Tender and tough is the Woman Who Makes Things Happen, ChIME’s departing Director of Administration and Development, Linda Shary. In the seven years she’s been at ChIME all faculty, staff, students, graduates and donors have come to rely on her warmth, wisdom, wit and productivity. She is an all-round jane-of-all-trades in the day-to-day running of ChIME, including gardening, shoveling, marketing, fundraising, solving IT problems, and welcoming students among other essential tasks. What is our Wisdom School to do without her engaged, compassionate, creative juggling?
As a former Catholic, Linda was first drawn to Interfaith work when she and her family found First Parish Portland UU Church upon moving to Maine in 1997. Later her acupuncturist husband, the Rev. Jeffrey Logan now of Grace - Street Ministry, enrolled in ChIME. Linda had been an Equity/Screen Actor’s Guild actress in New York City, and her love of theater continues. In Maine she has also worked for an America’s Cup team, UNE, Maine Audubon, and Space Gallery. By the time she came to ChIME she was well-versed in nonprofit administration and development work, but needed a break from the boom-and-bust cycle of donor-based programs. “ChIME was different though I couldn’t say how at first. ChIME is a Wisdom School. Perhaps I was drawn to that,” now says Linda wryly.
“What I’ve found in ChIME is a well-developed way of bringing spiritual resources to bear in a hurting world,” Linda says. “I’ve witnessed and supported more than 100 students progressing through their paths to ordination as Interfaith Chaplains. I’ve seen students, graduates and faculty daily walking the talk of their calling to a life of service—a life grounded in self-knowledge, self-reflection, humility, joy, and courage. Each embodies the mission to serve with integrity, spiritual presence, and prophetic voice. It’s a challenge to do this every day. You’d have to be a stone not to be changed by being a witness to that.”
Over the years, Linda’s talented and consistent development work has increased ChIME’s non-tuition income by 75%. Linda has helped ChIME articulate its case for support from foundations and donors as well as graduates. Here’s how she tells it: “ChIME is a unique school that helps people find within themselves the integrity and the confidence to go towards others who are suffering. This is what makes a chaplain. Although this essential quality cannot be taught, it is learned at ChIME. I now understand that’s what a Wisdom School is—a way to help people learn what can’t be taught, but can only be learned by example and practice.”
“A century ago,” Linda continues, “there was a great struggle within the healthcare industry over who could be called a doctor. Today that issue has been laid to rest, as MDs and DOs share the territory with PhDs, naturopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, and others who all play a unique part in the delivery of healthcare. In the 21st century I believe that Interfaith Chaplains will be more widely recognized as professional spiritual care providers, too. There is room for everyone at the table. I see that happening, more quickly in some places than in others, and economically, it just makes sense. You see, a donor dollar goes a long way in a Wisdom School like ChIME. Donors appreciate that. Students need support. The world needs chaplains. It’s a win-win-win.”
What’s next for Linda? She wants to help train her successor at ChIME, and finish out the year end giving campaign. Then she’ll spend some time alone, time with family, and time working on their house and gardens. After that, who knows? Theater, art and education are her passions, and she has found creative ways to pursue these interests in every organization she’s been called to serve.
Equally at home with the flamboyancy of New York’s theater world and the grounded quality of Maine, she now prefers a quiet and peaceful life. “Now I have spiritual chops,” Linda quips, “within the ChIME community and in my spiritual home, First Parish UU.”
All of ChIME thanks Linda for her service, and wishes her joy on the journey. Because of Linda’s unique blend of talents and passion, ChIME, too, has been changed.
You can make a gift to ChIME in Linda’s honor here.