with valuable resources. This website also links to the International Continence Society’s Continence Product Advisor website. The new  website is called Continence Central and is located at www.continencecentral.org.

continence central logo2013

The Foundation joins a coalition of organizations, the Bladder Health Alliance, to promote OAB awareness and to have Congress pass a joint resolution to make November “Bladder Health Month,” which it successfully does.


The Foundation publishes a series of three articles on Stigma in EP Magazine.  You can read these article here.


The Foundation launches its Rude 2 Respect campaign, part of its Challenging Health Stigma program. As part of the campaign, the Foundation launches a Rude 2 Respect Facebook page and Rude 2 Respect website.


A new online support community is launched with its partner, HealthUnlocked. The online community provides a needed resource for people with incontinence and their caregivers who wish to anonymously seek support and assistance with incontinence issues.


The Foundation launches a new program, To Tell Or Not To Tell, along with a new websiteTo tell or not to tell brochure cover (https://totellornot.org/). The program was created with Illinois Institute of Technology. “To Tell Or Not To Tell” is an Incontinence Disclosure Program.  The program is divided into three parts. The first is designed to help a person with incontinence decide if they would like to tell others about their incontinence, or not. The second section will help a person to decide who they wish to tell, if that is their decision. The third part of the program helps a person to think through not only what he or she would like to share, but also the different responses one might receive so they are thoroughly prepared for a variety of reactions to the “news.”

2023 – 2024

The Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary year, 1983 – 2023.   The Foundation plans on marking the occasion by posting a series of personal stories on the gains made in reducing the stigma surrounding incontinence along with advances made in the field, but while noting the challenges that remain.