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Joni Finegold of of Alexandria, VA. Joni lost her battle with cancer on July 26, 2012.

ANDOVER – Joni A. Finegold, 42, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer and an academic studying for a Ph.D. at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., died yesterday of non-smoking related lung cancer.

She is the sister of state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover. She lived with her husband, Daniel Sachs, and their two daughters, Lillian, 11, and Miriam, 6, in Alexandria, Va.

At the age of 23 she was accepted to serve in the United States Department of State in the Foreign Service Division.

She was assigned to a hardship post as a political and economic officer in Bogota, Colombia, during the height of the drug cartels’ power in 1995 to 1996, where she traveled to work each day in an armored car. She also served as a consular and political officer in London and Belfast, Northern Ireland from 1992 to 1994 during the violence leading up to the first ceasefire.

“We honor those who fight for the peace but we often forget those whose job it is to keep the peace. Joni was truly honored to serve the United States in this capacity,” Sen. Finegold said in a statement.

Most recently, Joni Finegold was an adjunct instructor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, where she was also working toward a doctorate in political and international affairs.

She had attended North Street School in Tewksbury, and South School and Doherty Junior High School in Andover.

She graduated from Phillips Academy in 1987 and went on to attend Barnard College and then graduated from the London School of Economics, majoring in international relations, in 1991. She received her master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University in 2004.

She is also survived by her parents, Sondra and Michael Finegold of Andover, her sister, Diana Finegold of New York, N.Y.; her sister-in-law Amy Finegold, nieces Ava and Ella, and nephew Max Finegold, all of Andover, and grandmother, Marian Shapiro of Coconut Creek, Fla.

A funeral service will be held in Virginia. The family will be sitting Shiva on Aug. 1 and 2 from 6-8 p.m. at the home of Michael and Sondra Finegold, 11 Lavender Hill Lane, Andover.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (http://www.dana-farber.org/How-to-Help.aspx) and Phillips Academy’s student financial aid program (https://www.andover.edu/giving/howtogive/pages/onlinegiving.aspx).

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